Ex-congressman Paul Mitchell says he has stage IV renal cancer

Charles E. Ramirez
The Detroit News

Independent former U.S. Rep. Paul Mitchell said Tuesday he was recently diagnosed with stage IV renal cancer, and said he narrowly survived after he developed a blood clot and had surgery.

Mitchell broke the news in an interview with WJR-AM News Talk 760 radio's Guy Gordon. The 64-year-old retired congressman said he received the diagnosis about three weeks ago.

Rep. Paul Mitchell

"I was having some bad back issues," he said. "But it wasn't. It was stage IV cancer. Pretty shocking to get that kind of diagnosis."

He said he had surgery two weeks ago to remove a mass and a blood clot that had moved near his heart.

"It's really aggressive and (the mass) broke free with a blood clot behind it," Mitchell  said. "I was probably only a few days away from dying. I knew I was sick, but I didn't realize how serious the problem was."

He thanked his surgeons at Henry Ford Macomb Hospital for saving his life. He said they estimated the chances of surviving the surgery were about 10%.

"The surgeons down here performed a miracle," Mitchell said. "They were skilled, and they were bold.

"For me, Guy, it's a gift. Everyone believes they have forever. Everyone believes there's no tomorrow. I was fortunate. God gave me a miracle."

Things continued to get worse. A few days later, Mitchell said, he had a bad reaction to a drug and spent a day and a half in a coma.

"The point I want to make to people is we only have ... make sure your balance makes sense because you may not have tomorrow," he told Gordon. 

Mitchell announced in December 2020 that he was retiring from public life and won't run for governor of Michigan or seek any other office. He said he was retiring to spend more time with his family.

Weeks before that, the conservative lawmaker announced his disaffiliation with the GOP, citing his disgust with the party leadership's tolerance of President Donald Trump's efforts to overturn the results of the election. 

A former corporate executive, he was often mentioned as a potential GOP candidate for governor in Michigan in 2022.

Mitchell said he is undergoing physical therapy and is scheduled to begin immunotherapy in the next couple of weeks.

"They give me a 50/50 chance of getting into remission," he said. "But either way, I'm going to go down swinging."

Republican businesswoman Lisa McClain of Bruce Township was elected to fill Mitchell's seat, representing the heavily Republican 10th District, which covers a part of northern Macomb County as well as St. Clair, Huron, Tuscola, Sanilac and Lapeer counties.


Twitter: @CharlesERamirez