By Ben Simmoneau

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PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Longtime Pennsylvania Senator Arlen Specter is seriously ill, a friend of Specter’s confirmed to CBS 3.

On Tuesday morning, Specter’s office released a statement from the former Senator.

“I am battling cancer. It’s another battle I intend to win. I’m grateful for all the well wishes I received. I’m looking forward to getting back to work, to the comedy stage and the ballpark.”

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Specter, 82, was diagnosed about six weeks ago with a new form of cancer, the specifics of which are being kept private by his family, a CNN source said Monday night.

Specter reportedly had a “big flare up” of the disease Monday night.

Specter has overcome numerous serious illnesses over the past two decades, including a brain tumor and non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

He served in the United States Senate for 30 years. He was a Republican from 1965 until 2009, when he switched to the Democratic Party. He was defeated in the 2010 Pennsylvania Democratic Primary by Representative Joe Sestak.

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