[Updated after the jump: Fiorina will be released today -- and is expected back on the trail by tomorrow.]
[Updated after the jump with the probability that this is just an infection. Expert commentary from Laura Kruper, M.D., an assistant professor of breast surgery at the City of Hope cancer center in Duarte, CA, just northeast of L.A. Originally posted on Oct. 26 at 10:33 a.m.]
This just in: There was an unforeseen wrench thrown in Republican senatorial candidate Carly Fiorina's campaign this morning. Fiorina has been hospitalized due to an infection related to the reconstructive surgery she received after surviving breast cancer.
She was diagnosed with the illness in
March February 2009.
The hospitalization continues a streak of bad luck for the former Hewlett-Packard CEO, who is about five points behind Democratic candidate Barbara Boxer in the polls, and worse, was voted as having Worse Hair.
Her official, soaringly optimistic statement:
"Carly learned more than a year and a half ago that she, like millions of women, had breast cancer. After successfully battling cancer, she had reconstructive surgery this summer and remains cancer free today. However, this morning Carly came down with an infection associated with the reconstructive surgery and, as a result, she was admitted to the hospital to receive antibiotics to treat this infection. While this will impact her campaign schedule today, Carly is upbeat and her doctors expect her to make a quick and full recovery and be back out on the campaign trail soon. Carly is looking forward to getting back to her full campaign schedule and to defeating Barbara Boxer on November 2."
You never know -- a few pity votes could really turn things around for Fiorina.
Update, Oct. 26 at 12:19 p.m.: According to a study published in the American Medical Association's Archives of Surgery, surgical site infections occurred in 5.3 percent of women who had received reconstructive surgery within one year of the operation. (The study was conducted by the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis from 1999 to 2002.)
Fiorina has never disclosed whether she received implants or used her own tissue to rebuild after the double mastectomy. If she had chosen the former option, today's "infection" would be a little more likely -- at 12 percent probability, as opposed to just over 6 percent, according to the study.
Researchers also found that the average lapse between surgery and the appearance of an infection was about 47 days. Seeing as Fiorina went under the knife at the beginning of July, her infection would be coming a month or so late of the norm.
Back then, Fiorina chief of staff Deborah Bowker told the Los Angeles Times: "Carly is in good spirits and is happy to have concluded this difficult chapter in her life."
Oops. She may have spoken too soon. Check back for more updates on Fiorina's mysterious hospitalization.
Update, Oct. 26 at 5:45 p.m.: The City of Hope cancer center's Laura Kruper says that -- though many health factors affect a woman's likelihood for infection after reconstructive surgery -- the average rate is "anywhere from 5 to 10 percent."
However, she added that most infections occur within a week. An infection two-and-a-half months later "would be unusual," Kruper said.
Even if Fiorina does have an infection -- as her campaign managers allege -- Kruper explained that a typical recuperation process would require two-plus weeks of intravenous antibiotics.
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In short: Fiorina's election-day appearance on November 2, be it in victory or defeat, won't likely be a healthy one.
Update, 10:55 a.m.: Fiorina's publicists have released the following statement:
"Since she was admitted to the hospital yesterday morning, Carly has been successfully treated for the infection she had as a result of reconstructive surgery following her victory over breast cancer. This morning, her doctors gave her the good news that she will be released form the hospital today and can resume her busy campaign scheduled tomorrow."
All we can say is: What a trooper. How can Boxer compete with a cancer survivor who overcomes reconstructive-surgery infections in 24 hours flat? She'd best be holding tight to that five-point lead.