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Princess Of Wales Diagnosed With Cancer; Royal Family Seeks Privacy Amid Health Revelation; Chemotherapy Begins For Princess Of Wales; Royal Children Shielded From New; Princess Kate Vows To Continue Public Role. Aired 2-2:30p ET

Aired March 22, 2024 - 14:00   ET




ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Good afternoon. We're coming to you with breaking news from Kensington Palace regarding Catherine, Princess of Wales. I want to go straight to seen as Max Foster in London. Max, what are you learning?

MAX FOSTER, CNN ROYAL CORRESPONDENT: I've just been informed that the Princess of Wales is being diagnosed with cancer. It was discovered after she went into surgery in January. The tests that were carried out in that surgery revealed a cancer. We're not gonna be told what type of cancer it is. But I'm gonna let Kate herself speak to you in her own words.


KATE MIDDLETON, PRINCESS OF WALES: I wanted to take this opportunity to say thank you personally for all the wonderful messages of support and for your understanding whilst I've been recovering from surgery. It has been an incredibly tough couple of months for our entire family. But I've had a fantastic medical team who have taken great care of me, for which I'm so grateful. In January, I underwent major abdominal surgery in London.

And at the time, it was thought that my condition was non-cancerous. The surgery was successful. However, tests after the operation found cancer had been present. My medical team therefore advised that I should undergo a course of preventative chemotherapy. And I'm now in the early stages of that treatment. This, of course, came as a huge shock.

And William and I have been doing everything we can to process and manage this privately for the sake of our young family. As you can imagine, this has taken time. It has taken me time to recover from major surgery in order to start my treatment. But most importantly, it has taken us time to explain everything to George, Charlotte and Louis, in a way that's appropriate for them and to reassure them that I'm going to be okay. As I've said to them, I am well. I'm getting stronger every day by

focusing on the things that will help me heal in my mind, body and spirits. Having William by my side is a great source of comfort and reassurance too, as is the love, support and kindness that has been shown by so many of you. It means so much to us both. We hope that you'll understand that as a family, we now need some time, space and privacy while I complete my treatment.

My work has always brought me a deep sense of joy and I look forward to being back when I'm able. But for now, I must focus on making a full recovery. At this time, I'm also thinking of all those whose lives have been affected by cancer. For everyone facing this disease, in whatever form, please do not lose faith or hope. You are not alone.


FOSTER: It's a very powerful message, isn't it? And it does explain, doesn't it, the reason why we haven't seen her. She needed time to recover from what we now know as major abdominal surgery. She and her family needed time to decompress. She needed to start treatment. She started chemo in February. And they wanted to wait until now because the kids broke up from school today. So hopefully, all those people making all those speculative comments now have their answer.

COOPER: So Max, explain, that was recorded at Kensington Palace. That is where they currently reside, is it not?

FOSTER: Well, they're currently in Windsor. Their office is in Kensington Palace. So they, I mean, one of the things I'm being told is that, you know, we have to respect her privacy at this point. At this point, the kids start school holiday, she thinks it's really important to keep a regular routine. She will be out and about. She doesn't want people taking photos of her. She wants people to give them time. And so they wanted to be transparent as possible, but they needed to put the kids first. And it's been a huge amount to take on. Also, this chemo is going to last a while. The recovery is going to last a while. We're not going to see her for a while. She may choose to appear at events, but she's not going to be coming back to work full-time for any time soon, I'm told, Anderson.


COOPER: All right, Max, if you can stand by, I want to bring in Dr. Sanjay Gupta for just as much medical advice as we can and information we can get on this. Sanjay, she says that in January it was major abdominal surgery that she had. She'd been told by doctors they did not believe it was cancerous before the surgery. It was after the surgery they found cancer was present. She said she needed time to recover from the major surgery in order to start treatment. Can you talk a little bit about, from a medical standpoint, what stands out to you?

DR SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, I mean, I think the timeline that you just laid out is really interesting and important. I mean, that was a very touching statement, obviously, but we still don't know what kind of cancer this is. As Max mentioned, we don't know what stage this is. But January 16th is when we were told she was going in for surgery. The next day we were told that she's probably going to have a somewhat prolonged hospitalization, and it was almost two weeks, 13 days later, that she was discharged. So that was end of January. Then it was end of February where we now understand she started this chemotherapy.

