Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter announced that doctors can no longer detect signs of cancer in his body. The 91-year-old broke the news to his Sunday school students on Dec. 6.
Carter had announced that Stage IV melanoma had spread to his brain and liver on Aug. 20. The grave diagnosis would have been a terminal one as little as five years ago, but recent advancements in treatment have given melanoma sufferers hope in recovery, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports.
Carter has been treated at the Emory University Winship Cancer Institute, receiving a combination of immunotherapeutic drugs and radiation therapy. A recent MRI brain scan reportedly shows no traces of the cancer.
The former president announced his remission to his Sunday school class at the Maranatha Baptist Church in Plains, Georgia, prompting rapturous applause.
Carter broke away from the Southern Baptist Convention in 2009 after finding the denomination’s views on women to be at odds with his own personal values. He still practices as a Baptist, according to the Los Angeles Times.
“It’s like getting the biggest Christmas gift that you could ever want,” Jan Williams, a friend and student at Carter’s Sunday school class, told the AJC.
“I never felt God was through using Jimmy Carter yet," Williams added. "He’s done what the doctors told him to do, and what an example that is for the rest of us.”
“There’s no cancer in his body at this point,” Carter’s grandson, James Carter, confirmed. “He’s not going to stop doing the treatment, but at this point, there’s no cancer.”
While Carter said he is cancer-free, the American Cancer Society’s deputy chief medical officer Dr. Len Lichtenfeld said that there is no guarantee that the cancer will not return.
“It [the MRI results] doesn’t mean that there is no cancer in his body; it means that there is no indication that they can find cancer for the present,” Lichtenfeld said, adding that Carter is still quite lucky.
“The president has done exceptionally well," he said. "There are still many patients with melanoma who don’t have this outcome.”
Being declared cancer-free wasn’t the only good news for Carter that week. The former president also received his seventh Grammy nomination in the Best Spoken Word Album category, as recognition for his audio recording of “A Full Life: Reflections at Ninety,” The Hill reports.