Another Kennedy Tragedy

I just saw the news on Memeorandum and read Kyle’s post.

Update: Sen. Byrd broke down on the Senate floor while talking about Sen. Kennedy’s brain tumor. Hat tip to Sister Toldjah.

Here is more about the diagnosis from the Boston Globe:

Kennedy’s doctors at Massachusetts General Hospital, who had been investigating the cause of a seizure that led to Kennedy’s hospitalization this weekend, said that preliminary results from a brain biopsy indicated the seizure had been caused by a tumor in the top left portion of his brain.

The usual course of treatment for the tumor — a malignant glioma — includes combinations of various forms of radiation and chemotherapy, Dr. Lee Schwamm, vice chairman of the neurology department at the hospital, and Dr. Larry Ronan, Kennedy’s primary care physician, said in a statement.

The doctors said decisions regarding the best course of treatment for the 76-year-old senator would be determined after further testing and analysis.

But other specialists said that the diagnostic details released by the hospital indicated that Kennedy has terminal brain cancer and most likely less than three years to live — perhaps much less.

“Unfortunately, it’s a really serious tumor,” said Dr. Patrick Wen, clinical director for neuro-oncology at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. Mass. General’s description of the tumor as a malignant glioma probably means the tumor is at stage 3 or 4 on a four-point scale of severity, with 4 the most serious, Wen said..

“The average survival for a Grade 4 tumor is 14 or 15 months,” he said. “For a Grade 3 tumor, it’s two to three years. Unfortunately, the older you are, the worse it is. The biology of the tumor is worse, it’s more aggressive.”

The article also says that the tumor’s location will make surgery to remove it very unlikely — it’s in a part of Sen. Kennedy’s brain that controls speech and language.

Still, there is hope. Ted Kennedy is a fighter. He is a survivor — in his political life and certainly in his personal life. He saw two of his brothers gunned down in the prime of their lives, both of them assassinated amid huge crowds in the midst of presidential campaigns. And then he went on to a massively successful political career of his own — 45 years in the Senate, the senior statesman of his party.

Last word to Matt Stoller:

Put your best Kennedy memories in this thread. He can recover, and hopefully he will. In the meantime, let’s talk about we love about the man.

3 Responses to “Another Kennedy Tragedy”

  1. Chief says:

    I not sure “being a fighter” has anything to do with this. I watched two close friends die of cancer. Jack from pancreatic cancer, Gary from breast cancer. Nobody tried harder than Jack.

    It sounds good to say someone is a fighter, tho.

  2. Kathy says:

    Chief, I don’t think that “being a fighter” in this context means that Sen. Kennedy’s cancer is going to be cured and he go on to live another 20 years. To me, being a fighter in this context means that you don’t give up hope, that you keep working or doing the things you love to do as long as you can, that you work with your doctor to develop an aggressive medical plan, etc. Maybe doing all that will give you an extra couple of years, or an extra year, or an extra six months than you would have had if you let your fear take over.

    Obviously, no matter *what* he does, or how mentally and emotionally strong he is, Sen. Kennedy is not going to live to a ripe old age. His brain tumor is not going to go away (most likely). But whatever time he does have left will be well spent, and he and his family can have the comfort (small as it may be) that he and they did everything they could.

    I have no reason to believe that your friends Jack and Gary were not fighters, too.

  3. Chief says:

    My mis-understanding of the use of the term being a fighter. Sorry.

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