And obviously we're hearing about this three weeks later for all the reasons she mentioned. One thing, they use this term preventive chemotherapy in the statement, which I think is a very non-medical term. I mean, you don't give chemotherapy preventatively. She has cancer. We don't know what kind of cancer it is, and this is typically something that's referred to as adjuvant chemotherapy, meaning something alongside the surgery now that's being given. But, you know, what stands out to me is that, you know, it's very touching. But we don't know the cancer. We don't know the staging. We did not hear anything from the medical team saying, hey, look, we expect a full recovery. She obviously has said that. But there's a lot of questions, I think, that still remain and need to be answered, I think, in some way.

COOPER: And Sanjay just talk a little bit about chemotherapy. Again, we don't know what type of cancer is or how.

GUPTA: Right.

COOPER: But what is sort of in general, how does chemotherapy work? Does someone have to go to a hospital for that? Is that something that can be done privately at their residence? What sort of, you know, effect does it have?

GUPTA: Yeah, I mean, there's, you know, these are medications that are typically given in the bloodstream. Sometimes they can be given as a pill, orally. If it's given in the bloodstream, then people do typically go to the hospital. Of course, we're talking about the royal family, so I think anything probably is possible for the royal family in terms of doing it more privately. But as Max said, it can be several weeks of these therapies.

And they're designed like the basic notion is we did the operation. Now we find cancer. There's likely to be some cancer that is remaining in the body. Let's give chemotherapy to try and target those remaining cells. That's the basic sort of idea behind chemo. But I almost can't say anything more than that because we don't know what kind of cancer. We don't know what stage. We don't know what the chemotherapy is. And we don't know even, you know, what type, meaning what you need to be, even in an outpatient setting in the hospital.

COOPER: And just in terms of, I mean, how arduous is it between, I mean, I know people have had chemotherapy and it's incredibly debilitating. Is that always the case?

GUPTA: Not necessarily always the case. And there are some that are far more debilitating than others. And I want to be just really careful because, again, we don't, there's so many things we don't know. But one of the things that you think about with cancer cells is that they divide very rapidly. Okay. So you're targeting cells that are dividing very rapidly. That's what chemotherapy does. What other cells divide very rapidly in your body? The cells that create your hair, for example, which is why people may lose hair.

The cells inside your intestines divide very rapidly, which is why people often get sick. They feel nauseated when they take chemotherapy. But that's not all. Chemotherapies, we don't know which ones. We don't know. Again, I'm repeating myself, don't know which cancer, what stage. So it's very hard to speculate what this chemotherapy would do to her, how often she'll need it, how long she'll need it. Maybe we'll get more of those details forthcoming.

COOPER: And Max Foster, if you're still with us, just remind us when Kate was in the hospital at the same time that King Charles was in the hospital. At what stage did he announce that he was being treated, I believe it was for prostate cancer? And obviously, Kate has made the point that when prior to the surgery, they did not believe that there was cancer present, prior to the abdominal surgery that she says she had.

FOSTER: Yeah, there was no sign that there was cancer before they went in. It was exactly, strangely, the same situation. So they both went into hospital. Tests were done in hospital. And they discovered cancer afterwards. So it was after she left hospital, as I understand it. But waiting to confirm that, I don't think that she actually heard when she was in hospital. So, you know, this major abdominal surgery and then finding out.


It was after she left hospital, as I understand it, but we're waiting to confirm that. I don't think that she actually heard when she was in hospital. So, you know, this major abdominal surgery and then finding out. So that's how we understand the process worked. They are not going to give us any more information. They are not going to reveal the type of cancer. But they are going to give updates when there are updates to give. We've had this before, haven't we, Anderson? But this is as far as they're going to go for now in terms of information. And she will appear, I think, at some point. We were expecting to see her at the Easter services next weekend.

That's not going to happen, I'm told. But there will be appearances and people will be following incredibly closely. I'm told she is in good spirits, Anderson. So that's positive. But I'm really getting the impression the priority hasn't actually been her, strangely. It's been the kids. It's been such a shock for the couple. And then trying to get the kids to understand it, young kids. And for them not to receive any of the news about that whilst they were at school. So they broke up today. And they're now able to get together properly as a family.

