ST. PAUL, Minn. Sen. Paul Wellstone announced Sunday that he has a mild form of multiple sclerosis, but he said it wouldn't stop his bid for a third term in Congress.
"Nothing's changed at all," the Democrat said Sunday. "I'm ready to go."
Wellstone's doctor diagnosed the disease a month ago and said the senator had probably had it for about 15 years.
U.S. Sen. Paul Wellstone, D-Minn., announces he has been diagnosed with a mild form of multiple sclerosis, Sunday, Feb 24, 2002, at his home in St. Paul, Minn. Wellstone said it would not affect his campaign for a third senate term. Seated with him are his physician, Dr. J.D. Bartleson, left, a Mayo Clinic neurologist, and his wife, Sheila. (AP Photo/ Paul Battaglia)
In Wellstone's case, the chronic, sometimes disabling disease of the nervous system only affects his right leg. His physician, John Bartleson of the Mayo Clinic, said Sunday that Wellstone would not need to take any medication and could proceed with his normal day-to-day activities. He said the stress of a campaign shouldn't pose a problem.
Wellstone faces a strong challenge from former St. Paul Mayor Norm Coleman, a Republican, in his bid for re-election this fall. A recent poll showed the two men nearly tied.
Wellstone said Sunday that he wasn't worried about the stress of the campaign.
"For me, no stress would be stress," he said.
The primary progressive multiple sclerosis won't shorten Wellstone's life, Bartleson said Sunday. He said the problem is confined to the motor system in the senator's lower right leg. Unlike other forms of the disease that can be helped by medication, no specific treatment has been found.
The Senator said he decided to go public with the news because he wanted to be honest with people.
For years, people have asked him why he limps. He always told them it was an old athletic injury.
"I don't want to be dishonest with anyone," he said. "I can no longer say it was a wrestling injury because it is not."
The Associated Press