Battling Cancer in the Senate
Thomas Dunne Books
On Sale: March 18, 2008
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This is not simply the memoir of a cancer survivor. Nor is
it just the memoir of a respected senator. This is an
unprecedented glimpse into a man who is both. It is
inspiration for people of all political persuasions; of how
to persevere and succeed---despite what the doctors may say,
despite what the tests might show.
In early 2004, Senator Specter was in the midst of a
grueling primary race, facing significant opposition from
the right as he worked to win his party’s nomination to run
for reelection for his Pennsylvania senate seat. It would be
the most difficult election in his quarter-century career in
the Senate. Following on its heels were two more
challenges---the general-election race and opposition to his
elevation as Chairman of the Judiciary Committee, his
lifelong ambition. He overcame all three challenges in time
for his seventy-fifth birthday.
But exhaustion and fatigue---initially thought to be the
aftereffects of months of vigorous campaigning---were found
to be far more serious. After a series of tests and
consultation with several doctors, Specter was diagnosed
with Hodgkin’s disease, Stage IVB, the most advanced stage.
He had received death sentences before and lived to tell
about it. To Senator Specter, this diagnosis was another
challenge. After all, he still had a job to do.
His cancer treatments came as he reached the height of his
power---surrounded by political storms that polarized
Washington and threatened to shut the Senate down. His
leadership positions made it his job to manage Supreme Court
nominations and public-health appropriations as he faced his
own illness. He had fought on public-health issues for
years, but now it added potency to the message that the
messenger was ailing himself.
The phrase “Never give in” became Specter’s mantra, invoking
the famous words from Churchill in his battle with cancer.
This moving book describes the treatment the Senator
received and offers his advice on how to handle the side
effects (both visible and private), hair loss, and of
course, maintain a nearly daily squash regimen. So, how does
one move forward when faced with mortality? It’s simple.
"Understanding Arlen Specter's steely endurance is a key to
understanding his success in the Senate and in life. Look
up tenacity in the dictionary and you'll find Arlen's
picture. Trial by fire has tempered him and made him
stronger, and wiser."-- Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT,
Chairman, Senate Judiciary Committee)
“Written in Senator Specter’s trademark candor, Never
Give In is a compelling tale of survival – both personal
and political – from one of the Senate’s most independent
voices. Riding the train home with him now for almost 25
years, I count Arlen among my closest friends in the
Senate. The words courageous and inspiring hardly do
him justice – but trust me, he is both.”-- Senator Joe Biden
“I’ve been privileged to work side by side with Arlen for
over 18 years. While I respect his intelligence and
honesty, and value his friendship, perhaps most of all I
have admired his toughness in the face of adversity.
He just never gives up.”—Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA)
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