Bob Dole, the former longtime Kansas senator and 1996 Republican presidential nominee, said Thursday that he has stage 4 lung cancer.
“Recently, I was diagnosed with stage four lung cancer. My first treatment will begin on Monday,” Dole, 97, said in a statement.
“While I certainly have some hurdles ahead, I also know that I join millions of Americans who face significant health challenges of their own,” Dole added.
Dole served as a U.S. senator from Kansas from 1969 to 1996 and also served as both the Senate majority and minority leader during his long career. He was the GOP presidential nominee in 1996, losing to Bill Clinton.
Previously, he served in the House, representing a large district that encompassed the western half of the state. He was also then-GOP nominee Gerald Ford’s running mate in the 1976 election, which they lost.
Dole served with distinction in the Army during World War II, suffering serious injuries in battle in Italy.
Following his departure from the Senate in 1996, Dole emerged as an unlikely political celebrity and product endorser, partaking in famous television advertisements for brands including erectile dysfunction drug Viagra, Dunkin’ Donuts and Pepsi.
In 1997, Clinton awarded Dole the Presidential Medal of freedom and, in 2018, Congress awarded him the Congressional Gold Medal. Both awards are the highest civilian awards that exist in the U.S.