In a recent Q & A interview with Governing, Maryland Governor Larry Hogan candidly discusses cancer, experiences throughout his battle, recovery, research and funding and Maryland’s health-care system.
In Maryland, Gov. Larry Hogan already had a tough job on his hands as a newly elected Republican governor in a traditionally blue state. Then, less than six months after his January 2015 inauguration, he was diagnosed with an advanced stage of non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. He spent much of the year juggling chemotherapy with the business of running the state; Hogan was declared cancer-free at the end of 2015.
I read that you’d take meetings in the hospital when you could. What other logistical workarounds did you use to make sure you could still do your job while undergoing treatment?
I had somewhat of a strange scenario, where I had six months of on-and-off chemotherapy. So I would go into the hospital for five days at a time and would do 24 hours of chemo for five straight days. But then I would be off [chemo] for 16 days, and I’d be in the office working. Then back in the hospital for five days, then back in the office for 16. Back and forth. When I was here in my office, I was still working normally.
Chemo does have a cumulative effect, and after a while it does take its toll on you. I couldn’t quite keep up a schedule like I was used to, but I was trying to work as normally as I could. When I was in the hospital, my staff was constantly coming in and giving me materials to read and sign, going through proposals, things like that. I was able to maintain working full-time. I’m sort of a workaholic, I had to cut back some, but still doing more than your average 9-to-5 job.
Has that translated into more of a work/life balance now that you’re in recovery?
Not really. I’m back to doing crazy hours. For example, yesterday I left work close to midnight, and I got in around 8 am.
As someone with the ability to shape public policy, how did this experience change your view of our health-care system?
First of all, it opened my eyes to the incredible health-care system we have here in Maryland. We have National Institutes of Health, Johns Hopkins and the University of Maryland medical system, so I am very lucky to be living in this state. We really do have some of the best health-care systems and organizations, and not just for cancer.
Being in the hospital so much, I got to meet people from all walks of life going through much tougher battles than my own. I definitely got a more direct view of our health-care system than I ever have before.
One last question, and it’s a bit hokey: What advice do you have for Sen. McCaskill, Gov. Wolf and any other politician staring down a cancer diagnosis?
I’ve reached out to both of them, but this is advice for anyone. Just stay positive, and realize that there’s an end to it. This might be a hokey answer to your hokey question, but the power of prayer doesn’t hurt.
I stayed positive, I stayed active and I kept myself distracted. You can’t be consumed by your diagnosis. You have to just keep moving forward.