B.C. Premier John Horgan diagnosed with cancer; radiation starting soon
A growth recently found in the throat of B.C.'s premier is cancerous, John Horgan said Thursday in an update on the results of his biopsy.
In a statement Premier Horgan confirmed the diagnosis, and said he'd be starting radiation treatment "in the next couple of weeks."
"My prognosis is good and I expect to make a full recovery," he said.
He expects treatment to wrap up at the end of December, and said that while undergoing radiation be plans to participate virtually in meetings, as he has this week.
Mike Farnworth, B.C.'s solicitor general and recently appointed deputy premier, or other cabinet ministers will attend in-person events on Horgan's behalf.
"It's the news nobody wants to hear, it's very concerning when you hear 'cancer.' But that being said, the premier was upbeat and in good spirits," Farnworth told reporters on Thursday.
Horgan said he hopes to be back in the legislature in the new year.
"I would, again, like to thank everyone who sent their well wishes. Your support gives me strength and humbles me."
Late last week, the premier announced that the growth had been found during the investigation of a benign lump in his neck. He said he would be undergoing biopsy surgery Friday, which would "reveal what exactly we're dealing with."
In his statement Thursday, the premier thanked those involved in his health care, saying he was grateful for the team's support.
Ahead of a COVID-19 briefing, Health Minister Adrian Dix took time to acknowledge what the premier is going through.
"As someone who has dealt with cancer and survived before, he understands both, I think, the challenges, and I think he's engaging with real optimism," Dix said.
Throat cancers aren't very common, according to medical experts.
Dr. Simon Sutcliffe is a retired oncologist who said there are multiple types of cancers of the head and neck, but it's more common to see them in men. He is not treating the premier but says generally speaking this type of cancer has a survival rate of 70 per cent, and that could be higher if caught earlier.
"This was presumably an asymptomatic preclinical detection, which means it's likely to be earlier stage. That's very favourable," he told CTV News in an interview.
According to the Canadian Cancer Society, in 2021 it's estimated 229,100 Canadians will be diagnosed with cancer, 7,400 of them with head and neck cancer.
Horgan's news drew responses from politicians including the prime minister, who said he was sending strength.
"John, I'm sorry to hear this news – but I know you'll approach this challenge with courage and resolve. Canadians across the country are pulling for you – and so are Sophie and I," Justin Trudeau wrote on Twitter.
Provincial Opposition leader Shirley Bond sent well wishes too.
"Cancer's a terrifying word for anyone to hear," the interim leader of the BC Liberals said in a video.
"I want to let Premier Horgan and his family know that they are in our thoughts, that we are relieved to hear that the prognosis is good, and I want to, on behalf of our entire caucus, ensure that the premier knows that he has our support," Bond said.
It's not the first time that Horgan has been diagnosed with cancer. He underwent treatment and surgery for bladder cancer more than a decade ago.
Ten years after he was declared cancer-free, his older brother died of lung cancer.
As Horgan made the announcement last week, he also appointed Farnworth as his second in command. The role of deputy premier had remained empty for some time, following Carole James' decision to end her career in politics.
He said it seemed like an "appropriate time" to ask Farnworth to step into the job.
Asked why the premier decided to go public ahead of his diagnosis, Horgan said he thought the news would get around that he was spending time in hospital, and that he thinks "transparency is really important."
Following his announcement, the self-described "nerd" received a message from Star Trek actress Kate Mulgrew, who wished him a "warp speed" recovery.
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