News of FW de Klerk’s cancer diagnosis comes just months after the previous president’s son, Willem, lost his battle to similar disease
Apartheid-era president FW de Klerk has announced through his foundation, that he has been diagnosed with cancer.
In a short statement issued on Thursday, 18 March 2021, which was the previous president’s 85th birthday, the foundation said De Klerk has mesothelioma, a kind of cancer caused by asbestos and most ordinarily occurring within the lining of the lungs or abdomen.
FW de Klerk, who is apartheid’s last president before the country went into a democracy in 1994, will begin immunotherapy during a week, and therefore the foundation has said it’s confident the treatment is going to be successful.
“Former President FW de Klerk announced at his 85th birthday that he has been diagnosed with mesothelioma, which may be a cancer that affects the tissue that lines the lungs. Mr De Klerk will start a course of immunotherapy next week. there’s no immediate threat and that we are confident that the treatment is going to be successful”
The news of de Klerk’s cancer comes just months after the previous president’s son, Willem, lost his battle, also to the similar disease. He was 53 years old.
He has had his justifiable share of controversy though. In 2020, de Klerk came under attack for saying that while apartheid can’t be justified, it shouldn’t be classified as a criminal offense against humanity.
“I don’t fully accept as true with that. I’m not justifying apartheid in any way. I apologized for that, profusely apologized for that, but there’s a difference between calling something a criminal offense. Genocide may be a crime, apartheid can’t be, that’s why I’m saying this,” De Klerk said in an interview.
“It cannot be compared with genocide. There was never a genocide under apartheid. Many people died, but more people died because of black-on-black violence than because of apartheid”.
According to the Mayo Clinic, mesothelioma is an aggressive and deadly sort of cancer. While there’s treatment available, there’s no cure. It can take 20 to 60 years or more for mesothelioma to develop after asbestos exposure.
“Most people with asbestos exposure never develop mesothelioma. This means that other factors could also be involved in determining whether someone gets mesothelioma. For an example, you’ll inherit a predisposition to cancer or another condition could increase your risk,” it said.