TJ Ducklo is the national press secretary for Joe Biden’s 2020 presidential bid. Ducklo announced on Twitter that he is battling lung cancer. But the 31-year Tennessee native says he will be staying on the campaign trail with the former vice president and the rest of his team as he fights the disease.
Ducklo tweeted on December 21, “Some upsetting news to share (and an) explanation for why I’ve been MIA recently: after a bunch of tests, I’ve been diagnosed (with) metastatic lung cancer. Which sucks a lot. I’m starting treatment Monday, (and) my doctors — who have been incredible — believe we can get this into remission.” Ducklo added, “It was never a question whether I’d continue working during treatment — working for Joe Biden and this campaign has been the best, most important experience of my life.”
According to the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, “Metastatic cancer is commonly called stage IV cancer or advanced cancer. It occurs when cancer cells break off from the original tumor, spread through the bloodstream or lymph vessels to another part of the body, and form new tumors.”
Here’s what you need to know about TJ Ducklo:
1. TJ Ducklo Said on Twitter ‘I Feel Like I Have an Army Behind Me to Fight This Sh*t Disease’
TJ Ducklo tweeted, “The outpouring of support and encouragement I’ve already received from family, colleagues and friends has been overwhelming in the best way, and has already made me feel like I have an army behind me to fight this piece of shit disease.”
Ducklo added, “My team is like family to me, and I’m not letting *anything* keep me from helping them make Joe Biden the next president. The VP has said for a while now he will be the president to cure cancer as we know it. Sounds pretty f*cking good to me. Thank you to everyone who has and will reach out — it means the world to me — and especially thank you to the campaign, from the VP & Dr. Biden on down, for having my back through all this. I’ll be back working full speed soon.”
Ducklo has received messages on social media from other presidential candidates and members of their campaigns. Senator Cory Booker posted a video message to Ducklo and wrote, “TJ, I just heard about your diagnosis. Please know that a lot of us across this country are thinking about you. Sending you good energy and looking forward to seeing you out on the trail.”
Fellow Democratic hopeful Andrew Yang tweeted, “Oh no. All the best to you and your family TJ. You can beat this. Thinking of you and yours. The country will be here for you when you come back strong in the days ahead. ????”
Former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg said, “TJ: All of us at @Mike2020 are thinking of you – and know you will beat it. Ending cancer is a mission @JoeBiden and I have worked together on, and we are in your corner and look forward to seeing you back on the trail.” And Symone Sanders, senior adviser to Senator Bernie Sanders campaign, wrote on Twitter, “Getting to know @TDucklo has been such a blessing. Yes, you’re a good press secretary, but you’re also an amazing friend. We love you and are rooting for you!!”
Senator Michael Bennet, who revealed before he launched his presidential campaign that he had been diagnosed with prostate cancer, tweeted, “TJ, you’re going to fight this and you’re going to beat this. I know the road ahead seems daunting. But I have no doubt we’ll see you on the trail again soon. We’re all pulling for you.”
2. Biden, Who Lost His Son to Cancer & Who Has Led a ‘Moonshot’ Effort to Cure the Disease, Said to Ducklo, ‘You Are Going to Beat This’
Former Vice President Joe Biden sent Ducklo a message of support on Twitter, saying, “TJ: Stay strong. Me, Jill, and the whole Biden family are with you. Not just in spirit — for anything. You have the right attitude. You are going to beat this and when you do, we are going to be there to celebrate.”
Ducklo responded, “Thank you, sir. Having you and @TeamJoe behind me makes me feel like I have super powers. And when you’re president, we’ll cure this horrible disease for good. Xoxo.”
Biden lost his eldest son, Beau Biden, to brain cancer in 2015. Near the end of his term in office, President Barack Obama put Biden in charge of a “moonshot” effort to beat cancer. And Biden and his wife launched a charity to fight cancer after his term in the White House ended. The charity’s operations have been suspended since July 2019 as Biden seeks the Democratic nomination.
3. Ducklo Joined Biden’s Campaign in April & It Is His First Major Political Campaign Gig
Ducklo joined Biden’s campaign in April 2019 after working in communications at NBC News for about a year. He was a senior communications director there. The role of national press secretary for Biden is the first major political campaign gig for Ducklo.
According to his Linkedin profile, Ducklo has had previous experiences in politics. He worked as a research and staff assistant for James Carville and Mary Matalin from 2010 to 2011. He was also a campaign volunteer for Karl Dean for Nashville Mayor in 2007. Ducklo also interned in the U.S. Senate in 2008.
Ducklo worked in Washington D.C. from 2014 to 2015 as communications lead and advisor to the chairman for Washington 2024, according to his Linkedin profile. Ducklo said he was a, “member of (the) core team working on Washington D.C.’s Bid for the 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games.”
From 2017 to 2018, he was a producer and in communications for Showtime’s political documentary “The Circus: Inside the Biggest Story on Earth.”
4. Ducklo Has Worked in Communications for Several Companies & Ran His Own Firm for a Year
Ducklo has had a variety of positions for various companies before joining Biden’s campaign. He also briefly ran his own firm, TJD Communications Inc., in New York City from 2017 to 2018.
Ducklo worked as a communications assistant at Bracewell LLP in 2011, and then joined the Motion Picture Association of America that same year. He left in 2014 after rising to deputy director of corporate communications.
Ducklo has also worked as a senior manager in corporate communications at Viacom, and as communicators director for Bloomberg Politics, according to his Linkedin profile.
5. TJ Ducklo Is a Nashville Native & Graduated From George Washington University in 2011 With a Political Communication Degree
TJ Ducklo, whose full name is Tyler Joseph Ducklo, is a Nashville, Tennessee, native. Ducklo graduated from the University School of Nashville in 2007, according to his Linkedin profile.
Ducklo then studied at George Washington University, completing his degree in political communication in 2011.
Ducklo’s father, Tommy Ducklo, is the owner of Ducklo Eyecare in Nashville. His mother, Beth Ducklo, is a teacher. He has a younger sister. Ducklo says on Twitter he is a “self-loathing” fan of the Tennessee Titans football team and Vanderbilt athletics.
READ NEXT: Get to Know Journalist & Dem Debate Moderator Amna Nawaz