Assemblyman Jack Ciattarelli, a candidate for the Republican nomination for governor, announced Thursday that he has recently undergone successful surgery for throat cancer but is scaling back his campaign due to effects from radiation therapy.

Ciattarelli said he’ll do campaign events a few times each week and that surrogates will fill in for him over the next month or so. He and his doctors expect he’ll be back at 100 percent in about a month.

“I’m not going to give up this gubernatorial campaign that easily,” Ciattarelli said. “I will beat the cancer. I will beat the consequences, side effects of radiation therapy. And I plan on beating my opponents in the primary. And I plan on beating whoever it is that’s up against me in November.”

Ciattarelli, R-Somerset, said oropharyngeal cancer affecting the back of his throat and tonsils was removed at Mount Sinai Hospital on Nov. 15, as were lymph nodes on both sides of his neck.

He said there’s no sign of cancer currently but that he began radiation treatment Dec. 21 to kill any remaining cells. He receives it five days a week, until Jan. 31. Now near the end of its third week, it’s wearing him down.

“I feel very, very good about my candidacy. I feel phenomenal about the care that I’m getting. I am excited about my prognosis,” said Ciattarelli, 55, who said more than 90 percent of people his age and overall health make a full recovery from his type of cancer.

“But the facts are the facts in terms of what I’m feeling right now,” he said. “And quite frankly, it started to feel like an 8,000-pound gorilla on my back to not share it with the public.”

Ciattarelli said he felt what he thought was a swollen gland in October, two weeks after he became a gubernatorial candidate, which proved to be a tumor. Two lymph nodes on his left side had stage 4 cancer.

Ciattarelli said he underwent a complete PET scan at Mount Sinai in early November and that it didn’t detect cancer anywhere else in his body.

“So what I’m going to do is take it day by day,” Ciattarelli said. “The difference is up until right now, I’ve been going to everything. And I mean everything. And what I’m learning is that that’s probably not in my best interest for the next two or three weeks.”

Ciattarelli is one of four Republicans to declare for governor, along with Nutley Commissioner Steve Rogers, Ocean County businessman Joseph Rullo and – as of Thursday, when she filed paperwork with the Election Law Enforcement Commission – Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno.

“I just saw her in the hallways and said, ‘I got a four month head start on you. You might be able to pick up some ground on me in the next month, but come February we’re both going to be out there pounding away.’ And we had a good laugh over it,” Ciattarelli said.

Democratic candidate Phil Murphy offered Ciattarelli kind words on Twitter:

 

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