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Mayor Mel Lastman has been undergoing aggressive chemotherapy in the last month to fight his rapidly worsening hepatitis C.

The often colourful and seemingly always energetic Toronto mayor told CFTO News yesterday that the interferon treatments, meant to keep the virus from damaging his liver, have been making him weak and ill since he began taking them two weeks ago.

"The feeling is exactly like the flu and you've got it every day," said the 69-year-old mayor.

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"You're sick to your stomach; your bones are aching; you're freezing; you're headachy all the time," he said. "Your insides are fighting all day long."

Doctors told Mr. Lastman his condition had reached a new stage and that he would be putting his life at risk by not beginning the treatment as soon as possible.

"I didn't want to die," Mr. Lastman said, explaining why he began the treatments right away and not after leaving office.

Mr. Lastman said he didn't mention his poor health when he announced he was retiring from politics earlier this month because he didn't want to hide behind his condition. "I didn't want to use any excuses. I feel as if I've done a good job. "

The effects of Mr. Lastman's interferon treatments were evident yesterday when he became dizzy after trying to play a tuba.

He was at an event to introduce the new musical director of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra and had to be helped off stage.

The weak spell prompted a CFTO reporter to ask Mr. Lastman whether he was all right, which led to the mayor's announcement about his treatment.

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Mr. Lastman contracted hepatitis C from tainted blood he received during a 1989 operation.

Despite his symptoms, Mr. Lastman said he intends to finish his term before handing over the reins to the winner of November's municipal election.

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