Ruth Bader Ginsburg: Cancer Recurrence and Staying Active on the Court

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg announced Friday she is undergoing chemotherapy after a recent recurrence of cancer. Meanwhile, she maintains that, even during treatment, she will remain active on the Supreme Court.

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. (The Supreme Court)

In a statement, Ginsburg says she began to undergo standard chemotherapy on May 19 and it has since been “yielding positive results.” All the while, the 87-year-old Supreme Court justice has stayed active in her role on the bench and had been participating in oral arguments last month remotely from her hospital bed.

This is not Ginsburg’s first experience with cancer. She was first diagnosed with colon cancer in 1999, then with early stage pancreatic cancer in 2009. Throughout these medical woes, she has kept herself healthy and active on the court since being first confirmed in 1993.

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The Brooklyn native—whom many young supporters nickname “The Notorious R.B.G.”—has become a feminist and cultural icon throughout the years, from her 2018 biopic, “On The Basis of Sex” starring Felicity Jones as Ginsburg, to the documentary “RBG” released seven months prior, which became one of the highest grossing independent films of that year.

A term of the Supreme Court begins, by statute, on the first Monday in October—marking the date of this year’s renewed session as October 5. Due to the continued COVID-19 outbreak, it is unknown how the justices—who, like Ginsburg, are all over the age of 50, putting them in the high-risk category for the disease—will be conducting hearings and sessions for next session.

One thing is clear though: Ginsburg will not leave her spot and will continue to remain at her position for as long as she can.

Read Ginsburg’s full statement below:

On May 19, I began a course of chemotherapy (gemcitabine) to treat a recurrence of cancer. A periodic scan in February followed by a biopsy revealed lesions on my liver. My recent hospitalizations to remove gall stones and treat an infection were unrelated to this recurrence.

Immunotherapy first essayed proved unsuccessful. The chemotherapy course, however, is yielding positive results. Satisfied that my treatment course is now clear, I am providing this information.

My most recent scan on July 7 indicated significant reduction of the liver lesions and no new disease. I am tolerating chemotherapy well and am encouraged by the success of my current treatment. I will continue bi-weekly chemotherapy to keep my cancer at bay, and am able to maintain an active daily routine. Throughout, I have kept up with opinion writing and all other Court work.

I have often said I would remain a member of the Court as long as I can do the job full steam. I remain fully able to do that.

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Red Rosenberg is an intern at Ms.. They are an autistic nonbinary lesbian. They prefer to go by they/them pronouns. They graduated from Los Angeles Pierce College in June 2020. They hold an associate of arts for transfer degree in journalism and two associates of arts degrees for arts and humanities, and social and behavioral science, respectively. They have previously worked at Pierce College's Bull Magazine and Roundup Newspaper.