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. Work.