I am truly saddened by the passing of Senator Edward Kennedy, a giant in the area of advocacy for people with cancer and for health care policy. Senator Kennedy’s concerns always included not only his home state of Massachusetts, but all Americans no matter from what state they lived.

Senator Kennedy, as a passionate anti-cancer fighter, led the charge against cancer for much of his forty years as a United States Senator. His concerns included health care-related causes from equal access to health care to increased funding for cancer research and screening for early detection.

Despite the Senator being stricken and fighting his own personal battle against brain cancer he remained active in making sure that cancer research and treatment remained in the fore-front of the business of the Senate. He was active in renewing President Richard Nixon’s war on cancer by introducing a bill to overhaul the 1971 National Cancer Act. He was instrumental in providing the FDA with the power to control the tobacco industry, one of the major culprits in the current cancer epidemic’s in the United States.

Prior to his personal battle against cancer, his son Ted Kennedy, Jr. fought bone cancer and his daughter Kara Kennedy Allen battled lung cancer in 2003. As with so many Americans, cancer has been pervasive in his life.

Not only will the cancer survivors of this nation miss his activism on their behalf, but so will the millions of future cancer survivors. His death leaves a gaping hole to many of us.

I offer my condolences to his family, friends and to the nation.

Joel T Nowak MA, MSW