Terry Sanford, a former North Carolina governor and U.S. senator, remains upbeat despite a grim prognosis.
Sanford, 80, entered Duke University Medical Center Sunday for more tests after being diagnosed with inoperable cancer of the esophagus and liver.
A Duke physician said Sanford's cancer is incurable.
Sanford plans to drop many of the civic responsibilities he had taken on, including teaching a class at Duke during the spring semester.
Sanford, a Democrat, served as governor from 1961 to 1965 and later spent 16 years as president of Duke before being elected to one term in the U.S. Senate in 1986. He also was a former special agent for the FBI and an Army paratrooper in World War II, so he is no stranger to tough battles.
"I've faced death probably 80 or 100 times," he said over the weekend. "I think I'll beat whatever odds there are, and I think I'll be around here a long time."