On May 17, 2008, Kennedy suffered a seizure, and then another one as he was rushed from the Kennedy Compound to Cape Cod Hospital and then by helicopter to Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. On May 20, doctors announced that Kennedy had a malignant glioma, a type of cancerous brain tumor. The grim diagnosis brought reactions of shock and prayer from many senators of both parties and from President Bush.
Doctors initially told Kennedy the tumor was inoperable, but he looked around for other opinions and decided on the most aggressive and exhausting course of treatment possible. On June 2, 2008, Kennedy underwent brain surgery at Duke University Medical Center in an attempt to remove as much of the tumor as possible. The 3½-hour operation, conducted by Dr. Allan Friedman while Kennedy was conscious in order to minimize any permanent neurological effects, was deemed successful in its goals. Kennedy left the hospital a week later to begin a course of chemotherapy and radiation treatment. Opinions varied regarding Kennedy's prognosis: the surgery typically only extended survival time by a matter of months, but sometimes people lived for years.