FW de Klerk, South Africa’s last president to rule under the Apartheid regime, announced that he was diagnosed with cancer on Thursday, March 18. He celebrated his 85th birthday on the same day that he broke the news.
“Former President FW de Klerk announced at his 85th birthday today that he has been diagnosed with mesothelioma, which is a cancer that affects the tissue that lines the lungs,” the FW de Klerk Foundation said via a statement.
According to the Foundation, de Klerk will begin immunotherapy as soon as next week.
“There is no immediate threat and we are confident that the treatment will be successful,” it added.
Reports by EWN stipulate that this specific cancer is caused by asbestos exposure, and most commonly affects the lining of the lungs and/or abdomen. “The average life expectancy is 18 – 31 months after diagnosis, but prognosis may improve with treatment. Symptoms can include chest pain, shortness of breath and general fatigue,” it said.
De Klerk previously was awarded a Nobel Peace Prize, which he shares jointly wit another former president, Nelson Mandela. Mandela was South Africa’s first president under a democratic government and was elected by the people in 1994, signalling the end of the rule of the Apartheid government.
De Klerk and Mandela were awarded their Nobel Peace Prize in 1993.