New research suggests that Franklin Delano Roosevelt (FDR) may have lied to Americans about his health before running for his fourth term in office.
Dr. Steven Lomazow, a neurologist, and journalist Eric Fettman teamed up to study the possibility that FDR’s doctors knew in 1944 that Roosevelt had widespread cancer.
Lomazow and Fettman’s book FDR’s Deadly Secret is scheduled to be released in January.
In it, they suggest that Roosevelt had melanoma, and it metastasized throughout Roosevelt’s body, including his brain.
FDR and his doctors, according to the book, lied to Americans to ensure his reelection, and a coverup has since hidden the truth.
FDR may have died more than 60 years ago, but these questions still matter. Not only does presidential health—and the public’s right to know about it—remain a controversial issue, but in Roosevelt’s case, the lies in question, if true, changed history. As neurologist Steven Lomazow and journalist Eric Fettman point out in a book coming out this January, FDR’s Deadly Secret, widespread knowledge of Roosevelt’s cancer would have prevented him from running in 1944 and thus likely altered the shaping of postwar Europe […]
Over the years, other rumors about Roosevelt’s health circulated, including the claim that he had suffered strokes. Most interesting was a 1979 paper in Surgery, Gynecology and Obstetrics by a surgeon and amateur historian, Harry Goldsmith, who noted that an enlarging skin lesion above Roosevelt’s left eye disappeared in photographs after 1940. He theorized that the lesion was a melanoma, the deadliest of skin cancers, and that the disease had spread to Roosevelt’s abdomen, causing him episodes of severe pain during the last months of his life.
Goldsmith’s article received national attention, and he eventually self-published a book on Roosevelt’s medical condition. But Lomazow and Fettman have greatly expanded Goldsmith’s research. What they believe is that the melanoma spread not only to Roosevelt’s abdomen but to his brain. The bleed that killed the president, they hypothesize, was due to the cancer, not the hypertension.
If Roosevelt did have melanoma, it would explain a great deal of what we currently know about Roosevelt’s health. But Lomazow and Fettman have taken their research a step further, analyzing Roosevelt’s speeches and handwriting.
As a prominent neurologist, Lomazow believes FDR suffered from a brain tumor, and he has some convincing evidence. According to the book, Roosevelt suffered from a loss of vision and bouts of confusion. He even made repeated trips to cancer specialists.
The most provocative evidence the authors present is that Roosevelt had a left-sided hemianopsia—a loss in vision—toward the end of his life. This indicated a mass in the right side of his brain. Lomazow and Fettman arrive at this conclusion based on an ingenious bit of research. On March 1, 1945, Roosevelt had given a speech to Congress, reporting on his recent trip to Yalta to meet with British Prime Minister Winston Churchill and Soviet leader Joseph Stalin. During the speech, Roosevelt appeared confused: He skipped words in his prepared remarks, ad-libbed, and repeated several points. Critics later seized on this speech as evidence that the president was deteriorating mentally.
Lomazow and Fettman obtained both a video of Roosevelt giving the speech and the text he used. Comparing the two, they concluded that the president could not see the left side of the page. His seeming mistakes and confusion reflected his attempts to compensate. The authors also found evidence of similar behavior by FDR when he had read another speech for newsreel cameras. There are also several other reasons to suspect that Roosevelt had cancer: He appears to have made secret visits to at least two cancer specialists for evaluation of melanoma, possible prostate cancer, or both. He also lost more than 30 pounds during his last year of life. Although Bruenn suggested that the weight loss stemmed from dieting, Lomazow and Fettman believe that cancer—leading to abdominal pain and loss of appetite—makes more sense.
If FDR tried to hide his cancer from the public, it wouldn’t be the first time he deceived people about his health.
FDR suffered from polio in 1921, and afterwords insisted that photographers hide the fact that he needed a wheelchair.
According to Slate, FDR also hid his extremely high blood pressure and congestive heart failure.
If Lomazow and Fettman are right that FDR had melanoma, and it spread throughout his body, it’s reasonable to assume that he’d try to bury that from view as well.
What do you think of this new revelation?