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Support for Jack Layton 'overwhelming and wonderful'

NDP Leader Jack Layton speaks to the media as his wife Olivia Chow looks on at a news conference in Toronto on Monday, July 25, 2011.

CP/Nathan Denette/CP/Nathan Denette

Jack Layton's announcement that he is fighting a second type of cancer has prompted an "overwhelming and wonderful" outpouring of support from Canadians, the NDP says.

Well-wishers are calling and e-mailing with messages for Mr. Layton, said Kathleen Monk, his director of communications. On Monday, Mr. Layton temporarily stepped aside as party leader but vowed to be in his seat when the House of Commons returns on Sept. 19.

People are "really sending all of their love to both Olivia and Jack and looking forward and hoping he returns in September," Ms. Monk said, mentioning Mr. Layton's wife Olivia Chow.

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A day after Mr. Layton's announcement, the NDP had received more than 10,000 messages through its website and more than 3,000 people had posted on Mr. Layton's Facebook page. An additional 2,000 people or so e-mailed Mr. Layton and staff receive a phone call every two or three minutes, Ms. Monk said.

"Your support and well wishes are so appreciated. Thank you. I will fight this - and beat it," Mr. Layton said via Twitter and Facebook on Monday.

In addition to words of support, Ms. Monk said some Canadians are sharing their cancer stories or offering Mr. Layton health advice.

As well, the NDP's website was flooded on Monday, with more than 50,000 visitors - more than 40 times the normal traffic - between Mr. Layton's announcement at 2 p.m. ET and midnight.

In posting Mr. Layton's statement on its website, the NDP included a link to donate to the Canadian Cancer Society. Alexa Giorgi, a spokeswoman for the organization, said it was too early to determine if donations have increased.

Mr. Layton, 61, did not reveal what type of cancer he was diagnosed with, but said his prostate cancer was no longer a threat. He was diagnosed with prostate cancer in December, 2009.

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