Lula and Kirchner fought cancer together, but also miles apart
Lula’s cancer was found on October 2011. Kirchner was diagnosed in December of the same year. (Agencia Brasil)
Former Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva began chemotherapy to fight throat cancer on Wednesday Jan. 4, at the same time that current Argentine leader Cristina Fernández de Kirchner underwent a three and a half hour operation for a papillary thyroid carcinoma. In Kirchner’s case, the procedure involved the complete removal of her thyroid gland. Both leaders are now recovering with no further complications.
But Kirchner’s ailment has created a particular urge in her home country, where many have been quick to link her to the late Eva Perón, who died at the early age of 33 after battling cancer. Supporters gathered outside the Austral University Hospital in Pilar, some 40 miles outside Buenos Aires.
“We’re going to give her strength during this tough time she’s going through,” said an unidentified young man interviewed on camera by NTN24. “We know everything will turn out fine and we hope she feels the love and warmth of the people.”
The footage shows flowers left outside the hospital, and banners with phrases such as “You can do it Cristina!” and “Together With You.” Some even brought large pictures of Kirchner, 58, joined by her late husband and predecessor in office, Néstor with the words “The Best Homage is Your People’s Support.”
Lula, 66, also remains a popular figure in Latin America, setting the standard for a reinvigorated left that appeals to the populace more than the autocrat model displayed by Venezuela’s Hugo Chávez. His tumor was reported in October 2011 after the former president went through a routine check-up. As BBC reports, the Brazilian leader’s doctors say his chances of being cured are “very good” since his cancer has not spread to other areas and remains in its early stages. The tumor is located on Lula’s larynx and should respond well to treatments, experts say.
Other sources state that Lula’s been through three sessions of chemotherapy already, which have “reduced 75 percent of the tumor.” He could be considered cured after five years with no recurrence.
Kirchner’s doctors say her cancer has not metastasized or affected her lymph nodes. During her absence, Argentine Vice-President Amado Boudou has led the country in her stead. But now Kirchner is expected to rest for 72 hours and be back to normal in a very short time.
The AP quotes Dr. Jennifer Ogilvie, an assistant professor of surgery at New York University, saying “there’s no reason why a patient can’t go back to work in a week or two.”