New Democratic Party leader Jack Layton lost his battle with cancer today, but in a final letter to Canadians dated August 20, the 61-year-old urged others diagnosed with the deadly disease to “please don’t be discouraged that my own journey hasn’t gone as well as I had hoped. You must not lose your own hope.”
He wrote: “Treatments and therapies have never been better in the face of this disease. You have every reason to be optimistic, determined, and focused on the future. My only other advice is to cherish every moment with those you love at every stage of your journey, as I have done this summer.”
In February, 2010, Layton shared publically that he, like 25,000 other Canadian men, was diagnosed with prostate cancer. His father beat the disease 17 years earlier. He appeared to beat it too. Earlier this year, he led the NDP to Official Opposition status in the federal election with a historic number of seats, 103.
But at a news conference on July 25, he announced that he had been experiencing stiffness and pain and underwent a series of tests at Toronto’s Princess Margaret Hospital. “My battle against prostate cancer, as it turns out from these tests, is going very well…however these tests whose results I received just last week also indicate that I have a new cancer, non-prostate cancer that’s gonna require further treatment.
“So on the advice of my doctors,” he continued, “I'm going to focus on treatment and recovery. I will therefore be taking a temporary leave of absence as leader of the New Democratic Party of Canada and I’m gonna fight this cancer now so I can be back to fight for families when parliament resumes.”
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