Tellabs chairman says he has leukemia, will retire

AP News
Posted: Aug 24, 2012 3:47 PM
Tellabs chairman says he has leukemia, will retire

NAPERVILLE, Ill. (AP) — Tellabs Inc. Chairman and co-founder Michael J. Birck told shareholders in a letter Friday that he has an incurable, rare form of leukemia and will step down following the annual shareholders meeting next spring.

Birck, 74, said in the letter that he has chronic myelomonocytic leukemia and that he has started getting treatment, including chemotherapy and blood tests. He said the disease is "treatable, but it is not curable."

"I feel good, but I understand that this is something I must expect to live with from now on," he said.

Birck said he told the board Friday that he would not seek re-election as chair.

The announcement comes a little over a month after Tellabs CEO Rob Pullen died of colon cancer. Birck mentioned the 50-year-old Pullen in his letter, saying he died "much too soon."

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"We lost a dear friend and colleague, something that makes one stop and think about the big issues," Birck said.

Tellabs makes networking equipment for telecommunications companies.

Birck co-founded Tellabs and served as chairman since 2000. He began his career in telecommunications as a member of the technical staff at AT&T's Bell Telephone Laboratories, according to the company's biography.