I couldn't help notice how vulnerable Ted Kennedy looked in one of the photos that was taken of him and his wife, Vicki, getting ready to walk on the beach the other day. Hard to believe that just a week ago most - if not all - of us held an image of him as invincible. Don't get me wrong; I know he is a fighter and will do everything humanly possible to beat this. But as word started to get out about the diagnosis, treatment options, and outcomes, it finally sank in: chances are, four years from now, Ted Kennedy won't be here (at least based on rates of survival for this type of cancer). It's pretty sobering and pretty sad to contemplate...
I did some research and found a pretty good explanation of the cancer and how it is normally treated. I'm sure there are lots of other doctors/hospitals/ clinics with equally excellent research. Here's what I found, courtesy of NPR's Michelle Norris at "All Things Considered":
What is a glioma?
It's a primary brain tumor, meaning it starts in the brain. It's not the kind of brain cancer that's spread by metastasis from another organ. Gliomas are the most common primary brain tumors in adults. When they are malignant, they can be quite difficult to treat. We see about 10,000 to 15,000 of them newly diagnosed in the U.S. each year.
What are the treatment options?
... in general, the treatment consists of radiation and chemotherapy, given together for six weeks. Then there is a brief treatment break, followed by chemotherapy alone, in monthly cycles for six to 12 months.
The tumor is said to be in the left parietal lobe. What does that tell you about prognosis and function, since this lobe controls sensory comprehension and visual control?
In general, the left parietal lobe is thought to be primarily important for sensory function on the right side of the body and also for visual sensation on the right. Because the parietal lobe is rather large and because every individual has somewhat different brain anatomy, it's very difficult to say in any individual case exactly what might be affected.
Because of high blood flow to the brain, is there worry that the tumor might be fast growing?
In general when one speaks of a malignant glioma, which is what they're calling Sen. Kennedy's tumor, we're talking of a tumor that is fast growing. Gliomas are graded on a scale of 1 to 4 by the World Health Organization, and grades 3 and 4 are also called malignant gliomas. That doesn't mean that they spread, but that they have the potential to grow quickly.
Associated Press writer Glen Johnson spoke with physicians at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston about Kennedy's prognosis:
"As a general rule, at 76, without the ability to do a surgical resection, as kind of a ballpark figure you're probably looking at a survival of less than a year," said Dr. Keith Black, chairman of neurosurgery at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.
Malignant gliomas are diagnosed in about 9,000 Americans a year. In general, half of all patients die within a year.
"It's treatable but not curable. You can put it into remission for a while, but it's not a curable tumor," said Dr. Suriya Jeyapalan, a neuroncologist at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston.
A major part of the legislation would allow the Federal Housing Administration to insure $300 billion in new loans for at-risk borrowers if lenders agree to write down loan balances below the appraised value of borrowers' homes.
The new FHA program could benefit an estimated 500,000 people. It could cost as much as $500 million, which would be paid for by Fannie and Freddie. If it turns out the costs fall below that level - that is, should few if any borrowers default on their new FHA loans - the funds from Fannie and Freddie would be redirected back to the affordable housing trust fund.
The bill would also provide stricter oversight of Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae - the federal agencies that guarantee the purchase of home mortage in secondary lending markets. Sen. Chris Dodd (D-CT) was upbeat about Senate passage, but was less certain about a veto. Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) has introduced similar legislation in the House of Representatives, but the president has threatened a veto of this measure.
[snip] The New York Times reports on the peculiar route this bill will take:
The 316-to-108 House vote was far over the two-thirds needed to overcome a veto, meaning that the president’s criticism of the bill as bloated and wasteful won few, if any, converts. But a procedural foul-up basically made that vote meaningless, and the bill must now take a temporary detour before it can become law.
There was, however, a problem. Seems the House forgot to include "an entire section of the farm bill, Title 3 covering trade programs and foreign food aid, from the package that was sent to Mr. Bush for his signature." Thus, the measure will "be corrected then sent to the Senate and on to President Bush for yet another veto, after which it will return to Congress again for override votes." Got it?
Excerpts from Clinton's Victory Speech in Kentucky:
Now, I have one more request to all of my supporters tonight, to the people I've met along the campaign trail, to everyone who has knocked on doors and volunteered and put up signs and donated to this campaign. Keep working. Keep fighting. Keep standing up for what you believe is right, because that is exactly what I'm going to do.
I'm thinking about Andrea Steagall, a strong and composed young woman, 20 years old, who drove across Kentucky to meet me. Her husband, Justin, is deployed in Afghanistan . And she told me how important it is that we have a president who will always stand up for our veterans. And I am honored by her support, and by her family's service and sacrifice.
And I'm thinking again about Dalton Hatfield, the 11-year-old from Kentucky , who sold his bike and his video games to raise money to support my campaign. And then he asked others to give, too, and he was able to really give me a boost. And this week, I finally had the chance to meet him in Prestonsburg and to say, Dalton , thank you so much .The $422 you raised helped carry the day in Kentucky .