June 27, 2008

Quebec Cabinet Minister Battling Cancer to Be Absent 3 to 6 Months


QUEBEC - Quebec's natural resources minister, who underwent surgery for pancreatic cancer, will be absent from the provincial legislature for three to six months.

Claude Bechard, 39, announced earlier this month that he had been diagnosed with cancer.

Doctors operated on an obstructive lesion in Bechard's small intestine and removed a tumour from his pancreas on June 11.

They believe the entire growth has been excised.

There are no signs the disease has spread.

The high-profile Liberal minister, who has been hospitalized since May 31, will need three to six months to recover from the delicate operation.

"I am very encouraged by what I've heard, as well as Claude's attitude," said Yvon Vallieres, a Liberal member of the Quebec legislature who has battled thyroid cancer.

"He really is a natural fighter and a strong guy."

Bechard has represented the Kamouraska-Temiscouata riding, northeast of Quebec City, since a 1997 byelection victory.