B.C. Premier John Horgan will soon step away from in-person events to begin radiation therapy on a growth in his throat that was recently confirmed to be cancerous.
Mr. Horgan said in a Thursday statement that his prognosis is good and he expects to make a full recovery after treatment, which is expected to finish at the end of this year.
“The surgery and biopsy that were done last week were successful and I am grateful to the health care team for all the support I’ve received,” Mr. Horgan said in his statement.
Over the next several weeks, the leader of British Columbia’s NDP government plans to continue to participate virtually in briefings, cabinet meetings and other events such as the December gathering of the Council of the Federation, which he chairs. Solicitor-General Mike Farnworth, whom Mr. Horgan appointed Deputy Premier last month after he announced the biopsy surgery, will attend in-person events on Mr. Horgan’s behalf.
Laryngeal cancer is highly curable if found and treated early. The preferred treatment for early-stage laryngeal cancer is radiation therapy, according to the BC Cancer agency.
Mr. Horgan, 62, recovered from bladder cancer in his 40s. He said last month he noticed a lump on his neck, which required the biopsy last Friday. In a 2017 profile by The Globe and Mail, he likened that 2008 diagnosis to “getting hit by a big, huge baseball bat.”
“You’re kind of stunned for a while. You try and think, ‘That must be it, then. We’re all done,’” he said.
The New Democrats recently marked one year since they won a majority government in a snap election. Mr. Horgan first became Premier in June, 2017, after forming a minority government with the support of three Green Party MLAs.
Well wishes for Mr. Horgan – a former provincial bureaucrat first elected in 2005 – poured in from across the country and the political spectrum.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Canadians are pulling for Mr. Horgan and added that he knows the B.C. Premier will approach this challenge with courage and resolve. Federal Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole and federal NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh also extended their best wishes through social media to Mr. Horgan and his family. Several federal cabinet ministers also voiced their support publicly for Mr. Horgan.
Interim B.C. Liberal Leader Shirley Bond said she and her caucus were relieved to hear her political rival’s prognosis is good.
“We will be thinking of him in the weeks and months ahead, and I certainly look forward to a time when he will return in good health to the Legislature so that we can return to the vigorous debate that he and I usually engage in,” she told reporters Thursday in Victoria.
BC Green Party Leader Sonia Furstenau said she could only imagine the stress and worry the Premier and his family have been going through at this time.
“I wish him well on his road to recovery,” Ms. Furstenau said in an e-mailed statement. “I extend my gratitude to Deputy Premier Mike Farnworth for taking on the additional responsibility while the Premier focuses on his health and recovery.”
The Canadian Cancer Society (CCS) does not report on laryngeal – or throat – cancer on its own, but the disease is included in a general “head and neck” category, which includes other similar cancers.
Based on historical incidence and mortality data, as well as projections through 2021, it is estimated that 7,400 Canadians will be diagnosed with head and neck cancers this year, and that 2,100 will die from it.
Men are more likely to develop this type of cancer than women, with the CCS projecting that they will make up almost three-quarters of such cases and deaths.
With reports from Andrea Woo, Justine Hunter and The Canadian Press
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