One of America's best-known political leaders, Senator Edward Kennedy, has left a Boston hospital for his home on Cape Cod after being diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor. As VOA's Cindy Saine reports from Washington, President Bush paid tribute to Kennedy as he signed health legislation the senator had been pushing for years.
Senator Edward Kennedy walked out of the hospital Wednesday accompanied by his wife Vicki and several other family members, and was greeted enthusiastically by the family's two dogs. The 76-year-old waved to a small crowd who had gathered to wish him well.
America's second-longest serving senator and the younger brother of President John Kennedy and Senator Robert Kennedy was diagnosed was a malignant tumor in the left lobe of his brain, which helps govern sensation, movement and language. His doctors in Boston say he has recovered "remarkably quickly" from the brain biopsy that revealed his tumor, and that he will recuperate at home while awaiting further tests that will determine his treatment.
News of the grim diagnosis stunned Kennedy's colleagues in the Senate, some of whom lost their composure. The news provoked an outpouring of support and admiration from both Republicans and Democrats on Capitol Hill. Democratic Senator Christopher Dodd said the heartfelt comments almost went too far.
"This is a fighter," said Senator Dodd. "He is still very much with us here. This idea that we are sort of engaging in a funereal kind of process here is something he is finding somewhat amusing. He is a fighter, he will fight back."
Dr. Bernandine Healy, an editor for U.S News and World Report, agreed. She herself was diagnosed 10 years ago with the very same kind of brain tumor as Kennedy has, and is still alive and well. Speaking to CBS News, she had some encouraging advice for the senator.
"Don't write yourself off," said Bernandine Healy. "The family should not write you off. This is a time when the family needs love and encouragement and prayers, and not burial, which unfortunately is all over the media right now, and it is very disconcerting. So that is the first step. Because Senator Kennedy is fine. Did you see his pictures? He is feeling fine, he is looking fine, he is ready to engage in a fight."
Senator Kennedy has left his his mark on civil rights, health care, pension and education legislation during four decades in the Senate, earning him the reputation as the "lion" of the Senate.
On Wednesday, President Bush signed into law an anti-discrimination measure spearheaded by Kennedy.
"I also want to pay homage today to, not only to the members of the Congress who are behind me, but also to Senator Ted Kennedy, who has worked for over a decade to get this piece of legislation to a president's desk," said President Bush. "All of us are so pleased that Senator Kennedy has gone home, and our thoughts and prayers are with him and his family."
The legislation forbids employers and insurance companies from denying employment, promotions or health coverage to people when genetic tests show they are prone to cancer, heart disease or other conditions.