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Belinda Stronach battling breast cancer: friends

Updated Sat. Jun. 23 2007 7:31 PM ET News Staff

Liberal MP Belinda Stronach, who announced earlier this year she would be stepping down from federal politics, is battling breast cancer.

The MP for Newmarket-Aurora has been quietly battling the disease - she was diagnosed during a routine mammogram tests after announcing her plans to leave politics in April.

Stronach is an executive at her father Frank Stronach's autoparts company and a former cabinet minister.

The 41-year-old underwent a mastectomy and breast reconstruction in an undisclosed hospital in the Toronto area on Tuesday.

Stronach, a high profile politician who once dated Conservative MP Peter MacKay, is often seen with former Toronto Maple Leaf Tie Domi and is a friend of former U.S. president Bill Clinton, has attracted media attention since she got involved with politics as a Conservative in 2003.

The attention reached a crescendo when she famously crossed the floor from the Tories to the Liberals in 2005, stunning then-boyfriend MacKay.

But her fight with cancer has been kept out of the public spotlight and she has dealt privately with her diagnosis over the last two months.

Susan Kadis, a Liberal MP and breast cancer survivor, told CTV she's tried to help Stronach since she heard the diagnosis.

"I immediately offered my full support to her, which is very important -- the support of your family and friends is pivotal," Kadis said.

Stronach has a strain of cancer known as DCIS -- ductal carcinoma in situ. It is a common and treatable form of the disease.

Leading up to the mastectomy, Stronach had a lumpectomy, ultrasound, and a number of biopsies.

Despite her condition, Stronach has kept a busy schedule, attending Liberal caucus a couple of weeks ago and talking to reporters, and delivering a speech on women in politics in Regina in May.

Kadis praised her friend for continuing to make public appearances after she learned about the illness.

"She was going through it at the time, but she was not expressing it -- it was just remarkable to me and indicative of her strength," Kadis said.

Approximately 90 per cent of women between 30 and 49 who are diagnosed with Stronach's type of breast cancer survive.

The MP for Thornhill, Ont. was confident she would make a full recovery.

"I know full well that she will come out even stronger, being the type of individual that she is."

Stronach has two children, Frank Jr., 15, and Nikki, 13.

She has said she decided not to run for re-election because she wanted to spend more time with her kids.

hope she has a full recovery.
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