Ruth Bader Ginsburg says she never stopped her famous workout despite latest cancer bout

William Cummings, USA TODAY

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg never stopped her famous workout amid her most recent bout with cancer, she told an audience in California on Monday. 

Ginsburg, 86, was speaking at the University of California-Berkeley School of Law as part of a lecture honoring Herma Hill Kay, the school's first female dean, when she said she felt "very well" in comparison with how she was six months ago. 

And when asked if she had been able to return to the gym since receiving radiation treatment for a pancreatic tumor in August, Ginsburg said, "I never left it." 

"Even in my lowest periods I couldn't do very much, but I did what I can," she said. 

Her exercise routine, which she said includes push-ups, planking and weights, has been widely celebrated. Her personal trainer, Bryant Johnson, wrote a book about it in 2017, "The RBG Workout: How She Stays Strong ... And You Can Too!" 

Ginsburg said she had been working with Johnson since 1999 after her first battle with cancer – that time in her colon – when her husband expressed concern about how frail she appeared. She has worked out twice a week ever since. 

Ruth Bader Ginsburg: After cancer, justice hits the road to prove her vitality – and longevity

She first faced pancreatic cancer in 2009 and made a full recovery. 

Doctors removed two cancerous growths from her lung at the end of 2018. While she recuperated, she missed oral arguments before the court in January, marking the first time in her career that she had been absent from the bench. 

In her fourth bout with cancer, she underwent a three-week course of radiation therapy after a malignant tumor on her pancreas was detected during a routine blood test in July. 

A second pancreatic cancer diagnosis is alarming because the average five-year survival rate is 9%, the lowest for all cancers.

More: Supreme Court Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, at 86, dreams of serving many more years

Ginsburg's health has been closely watched with about 15 months remaining in President Donald Trump's first term and a Supreme Court that is relatively balanced at the moment. Observers say that if Trump is able to appoint another justice, it will likely ensure a clear conservative shift on the bench. 

In July, Ginsburg said it was her dream to remain on the court as long her former colleague John Paul Stevens, who retired at age 90. 

Monday's lecture was opened by Berkeley Law school's dean, Erwin Chemerinsky, who was criticized in 2014 for suggesting that Ginsburg retire then, when Democrats controlled the White House and the Senate. 

Contributing: Richard Wolf 

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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Ruth Bader Ginsburg kept working out amid bout with pancreatic cancer