York lawmakers react to Gov. Wolf's cancer announcement

Greg Gross

Rep. Stan Saylor knows firsthand the devastation cancer can have on a person and a family.

His father, grandfather and two uncles died of prostate cancer.

Even though his family members lost their battles with cancer, Saylor, R-Windsor Township, said he's confident Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf will be able to beat the disease with proper treatment.

"I certainly wish the governor well in his treatment," Saylor said, adding Wolf has a good support system, his family, in place.

Wolf announced Wednesday that he was diagnosed with prostate cancer following a regular check up.

Support: Since Wolf's announcement. numerous lawmakers have shown their support and offered well-wishes.

“The governor has shown time and again that he’s not one to back down from a challenge. This man hasn’t taken a break in more than a year," House Democratic Leader Frank Dermody said in a statement. “I have no doubt that Governor Wolf will take this in stride and continue fighting for the changes he wants to see that will make Pennsylvania better."

Though Wolf and Republicans haven't seen eye-to-eye on all the issues in Harrisburg, especially in terms of the protracted state budget impasse, numerous GOP lawmakers offered up kind, encouraging words.

"Wishing (Wolf), his family the best as he begins treatments for cancer. Grateful cancer was detected early, the prognosis is good," Sen. Jake Corman, the Senate Majority Leader, wrote in a tweet.

In a Facebook post, Rep. Kevin Schreiber, D-York City, wrote: "Testament to his character, I am certain that this obstacle is not unlike other challenges he's faced, met and bested in his life and he will do the same here."

Awareness: Rep. Kristin Phillips-Hill, R-York Township, commended Wolf for publicly addressing his illness and hopes it inspires other men to get routine prostate cancer detection exams.

"I give him a lot of credit for being public about it," she said. "I think it's one of those things guys don't want to talk about."

Wolf previously took a step to raise awareness of the disease when he signed into law Act 66 of 2015, formerly called Senate Bill 609 introduced by Sen. Bob Mensch, R-Montgomery County, that created a prostate cancer task force through the state Department of Health.

The task force aims to educate people about cancer and created a program that assists men in getting prostate exams, regardless of their insurance coverage.

There's no correlation between Wolf signing the law and is early diagnoses, said Jeff Sheridan, spokesman for the governor's office.

But early detection was key for Wolf, Rep. Seth Grove, R-Dover Township, noted.

"If you catch it early, you can get it taken care of," said. Grove said.

Rep. Seth Grove is shown during an interview at his office in West Manchester Township, Wednesday, Feb. 17, 2016.

Confident: Though Wolf will undergo treatment to battle cancer, York County lawmakers say don't believe it will keep him from his official duties.

"People with cancer can function as well as anybody," Saylor said. "I don't see it being a thing that impedes him as governor."

Phillips-Hill and Grove pointed out Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan stayed at his post while he underwent treatment to combat an aggressive form of non-Hodgkins lymphoma last year.

One only Pennsylvania governor has had to take an extended leave of absence due to an illness. In 1993, then Democratic Gov. Bob Casey Sr. stepped down for six months to recover from heart and liver transplants as part of his battle with amyloidosis,

Amyloidosis is the buildup of amyloid, an abnormal protein, in organs, according to the Mayo Clinic.

Wolf, on the other hand, said he will remain in the governor's office while he receives prostate cancer treatments.

"I certainly think he will be able to fulfill his responsibilities," Phillips-Hill said.

— Reach Greg Gross at ggross@yorkdispatch.com.