SALT LAKE CITY -- Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff plans to stay in office and work during cancer treatments over six months.
He said Tuesday he will begin chemotherapy for colon cancer by the end of January. Treatments will be done every two weeks.
Shurtleff, 53, was diagnosed with cancer after a tumor was discovered earlier this month in his appendix during a routine medical exam. The tumor was removed, but cancer was found in three lymph nodes.
Flanked by his doctor, his wife and his youngest daughter, Shurtleff spoke to the media at the Salt Lake City medical clinic where he will be treated.
He was mostly optimistic, especially when vowing to overcome the cancer and have the strength to remain in office.
"I was elected to do a job, and people need to know that I can do that job," he said. "I can."
Shurtleff said he will have to reduce travel and public appearances, and will spend a lot more time working remotely.
It was when talking about his family, however, that Shurtleff became emotional. The cancer has made him realize that he doesn't have professional regrets but wishes he spent more time with his family, he said.
Dr. Richard Frame said that, with the chemotherapy, Shurtleff's chances of survival are about 75 percent. Without chemotherapy, it drops to about 55 percent.
"He is in a fight for his life," Frame said. "That's why he is taking the treatments."
Each round of treatment will consist of six hours in the clinic, and then 48 hours of intravenous injections at home.
Frame said the treatments make patients tired and more susceptible to illness. But many people who go through the chemotherapy continue to work full time.
Shurtleff's 13-year-old daughter, Annie, said the whole family is confident her dad will survive.
"My friends keep asking me if he's going to die," she said. "I tell them, 'No, he is not going to die.' "