Former Gov. Kathleen Blanco has cancer in one of her eyes.
Blanco’s spokeswoman, Marie Centanni, announced Wednesday the diagnosis of choroidal melanoma.
“She is in good health, her prognosis is favorable and she expects to begin treatment shortly,” Centanni said in a prepared statement.
Blanco, 68, did not respond to a request for comment.
Gov. Bobby Jindal issued a statement wishing Blanco well.
Jindal said his “thoughts and prayers are with former Gov. Blanco and her family as she battles for her health.”
The Louisiana House, where Blanco once served, stopped debate on Wednesday to note the news of her illness.
State Rep. Sam Jones, D-Franklin. a former Blanco gubernatorial aide, said he met Blanco 30 years ago at a duckhunting camp. “I found this lady who shot a gun better than I did,” he said.
“I can report to you that her prognosis is good and chance for recovery excellent,” Jones said.
“It is contained. Her faith is unshaken. Her spirit is unsinkable. I just want to come on behalf of all of us to wish her, on behalf of the people of the state, our best, our prayers and a speedy recovery,” Jones said.
House Speaker Jim Tucker, R-Terrytown, also addressed the House.
“Gov. Blanco, I want you to know we will all be praying for you. We really hope you heal quickly, wish you the best. We will be keeping you in our prayers. Good luck.”
At the end of its workday, the Senate also offered kind words for Blanco.
State Sen. Butch Gautreaux, D-Morgan City, said he spoke to Blanco’s family. “They’re in good spirits. Kathleen is going to be doing some therapy — some chemotherapy, some radiation treatments. But the prognosis is favorable,” he said.
Jones said earlier in the day that doctors discovered the cancer when the former governor was preparing for cataract surgery.
“I love her very much and I know she’s going to be good,” he said.
Centanni characterized choroidal melanoma as “a rare eye cancer that affects roughly six in 1 million people.”
She said the former governor will begin treatment soon. She did not say what that treatment will be.
State Sen. David Heitmeier, D-New Orleans and an optometrist, said the treatment options include radiation and removal of the eye.
“(It’s) very serious. (It’s) very, very rare,” he said.
Heitmeier said he has been seeing 125 patients a week for more than 20 years. In that time, he said, three of his patients have been diagnosed with choroidal melanoma.
He said the cancer involves a blood vessel layer below the retina.
Blanco established a Caring Bridge page to give updates on her health. The Internet link is http://www.caringbridge.org/visit/kathleenbabineauxblanco.
Now living in Lafayette with her husband, Raymond, she is the mother of six children and is a grandmother.
Blanco became Louisiana’s first female governor in 2004. She opted against running for re-election in the wake of hurricanes Katrina and Rita.
Since leaving the Governor’s Mansion, she has worked on her memoirs and traveled.
In a statement, Blanco encouraged people to get regular eye exams to catch the rare form of cancer that she has.
According to the Mayo Clinic, eye melanoma is almost impossible to detect by looking in a mirror and rarely triggers early warning signs.
The clinic said people with light eye color, such as blue or green, are more susceptible.
Will Sentell and Jordan Blum of The Advocate’s Capitol news bureau contributed to this report.