Carly Fiorina Talks About Her Battle With Cancer

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Former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina is thinking about running for the GOP nomination against California Senator Barbara Boxer next year. Earlier this week, she put up a campaign website that got what could charitably be described as unenthusiastic reviews. “A little weird,” wrote Holly Bailey of Newsweek. CNN added that even her fellow Republicans are “snickering about her bare-bones site.” And Christopher Orr at the New Republic ventured that the site was possibly “the sorriest in recent political history.”

I’ll agree that the website left a lot to be desired. But after a conversation I had with Fiorina last week, I’m willing to cut her some slack for not having managed the smoothest campaign launch. Fiorina has had a lot on her plate lately. Last week, she was on a panel of cancer survivors that I moderated at Fortune’s Most Powerful Women Summit in North San Diego. Both she and Elizabeth Edwards had originally intended to be there in person, but both instead had to appear by video because of the demands of the treatment they are undergoing. While Edwards has been very public about her ordeal, Fiorina has not had much to say about hers, since the announcement of her diagnosis last March. So I asked her how she is doing. We saw the very human side of a woman known for her toughness:

Whatever your politics, Fiorina’s warning to be vigilant, even if you get regular mammograms, is good advice–for your mom, your sister, your daughter, yourself. You can see a longer excerpt from our discussion, including an update from Elizabeth Edwards on her own health, at Fortune’s blog here.

Click on the longer version, and you can also hear the perspectives of two other fascinating women who were on the panel: Heavy-hitting Hollywood producer Laura Ziskin (who brought us, among other projects, the Spider-Man series) and biotech entrepreneur and scientist Laura Shawver. Both cancer survivors who wanted to do something about the disconnect they saw between what is going on in the research lab and the treatment that is available to cancer patients, they have been among the people behind an effort called Stand Up To Cancer.

A year ago, Ziskin and a group of other influential women, joined forces to convince the Big Three broadcast networks to “roadblock” an hour of prime time to raise money for research. That was the beginning of an effort that has brought in more than $100 million to date, and has awarded grants to five “dream teams” of scientists who have pledged to work collaboratively on promising avenues of research.

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