Report: Former Sen. Arlen Specter hospitalized for 'serious illness'

Former Sen. Arlen Specter has been hospitalized with a “serious illness,” according to a report on Philly.com, which cited anonymous friends of the senator.

Specter, who is 82 years old, was known by friends to have been in the hospital but it’s not clear whether he has returned home.

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Philly.com, a joint publication of The Philadelphia Daily News and The Philadelphia Inquirer, reported that Specter’s son, Shanin, declined to comment.

Specter’s secretary canceled a scheduled comedy performance last week.

The former senator, who made headlines across the nation in 2009 after leaving the Republican Party to become a Democrat, was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s disease, a type of lymphoma, in 2005.

He underwent chemotherapy at the time and impressed his Senate colleagues by returning to preside over the grueling confirmation hearings of Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts as chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Specter wrote a book about his battle: “Never Give in: Battling Cancer in the Senate.”

Specter announced the disease had returned in the spring of 2008 and underwent a second round of chemotherapy.

The longtime senator, who was first elected to the upper chamber in 1980, has fought several serious medical battles.

He underwent surgery in 1993 and 1996 for a brain tumor. In 1998, he underwent a heart bypass operation.

Specter was a champion of funding the National Institutes of Health during his Senate career, securing an additional $10 billion for NIH in the 2009 stimulus package.

He lost his bid for reelection in the Democratic Senate primary in 2010. 

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