ST. PAUL, Minn. - Former U.S. Sen. Rod Grams has begun in-home hospice care, after ending chemo therapy treatment for cancer.
Grams' friend Kent Kaiser, speaking on behalf of the family, told KARE that the Republican politician was diagnosed with cancer more than a year ago and completed two rounds of chemo.
Kaiser, who volunteered for all of Gram's campaigns, described his friend as upbeat.
"He's doing well now. He's getting around, having visitors and taking phone calls from friends."
Kaiser said the family did not wish to divulge what form of cancer Grams has been fighting, but said he's receiving hospice at the family farm in Crown Township in east central Minnesota.
He said he took a group of his communications students from University of Northwestern to visit Grams at the farm three weeks ago.
"We had a great time, ate some barbecue, and were shooting guns in the backyard and having a great time," Kaiser said.
"He was very sociable and the students were thrilled to meet him."
Grams, a Republican, won a seat Congress in 1992, and two years later captured the US Senate Seat vacated by Republican Dave Durenberger.
He lost his re-election bid in the year 2000 to Democrat Mark Dayton, who is now Minnesota's governor.
"He considers the $500 per child education tax credit his greatest achievement in the Senate, but the bill wasn't named after him because that's the way he is," Kaiser remarked.
Grams' last shot at a political comeback was in 2006, when he challenged Democrat James Oberstar in the 8th Congressional District. But that fell short.
When asked where Grams falls on the Republican side of the political spectrum, Kaiser said it's difficult to find a label that fits.
"He considers himself a common sense Republican," Kaiser said, noting that Grams got involved in politics because he was building homes and believed the regulations were stifling.
"You never had to question where he was coming from. I think his gut reaction was the right reaction for Minnesota."
Grams entered politics after spending nearly a decade as the lead news anchor for KMSP-TV in the Twin Cities.
"His privacy was legendary. His work ethic was unstoppable. And his kindness and sincerity was magnificent," Heather Harden, Grams' former co-anchor at KMSP told KARE.
She said that at one Christmas party at her home Grams had to excuse himself several times to use her phone, but didn't explain why. When pressed he explained that he was about to become a grandfather for the first time.
"That's how private he was," Harden said, with a laugh.
"He didn't want to make a big deal about it! Of course as soon as we knew about it we all celebrated the news with him."
Harden said the news that Grams is in hospice care mode, dealing with cancer, was difficult to process.
"I'm just heart-broken that we're apparently going to lose him," she said.
"But the fact he Rod would pull away from treatment, with his quiet strength, is very consistent with who Rod is."
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