Sen. Kennedy tumor; Another primary...

Behind The News
May 20, 2008 1:31:14 PM PDT
Jackson Browne's got a great line from one of his songs: "Now you can hold on steady, and try to get ready, but everybody's gonna get wet. Don't think it won't happen just because it hasn't happened yet."I've been listening to Browne's music these past few days and I thought of that line today, after the news that Sen. Ted Kennedy has a malignant brain tumor.

There was, we know now, a medical reason he had a seizure over the weekend at the Kennedy compound in Hyannis.

There are many cancers that are beatable; we have no shortage of evidence of that. But brain cancer is a particularly aggressive disease; in fact the five-year survival rates for brain tumors are the third lowest among al types of cancers, according to Massachusetts General Hospital, where Kennedy is being treated. (Pancreas and lung cancers are the first and second.)

The type of cancer Kennedy has - malignant gliomas -- is the most common primary brain tumor. What's troubling is that the hospital made no mention of any surgery as an option. We don't know if that's because of the location of the tumor or whether the tumor is indeed inoperable. But in either case, surgery would be the preferred first option. Get rid of the tumor. Then have radiation and chemotherapy.

In Kennedy's case, they are going right to the treatment; no surgery.

The bigger lesson is that no one is immune from the ravages of cancer. It is the evil equalizer.

Cancer affects one out of every four Americans, which is why Jackson Browne's words rang true to me today: Everybody's gonna get wet; don't think it won't happen just because it hasn't happened yet.

And this man who has survived so much - personal loss, scandal, political battles - is now suddenly transformed from family counselor to patient.

Tonight at 11, we'll have the latest on Sen. Kennedy's condition, reaction, a look at his enormous political legacy, and the future for him -- medically and politically.

It was amazing today to see and hear the other old lions of the Senate break down and cry over the news of Kennedy's brain tumor.

And in this rather nasty political season, it was also fascinating to see political opponents praise Kennedy. John McCain no doubt ticked off the arch conservatives who already don't trust him when he described the Massachusetts Senator as "the most effective" member of the Senate.

Speaking of political seasons -- this one was changed dramatically when Sen. Kennedy came out and endorsed Barack Obama for President. Tonight, two of the final five Democratic primaries, in Kentucky and Oregon.

And by the end of the night, Sen. Obama will likely be able to claim that he has crossed the magic number of committed delegates needed to win his party's nomination. It is a largely symbolic victory; the super delegates can vote as they please. But it is a watershed event for the junior Senator from Illinois. He is likely not to call for Hillary Clinton to drop out; he and she are walking a thin line about how to negotiate an exit from the race. Our political reporter Dave Evans is covering the election for us tonight, and we'll have reaction from Obama and from Clinton at 11.

And another politician making news for medical reasons. New York Gov. David Paterson had laser surgery today to treat glaucoma in his left eye. He admitted himself to the hospital after a migraine headache. Paterson is legally blind in his right eye, and now has discovered disease in his other eye. We'll have the latest on his condition, at 11.

Also at 11, we're in Harlem, where celebrities of all stripes are expected to descend on the Magic Johnson Theaters for the premiere of the new Indiana Jones movie. Two years ago, "Mission Impossible 3" premiered there. This is a big deal. Lucy Yang is there for us at 11.

And Sandra Bookman has the sign-of-the-times story about couples who would otherwise have gotten divorced, but are delaying that decision because of the bad economy. They simply cannot afford to live in two households.

We'll also have any breaking news of the night, plus Lee Goldberg's AccuWeather forecast, and Scott Clark with the night's sports. I hope you can join Liz Cho and me, tonight at 11.

BILL RITTER


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