This is a rush transcript from "Your World with Neil Cavuto," April 11, 2007, that may be updated:
NEIL CAVUTO, HOST: In the meantime, this fellow has been called the GOP's hole card. Fred Thompson has not announced that he is running for president, at least not yet. Still some polls have him right out there with the frontrunners.
Today he had a whole different kind of announcement to make. He has got cancer. And he told me about it in this exclusive interview.
CAVUTO: Senator, talk about bombshells.
FRED THOMPSON, FORMER TENNESSEE SENATOR: Well, I don't know if it's a bombshell or not, but I posted something on the Internet today. I do a commentary as part of my work for ABC Radio and filling in for Paul Harvey. And today, my commentary, which I usually post, is more of a personal nature. And I talked about the courageous battle that we are all watching the Edwards family face, as he runs for president.
And so many of my friends that I know, and we all know, have friends, that have fought this battle. Many of mine are in the Senate and some are running for president, all of whom have successfully dealt with it. And how it is no respecter of persons and totally a non-partisan, bipartisan problem, and I have said today that it has touched my life also.
And that about, oh, two-and-a-half years ago, a little longer than that, while doing a routine physical exam, the doctor found a little bump in my neck there. And a little later on I had it checked out. It turned out to be what doctors call an indolent lymphoma. And I learned that there are over 30 different kinds of lymphomas. Some are very aggressive, and some are indolent, or not aggressive at all. And mine, fortunately, was the good kind, if you can ever call something like that a good kind.
I was — did some treatment, was put into remission and still am. And to go out of remission, to have drugs nowadays that can maintain it, you know, indefinitely, and it shouldn't effect your lifespan at all.
CAVUTO: Remission, but not a cure.
THOMPSON: Well, I don't know if cure is ever the operative word when you're talking about cancer, quite frankly. But if it comes back, the doctors tell me, with a drug — in my case, a new drug called Rituxan that has been around for a few years now, but can maintain it, and people usually die of something else.
But the other fortunate thing about it is that I have had no sickness, no symptoms, I wouldn't know I had it if the doctor hadn't told me that I had it. I have been able to go on about my life, been working a couple of jobs now, and...
CAVUTO: You have had this for two-and-a-half years.
THOMPSON: A little longer actually.
CAVUTO: All right. So you haven't told anyone.
THOMPSON: Oh, I have friends, and of course my family.
CAVUTO: So why now? Why today?
THOMPSON: Well, Neil, as you know, I'm thinking about running for president. There are certain things you have to check off, in my mind, in order to do that. Some of them are professional, your business obligations. Some of them are political. You have to decide whether or not, in my case, the man fits the times, and you are needed and you can do something for your country. Those are major considerations.
Some of them are personal. For example, I have got a young family at home, and I'm not going to abandon them. I don't think you have to. A lot of people seem to think otherwise, consultants and so forth, but you have to think all that thing through. And Jeri and I have talked about that a lot. This is a part of that; what I'm doing today is a part of that. I think people.
CAVUTO: So if you were not considering running for president, you and I wouldn't be sitting here then.
THOMPSON: No, no. As much as I love you.
THOMPSON: . I wouldn't be sitting here talking to you today.
CAVUTO: So you are seriously thinking of running for president. What would it take to make you actually run for president?
THOMPSON: Well, I think — get back to that point in just a minute. I do think the day and age we live in, I mean, anytime you mention the C-word, you know, it causes concern, although a lot of people in politics have successfully dealt with it. And I wanted to make sure it wasn't misconstrued or the wrong story got out about it and what it was like.
I'm posting, incidentally, a statement of my doctor, who — the professional specialist over at Georgetown who is an expert in this, and my doctor. And of course he basically says — I'm saying basically what he said. But the American people have the right to know this, and they have the right to voice their opinion, whether or not they think it is a big deal or not.
I know it is not a big deal, as far as my health is concerned, as much as a person can know about things like that. But other people have the right to look at it and weigh in, and I have a need to factor that in to my decision in terms of the reaction that I get about it.
So it is another personal thing that I needed to do in order to put myself into position to be able to objectively to make a decision about my future.
CAVUTO: So you could run for president with this, you could be president with this...
THOMPSON: Oh, yes.
CAVUTO: ... and you have complete faith, and you doctors have complete faith that you are physically up to that?
THOMPSON: Yes. You know, I — since I got married, I have lived a very healthy lifestyle in terms of diet and in terms of exercise, and so I work out three times a week, and sometimes I do the Harvey show in the morning and "Law & Order" in the afternoon. And there have been some 14-hour days and so forth.
So it is literally irrelevant in terms of my daily routine is concerned. And of course, you know, we had another child. We have got a 4-month-old little boy at home.
CAVUTO: Good for you.
THOMPSON: So my life goes on as normal. Nobody knows about the future, of course, but as much as the doctors can tell — and he is not the only one, this doctor is not the only one that me or my representatives have talked to about this, it should not be a factor.
But again, you know, it is not going to be something that I try to sit on or, you know, hope doesn't come out or anything like that. I haven't really tried to make it that much of a secret. I just go on about my life, and when it comes up in conversation with my friends, if there is something relevant...
CAVUTO: But this is a big bombshell. I have got to say it, Senator, that you are doing it differently than others would do it, and have done it. I'm thinking about the Edwards' press conference. There was really quite a few reporters, quite a big scene. You could have gone that route. You went this route. Why?
THOMPSON: Well, you know, everyone has to do what they think is best, and I — what they did was best for them, I'm sure. I have nothing to say about that.
I'm doing it a way that I think is commensurate with the seriousness of it. It is serious in that I think people need to know about it, but it is not serious in terms of my life, I don't think. And this is the way that I'm comfortable with.
I have had the commentary. It goes up — it will go up on ABC. It is already up on ABC Radio — ABC News Web site and others this morning put it out there. Sit down with, you know, a guy who I respect, quite frankly, and talk about this a little bit, and then go on home, and you know, read the newspapers and relax a little bit. I have been working for a couple of days up here now, and see what happens.