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Ted Kennedy and Hope

I was dismayed to hear about Senator Kennedy's brain tumor, not least because the consensus seems to be that there is no hope for his survival. Speaking as someone told by his oncologist to prepare for death not so very long ago, I say to the Senator the following:

Do not, sir, give up this fight or yield even an ounce of your energy to despair or worry. If the enemy is fell and fearsome, do not forget that you yet have hope and avenues to pursue.

I am no expert on tumors, nor of the sort of cancer which caused Senator Kennedy's condition. But I do know that research proceeds on all fronts, and there are possibilities today which were undreamed of just a decade ago. Just as my oncologist was unaware of new information and treatment options on Pseudomyxoma Peritonei when he considered my condition, so too there may be possibilities that Senator Kennedy's doctors have missed. This is not a slight on the doctors, but simply an observation that there is a lot of information out there, and many times an informed and intelligent patient may find things that even his doctor has missed. On a less charitable note, I recall that my first oncologist behaved rather badly when I decided to get a second opinion from Dr. Lambert at M.D. Anderson, to such a point that I had to remind him of the provisions of HIPAA, specifically the part about the patient having a right to their own medical records. I worry that some medical professionals are less than humble about admitting the limitations of their knowledge; they simply refuse to ask for help or admit that someone else might be better able to meet a certain medical challenge.

Even as a layman, however, I am aware that there have been significant advances in the treatment of metastatic brain tumors, including hyperfractionation of chemotherapy rather than massive doses, and targeted radiation treatment using such things as proton therapy (which delivers radiation strictly to the tumor boundary and within, avoiding damage to healthy tissue) protocols. In short, there are many new tools which are not only more effective in these situations, but which also significantly reduce risk of impairment even as they protect quality-of-life. While Senator Kennedy's doctors may well be familiar with these options, it is still vitally important for the family and the Senator himself to understand these options and to develop a course of action which gives him the best chance not only for survival, but for optimal quality of life.

It has been mentioned that Senator Kennedy's politics make him something of a target for criticism, and in political debates this is fair enough. But I know from personal experience, that Cancer is a damnable enemy which respects no moral boundaries. It will attack a Republican just the same as a Democrat, a man or a woman with equal energy. Cancer is a horrifying malady, one which seeks to kill its victim, but only after excruciating torture. I know it too well, from my own cancer to my mother's recent return of Breast Cancer, to the deaths of old friends and some new ones (and children - the damned thing goes after children as if it were the devil himself). No one deserves Cancer, and any victory over Cancer is a good one, one to celebrate. I pray for the recovery of Senator Kennedy and for his family's comfort in this time. But I counsel the Senator to keep his courage strong for the fight ahead. It will be difficult, but it can be won.


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Comments (16)

Thanks for that revelation.... (Below threshold)
Maggie:

Thanks for that revelation. Well said.

Hyperfractionation of radia... (Below threshold)
epador:

Hyperfractionation of radiation remains to be established as more effective than standard dosing in most situations. It can be more toxic.

There are always new forms of treatment being tested, and as I noted in an earlier thread, some patients do benefit from experimental therapies. However most experimental therapies benefit future patients rather than the ones being treated. A truly altruistic patient will enroll in a legitimate clinical trial to benefit future patients. If Teddy is eligible, if he enters a clinical trial and it is publicized, it would be a wonderful gesture that might increase enrollment in clinical trials. Currently only a small fraction of adult patients are enrolled in clinical trials, which have a sad history of taking years to complete mainly due to slow accrual of patients.

Age and comorbid conditions may disqualify some.

More can be found at the NCI/NIH and major cancer center web sites.

There are many people prayi... (Below threshold)
Clay:

There are many people praying for the senator, and prayer can make a big difference. I am not only praying for Senator Kennedy's healing for him alone, but that it could be a demonstration of God's glory. We all disagree by degrees in our ideologies, but in actuality we have much more in common than not: family and friends who love us and who we love, our mortality, and our ultimate dependence on our Creator.

May the Lord richly bless Senator Kennedy and his family in this moment of need. And may many more continue to pray for his recovery.

Political ideaologies aside... (Below threshold)
Tammy:

Political ideaologies aside, as someone who's family has been shaken by the death of a loved one to terminal cancer, I truly feel for the Kennedy family at this time. I hope that something can possibly be done for him anyway; and if not, I hope that he can be kept as comfortable as possible. Cancer is such a cruel disease.

As always DJ, well reasoned... (Below threshold)
Sue:

As always DJ, well reasoned and expressed.

Upon hearing this news yesterday I could think of nothing other than how the Senator and his family must be feeling. Those who have been there must have wondered the same.

We have offered up our prayers and will continue to do so.

