Former Congressman Brad Ashford confirmed on Saturday that he has been diagnosed with brain cancer, but said he feels confident he can overcome it.
Ashford, 72, underwent a biopsy at the Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha on Friday, and his wife, Ann, said they are waiting for the results to determine the specific type of cancer and treatment plan going forward.
In a phone interview on Saturday, Ashford said he was feeling good and would be returning home as soon as possible.
“It’s brain cancer, but I’ve got a lot of work to do so I’m gonna get out of here and keep doing what I do,” he said.
Ashford, who first disclosed the diagnosis in a Facebook post Friday, said he felt grateful to be in the care of Nebraska Medicine.
“The health care here at Nebraska Medicine is beyond anything one could imagine, it’s so incredible,” he said. “I’ve been proud to work on many projects here, including the cancer center, interestingly. There’s nobody better.”
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Ashford represented Nebraska’s 2nd Congressional District from 2015-17 after defeating former Rep. Lee Terry, a Republican, in 2014. Before Congress, he served in the Nebraska Legislature for 16 years.
Ashford, a Democrat, lost his reelection bid to Republican challenger Don Bacon in 2016. He ran for the seat again in 2018 but lost in the Democratic primary to challenger Kara Eastman.
After Eastman defeated Ann Ashford in the 2020 Democratic primary, Brad Ashford ultimately endorsed Bacon in the general election. Ashford, who was a registered Republican before becoming an independent and ultimately a registered Democrat, said at the time that the country needed “unifiers not dividers in Congress.”
Bacon shared a statement on his Twitter account Friday in response to Ashford’s diagnosis.
“I, along with the whole community, stand with Brad and Ann, and pray for healing and a quick recovery,” he wrote. “Brad is a great leader in the Omaha community and has made a huge impact for so many. I am grateful for our friendship.”
Ashford said despite his health challenges he is focused on continuing to spread his message of bipartisanship.
“I’m not going anywhere,” he said. “But I think you learn from things like this that we, as a group, working together, we’re so much more powerful than when we’re fighting.”
150 Notable Nebraskans
2. Standing Bear
2. Standing Bear
A renowned Ponca chief, Standing Bear, in 1879, became the first Native to be legally recognized as a person.
In 1877, the federal government forced the Ponca from their northeast Nebraska land to Indian Territory in what is now Oklahoma. A year later, honoring the wish of his 16-year-old son to be buried along the Niobrara River, Standing Bear led a band of tribe members back to Nebraska.
Arrested for leaving the reservation, Standing Bear stood trial at Fort Omaha, his lawyers filing a writ of habeas corpus contesting the detention. The judge ruled in favor of Standing Bear and the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the ruling.
4. George Norris