Ma­lig­nant brain tu­mor af­flicts lib­eral leg­end Kennedy

The Washington Times Weekly - - National - By Don­ald Lam­bro

Sen. Ed­ward M. Kennedy has a can­cer­ous brain tu­mor and will un­dergo treat­ment to com­bat the ma­lig­nancy, his doc­tors at Mas­sachusetts Gen­eral Hospi­tal said May 20.

Mr. Kennedy’s physi­cians is­sued a state­ment say­ing “pre­lim­i­nary re­sults from a biopsy of the brain iden­ti­fied the cause of the seizure” he suf­fered Satur­day “as a ma­lig­nant glioma in the left pari­etal lobe.”

The doc­tors did not com­ment di­rectly on Mr. Kennedy’s prospects for re­cover y, but glioma is one of the most com­mon causes of can­cer deaths. It is the most com­mon form of brain can­cer, ac­count­ing for more than half of the more than 18,000 brain tu­mors di­ag­nosed each year in the U.S.

The As­so­ci­ated Press quoted Dr. Keith L. Black, chair­man of neu­ro­surgery at Cedars-Si­nai Med­i­cal Cen­ter in Los An­ge­les, say­ing that with­out surgery, a typ­i­cal glioma pa­tient of Mr. Kennedy’s age would be “prob­a­bly look­ing at a sur­vival of less than a year.”

The grim di­ag­no­sis, which prompted an out­pour­ing of emo­tion on Capi­tol Hill, fol­lowed a se­ries of tests over sev­eral days to de­ter­mine the cause of a seizure that struck the 76-year-old lib­eral war­rior as he was hav­ing break­fast at the Kennedy fam­ily com- pound in Hyan­nis Port, Mass.

“The usual course of treat­ment in­cludes com­bi­na­tions of var­i­ous for ms of ra­di­a­tion and chemo­ther­apy. De­ci­sions re­gard­ing the best course of treat­ment for Sen­a­tor Kennedy will be de­ter­mined af­ter fur­ther test­ing and anal­y­sis,” said a state­ment is­sued jointly by Dr. Lee H. Sch­wamm, vice chair­man of the De­par tment of Neu­rol­ogy at Mas­sachusetts Gen­eral, and Dr. Larry Ro­nan, the sen­a­tor’s pri­mary care physi­cian.

“He has had no fur ther seizures, re­mains in good over­all con­di­tion, and is up and walk­ing around the hospi­tal. He re­mains in good spir­its and full of en­ergy,” the doc­tors said.

The news of Mr. Kennedy’s ill­ness stunned of­fi­cial Wash­ing­ton.

“Pol­i­tics al­most com­pletely stopped to­day. This is a story that ev­ery Amer­i­can at some level will be in­volved in emo­tion­ally be­cause of the im­pact the Kennedy fam­ily had on Amer­ica,” said for­mer Demo­cratic Na­tional Com­mit­tee Chair­man Steve Gross­man, a long­time Kennedy friend in Bos­ton.

State­ments wish­ing the last sur­viv­ing brother of the Kennedy dy­nasty a full re­cov­ery poured in from his po­lit­i­cal sup­port­ers and ad­ver­saries alike.

Sen. Barack Obama, the Demo­cratic pres­i­den­tial front-run­ner whose can­di­dacy re­ceived a well-timed Kennedy en­dorse­ment ear­lier this year, called the news “heart­break­ing.”

“Ted Kennedy not only is a gi­ant of the Se­nate but he’s a great friend to all of us. He couldn’t be a bet­ter friend of mine and a bet­ter sup­porter,” Mr. Obama said. “Ob­vi­ously this is grim news.”

Sen. Hil­lary Rod­ham Clin­ton, whom Mr. Kennedy did not en­dorse even though she eas­ily won his state’s Demo­cratic pri­mary, said in a terse two-sen­tence state­ment that “Our thoughts are with him and [wife] Vicki and we are pray­ing for a quick and full re­cov­ery.”

Sen. John McCain, the pre­sump­tive Repub­li­can pres­i­den­tial nom­i­nee, called Mr. Kennedy “the last lion in the Se­nate.” Mr. McCain joined forces with Mr. Kennedy in an ill-fated im­mi­gra­tion re­form bill that would have opened a path to cit­i­zen­ship for il­le­gal im­mi­grants.

A frail Sen. Robert C. Byrd, who at 90 is the cham­ber’s old­est mem­ber, broke down in tears on the Se­nate floor as he of­fered “my heart and my hum­ble prayers” for the sec­ond-long­est-serv­ing mem­ber of the Se­nate. Chok­ing back tears, the West Vir­ginia Demo­crat said, “Ted, Ted, my dear friend, I love you and I miss you.”

Sen. John Kerry, who vis­ited his fel­low Mas­sachusetts Demo­crat over the May 17-18 week­end, said, “He’s in a fight­ing mood. [. . . ] I know that Ted is de­ter­mined to fight this.”

Mr. Kennedy has not been seen in pub­lic since his seizure, but he has called some of his clos­est col­leagues from his hospi­tal room.

“My cell phone rang and I picked it up and here was this voice that sounded ter­ri­bly familiar to me talk­ing about how those nurses were pick­ing on him up in that hospi­tal. It had me laugh­ing,” Sen. Christo­pher J. Dodd, Con­necti­cut Demo­crat, told re­porters.

The sen­a­tor re­ceived some op­ti­mistic ad­vice from Sen. Arlen Specter, who was di­ag­nosed with a ma­lig­nant brain tu­mor in 1993. “I’ve been there,” the Penn­syl­va­nia Repub­li­can said on the Se­nate floor.

Mr. Specter said he was “given three to six weeks to live,” but “the di­ag­no­sis [. . . ] turned out to be in­cor­rect.” Sur­geons re­moved what turned out to be a be­nign tu­mor from the sen­a­tor, who is fight­ing his sec­ond bout of Hodgkins dis­ease and un­der­go­ing chemo­ther­apy.

“Kennedy is a real fighter [. . . ] and I am bet­ting on Sen­a­tor Kennedy,” he said.

Glioma tu­mors are the sec­ond most com­mon cause of can­cer deaths in peo­ple ages 15 to 44, can­cer spe­cial­ists say. Sur­vival rates can range from a year or less for the most se­vere cases to five to 10 years for slower grow­ing, less ag­gres­sive tu­mors.

Steven A. Miller and Christina Bellantoni con­trib­uted to this story.

Dur­ing his first year in of­fice, in 1962, Sen. Ed­ward M. Kennedy (cen­ter) is shown at the White House with his brothers, At­tor­ney Gen­eral Robert F. Kennedy (left) and Pres­i­dent John F. Kennedy. Both pre­ceded him in death.

As­so­ci­ated Press pho­to­graphs

‘Last lion in the Se­nate’: At Mas­sachusetts Gen­eral Hospi­tal in Bos­ton on May 20, Sen. Ed­ward M. Kennedy is ac­com­pa­nied by fam­ily mem­bers (from left) son Rep. Pa­trick J. Kennedy (seated), Rhode Is­land Demo­crat; step­son Cur­ran Ra­clin; son Ed­ward Kennedy Jr.; daugh­ter Kara Kennedy; wife Vicki; and step­daugh­ter Caro­line Ra­clin.

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