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'Business as usual' says DUP's Edwin Poots as he awaits cancer surgery

Condition treatable, but coronavirus has delayed operation


DUP agriculture minister Edwin Poots (Liam McBurney/PA)

DUP agriculture minister Edwin Poots (Liam McBurney/PA)


DUP agriculture minister Edwin Poots (Liam McBurney/PA)

The DUP's Edwin Poots has revealed that his cancer was discovered during his recent spell in hospital to remove his appendix.

The Agriculture Minister has told the BBC's Stephen Nolan his condition is treatable and the prognosis is good.

However, it's understood that the coronavirus pandemic has delayed his ability to get an operation on the NHS in Northern Ireland and he is considering private health care.

He told the BBC while he was opposed to private health care, believing it should be available to all, he would not risk his life for a political ideology.

Last month Mr Poots spoke to the Belfast Telegraph immediately before he was rushed to Belfast's Royal Victoria Hospital by ambulance from his home outside Hillsborough, Co Down.

The MLA for Lagan Valley, had an emergency operation to remove his appendix.

While his recovery was said to be good, he later tested positive for coronavirus.

However, he did not have any symptoms and was soon back at work after isolating.

He was in front of MLAs on Tuesday taking questions on agriculture matters and Brexit.

In an email sent to his party colleagues last night, Mr Poots said it's is "very much business as usual" while he awaits surgery."

He also revealed how his cancer was discovered.

He wrote: "Friends and colleagues. Thank you for your thoughts and prayers during my recent spell in hospital. I have recovered well from the surgery and had no significant issues with Covid.

"The morning after surgery the surgeon informed me that the CT scan had shown a suspicious growth on my kidney. I met the consultant urologist whose care I am in last week. He has recommended removal of the kidney and I await that surgery, although most non emergency is not happening currently.

"It is very much business as usual for me, I am feeling well, the surgeon says surgery itself is curative without further treatment and the prognosis is excellent.

"Whilst nobody wants to get this news, I am so grateful that it was found in the scan and all other organs and bloods are normal. I truly believe God's gracious hand is upon me and have an inner confidence that he will see me through this.

"I know you will continue to support me on your prayers and thank you for that," he added.

Alliance MLA Stewart Dickson, who himself was diagnosed with oesophageal cancer in the summer of 2019, added: "Wishing Edwin best of outcomes for his time ahead during a difficult and traumatic period for him and his family. Having been through the trauma of diagnosis, chemo and major surgery a year ago my thoughts are with him."

Mr Poots is a former health minister and also held the environment and culture arts and leisure portfolios.

Social media was awash with well-wishers following the news on Tuesday evening.

Deputy First Minister Michelle O'Neill offered her best wishes.

"Thinking of Edwin Poots and his family tonight as he has made public that he is going through a cancer journey. A tough time for any family. Every best wish," she tweeted.

SDLP leader Colum Eastwood added: "Very sorry to hear this. Our thoughts are with Edwin and his family as he battles for a full recovery."

The UUP leader Steve Aiken offered his best wishes.

"We wish him a swift recovery - a cancer diagnosis is never good news but Edwin is in our thoughts and prayers."

Justice Minister Naomi Long said she was sorry to hear of the cancer diagnosis.

"My thoughts and prayers are with him and his family at this time and I wish him a full a speedy recovery."

Alliance deputy leader Stephen Farry said Mr Poots was "definitely a fighter and we all hope he wins this battle".

DUP MLA Paul Givan added: "I have known Edwin for over 20 years and he has remarkable strength of character.

"A calm resolve to overcome any challenge and determination to serve his community. I know his deep personal faith sustains him and he is assured of our prayerful support in the days ahead."

DUP leader Arlene Foster said it was "reassuring to see the lovely comments from across the political spectrum for Edwin".

"Cancer is indiscriminate and cruel,"she said. "Has touched so many. I talked to Edwin after he received this diagnosis. He has great determination and is sustained by a loving wife, family and great faith."

Last year Mr Poots lost his 90-year-old father Charles.

In an interview with this newspaper, Mr Poots told how he struggled to deal with his grief following the death of his dad, one of the founder members of the DUP.

"I saw him virtually every day in life," he said.

Mr Poots lost his 64-year-old mum Ethel when he was 30.

He will be appearing on the BBC Stephen Nolan show after 9am on Wednesday.

Broadcaster Stephen Nolan tweeted: "I’ve been talking to Edwin about this interview for some time-there was never one conversation with me about his cancer when he wasn’t talking about cancer affecting others.

"You will hear personal testimony on Nolan in the morning from a man determined and strong because of his faith."

Belfast Telegraph

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