Ruth Bader Ginsburg Interview Transcript: "I’m Very Much Alive" - transcription powered by Happy Scribe

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So I thought I would start actually with Justice Stevens because you just as we sit here doing this today, you've come from his little service and then his interment and you were with him a week before he died in Lisbon in Portugal. Tell me about that. It was wonderful. We. I got to drive with Justice Stevens. Most of the time, because I was the second oldest person attending the conference. He was in the best of humor. In the morning, the morning was until that conference.

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And as he is on the bench, he's not a big talker, but what he when he does speak, it's really worth listening to. And he was enjoying whatever we did. Some of the drives a rather long. He was stuck in traffic and it was it was warm. He never complained. And he regaled us with stories. His memory and one incident he said in such and such case. What is a dozen or so years ago I circulated my draft and you said that a certain footnote was over the top and I shouldn't include it.

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And I agree with you. All right. And I took it at. To remember, we remember things like that. So you were driving with him in your remarks. Today, you in your remarks, you. In one of these ways, you left the ambassador's residence with him, you said. You said something to him what your dream was. Yeah. I said and my dream is that I will stay at the court as long as he did.

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And his immediate response was stay longer.

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So which brings me to this, the main subject of our conversation.

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You have had surgery for cancer three times in your adult life. Just about like clockwork every 10 years. But the cancer. You were treated for this past year, and when you had surgery for lung cancer, it was the first time that you did it. Without your husband, Marty. And that must have been. Very different and difficult. It was my first two cards about. Both colorectal cancer at Washington Hospital Center of pancreatic cancer at Sloan-Kettering. Stayed with me.

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He stayed with me in the hospital, sleeping on an uncomfortable couch despite his bad back. And I knew that someone was there who really cared about me and would make sure that things didn't go wrong. There was one day. During the colon cancer, about when I was getting a blood transfusion and Marty saw that something was very wrong and he immediately yanked a needle. Out of me, it turned out that it was a mismatch, not the type of blood.

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But in some anti antigen. I might not have lived if he hadn't yet been there. So and he encouraged me. When they sent a physical therapist to get me to walk in to do whatever it exercise regime they had, I didn't want to do it. I was exhausted. I merely said, you do it. And he he was quite insistent about that. So to have his his loving care and yet his determination that I do what was necessary.

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To heal faster. It was it was hard to be alone. So I know that you. It was hard to be alone and it was. You have many people who love you that you don't know, love you. That in the greater world. But you have children who love you and friends who love you. But you are.

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A solo act in a way these days, you know, you more or less live by yourself and you have to take care of yourself. One, be helped my children during the recovery period. One child or another visiting every weekend. And Jane and James were tremendously supportive. Also my granddaughter, the lawyer, Clara.

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Visited. So I did have the support of my family and that that was important. And again, encouraging me to do what I was supposed to do in the case of lung cancer. I was supposed to walk a lot. I think starting with. A quarter of a mile and a half a mile, a mile, and some of it I could do on the treadmill. And how did you do your work? The work is really what saved me because I had to concentrate on reading the brief, doing a draft of an opinion.

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And I knew that had to get done. So I had to get past whatever my aches and pains were and just do the job. You know, you're not in the same position as somebody like me. You're a very public figure and. At the same time. You have the natural human instinct to your health as your own business. So how do you. Think that through. I might have preferred. To keep my condition to myself, but I realize.

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Not because I'm a public figure. I called. Help make things a little better for people who are in my situation, which was on to the health. By saying what I was experiencing. And I think it would it gave people. Courage and hope and made them feel less alone. Here's somebody else who's gone through gone through the same experience. So I think it was good in the controversial cancer case, I did a public service advertisment with my surgeon, with Dr.

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Lee Smith. When you had colorectal cancer and that was your was your first rodeo, so to speak.

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You said that Marty did all kinds of things to raise your spirits. What did he do? Well, guess as soon as I came home, we could eat again. He made wonderful meals for me. We went to. We walked around Georgetown. We walked to the Phillips Collection. We did some of my favorite things money had a wonderful sense of humor, as you know. You said he read to you. What did he say? Yes. Well, for one thing, he was my clipping service with The New York Times in The Post.

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I miss him every morning. So I have no one to go through the paper and pick out what I should read. Did he read you from books? Yes. Wonderful. Tolstoy's story that should not have been read, but there was only time, a very short story that I don't remember where we were going. It's about how much room does a man need? This is very principle figure is avaricious and he wants to acquire more and more land.

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And then at the end, from all of his activity, he drops dead. How much room does a man need? Just enough space to be buried.

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You do realize, as my editors want to do, to ask ask you this, that when you. You get a cold or a hangnail. There's a substantial portion of the population, a large part of it female. But men, too, who go into a complete panic, someone panic some.

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There was a sense that I think it was after pancreatic cancer who announced it with great glee that I was going to be dead within six months. That Senate whose name I've forgotten is now himself dead. And I am very much alive.