Jimmy Carter says he's 'at ease with death' during church service

The 39th U.S. president said he was "absolutely and completely at ease with death" in 2015 after doctors told him cancer had spread to his brain.
"I obviously prayed about it," former President Jimmy Carter said at a Sunday church service about his 2015 cancer diagnosis.
"I obviously prayed about it," former President Jimmy Carter said at a Sunday church service about his 2015 cancer diagnosis.John Amis / AP
/ Source: TODAY

Former President Jimmy Carter reflected on his mortality at a church service Sunday, saying he was "absolutely and completely at ease with death" when doctors found four years ago that cancer had spread to his brain.

Carter, 95, who in March became the oldest former United States president in history, beat liver cancer that had spread to his brain in 2015 thanks to experimental immunotherapy treatments.

The 39th president looked back on that time during a service at Maranatha Baptist Church in his native Georgia on Sunday.

"I assumed, naturally, that I was going to die very quickly," he said. "I obviously prayed about it. I didn't ask God to let me live, but I asked God to give me a proper attitude toward death, and I found that I was absolutely and completely at ease with death."

Carter, who celebrated his 95th birthday and his 73rd wedding anniversary with wife Rosalynn last month, had prepared himself for the possibility of cancer taking his life.

"It didn't really matter to me whether I died or lived, except I was going to miss my family, and miss the work at the Carter Center and miss teaching your Sunday school service sometimes and so forth,'' he said. "All those delightful things."

Carter did not mention his rough stretch of health issues in recent months, including a fall at his home in early October that required 14 stitches, followed by another fall later in the month in which he suffered a minor pelvic fracture. He also had surgery in May for a broken hip.

He also addressed the state of the nation in his talk at the church service.

"Wouldn't it be nice if the United States of America could be a superpower in maintaining peace?" he said. "See, that's the kind of superpower I'd like to have."

Carter urged people to reach out to others in need of a friend.

"That's the way to make the United States a superpower," he said. "We can help the United States become more peaceful."