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Gov. Tony Evers on beating cancer before running for governor

Posted: 10:33 PM, Jan 07, 2019
Updated: 2019-01-08 04:33:44Z
Republicans not acting on Evers appointments amid lawsuit.

Gov. Tony Ever’s era has started in Madison, but Monday’s inauguration was a day that almost never happened.

Evers would say on the campaign trail, he beat cancer and I can beat Scott Walker. He’s now two for two.

At age 67, life is full of hope for Wisconsin's new governor. But 10 years ago, life turned very dark for Evers.

“I would say within those first two months of that diagnosis I thought I would be dead by now frankly,” Ever said.

That diagnosis was cancer of the esophagus. It was caught early, but five year survival rates are less than 50-50.

He says the experience helped change his perspective on what he wanted to do after beating cancer.

“Well it wasn't that I turned around from that experience and said I'm going to be governor in 10 years,” Evers said.

But he would run and get elected state superintendent, winning three statewide elections before running for governor.

The mild mannered Evers even surprised hard core Democrats that he could knock off a skillful, well funded politician like Gov. Scott Walker.

Victory would come in the early morning hours after election day. It was a big moment for a guy born and raised in small town Plymouth, Wisconsin, the “cheese capital of the world.”

“I worked in a cheese factory. I scraped mold off the cheese. Cheese looks differently before it comes to a store, believe me,” Evers said.

Plymouth is also where he met his wife Kathy in kindergarten. They started dating in high school.

He calls his wife his closest advisor, who he turns to for advice and emotional support in politics, and in his battle with cancer.

“She was right there and said we are going to get thru this and so that is the way she is,” he said.

Lots of things keep Evers grounded, including the cancer survivor bracelet he wears. It doesn’t define who he his, but it definitely changed his perspective on life.

“Probably a little less risk averse, and not sweating the small stuff and I think that is important frankly for any politician,” Evers said. “If you're going to get bent out of shape or somebody's making a odd comment about you, you may as well get the hell out of it frankly."