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First cycle of Chavez’ chemo, accomplished


Yesterday, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said he has completed his "first cycle" of chemotherapy in Cuba and will begin the second of numerous phases of treatment.

Chavez spoke in a telephone call supported live on state television during a dialog of his vice president, Elias Jaua. He promised to overcome his cancer, and he is self-assured of winning re-election next year and staying in power for at least six more years.

"This first cycle has been completed successfully. And now, well, we’re preparing for a second cycle, there are various ones in this battle to finally defeat and eliminate any risk of the presence of malignant cells in this body, which is going to turn 57 years old." He stated. It was the first televised annotations of Chavez, whose birthday is July 28, since he went to Cuba last Saturday to begin chemotherapy. His only public statements until Friday had been dozens of messages posted on his Twitter account.

Chavez undertook surgery in Cuba on June 20 to get rid of a cancerous tumor. He hasn’t said what type of cancer he has been detected with or specified where exactly it was located; saying only that it was in his pelvic region. He says chemotherapy is essential to guarantee cancer cells don’t reemerge. He likened it to a "bombardment," saying: "It’s the bomb against the illness." He said the first phase of treatment went well and he feels a "will to live that has sprung up inside me like a volcano. I’m in the best mood possible, my mood is unbeatable." Chavez added.

He did not say how soon the second stage of chemotherapy could begin or how soon he might return to Venezuela. Chavez said he was speaking from a meeting in Cuba with his foreign minister, energy minister, technology minister and directors of the state oil company. He applauded the work of his aides, proclaimed that Venezuela will give $5 million in famine relief to Somalia, and said he had permitted a document with strategic goals for Venezuela’s oil industry. He plugged OPEC’s recent recognition of Venezuela as the country with the biggest proven crude oil reserves, ahead of Saudi Arabia. "We have the first reserve in the world. We have 20 percent of the crude that there is in the world," Chavez stated. The leftist president, who has been in power since 1999, has specified he aims to run for re-election in late 2012. "I will live, I promise you, and we will win. And we’re headed for the great victory of 2012, and for the new term of government, 2013 to 2019," He added.

In his comments on television, Chavez expressed gratitude to his team of Cuban and Venezuelan doctors, and said he has gained back some of the weight that he lost after last month’s operation.

"I have an ideal weight for me now: 86 kilos," or 190 pounds, Chavez said, adding that he used to weigh 100 kilos (220 pounds).

"I was too fat. I’m doing exercise, rehabilitation," he said, adding that he would soon take a walk.

He dismissed rumors about his health, saying: "The day before yesterday someone was writing, giving me up to four months to live. Well, let them have those evil wishes. I hope it doesn’t come back at them."

In his typical fashion, Chavez broke into song during his call and chatted with some of those attending the televised gathering.

Given the limited information Chavez has provided about his condition and treatment, medical experts have suggested he could be suffering from anything ranging from rectal cancer to prostate cancer to a soft-tissue cancer such as sarcoma.

"Most cancers, and this is pretty much true across the board, if they are going to give chemotherapy after surgery in the hopes of trying to prevent any recurrence of the cancer, it tends to be four to six months of chemotherapy," said Dr. Michael Pishvaian, a cancer specialist at Georgetown University’s Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center who was not involved in Chavez’s treatment.

"The exact details completely depend upon the exact regimen that’s used," Pishvaian said.