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State senator diagnosed with ‘highly curable’ skin cancer

Rosenberg heads gambling efforts

By Matt Murphy, Michael Norton, and Colleen Quinn
State House News Service / September 9, 2011

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State Senator Stanley Rosenberg, the veteran Amherst Democrat, announced yesterday that he was diagnosed this week with cancer and will undergo radiation and chemotherapy treatments over the next several weeks.

“Each year, more than a million Americans are diagnosed with some form of cancer,’’ Rosenberg, a senior member of Senate President Therese Murray’s leadership team, said in a statement. “Earlier this week, I became one of them.’’

Rosenberg, 61, said he had been diagnosed with squamous cell carcinoma - a form of skin cancer - that was in its earliest stages of development and was discovered during a routine procedure.

“My oncology team has told me that, because the cancer was detected early, that it is highly curable,’’ Rosenberg said in his statement. “I understand the personal challenge that lies ahead. I also understand that the millions of Americans who are affected by this disease, either directly or indirectly, meet this same challenge with courage, dignity, and a lot of help from their friends.

“I am confident that with the expertise of my doctors, and the support of my family and friends, and my partner Bryon, that I will make a rapid and complete recovery.’’

Rosenberg disclosed his condition to Murray and members of the Democratic leadership team yesterday morning, expressing optimism that he would fully recover, according to some members of the Senate.

After attending a closed caucus yesterday in Murray’s office that Rosenberg also attended, Senator Steven Tolman, a Brighton Democrat and assistant majority leader, said he is optimistic. “The reports are very positive. We are going to keep a positive attitude and will say our prayers.’’

Rosenberg is the Senate’s point man on two major issues on the fall agenda, expanded gambling and redistricting.

While it is unclear how long Rosenberg’s treatment will last or whether it will keep him away from the capitol for an extended period, Murray said she had no doubt that Rosenberg would be able to continue to lead the Senate’s redistricting effort this fall.

“All of us in the Senate fully support the senator in his recovery during this time. We are encouraged by his prognosis, and we will be supportive as he goes through his treatment and recovery process,’’ Murray said in a statement. “Senator Rosenberg is, and will continue to be, an important part of our leadership team in the Senate and a strong voice for the needs and concerns of the Commonwealth.’’

Rosenberg said he and his staff would also continue to be responsive to constituents.

“So, if you don’t see me during the next few weeks having breakfast in Amherst, shopping in downtown Northampton and Greenfield, walking the Bridge of Flowers in Shelburne Falls, drinking tea at McCusker’s Market in Buckland, or lunching at your senior center, not to worry. My staff and I will continue providing the same level of service my constituents have come to expect,’’ Rosenberg said.

Senator Stephen Brewer, chairman of the Senate Ways and Means Committee and a survivor of prostate cancer 2 1/2 years ago, called Rosenberg “one of the great thinkers of the Senate.’’

“I walked the walk Stanley is now walking. I am hopeful he will have a full recovery,’’ Brewer told the News Service.

Senator Steven Baddour, the vice chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, said Rosenberg’s colleagues offered to help in any way they could.

“He is strong and confident he will get through this, and we are all sure he will. He is optimistic that after treatment he will be back to his old self,’’ Baddour said.

Rosenberg was elected to the House of Representatives in 1986. He served two terms there before being elected to the Senate in 1990.

A graduate of Revere High School and the University of Massachusetts Amherst, Rosenberg has worked as an aide to US Representative John Olver and as an administrator at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, where he worked first as director of the Arts Extension Service and then as director of the Community Development and Human Service Programs in the Division of Continuing Education.

In 2003, Rosenberg became the first senator in state history to hold the president pro tem leadership position after serving seven years in various other leadership capacities, including four years as assistant majority leader and three years as the first Western Massachusetts chairman of the Ways and Means Committee.