EDITORIAL: Nevada’s Harry Reid battling pancreatic cancer

Harry Reid successfully fought off a number of formidable foes during his nearly five decades in politics. He’ll need to summon that same tenacious spirit to turn away his latest challenger.

Mr. Reid’s family announced Monday that the former Senate majority leader, 78, had undergone surgery at Johns Hopkins Cancer Center near Baltimore for pancreatic cancer.

“His doctors caught the problem early during a routine screening, and his surgeons are confident that the surgery was a success and that the prognosis for his recovery is good,” read a statement issued by his family. “He is now out of surgery, in good spirits and resting with his family.”

Mr. Reid, who retired in 2017 after 30 years in the U.S. Senate, will now undergo chemotherapy.

Pancreatic cancer is one of deadliest forms of the disease and tends to spread aggressively to nearby organs. It often advances with few symptoms, making it difficult to discover in its initial stages. Survival rates are not high — although progress has been made in recent decades, and early detection offers patients significantly more opportunity to defeat the disease.

Mr. Reid grew up in the small mining town of Searchlight and became perhaps the most imposing political figure Nevada has ever known. Over the course of 50 years, he served as chairman of the Nevada Gaming Commission and was elected to the state Assembly, the lieutenant governor’s office, the U.S. House and the U.S. Senate, where he eventually rose to the powerful and highly visible position of majority leader.

In addition to his vital role in Washington, Mr. Reid has long exerted considerable influence over the state’s Democratic Party in terms of state and local candidate selection and issue emphasis.

It’s no secret that, after decades in public office, Mr. Reid became a polarizing figure — both nationally and in his home state. But even in this destructive era of deteriorating comity and hyperpartisanship, pettiness and ideology must yield to compassion and humanity. Mr. Reid and his family deserve support and prayers from all Nevadans.

Politics will eviscerate the faint of heart, and Mr. Reid’s tranquil demeanor has long disguised a steely and resolute determination. Let’s hope he can muster the strength to vanquish his newest adversary, make a complete recovery and enjoy a long and happy retirement.

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