Ruth Bader Ginsburg Makes First Public Appearance Since Pancreatic Cancer Treatment

“It was beyond my wildest imagination that I would one day become the Notorious RBG," she told an audience at the University at Buffalo.

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on Monday made her first public appearance since her treatment this month for pancreatic cancer.

Ginsburg, 86, appeared strong in remarks accepting an honorary degree from the University at Buffalo at the upstate New York school’s Center for the Arts.

Ginsburg told the audience that despite her recent health problems, part of the reason for her visit was an invitation she received last year from Wayne Wisbaum, a Buffalo attorney she met many years earlier while studying at Cornell University. She called the occasion “both a joy and a sorrow,” noting that Wisbaum did not live to see her at the event.

“He asked me to confirm that I would come to Buffalo in August 2019 in any event,” she said. “I did so immediately and I did not withdraw when my own health problems presented challenges. It was beyond my wildest imagination that I would one day become the Notorious RBG.”

Ginsburg credited the movement for women’s equality for allowing her rocket to the top of her field.

“If I am notorious, it is because I had the good fortune to be alive and a lawyer in the 1960s then and continuing through the 1970s,” she said. “For the first time in history, it became possible to urge before courts successfully that equal justice under law requires all arms of government to regard women as persons equal in stature to men.”

The Supreme Court announced Friday that Ginsburg had completed three weeks of radiation therapy for a tumor on her pancreas, starting on Aug. 5 at New York City’s Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center.

The abnormality was discovered during a routine blood test in July, and confirmed with a biopsy later that month.

“The Justice tolerated treatment well,” the court said. “She cancelled her annual summer visit to Santa Fe, but has otherwise maintained an active schedule. The tumor was treated definitively and there is no evidence of disease elsewhere in the body. Justice Ginsburg will continue to have periodic blood tests and scans. No further treatment is needed at this time.”

Ginsburg underwent surgery in December to treat lung cancer, returning to work in February. Her absence marked the first time she had missed oral arguments since being appointed in 1993.

Throughout her ups and downs, Ginsburg has been known to adhere to a challenging workout schedule, and famously dismissed a jab from one of her political foes in July.

“There was a senator, I think it was after my pancreatic cancer, who announced with great glee that I was going to be dead within six months,” she told NPR in an interview. “That senator, whose name I have forgotten, is now himself dead, and I am very much alive.”

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