Posted May 21, 2008 – A cheering throng of well-wishers greeted Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) as he left Massachusetts General Hospital this morning, a day after doctors disclosed that the second longest serving member of the U.S. Senate was suffering from a malignant brain tumor.
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Edward Kennedy is the last surviving brother of three political giants – former President John F. Kennedy and Sen. Robert Kennedy – who transformed America by highlighting issues of civil rights, education, health care, judicial reform and racial equality. Only 92-year-old Sen. Robert Byrd (D-W.V.) has served in the Senate longer than Kennedy.
There was little evidence, save a small white bandage on the back of Kennedy’s head, that the 76-year-old lion of the Senate had received such grim news just a day earlier. As he left the hospital at 10 a.m. this morning, he smiled and gave a thumbs up to the several dozen reporters, photographers and cameramen, who joined the crowd of onlookers. His wife, Vickie, was by his side as he waded through fellow patients on his way out of the hospital.
In a statement released by Massachusetts General, Dr. Lee Schwamm, a neurologist, and Dr. Larry Ronan, Kennedy's primary care physician, said, ""Senator Kennedy has recovered remarkably quickly from his Monday procedure and therefore will be released from the hospital today ahead of schedule. He will return to his home on Cape Cod while we await further test results and determine treatment plans. He's feeling well and eager to get started." The usual course of treatment includes combinations of various forms of radiation and chemotherapy, they said.
The diagnosis was triggered after Kennedy, who has represented Massachusetts in the upper chamber for more than 45 years, was rushed to the hospital Saturday following a seizure. The battery of tests he underwent, including a biopsy, revealed a cancerous mass in the parietal lobe – the top left portion – of his brain. The malignant glioma, a common type of brain tumor in older people, is particularly aggressive. "The average survival for a Grade 4 tumor is 14 or 15 months," Wen said. "For a Grade 3 tumor, it's two to three years. Unfortunately, the older you are, the worse it is. . . . It's more aggressive,” Dr. Patrick Wen, clinical director for neuro-oncology at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, told The Boston Globe.
Still, Kennedy’s doctors said, the senator is "in good overall condition . . . in good spirits and full of energy."