MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - A powerful member in the state senate, a veteran of nearly three decades in office but state Senator Wendell Mitchell was not around during the tumultuous final days of the legislative session. Now, Sen. Mitchell explains it was about a serious illness he continues to battle.
"Oh my goodness, look at that..." Senator Mitchell is still enjoying more than a thousand get well cards he has received and many of them from people he doesn't even know. Mitchell says they helped pull him through the worst of times. "I became ill in the latter part of the legislative session and I wasn't exactly sure what was wrong with me."
Even though he was ill, supporters of the bingo bill pulled him out of his sick bed and called him back to the state senate because they needed his vote for passage. Mitchell sat quietly in his seat during the bingo debate. "I was thinking that I think there's something a little more wrong with me than just bronchitis.
So, the very next day he went to find out what was wrong and got his diagnosis. "When I was diagnosed as having leukemia I was told that I could not be treated locally that I needed to go to a more upgraded hospital where cancer was their number one treatment."
He lost about 30 pounds since his two week treatment stay in a cancer hospital in Tampa, and his clothes are showing the loss. "The belt's in the last notch. There are no more notches."
He's up for re-election and it has to be asked if he is really ready to hit the campaign trail again? "I am, at this time, planning to run for re-election. When you have a problem like I've had, you have to leave the door cracked a little bit because you don't know what lies down the road. I'm going to put my health first and then I'm going to put the public service in perspective."
Even though Mitchell says he's in full remission and is feeling great, he says not back to normal yet. He says he's giving himself 60 days to see how he feels and will made a final decision on his re-election bid then.
Mitchell is the only Democrat running. He will face the winner of the Republican primary: Ray Boles, Ken Barnett and Bryan Taylor who are on the GOP ticket.