Bob Woodward Says Colin Powell Opened Up About Cancer Diagnosis Prior to Death

In a July phone interview with journalist Woodward, Powell said he had been diagnosed with multiple myeloma, a form of blood cancer, and Parkinson's disease

Bob Woodward - Colin Powell
Bob Woodward (left), Colin Powell. Photo: Michael Kovac/Getty; Daniel Zuchnik/WireImage

In the wake of former Sec. of State Colin Powell's death from COVID-19 complications, journalist Bob Woodward is speaking out about Powell's private health struggles.

"General Colin L. Powell, former U.S. Secretary of State and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, passed away this morning due to complications from Covid 19," Powell's family announced on Monday, noting that "he was fully vaccinated."

But Powell, who was 84, told Woodward he was struggling with health issues months before his death.

In a July 12 phone interview — recorded by Woodward, 68, for his book, Peril and obtained by CNN — Powell told the veteran journalist that he had been battling multiple myeloma for almost two years. Further, Powell told Woodward he also had Parkinson's.

"Well, you see, I've got to go to the hospital about two or three times a week. I've got multiple myeloma cancer and I've got Parkinson's disease, but otherwise I'm fine," Powell said on the call, according to audio posted by CNN.

Powell continued: "Don't say no and don't feel sorry for me, for god's sakes. I'm [nearly] 85 years old. I've got to have something. And I haven't lost a day of life fighting these two diseases. I'm in good shape."

Elsewhere in the call, the four-star general told Woodward he was undergoing routine bloodwork due to his diagnosis.

"I'm a former chairman so they don't want to lose me ... I've taken lots of exams and I get there on my own. I drive up in my Corvette, get out of the Corvette and go into the hospital. I also go to a radar clinic to get the blood tests taken," Powell said. "I don't advertise it, I don't make an announcement about it, but most of my friends know it."

Colin Powell
Colin Powell. Daniel Zuchnik/WireImage

Multiple myeloma, a form of blood cancer, suppresses the body's immune response.

Medical experts say those who are immunocompromised — even those who are vaccinated — are at higher risk for developing severe symptoms related to COVID-19.

CBS News references July research published by the journal Leukemia which found 55% of multiple myeloma patients in a study "failed to fully respond to COVID-19 vaccination."

Powell served in former President George W. Bush's Cabinet from 2001 to 2005. Prior to his White House tenure, Powell was the 12th chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

In a press conference hours after the news of Powell's death became public, current Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the four-star general's career was "legendary" at the department.

"Today is a sad day for us here at State, especially for all those who worked for and with Secretary Powell, and we'll never forget the experience," Blinken, 59, said. "Our thoughts are with Alma Powell and the entire family today, to everyone who loved him."

Blinken continued: "Colin Powell dedicated his extraordinary life to public service because he never stopped believing in America. And we believe in America in no small part because it helped produce someone like Colin Powell. Thank you, Mr. Secretary."

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