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Ruth Bader Ginsburg: "I am very much alive"

Ruth Bader Ginsburg praises Brett Kavanaugh
Ruth Bader Ginsburg praises Brett Kavanaugh 01:00

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg tried to ease people's worries about her health in a new interview with NPR published Wednesday. The 86-year-old women's rights icon, who's fought cancer three times in her life, reflected on a variety of topics including her health.

After Ginsburg fell and broke several ribs last fall, doctors discovered two malignant growths in her left lung. They were removed in December, and she returned to the bench in February. Ginsburg was successfully treated for colon cancer in 1999 and pancreatic cancer in 2009. In the interview, she addressed concerns over her health and took a dig at a comment by the late Kentucky Republican Sen. Jim Bunning. 

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

Ginsburg credits her work for keeping her going. "The work is really what saved me," she said, "because I had to concentrate on reading the briefs, doing a draft of an opinion, and I knew it had to get done. So I had to get past whatever my aches and pains were just to do the job."

Ruth Bader Ginsburg
Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg  Getty

In the interview, Ginsburg revealed a dream of hers that she recently told to retired Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens, who died last week at the age of 99.

"I said that my dream is that I will stay at the court as long as he did," she said. "And his immediate response was, 'Stay longer!'"

She also said she disagrees with a controversial proposal floated by some Democrats to increase the number of justices on the Supreme Court.

"Nine seems to be a good number. It's been that way for a long time," she said. "I think it was a bad idea when President Franklin Roosevelt tried to pack the court."

recent YouGov poll shows Ginsburg is the second most admired woman in the U.S., only behind former first lady Michelle Obama. She was honored with an MTV Movie & TV Award for "best real-life hero" in June.

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