By Kathy Finn
NEW ORLEANS (Reuters) - Former Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco, who drew criticism for her handling of the crisis in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina struck the city in 2005, has been diagnosed with a rare form of eye cancer.
Blanco's spokeswoman and former press secretary, Marie Centanni, on Wednesday released a statement saying Blanco underwent a eye exam last week that raised concerns.
Centanni said doctors have confirmed that Blanco has choroidal melanoma in one eye. The condition is said to affect about six in every 1 million people, the statement said.
Centanni said the former governor is in good health, her prognosis is favorable and she will begin treatment shortly.
Blanco, a resident of Lafayette, Louisiana, was governor of the state from 2004 to 2008 and the first woman elected to that office. She was criticized for what some described as the state's mishandling of the immediate crisis posed by the Katrina flooding and the long-term recovery of the region.
Her time in public office, which included stints as state representative and lieutenant governor, ended when she chose not to seek re-election.
The family has set up a website to chronicle her treatment and recovery. That link is: http://www.caringbridge.org/visit/kathleenbabineauxblanco.
(Editing by Karen Brooks and Peter Bohan)