In August, former President Jimmy Carter announced he was battling cancer. One treatment of radiation and two rounds of immunotherapy later, Carter, who turns 91 on October 1, shows no signs of slowing down.
Carter and his wife, Rosalynn were on hand Tuesday for the kickoff of "Conversations at the Carter Center," an annual lecture series in Atlanta, and he spoke about his treatment before a packed auditorium.
"There's a new medicine that's been developed for my disease," he said. "It's called pembrolizumab. It took me three weeks to learn how to say it.”
He said there was also a learning curve to another part of his regimen: drinking enough fluids.
“Instead of getting productive work done, I spent a lot of time in the restroom," he said.
Carter is dealing with the most difficult health challenge of his life with humor and determination, and staff at the Carter Center say he is still a visible presence.
“He is here, working, a very, very busy schedule, and there’s no evidence of what I can see that he has slowed down,” said Dr. P. Craig Withers, acting director of health programs at the center.
His appearance at "Conversations at the Carter Center" was the latest in a series of public engagements on the former president’s calendar in Atlanta, which included the 34th Jimmy Carter Town Hall at Emory University.
The annual event draws thousands of students.
In good-natured fashion, he objected to having been "relegated to a position of illness, and infirmity, and age, and so, with the permission of the authorities behind me, I’m going to stand up instead of sit down to answer your questions,” he told the audience, winning applause.
"I'm in good spirits. I'm prepared for anything that comes," he said. "My wife is a little less prepared than I've been, but she's getting on fine."
Rosalynn Carter said that "we’ve had an outpouring of support, and in spite of all that’s going on, it’s been incredible just to know that we’ve got that kind of support … and Jimmy's had a great attitude through it."
The Carters continue to spend about one week a month in Atlanta. The rest of the time they are in Plains, Georgia. There, visitors pouring in from around the world come to the small Maranatha Baptist Church most Sundays to see the ailing president continue to do what he has done since he was 18 years old: teach Sunday School lessons.