Bridging the Divide: My Life, Senator Edward W. Brooke
I found an autobiography of an African American who lived through and shaped history.
He was the first Republican to be elected Senator in Massachusetts.
Click on interview with Brooke for a YouTube video of an interview with Brooke on his decision to run.
He was the first African-American Senator to be elected to the Senate by popular vote, in Massachusetts no less, heavily Democratic territory.
He was a Republican who supported policies for the poor and women.
He was an early supporter of abortion rights.
Brooke was a co-author of the Fair Housing Act, prohibiting discrimination in housing.
He was a leader in support of the Fair Credit Act, which ensured that married women could establish credit on their own as well as Title IX, guaranteeing equal educational rights for women.
He was the first Republican to call for Nixon to step down in the wake of Watergate.
Click on asking President Nixon to resign to watch an interview on his asking President Nixon to resign rather than wait to be impeached.
A Republican critical of Nixon’s Southern strategy to court segregationists, Brooke fought to keep two strict segregationsists off the Supreme Court, Clement Haynesworth and Harrold Carswell.
Nixon’s next appointee, Harry Blackmun, wrote the Court’s opinion for Roe v. Wade.
Brooke was diagnosed with breast cancer in September, 2002, just before he turned 83 in October of that year.
How Did He Fight It?
Brooke experienced discomfort for more than two years before feeling a sharp pain under his nipple, where his wife then found a lump.
A mammogram, sonogram and needle biopsy confirmed malignant breast cancer.
Neither a smoker nor drinker and one who ate healthy foods and exercised, Brooke was stunned.
His doctor told him that breast cancer was on the rise, particularly in the African American community.
Though rare in men, treatment is the same.
The Susan G. Komen Foundation, where Brooke eventually lent his voice to increase awareness, cites statistics that put breast cancer after menopause highest among Caucasian women, and before menopause highest among African American women and lowest, overall, among Asian and Pacific Island women.
Brooke had a modified double mastectomy – the breasts, but not the muscle underlying them and discussed reconstructive surgery as an option.
The sentinel node was malignant, so 13 axillary nodes were also removed.
They proved to be benign so no chemotherapy or radiation were ordered.
Brooke did take Tamoxifen to block the effect of estrogen because his breast cancer cells were estrogen receptor positive and he took hormone therapy.
New Vocabulary – Axillary Node
Three-quarters of the lymph fluid from breasts drains into axillary lymph nodes.
Dissection, or removal, of these nodes during breast cancer surgery allows doctors to check them for the presence of cancer cells.
If they have cancer cells, there is a higher risk that the breast cancer has spread, or become metastatic.
Where Is He Now?
Brooke left the Senate after losing a re-election battle in 1978 and returned to the practice of law.
After his cancer diagnosis, he became an active proponent of educating men about breast cancer.
In 2004, he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
In 2009, he was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal.
He is now a resident of Miami, Florida.
Did you know men can get breast cancer?
Did you know there is a difference in incidence and survival rate among races?
Did you know what an axillary node meant in breast cancer?
To you and taking hope from cancer survivors’ stories.
Carol Covin, Granny-Guru