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Forum staff reports, Published February 24 2011

UPDATED: Joel Heitkamp, former North Dakota senator and current radio host, undergoing brain surgery

FARGO – Radio host and former North Dakota state senator Joel Heitkamp said Thursday he will undergo surgery to remove a benign brain tumor after suffering a seizure on Sunday.

Heitkamp, host of KFGO’s “News and Views,” said he was at home with his family Sunday when he laid down to take a nap and had a seizure. He said the next thing he remembers is waking up in an ambulance that brought him to Wahpeton.

An MRI test later found a small tumor in the lower left lobe of his brain, he told The Forum Thursday.

Heitkamp, 49, said his wife delivered the test results right after his Monday show, which he did with sister Heidi Heitkamp, a breast cancer survivor and former North Dakota attorney general.

“So, it was really kind of eerie that this person that you’re such a soul mate with was right there with me and my wife,” he said.

Joel Heitkamp said he plans to consult with his cousin, Dr. Jeffrey Heitkamp, a neurosurgeon in Texas, and follow his recommendations for scheduling the surgery.

Joel Heitkamp said recovery is expected to take six weeks, and guest hosts will fill his time slot while he’s healing. He said doctors told him he can expect a full recovery except for a scar on his head.

“I wasn’t all that pretty anyway,” he said.