And they really want to get back to normality. So this is why they're calling for this privacy. They want to carry on with their normal lives. They don't want people filming them. They're actually asking all the media organizations not to share any of that sort of footage. So there's a huge amount of interest. But we now know why we haven't seen her for so long. COOPER: Yeah. Well, also, I mean, those poor kids, to receive that kind of information about a parent, it is terrifying for young children. Dr. Jonathan Reiner is also joining us. Dr. Reiner, what stands out to you from this announcement?

DR. JONATHAN REINER, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: Alot of the pieces now are starting to fall into place. What we learned in January was that the princess had a rigorous operation that required about a two-week hospital stay. And we were told at the time that she had abdominal surgery, so what are the kinds of things that can keep you in the hospital for up to two weeks after abdominal surgery?

And that would be operations that include extensive resection of the colon, for instance. And while we don't know precisely the exact form of cancer, colorectal cancer is the third most common form of cancer in the world, and we're seeing it more frequently in young people and people under the age of 50. So, it sounds like she had surgery. Surgery required an extensive hospitalization. Two weeks in the hospital is quite long. And now she's getting, as Sanjay said, adjuvant chemotherapy, which suggests that they are concerned about how well the cancer was contained.

And when tissue is removed in cancer surgery, what pathology looks for are the so-called margins. They look to see if the cancer seems to be contained in the tissue or is there an invasion of the veins or blood vessels or the sheaths that surround nerves or into the surrounding tissues and lymph nodes. And when they are unsure that all of the cancer was contained in the resected or removed specimen, that's when patients will typically get this adjuvant chemo to try and clean up any cells that may have already spread beyond the primary leision and that's what they're doing now.

COOPER: So, Dr. Reiner, pardon my ignorance on this, if somebody has surgery and then the cancer is discovered after that surgery, is it because tissues, tissue from whatever the area of the surgery, in this case the abdomen, would be taken out and tested? Or would it be, is it possible that it would be cancer somewhere else in the body that would somehow show up in a blood test or something?

REINER: Well with all respect to the, you know, to the royal family, that kind of, you know, press release doesn't make a lot of medical sense. When people undergo extensive surgery, they just don't go in for, typically, anymore for, quote, exploratory surgery. All of these operations are preceded by extensive imaging, like CAT scans and MRIs. So, the surgical team would have a very good understanding of what was likely to be the problem, and that would be confirmed by pathology.

So, a piece of the tissue removed, whatever the organ is, or the organ removed, or intestine, for instance, that goes directly to the pathology lab, often during the surgery. And sometimes, whether something is cancer or not will dictate the extent of the actual operation. So, it's very likely that the surgical team knew or had a good sense of what this was going to be prior to surgery. And that was confirmed at the time of pathologic testing during the operation.

[14:15:09] So this is something that would have at least been suspected before and confirmed during the operation.

COOPER: And we talked to Sanjay about this a little bit, but just in terms of the course of chemotherapy, again, we don't know exactly, there's no official statement on what form of cancer this is. Do you have a sense of-- is there any way to know how long a course of chemotherapy might be if you don't know the cancer and you don't know the status?

REINER: Not only would it depend on the particular type of cancer discovered, it would also likely depend on the extent of spread. And that would potentially dictate the duration or even perhaps the intensity of this adjuvant chemotherapy. So it's impossible to know how long or how intense she will be treated without knowing the specifics of the disease. Cancer is being found in younger people more frequently now. We don't know that she has colorectal cancer, but about 10% of new cases of colorectal cancer are being found now in people under the age of 50.

COOPER: Why would that be the case?

REINER: And I applaud--People think that in part it has to do with our diet. Our diets have changed over the last several decades. Heavy in red meat. Some people think that diets heavy in sugary beverages in children and adolescents change the risk profile for colon cancer. But it's about 10%, as I think I said, of the colon cancers diagnosed are being found in young people. Which is why a few years ago, the American Cancer Society, and then more recently, the United States Preventive Task Force lowered the minimum age, the suggested youngest age for screening for colon cancer from 50 down to 45, and even younger, down to 40, if there's a family history of colon cancer in a first-degree relative. And they did that because they estimated that the yield in terms of preventing death would be magnified by starting to screen a younger population because we were seeing colon cancer in younger and younger people.

