Sunday, September 04, 2005

William Rehnquist, R.I.P.

The Chief Justice died today.

I knew it was coming, sooner rather than later. Rehnquist's cancer was announced just a few days after my own diagnosis, and I knew right then that his situation was dire.

His cancer was inoperable. The surgery he had was a tracheotomy, to help him breathe. He didn't have a thyroidectomy, and he never underwent RAI, either. According to EndocrineWeb, Rehnquist had anaplastic thyroid cancer. His age, gender, and the tracheotomy procedure fit the usual profile of anaplastic thyroid cancer. Unfortunately, his death is consistent with it as well.

I have read comments around the blogosphere rapping Rehnquist for hanging onto his position in the Supreme Court. I don't. He knew he wasn't long for this world, so why should he retire? His illness and treatment did not keep him away from the Court all that much (as far as I can tell), and his mind was as keen as ever. What good would retirement have done, for him or for the country?

I think Rehnquist did what all cancer patients hope to do: he lived his life the way he wanted to live it, hanging onto whatever sense of "normalcy" he could for as long as he could.

God bless him for it, and may he rest in peace.

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