December 12, 2013
CFK to undergo cancer surgery
President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner will be operated on for a cancerous tumour in the area of her thyroid gland on January 4th, the presidential spokesman Alfredo Scoccimarro announced last night. The Head of State will take a leave of absence between January 4-24, while Vice-President Amado Boudou will be officially in charge.
The carcinoma has not metastasized, meaning it has not spread, Scoccimarro said at a news conference in Government House. The operation is scheduled to take place on January 4, he said. She will be operated on in Hospital Austral in Pilar, Buenos Aires province.
Scoccimarro said Fernández de Kirchner will formally take leave of absence between January 4-24. Vice-President Amado Boudou will be officially in charge during her leave of absence, he said.
The President is scheduled to make a public appearance today, her first since December 21, to meet with provincial governors in the morning in Government House.
Scoccimarro said the cancer was detected during a “routine” medical checkup the President underwent on December 22.
“If everything is as they said officially, she should not have any other problem. The sickness has not spread,” said Buenos Aires-based oncologist Mario Bruno.
Scoccimarro said that more specific tests conducted yesterday to ready the President for surgery showed that the cancer had not spread. Surgery will probably demand a hospital stay of “72 hours” and a lengthier resting period of 20 days, he said reading from a statement signed by the President’s doctors.
Fernández de Kirchner, 58, won a second four-year term in October. Her husband Néstor Kirchner died suddenly of a heart attack in October last year.
Papillary carcinoma is the most common type of thyroid cancer and normally affects people under the age of 40, especially women.
The usual treatment is to surgically remove as much of the cancerous material as possible, and then follow up with radio-active iodide treatments, taken orally. This substance helps to destroy any remnants of the cancerous gland and provide for clearer images showing any additional cancer, the NIH said on its Web site.
After surgery, patients usually must take medicine for the rest of their lives to replace a hormone which the thyroid glands produce. Blood tests every six to 12 months to measure thyroid levels also are recommended.
Presidential doctors Luis Buonomo and Marcelo Ballesteros said the operation will be led by Dr. Pedro Sacco, chief of the surgery department at Hospital Austral. Sacco also runs the Head and Neck Service of the oncology institute at the University of Buenos Aires.
A skilled orator fond of glamorous clothes and make-up, Fernández de Kirchner still wears black as she mourns her husband and closest advisor, Kirchner, who died late last year.
When Kirchner died, many thought it spelled the end of the couple's idiosyncratic blend of state intervention, nationalist rhetoric and the championing of human rights.
But Fernández de Kirchner pulled off a remarkable political comeback on the back of brisk economic growth and an outpouring of public sympathy. She was re-elected with 54 percent of the vote, vowing to deepen her unorthodox economic policies.
The fiery president is popular among many here who have benefitted from her hefty welfare spending but she is often criticized by business leaders for her heavy-handed management of the economy.
She is one of several Latin American leaders to have cancer.
Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez underwent chemo-therapy earlier this year while Paraguayan President Fernando Lugo's lymphatic cancer is in remission.
Many opposition leaders responded late last night via Twitter and other social media to the news of the President’s diagnosis of thyroid cancer.
Horacio Rodríguez Larreta, Cabinet chief of the Buenos Aires city government, said: “I wish her the best in the operation and a swift recovery.”
Civic Coalition lawmaker Adrián Pérez wrote: “I wish the President a quick recovery,” sentiments echoed by PRO representative Federico Pinedo. Buenos Aires city Public Spaces Minister Diego Santilli wrote: “During this tough time, strength to Cristina Kirchner. We all sincerely hope that she recovers quickly.”
Hashtag #FuerzaCristina rose to the top of Twitter’s topics of interest, and dozens of media outlets, journalists and opposition members continued to comment on the news.
Fernández de Kirchner will undergo surgery on January 4 to remove a tumour from the right lobe of her thyroid gland. Boudou, the former economy minister personally handpicked by the President to run with her in the elections staged in October, will take over her duties during her recovery, expected to last until January 24.