COOPER: Dr. Jonathan Reiner, I appreciate your time. I want to check in with Anna Stewart. Anna, one of the particularly disturbing things that we have witnessed over the last week or so, I think it was several days ago, we learned word that there had been a reported attempt of a breach of the Princess's medical file at, I believe, at the hospital she had been treated. What do we know, first of all, about the status of that breach? And I guess the question is, was that sort of also part of the reason that this announcement was made now, the idea that there may have been people out there who had gained access to or still were trying to gain access to her medical records?

ANNA STEWART, CNN REPORTER: Yeah And what we know is up to three people are being investigated and have been suspended from the London Clinic Hospital regarding that attempted data breach. And what we don't know, actually, is whether that breach of Princess Kate's private medical records was actually successful. So we don't know that at this stage. But that just goes to show, really, the intrigue and the speculation and the huge amount of pressure on the royal family to give the public more information than they, frankly, perhaps should have ever have had or deserved. And just hearing what we heard today from the Princess of Wales, how it's been a huge shock, it has been a tough couple of months. She has been off work for nine weeks. She's had major abdominal surgery. DR. And perhaps the most heartbreaking part of it all in that video message, just what this will mean for her children and having to explain that to them.

So, really, after weeks of speculation and pressure from the media, from social media, the message here is incredibly clear. At the end, they say, we hope that you will understand that, as a family, we now need some time, space and privacy while I complete my treatment. They have given us a lot more medical information than we often get when it comes to the royal family. Much like King Charles, we know, of course, that she has cancer. We don't know the exact details, but this is all the information I would expect we will get for some time to try and draw a line under that huge pressure that we have seen in recent weeks.

COOPER: I want to check in with Trish Goddard, host of The Week with Trisha Goddard. Trisha, it's obviously, I mean, this is stunning news for so many people around the world. And obviously, so many people's thoughts and prayers are with Princess Katherine at this time. Does this, do you think people will respect in particularly, you know, all the people have been focusing on her lack of not being out there in front of cameras?


Do you think people will respect this?

TRISHA GODDARD, HOST, "THE WEEK WITH TRISHA GODDARD": Well, Anderson, I can give you a very intimate point of view. As you know, you and I have worked together. I, all of that time, the last 19 months, I too have been going through cancer treatment. That's my hair. So I know all about it. I know about the treatment. I know you can work. You can, as Kim Charles has done, through chemotherapy. It depends on what kind of chemotherapy. You can have it at home. And, you know, so this strikes a particular chord with me as to keeping it quiet. I did. I absolutely understand why Princess Kate would.

You kind of get judged. You get unwanted approaches and all that sort of thing. So I hope people around the world will respect her. I came out, I just did a magazine piece. I came out about it to ask people to respect, to say, look, I've been going through this. I've still been able to work. But understanding it and talking to children about it, all of those things. I'm also involved with mental health and children. The same, one of the same organisation that Princess Katherine is involved with, Home Start in the UK, which is about children. So I totally understand that. I hope people will give her room as they have been King Charles. I hope the press backs the hell off, because that has been one of the most difficult things anybody in the public eye and I'm nothing compared to Princess Kate. It's always very difficult.

And also, Anderson, can I just say the discussion that you've had and that we've had in previous times in CNN is very respectful because I think we've got to watch and the princess will, I hope, watch the language that's used. Some newspapers have referred to King Charles continuously as cancer-stricken King Charles. And I do hope the press won't talk about Katherine in the same way. Language is very important to children. Language is very important to the millions of us living with cancer, working with cancer, being productive with cancer. But sadly, cancer is a very much of an everyday point of, you know, part of life now. For millions of us, it's sad, but my heart goes out to her and every other cancer sufferer.

COOPER: Well, also, Trisha, I mean, again, come back to the children. At their ages, you know, I had a father who battled heart disease, ultimately died of it when I was 10. I certainly understand the horror and the terror a child feels when a parent, they suddenly see a parent in this way and hear from the parent what is going on. It's such a difficult conversation for a parent to have with a child.

GODDARD: It certainly is. And it doesn't matter what age they are. I've had to have those conversations with my kids, and one's a health professional. It is. And also making children not fearful of the future, not fearful -- things like Christmases and, of course, Prince Louis' birthday is coming up. There are ways to talk about it in an age-appropriate way.

