‘Peanuts’ Creator Battling Cancer
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) _ ``Peanuts″ cartoonist Charles M. Schulz is fighting colon cancer, his secretary confirmed today.
Doctors at Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital found the cancer last week, when performing emergency surgery to clear a blocked abdominal artery. His wife, Jean, indicated that the 76-year-old artist will undergo chemotherapy, but no further surgery will be required, said Schulz’s secretary, Edna Poehner.
Schulz remained hospitalized today in Santa Rosa, about 50 miles north of San Francisco where he lives and works. A hospital spokeswoman refused to release any information about his condition.
A call to Schulz’s wife was not immediately returned.
So far, only family members have visited, Poehner said, but they report that Schulz has been up and walking. ``His spirits are good, and that’s what it takes,″ she said.
Well-wishers flooded his studio with flowers, balloons, cards and ″ a lot of wonderful letters,″ Poehner said. ``He’s touched a lot of lives.″
Schulz’s comic strip appears in 2,600 newspapers in 75 countries and is the basis of a franchise that earns $1 billion a year.
New strips chronicling the friendships and foibles of Charlie Brown, Snoopy, Lucy, Linus and Woodstock will continue to appear at least through Jan. 1, because Schulz works more than five weeks ahead of publication, according to United Feature Syndicate.
New Sunday strips are completed through Feb. 14. If Schulz is unable to draw new strips after those are published, the syndicate will substitute classic Peanuts strips, starting with strips from the past five years.
Syndicate employees are signing a 4-foot-tall card decorated with members of the Peanuts’ gang. ``We are thinking of him and his family, and our prayers are with them,″ spokeswoman Diane Iselin said.
His wife said he appeared healthy when he left for work last Tuesday, but he was rushed to the hospital in the early afternoon, complaining of leg pain and numbness.
He underwent quadruple coronary bypass surgery in 1981.