This is Awful.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg has been diagnosed with cancer.

WASHINGTON – Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg had surgery Thursday after being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, the court said.

Pancreatic cancer is often deadly, although the court said doctors apparently found Ginsburg’s cancer at an early stage.

Ginsburg, 75, had the surgery at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York. She will remain in the hospital for seven to 10 days, said her surgeon, Dr. Murray Brennan, according to a release issued by the court. The hospital had no comment on Ginsburg.

The only woman on the court, Ginsburg has been a justice since 1993. She is a liberal-leaning justice who has been vocal in recent years about the court’s more conservative stance.

President Barack Obama expressed hope for her speedy recovery, White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said Thursday, and offered his thoughts and prayers.

In 1999, Ginsburg had surgery for colon cancer and had chemotherapy and radiation treatment. The new cancer was discovered during a routine, annual exam late last month at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Md.

Ginsburg is a giant. She graduated at the top of her class from Columbia Law (she transferred from Harvard, and was on law review in both places) while taking care of her husband — who was sick with cancer — and their children. She was also a major player in the fight for equal rights for women. As an attorney, she knew she was going to have a hard time arguing sexual discrimination cases in front of male judges, so she flipped the script: she took cases where men were discriminated against by the law in order to make the laws gender neutral. (In one case, she argued against a law in a Texas county that allowed lower drinking ages for women than men — the idea was that men couldn’t be trusted to drink responsibly — and won.) I’m a huge fan.

Pancreatic cancer is really aggressive; only five percent of those diagnosed survive after five years. They caught Ginsburg’s early, which could make a huge difference.

She’s in our thoughts.

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2 thoughts on “This is Awful.

  1. shani-o February 5, 2009 at 3:38 pm Reply

    😦

  2. cindylu February 6, 2009 at 12:54 am Reply

    awful indeed. as soon as i heard that it was pancreatic cancer, i thought back to the radio lab “diagnosis” episode.

    i hope she’s in that 5%.

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