California Rep. John Garamendi says he has a rare form of blood cancer

Congressman and longtime California politician John Garamendi said Monday that he has been diagnosed with a rare form of blood cancer called multiple myeloma.

In a statement and a video posted on the social media platform X on Monday afternoon, Garamendi (D-Walnut Grove), 79, said doctors found the cancer early. He recalled his doctor calling him to say: “When will you be back in California? You need to come in for a series of tests.”

Multiple myeloma weakens the immune system and makes some vaccines less effective. The cancer attacks plasma cells, limiting their ability to produce the antibodies that the human body needs to fight off infections.

Garamendi said he plans to continue to working while receiving outpatient treatment at Kaiser Permanente in Sacramento. He said he is receiving chemoimmunotherapy, a treatment that combines chemotherapy with immunotherapy, which boosts the body’s immune system.

Garamendi said his doctor cautioned him to reduce unnecessary exposure to viruses, including COVID-19 and the flu, while his immune system is weakened. His office said he plans to limit travel to Washington and public events.

“My love and solidarity go out to all other families managing cancer and all other health conditions, and to the doctors and nurses and medical personnel who provide us with comfort and hope,” Garamendi said.

Garamendi was California’s lieutenant governor under Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger from 2007 to 2009. He was the state’s first elected insurance commissioner in the 1990s, and served in the state Legislature from 1974 to 1990, where he was a vocal advocate for universal healthcare.

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