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HomeVideoDefense Secretary Austin on his recent cancer treatment #shorts

Defense Secretary Austin on his recent cancer treatment #shorts

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said Thursday that he takes full responsibility for the lack of disclosure about his recent hospitalization and treatment for cancer.

“We did not handle this right and I did not handle this right. I should have told the president about my cancer diagnosis. I take full responsibility,” Austin said in a news conference at the Pentagon.

Doctors diagnosed Austin with prostate cancer in December, and he underwent surgery on Dec. 22. Before undergoing the surgery, which required general anesthesia, Austin transferred some of his duties to Deputy Defense Secretary Kathleen Hicks, but did not tell her why.

“The news shook me,” Austin said of first learning about the diagnosis. “Frankly, my first instinct was to keep it private.”

That included keeping the news from President Joe Biden and other senior administration officials.

Austin, who was experiencing complications that prompted the ambulance trip to Walter Reed on Jan. 1, spent time in the intensive care unit and was released from the hospital on Jan. 15. He worked for two weeks from home before returning to the Pentagon on Monday.

His news conference Thursday was the first time he took questions from reporters since before his surgery.

“I don’t think it’s news that I’m a pretty private guy, I never like burdening others with my problems. It’s just not my way,” Austin said. “But I’ve learned from this experience, taking this kind of job means losing some of the privacy that most of us expect. The American people have a right to know if their leaders are facing health challenges that might affect their ability to perform their duties even temporarily.”

Casey Kuhn, Dan Cooney and Yasmeen Alamiri produced and edited this post.

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