Neil's Heroes: Geraldine Ferraro

This is a partial transcript from "Your World with Neil Cavuto," June 2, 2004, that was edited for clarity.

Click here to watch the interview

NEIL CAVUTO, HOST: Well, I’ve said it before, I’m going to say it again. I’ve got my bias here. Not all CEOs are crooks, not all priests are pedophiles, not all politicians are evil. And in my next guest’s case, surprise — not all liberals are that bad.

Kidding, of course. They are that bad. No they’re not, seriously.

For those of you who’ve been watching this show recently, I’ve begun profiling on this show modern-day profiles in courage from my book "More Than Money," which, did I tell you is out in bookstores everywhere, in which I offer proof there are heroes among us. And they come from the left, the right, Republican, Democrat, rich, poor, you name it.

Which leads me to my next entry, and an incredible one at that. You know her as the first woman on a major presidential ticket in American history. I know her simply as Gerri, Gerri Ferraro, the cancer battler. And this latest struggle makes that White House battle look like a walk in the park.

Geraldine, good to have you.

GERALDINE FERRARO, FMR. VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Thank you. It’s fun to be back with you, Neil.

CAVUTO: First of all, it’s great to include you in the book.

FERRARO: Thank you. I read the book this weekend. It is a very, very fast read, and it was really quite interesting. I was stunned by the stories.

CAVUTO: Thank you. But I want to get back to you here and blow some smoke in your way.


CAVUTO: And one of the things that amazed me, you are battling life and death here with this very rare type of blood cancer, for want of a simpler term. First, how are you feeling?

FERRARO: Well, I’m feeling quite good. And let me just say to you that I have — my youngest daughter is a doctor, and one of the things she said to me about three years ago — well, this has been going on for five- and-a-half years.

She said to me — maybe about two years ago, she said to me, "You know, mom, cancer sucks." And I said, "Oh. And Laura, is that a medical diagnosis?" And she said, "To be quite frank, it is not a good disease." She said, "It’s terrible." She said, "But you are so lucky."

And I really am. I am so lucky it is this. And I read about people in your book who have other types of cancer.

This disease now, there has been so much research done in the last three years that I go from medication to medication, and it stops working, there is always something else. And the doctors, the research that has been done is so great. And these doctors are so dedicated, and literally throughout the country.

CAVUTO: But Geraldine, you are being nice here.

FERRARO: No, no. I’m serious about this.

CAVUTO: You know what you’re dealing with is life and death.


CAVUTO: And you know while you are in and out of remission it could be very bad.

FERRARO: Well, that’s right. And the thing that gets you is, when you go in and out, it plays on your head. It’s a real head game. But because there is so much happening, you really have to turn and say thank god its this and not something else. I mean, I really do.

CAVUTO: But you decided to do something much like Joe Torre, another fellow I profile. And he was saying, "Look, I can’t change the fact — in his case — I have prostate cancer."

FERRARO: That’s right.

CAVUTO: "But I can warn other people about it. I can raise the awareness of it." You have essentially been doing it with this. But you used your high profile in a way. You called in your political chits, if you will.

FERRARO: And part of it — Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison, Republican from Texas, good friend, her brother Alan has the same disease.


FERRARO: And so she got very involved. And Senator McCulsky, a Democrat from Maryland, is my closest friend. She’s like the sister I never had. And the two of them got together and put in legislation that got $250 million for blood cancer research, which is one of the reasons why I became public.

I became public so that they would have hearings. As a result of those hearings, Kay and Barbara got a bill passed, and we had it signed in the White House, $250 million to blood cancer research and $25 million for education. The research bill is named after Joe Mogly (ph). The education bill is named after Geraldine Ferraro, which I was so honored that that happened.

CAVUTO: Right.

FERRARO: The first $5 million Kay got this past year was going to the various not-for-profits that are handling — the foundations that are handling the education of the consumer.

One of the things that I spoke to Kay about was, over the past five- and-a-half years — well, actually now it’s after the past three-and-a-half years since I’ve become public — I get calls literally from people all over the country. I got a call from a woman from Georgia who had — her senator had called and asked if I would speak to her, and I said, "Sure."

What is happening is, this disease, because so little is known about it, there aren’t too many doctors who are doctors of the same — with the same knowledge as mine are. I mean, if I get a call from somebody in Wyoming, they are going to someone in town, that person is going to look something up in a book and maybe not give them the right treatment.

CAVUTO: But I know you are a deeply religious person as well. I mean, you had a lot of problems when you were running for vice president with your position, pro-choice during the presidential run. But did that help you — does that help you?

FERRARO: My religion?

CAVUTO: How would you describe it? Yes.

FERRARO: Yes. Well, for one thing, you know I have my mother and all the nuns who took care of me when I was a little girl growing up who are all praying like crazy. Plus a few of those nuns and priests around now.

CAVUTO: Right. Well, Joe Torre had a sister who was a nun.



FERRARO: But the other thing is, I think one of the real things that I have is I have family. And you kind of turn around and say, good god, what happens to people who don’t?

I mean, I have a supportive husband. I mean, he’s there all the time. And my kids, one after the other have taken up and really have — if we need do something, they are there to do it. And it is just really amazing how they have their arms around me. And plus my cousins call from Florida. Italian families, you know Italian families.

CAVUTO: Could I be blunt with you?


CAVUTO: And please, I mean no disrespect her.


CAVUTO: But I always ask people who are dealing with life-threatening situations, what if you lose? Do your relatives say to you, mom you have been so good, you’ve done so much for the country, you’ve done so much for our family, you’re a good person. Why did this happen? Is there any bitterness?

FERRARO: No, no, no, no. And the thing about it is, you know, life is very short.

My father died with no disease at 44 years old suddenly of a heart attack overnight. So, you know — and my mother was almost 85. She died of emphysema. So, you know, am I going to be someplace in between there? Probably.

My brother was 67 with a heart attack. So you kind of turn around and you say...

CAVUTO: So you’re 39 now.

FERRARO: Exactly. But the thing about it is, you know, that is part of the normal cycle of things. I am not into suffering, I’ll tell you that much.


FERRARO: And I think that that is kind of a little bit more difficult. But, you know, I have done things that I want to do. I anticipate — my doctors have said to me, "We are going to keep going." They do give me hope, Neil.

CAVUTO: That’s good.

FERRARO: And I think that that is one thing that people should not let up on, is hope. And they tell me I’m going to live long enough not only to see my grandchildren go to college, but to help pay for their college tuition.

CAVUTO: Oh, boy. And to terrorize all those conservatives.

FERRARO: Yes, exactly.

CAVUTO: Geraldine Ferraro, thank you very much.

FERRARO: Good seeing you.

CAVUTO: A real hero. And you can read more about her in her book.

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