Carly Fiorina's Battle With Cancer, In Her Words

by Sarah Harvard

Carly Fiorina has won the respect and approval of many Republicans after her performance in the second GOP presidential debate in 2016. With her fierce debate performance and the ability to silence Donald Trump for his misogynist comments toward her and other women, Fiorina — a breast cancer survivor — became a rising star. She's reached out to millennial women in BuzzFeed videos imitating the daily sexism in the workplace and provided her array of expertise in dealing with negotiations with world leaders. Tough Choices, her second book, eloquently captures the long journey — one with many heartbreaks and trauma — and a long battle she had to go through to get where she is today.

Fiorina, who is 61 years old, was diagnosed with stage II breast cancer the day before she was going to announce her run for Senate in California in 2009. A few weeks later, the successful businesswoman underwent a double mastectomy. Following the surgery, she went through several months of chemotherapy and radiation therapy, all while running her Senate campaign against Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.). During her campaign season, she went through a bilateral mastectomy, chemotherapy sessions, and was faced with the unexpected death of her stepdaughter, who died from drug addiction. But Fiorina persevered despite all the forces against her and made a full recovery to the point where she is standing before us today to take on the most coveted public offices in the country: president of the United States.

Here is Fiorina in her own words about her battle with breast cancer and how it’s shaped her policy viewpoints:

On Her Reconstruction Surgery & The Infection One Week Before Her Senate Election Night

I knew I was in trouble. My entire left side was on fire. The last thing I remember is the nurse taking my temperature. It was 107 degrees.

On Feeling That Following Obamacare Protocol Would've Left Her Dead

Later, after Obamacare was passed, the Health and Human Services Administration changed the protocol for breast cancer screening. They recommended that women get a mammogram every other year and that they not do self-examinations. The Obama administration had concluded that this change in protocol would minimize false alarms and cost. I remember being insulted when HHS justified these changes by saying the old protocol caused too much trauma and concern. Women are tough. We can handle it. I remember thinking that if I had followed this protocol, I would probably be dead.

On Believing Socialized Medical Care Makes Survival Rates For Breast Cancer Worse

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Look, I'm a cancer survivor, all right? So I have great personal empathy for people who have pre-existing conditions and can't get insurance. Of course, we have to fix that. And there are a lot of more effective, less expensive ways to fix it than what this bill has done.

But as a cancer survivor, I will also say this, it terrifies me that the survival rates for breast cancer — which is what I had — are so much worse in the U.K. and Canada. Why? Because they don't focus on prevention and aggressive detection the way we do.

On Cancer Making Her Fearless When Going Up Against Boxer For Senate

After chemotherapy, Barbara Boxer just isn't really that scary anymore.

On How Her Battle Against Cancer Helped Her Transform

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As any survivor knows, going through an experience like fighting cancer is transformative, although not altogether negative. Suddenly, for me, running for the Senate was no longer just a cold calculation of the odds of beating Barbara Boxer. It was a rare chance to change the order of things for the better.