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The Warsaw Voice » Society » March 12, 2008
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Religa Battles Cancer
March 12, 2008 By W.¯.    
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Former health minister Zbigniew Religa is again battling with cancer. Religa, 70, a renowned heart surgeon, health minister in Poland's previous Law and Justice (PiS) government and now a deputy, has undergone chemotherapy for cancer of the adrenal gland in recent weeks. After two chemotherapy sessions his health worsened to such a degree that doctors were afraid to risk administering more drugs.

"This would have been detrimental to his health and even life threatening," said Prof. Kazimierz Roszkowski, director of the Institute for Lung Disease in Warsaw, where Religa is being treated. Religa said, "My body is not producing enough marrow. Moreover I have hardly any white blood cells, which is life threatening. Any infection can kill a person in such a state," he said.

Religa revealed while he was health minister that he had lung cancer. He underwent an operation May 31 last year to remove part of a lung. At the time he did not decide to undergo chemotherapy because, according to his doctors, it would have reduced the risk of the development of secondary tumors by just a few percent.

"Everything was fine until December," Religa said. "I went for tests every three months. I was in good spirits and went to work normally. But December's tomography report showed an enlarged adrenal gland. This meant only one thing: I had a secondary tumor."

Despite his illness, Religa still plays an active role in parliament, particularly over the government's planned health care reforms, which he has criticized.
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