U.S. Rep. Charlie Norwood returned home Wednesday night to begin hospice care in Augusta, forgoing further treatment for lung cancer that has spread to his liver.
The seven-term Republican has no immediate plans to resign , and his congressional offices will continue to function, spokesman John Stone said. Mr. Norwood's 15-person staff includes seven employees in the district office in Augusta.
The lung cancer metastasized in his liver was causing a lot of sickness and discomfort, as was the traditional chemotherapy, Mr. Stone said.
"There comes a time where he doesn't want to be poked and prodded anymore, and he's decided he's had enough and it's time to go home," Mr. Stone said. "They will make him feel as good as he can possibly feel.
"We'll be doing things the same way we were doing them with him in the hospital up here. Right now we're working on appropriations issues and lots of other matters."
If Mr. Norwood does resign , state law directs the governor to set a special election date to fill the congressional seat. According to Georgia law, the procedure requires that a special election be requested by the governor within 10 days of the vacancy and that the election be held not less than 30 days after the request.
Last week the 65-year-old congressman was transferred to Georgetown University Medical Center in Washington, where he was evaluated for Cyberknife laser surgery as a means of combating the tumor in his liver, but he declined the procedure.
Mr. Norwood, who returned to Augusta on Wednesday night by air ambulance, will receive 24-hour nursing care at home, his office said.
In Augusta, his friends reacted quickly to the news that he was coming home.
"I'm deeply hurt by the circumstances of my good friend," said Dave Barbee, the chairman of the Richmond County Republican Party. "My prayer is with him and his family."
Former Congressman Doug Barnard said, "No one has worked any harder or has offered service better than Charlie Norwood. All of us are so sorry that he has had this illness, and we had
hoped so much that he would have recovered by now."
"He's been a very, very effective representative," said businessman Monty Osteen, who worked in Mr. Norwood's first bid for Congress in 1994. "And we all need to be doing a little praying."
Richmond County Democratic Party Chairman Lowell Greenbaum said the party appreciates Mr. Norwood's efforts for the community over the years.
Gov. Sonny Perdue also expressed his sorrow over the news.
"Mary and I were very saddened to hear that Congressman Norwood's medical treatment has not progressed as well as we had hoped," Mr. Perdue said in a statement.
"I visited with Charlie in Washington last week and was very encouraged by his strength and determination.... Our thoughts and prayers are with Charlie and Gloria and the entire Norwood family as they return home to Augusta - whose citizens have always been at the center of his heart and the focus of his life of public service."
Mr. Norwood, a former combat dentist in Vietnam, gained national attention for his health care efforts and his work to stem illegal immigration.
Reach Sylvia Cooper and Rob Pavey at (706) 724-0851.
"There comes a time where he doesn't want to be poked and prodded anymore, and he's decided he's had enough and it's time to go home."- Spokesman John Stone