Mia Love shares more about her brain cancer journey

Former Utah Rep. Mia Love takes the stage to speak at the Together in Christ Utah YSA Conference at the Salt Palace in Salt Lake City on Saturday, Aug. 19, 2023.
Former Utah Rep. Mia Love takes the stage to speak at the Together in Christ Utah YSA Conference at the Salt Palace in Salt Lake City on Saturday, Aug. 19, 2023. | Spenser Heaps, Deseret News
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Former Utah Rep. Mia Love spoke with Jake Tapper, the lead Washington anchor for CNN, on Wednesday to share more about how her faith has helped her in her cancer journey.

Tapper introduced Love’s segment by saying that “Congresswoman Mia Love is used to fighting political battles. But now, she’s fighting a battle that is much more personal and frankly, much more consequential.” Love had been diagnosed with a brain tumor in 2022. It was last August at the YSA Area Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints that she first shared her diagnosis publicly.

She described to Tapper how she was on vacation with her family in Puerto Rico and had a bad headache. At first, she dismissed it — she told herself, everyone gets headaches, right? But the headache became unbearable and she felt like two icepicks were stabbing in her brain. Her husband, Jason, rushed her to a local hospital, where she got a CAT scan. As she shared last year, the doctor reading them asked, “Was that there before?” A tumor in her brain was clearly obvious.

Love rushed home to Utah to have surgery, which removed about 95% of the tumor. The tumor was not benign. It was a Grade 4, fast-growing tumor. Glioblastoma multiforme, the same type of brain cancer that took the life of Sens. Ted Kennedy and John McCain and former Delaware Attorney General Beau Biden, the oldest son of President Joe Biden.

She followed up with chemotherapy and radiation, but the prognosis was dire. One of approximately 14,000 Americans diagnosed with glioblastoma every year, Love said she was given 10 to 15 months to live.

“They can figure out the diagnosis,” she said, “but I did not have to take the prognosis.”

Faith as an essential part of the journey

Tapper asked if her membership in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints had helped. “Absolutely,” she said. “I was looking for a cure in faith and in science,” she told him. She talked about her patriarchal blessing, a blessing that members of the church receive through an ordained patriarch that includes personal guidance and promises from the Lord. The blessing is recorded and transcribed so recipients can refer to them throughout their lives.

In her blessing, she said that she was promised “a long and prosperous life, a rich and rewarding life, as long as you decide to remain upon this earth.” That promise inspired her to keep looking for possible treatments and even a cure. Former colleagues in Congress put her in touch with Dr. Henry Friedman, a neuro-oncologist and deputy director of the Preston Robert Tisch Brain Tumor Center at Duke University in North Carolina.

Friedman said, “The single most important thing we offered her is hope.” Hope, and participation in an immunotherapy clinical trial. Using the body’s own boosted immune cells to target and kill cancer, immunotherapy has become an important part in treating some cancers, including glioblastoma. Love has been receiving that treatment every three weeks for months and says that her scans show either no growth, or even a slight reduction in the size of the tumor.

“While this treatment is working for Mia Love, it’s too soon to know just how long this will continue working,” Tapper explained.

Love is leaning into hope and faith to help her through this journey. She has had nearly an extra year of life past her original prognosis, one that Tapper said she has spent “enjoying every moment with her family.”