Nationals principal owner Mark Lerner reveals battle with cancer

Rufina Vignone
Agosto 18, 2017

Nationals vice chairman and principal owner Mark Lerner, the most visible member of the franchise's family ownership group, revealed tonight why he has been absent from public view for much of the season: Lerner has been battling cancer in his left leg for months and recently needed to have the limb amputated above the knee.

General manager Mike Rizzo called a team meeting before Thursday night's game at San Diego to give an update on Lerner.

"It's been hard to explain to players, to staff, to everybody", Rizzo said, according to The Post.

'They want to be private about it, and that's their right.

Lerner, 63, said in a letter to the Washington Post that doctors discovered spindle cell sarcoma - a rare type of cancer - in his left leg in early January. I know it's probably killing him more than anyone to not be able to be around. "It was sad. I was bummed out about it".

Lerner's family first acquired the Nationals in 2006, purchased with proceeds from a vast real-estate fortune under the Lerner Enterprises empire.

The family is worth an estimated $5.7 billion dollars, making them one of the wealthiest families in the United States.

"Thanks very much for your concern and good wishes", Lerner wrote in a letter provided to MASNsports.com through a club spokeswoman. "I know you recognize that only something really challenging would have kept me from my favorite seat at the ballpark these past months. I'm not sure of the timeline yet, but you know I'll be at Nationals Park as soon as I possibly can". In early January, they discovered Spindle Cell Sarcoma in my left leg above the knee. Lerner's radiation treatments ended in March, and surgery in April successfully removed the cancer. The radiation treatment eventually caused the wound not to heal properly.

At that point, Lerner, his family and doctors determined that amputation was the best course of action.

"I've been very blessed with my wonderful wife Judy, who has never left my side, our great kids, incredible family and close friends", Lerner wrote. "I really appreciate everyone respecting our family's privacy as we've gone through this. Hope all is well with you".

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