All-Access: Laura Bush Meets U.S. Troops in Kuwait

This is a rush transcript from "On the Record ," October 31, 2007. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, HOST: Tonight, you continue to go inside the First Lady's trip to the Middle East.

Now, Mrs. Bush was in the Middle East all last week promoting breast cancer awareness, and we took our cameras with us so that you could be there with her. Last Thursday, Mrs. Bush met with U.S. troops in Kuwait.


LAURA BUSH, FIRST LADY OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Each and every one of you here, I thank you for your very warm welcome. I'm the one who should be applauding you for what you've done. You've earned the respect and the gratitude of the American people, including and especially your Commander in Chief. Thank you all very, very much.


VAN SUSTEREN: And after that, it was off to Amman, Jordan. The First Lady sat down with us and went On the Record.


VAN SUSTEREN: Mrs. Bush, nice to see you. But we've spent the week together.

BUSH: We have. And now we're in Amman, Jordan, on the last night of the trip. It's been a terrific trip.

VAN SUSTEREN: It's gorgeous up here, isn't it?

BUSH: It is beautiful.

VAN SUSTEREN: I think the first article I ever read about you—and it is widely reported, I don't know if it is right or wrong—is that you said that you were content with your husband running for office as long as you never had to give a speech.

BUSH: That's what I said when we were married. That was our prenuptial, that he was running for Congress and that I would never have to give a political speech.

VAN SUSTEREN: You've been hop-scotching around all these countries in the Middle East giving speeches nonstop. What happened?

BUSH: Well, a lot happened, I guess, in the 30 years that we've been married in November—just next week, actually, it will be 30 years that we've been married.

And so a lot's happened, and it's actually a huge privilege to be able to do these sort of trips and to travel on behalf of the American people and talk about these projects that the American people are partners in, especially this one that will save women's lives all over the world.

So it's been really, really a wonderful opportunity for me to have the chance to give these speeches.

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, regrettably, it seems like everybody has a story. And even your mother suffered from breast cancer.

BUSH: I think that's right, and I think we've heard some unbelievable stories this week.

But my grandmother had breast cancer, and we didn't know it. She lived in El Paso and we were in Midland, and just the next time we went to visit her, she told us that she'd had a mastectomy, and she was fine.

It was a long time ago. She didn't have any sort of treatment. And she did not die of breast cancer. She was an older woman when she got it.

And then the same thing happened to my mother. It was after my father had died—shortly after he died, actually, that she found out. She found out in a routine mammogram that she has every year that she had a little spot. So she had a mastectomy and didn't have to have treatment. And she, of course, is doing great, and still fine. But I know from that that I have breast cancer in my family, that I need to be watched, that I need to be careful, and it's something I tell Barbara and Jenna as well.

VAN SUSTEREN: So many people when they hear the word "cancer," it's the big scare. How long ago was it when you learned about your mother, and how did you hear about it?

BUSH: She told me, of course. She called me to tell me. George was governor, as I remember. We were living in the governor's mansion when it happened. And so I went home to Midland and was there with her when she went into surgery, and then there when she came out. And then I stayed with her for a few days afterwards as long as she needed somebody to stay with her.

But she did not have to suffer like a lot of people do because it was the kind of cancer that was not that virulent, as is a lot of breast cancer in older women.

And because her mother had had breast cancer, she always had a mammogram every year, so she caught it early. And that's the message on this trip, and that is to get out the message to women all across the Middle East to do breast self-exams, to look for lumps themselves, and then to have mammograms, because early detection is the closest thing we have to a cure.

VAN SUSTEREN: It is interesting, that, for instance, in Saudi Arabia, if you have breast cancer, you can't drive yourself to chemotherapy, and you may not even be able to get chemotherapy unless you get permission from your husband. That's pretty different.

BUSH: That's different, and the other thing—although I'm sure this also happens in other places around the world, including the United States--but many women's husbands leave them when they have breast cancer because they think it's embarrassing or they're just not interested in the woman anymore.

The women that we were with, several of them had great stories about the way their husbands did support them, though. And, in fact, one woman, whose husband had stayed with her, of course, and supported her in every way he could, and her son shaved their heads when she was in chemotherapy in solidarity with her.

So we heard probably very similar stories that we could hear in the U.S. if you talked to women, a lot of different women, about how they dealt and how their families dealt with breast cancer.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right. Let's go back to where I started this about giving speeches. In your wildest dreams coming out of school and becoming a teacher, could you ever imagine that you would be in Jordan having hop-scotched around the Middle East, giving speeches all over on something like breast cancer? Was that ever on your radar screen?

BUSH: It was never on my radar screen.

VAN SUSTEREN: Never? You never thought this would be your life.

BUSH: Never. When I came out of school, I thought I would be a schoolteacher, which I was, which I loved.

VAN SUSTEREN: So how did this happen?

BUSH: I just married the right person, I guess.

VAN SUSTEREN: So you've enjoyed this, and are you tired?

BUSH: I'm not tired. I've had a terrific time. This has been a really great trip.

And I think it's a very meaningful trip. And it's a really wonderful way for Americans to reach out to people in the Middle East.

This is something we can all talk about. This is something we all, in many families, every single one of us know somebody who has had breast cancer, whether it's a family member or a friend.

And I think this is a really good way that we can share what we have in the United States with these countries and learn from them, and learn what they find out as they work on this very important issue.


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