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Specter Faces Two More Treatments

Senate Judiciary Chairman Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) announced Friday morning that he has just two chemotherapy treatments remaining in his battle with Hodgkin’s disease and declared that he feels “fine” and is ready for the challenge of marshalling a Supreme Court nomination through the Senate.

Specter, 75, said that he worked 17 hours on Thursday — from 7 a.m. until midnight — and got up early Friday morning for his regular squash game.

“I’m ready,” he said of his health and the coming nomination battle.

His treatment program is actually slightly ahead of its original schedule, which when announced on Feb. 16, called for six to eight months of chemo every other week. Specter said he has a treatment on July 8 at the University of Pennsylvania’s Abramson Cancer Center in Philadelphia and his last on July 22, which would mark a treatment span of five months.

Specter was diagnosed with stage IV-B Hodgkin’s disease, which has a 70 percent survival rate over five years, according to documents his office provided in the winter.

As he has gone through the treatments, Specter has lost his hair and at times appeared slightly drawn.

But he has not missed a step on the Judiciary Committee or in the Senate, vigorously working through the most nettlesome five months of his career while undergoing chemotherapy.

Specter led the floor action in passing both the bankruptcy and class-action reform bills in February and March; tried to negotiate a compromise on the “nuclear” option over judicial nominations; and has been at the center of the intense negotiations over a $140 billion proposed settlement of asbestos cases.

Now, he gets to take point in a Supreme Court fight.

“I feel fine,” he said.

And his fellow Senators have taken notice.

“Yes, he’s got a bit of a physical situation, but I don’t think it will be any detriment,” said Sen. John Warner (R-Va.).

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