Few things would thrill my ... (Below threshold)
Jonathan Love:

Few things would thrill my heart more than Senator Ted Kennedy standing on the floor of the Senate proclaiming to all that he has been healed by a merciful God and has come to know Jesus as the sole source of his Salvation.

Regardless of his position the Senator is a son, a husband, a father and grandfather and would be missed by many. Please pray for his healing and that God would open Ted's eyes to the Gospel.

Amen.... (Below threshold)
Jess:

Amen.

We wish you, Senator Kenned... (Below threshold)
Nicolas De Cabo:

We wish you, Senator Kennedy, stand firm, fight, and win this battle. We all want to see you recover and continue enjoy this marvelous gift that called life. We are all with you. You shall get over it.

Kennedy and his whole family have done everything from being tied with the mafia, booze running, screwing every woman then could and even causing the death of at least 1 women. His brother began the involvement of America in Vietnam and he wants millions of Mexicans to break our laws and reward them with our jobs and our country.

His father was Nazi (that supported the annihilation of the Jews during ww2 and supported it by active acts). We expect you, Senator Kennedy, to please forgiveness and pardon for your father.

We expect you, Senator Kennedy, to please forgiveness and pardon for your involvement in the drowning of Mary Jo Kopechne.

Nicolas De Cabo, I think yo... (Below threshold)
Allen:

Nicolas De Cabo, I think you should read some history books, the first American troops in Vietnam was in 1958. Kennedy took office in 1960. Who was President in 1958?

Also, you are correct in Kennedy's involvement in Nazi Germany, same as the Bush family was involved. Why try to distort things that happened?

Some people haven't realized that more and more American people are aware of the mis-lead, half truths that the swift boating idiots like to do.

DJ, that was a very excellent post on his cancer. I don't care for his policy's that much, but he is a human being, and does deserve support from everyone.

I hope he beats it.... (Below threshold)

I hope he beats it.

I shall not celebrate his m... (Below threshold)
The Listkeeper:

I shall not celebrate his meeting his end this way, and he has my prayers that his life not end so.

If he were to drive a car off a bridge tomorrow, however...

Allen, frankly neither your... (Below threshold)
SPQR:

Allen, frankly neither yours nor Nicolas' command of history impresses me much.

If he beats the cancer he w... (Below threshold)

If he beats the cancer he will die of SOMETHING. We ALL die one day. I really don't get all the outpouring - why is cancer worse than a plane crash or a car crash or heart disease or dozens of other ways to die? Someone who's blood is pouring out on the side of the road from a car crash is going to think that a few months to settle affairs, say goodby to loveones, etc. seems like a good deal. Someone looking into the barrel of a gun is going to think that dying with their family beats dying on a grummy 7-11 floor.

And while I appreciate the original post I am wondering if you saw the PBS documentary of cancer? Every single one of the patients they followed died. One of the sentiments from those patients was that cancer "survivors" labled them as losers because they didn't beat their disease. And they all noted that it wasn't because they wanted to die or be with their familities, etc.

Sometimes we just have to accept a terminal illness, accept that the person is going to die, and move on.

"I pray for the recovery of... (Below threshold)
Eneils Bailey:

"I pray for the recovery of Senator Kennedy and for his family's comfort in this time. But I counsel the Senator to keep his courage strong for the fight ahead. It will be difficult, but it can be won."

This is a personal battle, which we all hope that he and his family wins. We all hope and pray that our belief of our shared belief in our common humanity serves everyone we know of well.

But then again, after witnessing his personal actions, listening to him for the last forty years, it presents to me the awkward situation of trying to express compassion while ignoring the truth.

As a fellow human being, I wish him well.

You can't "get out in front... (Below threshold)
Imhotep:

You can't "get out in front of and stop" some of life's problems. Meaning, this is an unstoppable locomotive bearing down on Mr Kennedy. He has a very bad cancer that he will never be able to "get out in front of".

Here's hoping that we all only have to deal with problems that amount to a small child on a big wheel and not locomotives.

A great deal depends on whe... (Below threshold)

A great deal depends on whether his brain tumor is the primary or secondary tumor. Frequently tumors are present elsewhere in the body and the brain tumor is the first manifestation of any abnormality. In any event, while I do not like nor admire the Senator, I certainly wouldn't wish this illness on anyone (well maybe on Osama Bin Laden and Ahmadinejad). I particularly wouldn't wish on his family the stress and burden that is about to fall upon them. If, as it appears to be the case, his tumor is inoperable, then he will be undergoing combined radiation and chemotherapy almost immediately with unknown effects, very few of them anything other than unpleasant. He will require a great deal of care and attention and may at times require skilled nursing assistance, particularly at times when the treatment leaves him incapacitated.

So what I'm saying is even if it is difficult for you to pray for the Senator's return to health, at least do offer many prayers for his family that they may have the strength to provide the emotional, psychological and spiritual assistance that the Senator is going to require henceforth.




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