Arkansas gubernatorial candidate Sarah Sanders undergoes surgery for thyroid cancer

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Sarah Sanders, the Republican nominee for Arkansas governor and former White House press secretary in the Trump administration, said Friday that she underwent surgery to remove her thyroid gland after doctors discovered cancer earlier this month.

Sanders, 40, said she is cancer free and will be returning to the campaign trail.

“During a checkup earlier this month, my doctor ordered a biopsy on an area of concern in my neck and the test revealed that I had thyroid cancer,” Sanders said. “Today, I underwent a successful surgery to remove my thyroid and surrounding lymph nodes and by the grace of God I am now cancer-free.”

Sanders included a statement from her physician, John R. Sims, who said her cancer was “Stage 1 papillary thyroid carcinoma,” which he described as the most common type of thyroid cancer. Sims said Sanders will require “adjuvant treatment with radioactive iodine” and called her prognosis excellent.

Sanders, an Arkansas native and daughter of former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee (R), managed her father’s unsuccessful presidential run in 2016 before joining Donald Trump’s campaign as senior communications adviser. She also served as a spokeswoman during Trump’s first presidential campaign.

She left the White House as press secretary in June 2019. At the time, Trump urged her to run for governor.

At the White House, she first worked as the top deputy to Sean Spicer, Trump’s first press secretary, until he resigned in July 2017, when she assumed his role. She was the first working mother and only the third woman to serve as White House press secretary, as reported by the Associated Press.

During her early days, some praised her calm demeanor in then-daily briefings with the press — a stark contrast to Spicer. But Sanders soon clashed with reporters, passionately defending Trump while confronting reporters — even when the information she provided was, at times, false.

One such instance earned a note in special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s report on Russian interference in the election. In May 2017, Sanders claimed that the White House had heard from “countless members of the FBI” supporting Trump’s decision to fire FBI Director James B. Comey. She doubled down on the claim the next day, insisting that supportive emails and texts had flown in.

In Mueller’s report, though, she said under oath that the claim was a “slip of the tongue.”

In announcing her candidacy for governor, Sanders said, “I took on the media, the radical left and their ‘cancel culture,’ and I won. As governor, I will be your voice, and never let them silence you.”

She is heavily favored to win in November in the Republican-leaning state against Democrat Chris Jones.

Andrea Salcedo contributed to this report.

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