You know, it is enormously difficult, as you say, Anderson, as well. And remember, William lost his mother, albeit in very different circumstances. But the fear of losing a mum at any age, actually, is terrifying. So that's another reason I come back to the language, Anderson, and I'm sure you'd agree with me. Sorry, I've got the world and everybody ringing me because of this, because they know I've been very, very public about the language that we use when talking about cancer.

You know, and how important it is that we in the media are aware of that, that we're working with people alongside people who may well have had -- this is triggering, and I'm sure it will be triggering for you, too, Anderson. I know we're journalists and we're reporters as well. But when you hear someone like King Charles or the princess is going through, you know, a lot of this, for many, many of us, for many, many children, it brings up some very scary images, which is, as I say, come back to that point about why we need to watch the language that we use.


COOPER: Well, it's also extraordinary when you think about it, Trisha, in past times. I mean, you know, Prince William and Prince Harry have both been very public about the silence that surrounded their mother's death within the family, that people didn't really know what to say to them. It wasn't spoken about initially. You know, after their father came and told them she had been killed, you know, there was a lot of silence surrounding it. And the family sort of feeling was just, you know, let's keep things being normal, so to speak, and try to help them just get over it. Her approach certainly seems to be, I mean, I think her generation and certainly with Prince William involved, they have probably learned from that in terms of how to deal with their kids. GODDARD: Oh, gosh, absolutely. Absolutely. And Anderson, again, I know because you do a podcast about grief. Grief starts right from the beginning of any cancer diagnosis. And as a parent, kids can read things like that. They can read worry. You know, and if you don't talk to them about it, it seems even worse. It seems even scarier. And grief is something, it's about fear of loss of the future, will mummy be around for your birthday, Christmases and what have you. And we have learned. And as you so rightly say, King William will have learned. It's going to be interesting about how Prince Harry and his family reacts to this as well. And I do hope that the press don't go, the British press don't go after him because it's triggering and it affects everybody. And when you've got two family members. Remember, three, remember Fergie as well. You know, Sarah Ferguson has had her own cancer issues.

So you've got three royal family members talking about cancer. It's a scary conversation for all the children involved. And you are so, so right. You have to be open with children about what mummy's scared, why mummy's going to the hospital. Why grandpa's going to the hospital all the time. You do have to be very open because as you so rightfully say, if people just try to sweep it under the carpet, it becomes terrifying and unmanageable for children and leaves them with lifelong trauma.

COOPER: Yeah, Trisha Goddard, it's wonderful to talk to you. I'm sorry to under these circumstances, but thank you.

GODDARD: Thank you.

COOPER: I wish you the best. Let's go back with Max Foster for any more updates. Max, I understand you're hearing some new information.

FOSTER: Yeah, and it all ties in from what Trisha was saying there. You've got to remember that George is just 10, Charlotte's eight, Louie's just five. They're making the point, you know, my sources anyway, that they wanted, the prince and princess wanted to shield the kids from the coverage in the news, which is why they waited until this point, until they were out of school, because obviously in school, other kids would be talking about what's on the news. So that's why they waited until this point.

And in terms of, you know, as much detail as we're going to get, frankly, on the medical conditions, you know, reiterated to me, we're not going to be told what type of cancer it is. They don't want people to speculate because that's going to create more confusion they said. In terms of the stage of cancer, they're not going to give any more medical information.

And they are concerned about sort of breaches of privacy. This is coming into a lot of what I'm hearing from the palace right now. And she's in the recovery pathway, as I'm told, having commenced a course of preventative chemotherapy. That started in late February and they are, it's continuing, but they're not telling us until when. So, I mean, Sanjay can speak to that. I'm not sure what that means. And we're not being told where she's being treated, but we are being asked not to try to track her. She's going to be going for treatment regularly. She's on chemo. So, we're going to see some movements, but they're asking us not to share those pictures right now because they want her to be able to recover. And she's, you know, this normality for the kid she's trying to create.

COOPER: But Max, it's interesting that Kate made the point that she will try to continue working, try to continue to do public events.

FOSTER: So, I mean, the priority isn't her public role, but I have been told she's going to, she may turn up at events. We shouldn't interpret that as her, going back to work. Its not going to be a full schedule.