Rep. Lee Zeldin at a meeting in Calverton in March 2019. File photo: Denise Civiletti

Rep. Lee Zeldin has announced he’s been battling cancer for nearly a year.

Zeldin said in a statement yesterday he was diagnosed with early chronic myeloid leukemia in November and has since achieved complete remission.

In a statement issued yesterday by his campaign, Zeldin, who is running for governor, said he had an “immediately positive response” to treatments with no side effects.

“I have achieved complete remission, am expected to live a normal life, and my doctor says I currently have no evidence of this disease in my system,” Zeldin said in the statement. “My health is phenomenal, and I continue to operate at 110%.”

Chronic myeloid leukemia is a type of cancer that starts in the blood-forming cells of the bone marrow and invades the blood, according to the American Cancer Society.

Zeldin’s Hematologist Dr. Jeffrey Vacirca of New York Cancer & Blood Specialists said in the statement released by Zeldin’s office that the congressman began targeted therapy for the cancer immediately after diagnosis in November. He “immediately responded extraordinarily well and has achieved complete remission,” the doctor said in the statement.

Recent advances in the treatment of CML, if detected in an early phase, have vastly improved patient prognosis, according to the American Cancer Society. Targeted-treatment drugs known as tyrosine kinase inhibitors, or TKIs — which inhibit the protein that causes CML cells to grow out of control — first became available in 2018.

“Successfully treated early chronic myeloid leukemia is now a chronic disease, which carries a normal life expectancy,” Vacirca said. “Congressman Zeldin is incredibly healthy, is expected to enjoy a normal life and has no evidence of disease,” the doctor said in the statement.

Zeldin, 41, was elected to a fourth term representing the New York’s First Congressional District in November. He launched his campaign for governor in April and has since been traveling across the state to muster support for his run. Zeldin is the leading Republican Party candidate for governor. In June, a straw poll of party leadership determined the congressman, a staunch conservative, to be the “presumed gubernatorial nominee,” State Republican Party Chairman Nick Langworthy announced June 28.

According to the New York Times, Zeldin told supporters at an Ontario County Republican Party dinner Friday night about his diagnosis and treatment.

“Right now, I’m once again criss-crossing New York State in our campaign for governor, hitting Monroe, Wayne, and Ontario Counties yesterday, and Jefferson, Lewis, and Hamilton Counties today,” Zeldin said in a statement issues yesterday. “At no point have we slowed down at all and my lowest gear is always ALL IN,” he said. “I have also not missed any Army Reserve duty as a result of this diagnosis,” added Zeldin, a lieutenant colonel in the Army Reserve.

The Shirley Republican expressed his gratitude for the medical profession whose members, he said, “pour their heart and soul” into their work to treat people and save lives. “The medical field in our country is filled with the very best of society,” Zeldin said.

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Denise is a veteran local reporter, editor, attorney and former Riverhead Town councilwoman. Her work has been recognized with numerous awards, including investigative reporting and writer of the year awards from the N.Y. Press Association. She is a founder, owner and co-publisher of this website.Email Denise.