Lawmaker reveals battle with leukemia

Posted on 24 May 2007 at 7:46pm
By Ann Rostow Contributing Writer

Lesbian in California Senate says accident may have been a result of a “‘medical event’



California Democrats Sen. Mike Machedo, left, and Sen. Carole Migden, celebrate the end of the legislative session at the Capitol in Sacramento, last August. Migden announced this week that she has been battling leukemia for 10 years after being involved in a minor car accident. (Photo by RICH PEDRONCELLI/Associated Press)

San Francisco was buzzing on Monday, May 21, with the news that veteran state Sen. Carole Migden, 56, rammed a car while reaching for her cell phone at a Marin County intersection on last Friday, May 18. The accident left the other driver and her child bruised.

A day later, the city went crazy to learn that Migden had been seen driving erratically at a high speed up a major highway earlier that day, even grazing a guardrail. Several motorists called 911, and one witness said the senator was reading and talking on the phone during the wild ride.

Then on Wednesday, May 23, Migden dropped a bombshell on the press, explaining that she has carried a leukemia diagnosis in secret for 10 years.

One of the most prolific and aggressive legislators in Sacramento, Migden is also the architect of the state’s domestic partner registry, which she authored in the late 1990s and expanded piece by piece over subsequent years. The tough New Yorker, one of the top Democratic fundraisers in state politics, seems the epitome of health and determination.

“I owe an explanation to the public and myself, and in particular the person I hurt,” Migden told the San Francisco Chronicle late Wednesday. “I don’t have a recollection of what happened. I can only conclude I had a medical event I can’t explain. It’s not an excuse; it may be an explanation.”

Migden said she is disease free, but still takes six chemotherapy pills a day.

“I didn’t want to be pitied,” she told the Chronicle. “I didn’t want to be seen as a goner. I believed I would live. I never lied. I just chose not to disclose.”

The revelation comes in the heat of a divisive primary campaign that pits Migden against gay state Rep. Mark Leno in a fight for Migden’s senate seat. Leno, the author of the marriage bill that passed the “egislature in a historic vote in 2005, surprised many when he chose to challenge Migden several months ago and the GLBT community is split in their support for the two gay rights champions.

It remains to be seen how Migden’s news will effect the contest.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition, May 25, 2007.

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