When Senator Edward Kennedy learned he had a malignant glioma growing in his left parietal lobe, he chose Duke physician Allan Friedman to remove the tumor. The three-and-a-half-hour procedure performed by Friedman on June 2 was nearly identical to the one described at the beginning of "Mind Over Matter"—a craniotomy undertaken while the patient is awake to avoid damaging nearby areas that control speech and motor functions.
Friedman, chief of neurosurgery at Duke Medical Center and deputy director of the Preston Robert Tisch Brain Tumor Center, is considered one of the world's best tumor and vascular neurosurgeons. Since coming to Duke in 1975 as a surgical resident, Friedman has operated on thousands of patients. In addition to Kennedy, Friedman's other well-known patients include Reynolds Price '55. In 1984, Friedman removed an eleven-inch malignant tumor that had wrapped itself around Price's spine, an experience Price recounts in his memoir, A Whole New Life.