Larry Hogan defeated non-Hodgkin's lymphoma five years ago, a fight that he says has colored many of his decisions as the Republican governor of Maryland, from criticizing President Trump to navigating the coronavirus pandemic.
"It changed me as a person and the way I look at life and what's important. And maybe that's one of the reasons I'm not afraid to stand up and say what I think," Hogan told NPR's All Things Considered. "Cancer is pretty scary. Nothing else really is going to scare me away from anything."
Maryland is currently experiencing an uptick in COVID-19 cases and has seen more than 83,000 cases and 3,300 deaths since the beginning of the pandemic, according to the state's database. And cases are increasing. On Saturday, the state had 1,288 new cases, the largest single-day increase since May 19, according to The Baltimore Sun.
"I do have a lot of empathy for people going through those kinds of things," Hogan said, adding that while his experience governing during the pandemic has differed greatly from his personal experience fighting cancer, there are parallels between the two. "It perhaps made me more intensely focused on trying to protect the health of everybody. It probably didn't just impact my decisions on the coronavirus, but probably everything I do as a governor."
Hogan recently had his five-year checkup and he remains cancer-free. "When the pandemic's over, I can go back and hug some people," he said.
But he still has to deal with a climbing health crisis in his state. Despite the increase in cases, Hogan said Tuesday that he will not change the state's reopening plan now, but added that he would consider doing so in the future if rates of deaths, new infections and hospitalizations continue to rise, The Washington Post reported.
"But as soon as we start to see numbers that don't look good, it's going to cause us to take whatever actions that are necessary," he said on C-SPAN on Tuesday. "My goal is to try to keep the economy safely open, because the economic crisis is nearly as bad as or just as bad as the health crisis."
Hogan dives into the pandemic, his cancer diagnosis, the protests for racial justice that flooded his state following the death of Freddie Gray in police custody and working in politics in 2020 in his book Still Standing: Surviving Cancer, Riots, a Global Pandemic, and the Toxic Politics that Divide America out Tuesday.