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Specter says cancer wont slow him down
Specter Cancer DCSB 5854556
Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa. meets reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, April 16, 2008, to discuss the recurrence of cancer. - photo by Associated Press
    WASHINGTON — Pennsylvania Sen. Arlen Specter says a recurrence of cancer is just another bump in the road that won’t slow him down.
    The five-term Republican says he learned of the early recurrence of Hodgkin’s disease on Tuesday and will begin chemotherapy next week. Hodgkin’s is a cancer of the lymphatic system.
    President Bush called Specter on Wednesday morning from the Oval Office. ‘‘You beat it once, and you’ll beat it again,’’ the president told him.
    Specter was straightforward and unemotional as he spoke to reporters on Capitol Hill.
    The 78-year-old was treated for the same kind of cancer three years ago. He was later given a clean bill of health.
    ‘‘I’ve had a lot of bumps, and I’ve got good shock absorbers,’’ he said. During his discussion of the cancer, he made jokes with his characteristic dry humor.
    In 2005, Specter was bald from chemotherapy treatments as he served as chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee during the confirmation hearings for John Roberts, who is now chief justice of the United States.
    Specter recently published a book, ‘‘Never Give In: Battling Cancer in the Senate,’’ in which he credited hard work with getting him through the six months of chemotherapy.
    The recurrence was described as less advanced than the bout he had in 2005. His oncologist, Dr. John H. Glick of the Abramson Cancer Center of the University of Pennsylvania, said in a statement released by the senator’s office that those with his recurrent Hodgkin’s disease have a five-year survival rate of 60 percent.
    Specter said he was surprised by the test results because he’s felt fine and has kept up his almost daily squash games — even playing Wednesday morning. He said his job, faith and family are all factors that help sustain him.
    ‘‘I have a very heavy schedule in any event, and I expect to be able to maintain it,’’ he said.
    Specter said he’s received hugs from senators on both sides of the political aisle.
    ‘‘You talk about a great unifier, this is it,’’ Specter said. ‘‘This is one thing everyone can agree on.’’
    Specter said he’ll continue to work on his 2010 re-election race. When asked if Democrats would try to exploit his health as an issue in the race, he said he would expect them to.
    ‘‘I just don’t anticipate giving them any opportunity,’’ he said.

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