Wednesday, January 10, 2001
Santa Monica, Calif. Former President Reagan's daughter Maureen is hospitalized and undergoing treatment for cancer that has spread since she was diagnosed with melanoma four years ago.
Surgeons discovered a golf ball-sized malignant tumor in her pelvis and removed all the lymph nodes between her right knee and groin in November, doctors said Tuesday.
Reagan, daughter of the former president and actress Jane Wyman, turned 60 last Thursday and is a national spokeswoman and board member of the Chicago-based Alzheimer's Assn. Her father has Alzheimer's disease.
She entered the John Wayne Cancer Institute at Saint John's Health Center last month to begin the aggressive cancer-fighting treatments, said Danny Chun, spoke-sman for the Alz-heimer's Assn.
Her husband, Dennis Revell, was with her at the hospital.
"She's hanging in there. Somebody upstairs is looking out for her," Revell said by telephone Tuesday from the hospital. No date was given for her release.
"While her progress is still guarded, she is a surprisingly strong and resilient individual and has tolerated the therapy very well," said Dr. Steven O'Day, the institute's director of medical oncology.
Melanoma is the fastest growing cancer in the United States. About 8,000 people in this country die from it every year, and almost 40,000 new cases are diagnosed each year. She was diagnosed with melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, in December 1996, when a large, mole-like growth was found on her leg.
After removal of the melanoma and lymph nodes, she underwent intravenous infusions of interferon and other treatments, which were completed in March 1998, Chun said.
Later that year, she discussed her melanoma treatment on MSNBC, quipping: "I had so many nuclear tests I was a night light." She said taking interferon was "like having the worst case in the world of Asian flu, with no relief."
It appeared the disease was in remission, but during an October emergency aneurysm surgery in Chicago, it was discovered that the disease had invaded several of her lymph nodes and they were removed.
On Nov. 19, she was admitted to Mercy San Juan Hospital in Carmichael to have a surgical procedure on her colon and a biopsy was performed on the growth on her right pubic bone. It was removed.
It was then decided she should immediately undertake an aggressive biochemotherapy regimen, Chun said. She entered the hospital Dec. 11.