Name: margalit
Location: Massachusetts, United States Professional writer, educational advocate, opinionated ultra liberal mother of 18 year old twins, living life in the slow lane due to hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, congestive heart failure, and diabetes.

email: margalitc at yahoo dot com

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Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Glioma is never a word you want to hear

Sen. Ted Kennedy has been diagnosed with a malignant glioma, a cancerous brain tumor. Gliomas are not good. They are not operable because they grow something like tentacles that attach themselves to good cells and therefor are considered inoperable. They are treated with chemo and radiation. Average survival can range from less than a year for very advanced and aggressive types — such as glioblastomas — or to about five years for different types that are slower growing.

This is devastating news to the people of Massachusetts, and to all Americans. Think what you will about Ted Kennedy, but he has been a champion of the poor, the disenfranchised, the forgotten, and the hopeless. Kennedy, despite his wealthy and privileged roots, has fought long and hard, since 1962 in the Senate, to ensure that everyone is treated fairly in the USA. Unfortunately, not everyone thinks that Kennedy's heart is in the right place, but they are wrong. His heart is in exactly the right place, worrying and caring for his constituency no matter how small or insignificant their problems might be.

There are thousands of stories throughout the Commonwealth as to how Ted Kennedy's office listened when nobody else cared. How Kennedy helped people with their health insurance, their various fights with state government, and when they were treated unfairly by the VA or SSI. My family is only but one of many of those stories, but when I called Kennedy's office over being disqualified for state health insurance, he was incredibly helpful to me, and got me free care coverage until I qualified for Medicare.

Kennedy, the second-longest serving member of the Senate and a dominant figure in national Democratic Party politics, was elected in 1962, filling out the term won by his brother, John F. Kennedy. During his long service to the country, Kennedy experienced great loss and tragedy within his close family, but he never gave in to grief. He continued to champion the poor and to work hard in the Senate to fight against the inequities between the wealthy and the poor.

I'll never forget the first time I met Sr. Kennedy. It was, in all senses of the words, a crash landing meeting. He was running for the Senate for the bazillionth time and I was riding the subway to work downtown. I got off a Park Street, along with a huge crowd of people, and went bombing up the large flight of stairs. When I got to the top I literally plowed into Senator Kennedy, almost knocking him over. He was very kind and quite funny about it, saying how I bowled him over with my enthusiasm. In actuality I was just really late for work!

The next time I saw him was equally memorable. He was marching in a local parade wearing sweatpants and an old, raggedy t-shirt. He looked so incredibly normal. A regular guy marching in a regular guy parade! I think it must have been before he married Vicki because he doesn't go out in public like that now. She's got him dressed for success at long last!

When I heard this terrible news this afternoon, I cried for a long time. Kennedy has always been there for me. I've voted for him again and again, never even considering that anyone else could ever take his place. That he now might not be there anymore is, for me, one of the saddest moments I can think of. I know it sounds melodramatic, but this guy is here for the people of Massachusetts. He is beloved for a reason. He is a great man, and my thoughts and prayers are with his entire family as they go through this terrible pronouncement.

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Blogger bethany actually said...

I don't see how anyone, whatever their political persuasion and whatever they think of Ted Kennedy personally, could see this diagnosis as anything but a tragedy for his family and his country. It's easy to forget that famous people are human sometimes. The stories you shared about how Senator Kennedy touched your life personally remind us that he's a real person as well as someone who's worked hard to serve his state and country. Thank you for sharing them.

20/5/08 7:24 PM  
Blogger Daisy said...

Kennedy is a true leader. I'm not in his constituency, and more's the pity. What an amazing man he is.

20/5/08 7:52 PM  
Blogger Fairly Odd Mother said...

Very sad to hear this news. For some reason, I thought he'd be around forever.

20/5/08 9:09 PM  

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