Former U.S. Senator Larry Pressler battling pancreatic cancer

Local News

SIOUX FALLS, SD (KELO) — A former U.S. senator from South Dakota spent much of the holiday season confined to a hospital room.

Larry Pressler served two terms in the U.S. House and three terms in the Senate during the 1970’s into the 1990’s.

The Humboldt native and Vietnam veteran, waged tough political fights during his long career in Washington. But he is now facing his most difficult challenge yet: a battle with pancreatic cancer.

Larry Pressler has always prided himself in being a plain-spoken South Dakotan. So he’s not about to sugar-coat his prospects as he confronts pancreatic cancer.

“Which is thought to be a death sentence, but maybe I’ll survive it,” Pressler said.

Pressler says he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer on November first.

“Can you see my room? Okay, that’s my bed,” Pressler said.

Pressler spent the past two months at Johns Hopkins Cancer Center in Baltimore, Maryland.

“I’m being fed intravenously, so I don’t have my meals, which I miss eating. And my wife gets over once and a while. I am going to go home for a while just to sleep in my own bed, but it will be probably a year before we know who wins: me, or pancreatic cancer,” Pressler said.

Home for Pressler right now is Washington, D.C. But his thoughts never stray far from his home state.

“If my health returns, we would like to move back to South Dakota. But my health just won’t allow that at this moment,” Pressler said.

Pressler hopes his bout with pancreatic cancer will raise public awareness and funding for research. For now, he’ll follow doctor’s orders with the time to reflect upon his legacy in politics and his service to South Dakota.

“I was a hard-working plain senator from the Plains, I guess, but I think we did a pretty good job,” Pressler said.

While serving in the senate, Pressler launched a brief run for the Republican presidential nomination back in 1980. He’s since become an Independent and voted for Democrat Joe Biden in the November election. He’ll share his thoughts on the new Biden administration coming up in Thursday night’s Eye On KELOLAND.

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