Jewish community leaders are wishing Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) a speedy recovery after the 86-year-old senior senator from New Jersey was diagnosed with stomach cancer.
Lautenberg has begun a series of chemotherapy treatments for what doctors at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York on Feb. 19 called “curable” B-Cell Lymphoma of the stomach.
Lautenberg, who is serving his fourth term in the Senate, was first elected in 1982. Prior to that, he was chairman and CEO of Automatic Data Processing, the computing and payroll giant, and served as general chair of national United Jewish Appeal.
“He has been a champion for New Jersey, a leading voice on transportation issues, and the man responsible for banning smoking on airplanes,” said Max Kleinman, executive vice president of United Jewish Communities of MetroWest NJ. “He has been a fierce advocate for Israel and for human rights.”
Kleinman also praised the senator for introducing an amendment in 2004 that has made it easier for Jews and Christians facing persecution in Indochina and the former Soviet Union to enter the United States.
“He has also been a great philanthropist for the Jewish community, and we hope he is back on his feet very soon so he can enjoy his vigorous lifestyle and benefit the country,” Kleinman added.
On Tuesday, Lautenberg’s press secretary, Caley Gray, told NJ Jewish News that Lautenberg has begun chemotherapy and will not need to have surgery.
“He is in good spirits,” said Gray. “But we do not know when he will be released from the hospital. That is the big question right now.”
Lautenberg felt light-headed and fell in his Cliffside Park home on Feb 15. He was taken by ambulance to a local hospital, where he spent the night. He was treated for a bleeding ulcer, and doctors discovered a tumor.
“This is a curable tumor and will require treatment over the next few months,” said the senator’s office in an e-mailed press release. “He underwent a successful endoscopy procedure and is expected to make a full recovery and will be back to work soon.”
Dr. James Holland, one of his treating physicians, said, “We expect a full and complete recovery for Sen. Lautenberg.”
In a statement released by Lautenberg’s office, Holland said, “The senator will be treated with chemotherapy administered approximately every three weeks. We anticipate that he will receive between six and eight treatments, and in between treatments, the senator is expected to be back at work in the Senate.”