Sen. Ted Kennedy left a Boston hospital this morning, four days after he was hospitalized for a seizure that doctors said was caused by a malignant brain tumor.
Kennedy walked out of the hospital accompanied by family members and was greeted enthusiastically by several of the family dogs.
Doctors at Massachusetts General Hospital said in statement that Kennedy is doing well after the seizure and the procedures he underwent Monday that led to the diagnosis.
"Sen. Kennedy has recovered remarkably quickly from his Monday procedure," the statement read, "and therefore will be released from the hospital today ahead of schedule."
Kennedy will return to his home on Cape Cod to await further test results and treatment plans. "He's feeling well and eager to get started," according to the statement.
The news about Kennedy's brain tumor has thrown his family a "real curveball," said his wife, Vicki, in an e-mail to friends that was released Tuesday evening.
In her first comment since the diagnosis was announced, Vicki said the family is stunned by the news but heartened by her husband's demeanor.
"Teddy is leading us all, as usual, with his calm approach to getting the best information possible," the e-mail said.
But she joked that Ted was "making me crazy," by insisting he wanted to take part in an annual sailing race this weekend off Cape Cod.
Sen. Christopher Dodd, D- Conn., told "Good Morning America" today that he spoke to Kennedy late Tuesday and that he was in good spirits. Dodd said they joked about Kennedy stealing the spotlight from him on Tuesday. "He had a good belly laugh" over that, Dodd said.
From Boston to Washington and beyond, the grim news that Kennedy has cancer triggered a massive outpouring of sadness and concern.
Kennedy Family Heartache
America is all too familiar with Kennedy family heartache, from the assassinations of Ted's brothers President Kennedy and Sen. Robert Kennedy, to the plane crash that killed President Kennedy's son, John Jr. Now the Kennedys -- and especially their patriarch for 40 years -- face even more misfortune.
"It is unbelievable to go through life, dealing with everything he had to deal with, and then to have something like this happen," said Frank Pezzanno, owner of Boston's Ristorante Saraceno, where Kennedy and his wife, Vicki, are frequent customers.
"I am praying for him, praying for him to come home soon," he said.
Saraceno sent a huge order of food from his restaurant, "pasta and chicken picatta," he said, to Kennedy's hospital room Tuesday, part of a huge show of support for the ailing 76-year-old senator.
Kennedy's office was receiving about 1,000 e-mails an hour Tuesday from well-wishers who logged onto its Web site. Hundreds more called.
Among those who sent regards: Chief Justice John Roberts, the prime ministers of Great Britain and Ireland and King Abdullah of Jordan, who sent an orchid, a Kennedy staffer said.
Many thousands of people have been posting messages of support on political blogs.
"No matter what happens, he has earned his place alongside his brothers as heroes of the American pantheon of great leaders. Come on, big guy. Fight for us one more time," said one posting on democraticunderground.com
As Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., put it Tuesday, "Ted Kennedy and the Kennedy family have faced adversity more times in more instances … than most families have to."
The litany of tragedy that has buffeted America's leading political family is long.
Kennedy's oldest brother, Joseph P. Kennedy Jr., died in a plane crash in 1944 during World War II. He was 29. Kathleen Kennedy, his sister, died in a plane crash in France in 1948, at the age of 28.
Rosemary Kennedy, another sister, spent her adult life in an institution because of mental retardation and the effects of a failed lobotomy.
In more recent years, assorted Kennedy cousins also have met tragedy.
There was Michael Kennedy, one of Bobby's sons, who died in a skiing accident in Colorado, when he hit a tree while tossing a football on the slopes. He was 39. David Kennedy, another of Robert's children, died of a drug overdose in Palm Beach, Fla, in 1984. He was 28.
Ted Kennedy is no stranger to tragedy or scandal. In 1964 he survived a small plane crash that killed two people. Kennedy suffered multiple spinal fractures that led to a lifelong struggle with back pain.
In 1969, he drove a car off a bridge on Chappaquiddick Island in Massachusetts after a party. Mary Jo Kopechne, an aide riding with him, died. Controversy over the case helped to snuff Kennedy's presidential dreams.
While some have never forgiven Kennedy for the episode, his service in the Senate has made him one of the most influential lawmakers of his time. Many of those he has helped said they are heartbroken by the cancer diagnosis.
Brian Hart of Bedford, Mass., got to know Kennedy after his soldier son John Hart was killed in an ambush in Iraq in 2003.
Kennedy attended the funeral at Arlington National Cemetery and listened for a half hour as Brian Hart explained that his son had felt unsafe riding in Humvees that lacked protective armor.
Kennedy subsequently held hearings and pushed through legislation guaranteeing that all Humvees would be armored and that all soldiers would have body armor.
"Sen. Kennedy single-handedly has saved hundreds of lives. We feel he never received the credit for the work he did on this," Hart said. "Honestly, my wife and I are very sad, heartbroken in fact, when we heard the news today."
Lilly Ledbetter, 70, of Jacksonville, Ala., met Kennedy this year, after he sponsored the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. The measure would correct a Supreme Court decision that gutted wage discrimination protections for women workers. Ledbetter was the original plaintiff in the case.
"I have always been fascinated by all of the Kennedys -- his brother Jack, Bobby and of course Ted, all their history," said Ledbetter. "I know Ted Kennedy's a fighter, a champion for little people. But I had a hard time believing that he was taking up my cause."
She said she "couldn't believe it" when she heard that Kennedy had an inoperable brain tumor. "The Kennedys, they deal with these tragedies, but they continue to keep working for the rest of us," she said.
Kennedy also has won admiration for being the family's rock in times of sorrow, leading the family's mourning after Robert's assassination in 1968 and John Jr.'s plane crash.
United Farm Workers president Arturo Rodriguez, who has known Kennedy for 30 years, said: "It's hard to understand sometimes why things happen the way they happen."
"But I know he will be an example to all of us, on how to endure something like this, and his family will be an example, too. Despite all the tragedies they have faced through the years, the family has always been there. They have never walked away. I have no doubt they will continue to be there in the future."
And as Vicki told friends, this is only the first inning. "I want you to know that Teddy is in fighting form, and ready to take this on. We're so grateful that you'll be with him along the way."