Former president Jimmy Carter had some good news for the large Sunday School class he teaches on Sunday: he’s cancer-free!
A family friend confirmed that Carter told his 300-member class that there were no signs of cancer in his brain or liver months after his melanoma diagnosis, according to the Washington Post.
“We were very, very surprised,” said a church member at Maranatha Baptist Church in Plains, Ga., Jill Stuckey. “This was just wonderful news out of the blue.”
Stuckey said that the day began normally; he and his wife Rosalynn greeted the class. Then, he announced that his latest scans showed “no signs of cancer” and the room broke into applause, Stuckey explained.
“There were a lot of happy people at the church,” she said. “I went running down the hall and got to spread the news.”
Carter said in a statement, according to CNN, that his “most recent MRI brain scan did not reveal any signs of the original cancer spots nor any new ones. I will continue to receive regular three-week immunotherapy treatments of pembrolizumab.” The health announcement was first reported by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
The 91-year-old had a small cancerous mass removed from his liver in August, and shortly afterward, doctors discovered four spots of melanoma on his brain, according to The Post.
Three days after his initial announcement, Carter was teaching Sunday School and explained to his class why he had been missing for a couple of weeks. “I missed two lessons because toward the end of May (and) first of June it was found that I had cancer, so they removed part of my liver,” he said. “But then we had another MRI and it showed I have four places in my brain.”
He said that his fate “is in the hands of God, whom I worship.”
And he’s been receiving treatment ever since. Months later, Carter’s doctors at Emory University’s Winship Cancer Institute in Atlanta that his treatment had gone well, CNN reported.
“From [the] very beginning [of this], I’ve said that in any battle between cancer and Carter’s brain, Carter’s brain will win,” said Gerald Rafshoon, who has known Carter for nearly 50 years and served as his White House communications director. “I’ve been up against that brain. It’s a tough opponent.”
Jimmy Carter fans have been traveling across the country to see him teach since he made the announcement that he was being treated for melanoma. The first lesson he taught after the announcement drew in almost 1,000 people. The church can only hold a few hundred, so people slept in their cars as they waited overnight for the first-come, first-served seats.