Tue | Jan 19, 2021

Cancer test - Paulwell backs Phillips as leader set to undergo chemo

Published:Wednesday | April 8, 2020 | 12:22 AMRomario Scott/Gleaner Writer
Dr Peter Phillips
Dr Peter Phillips

Vice-president of the People’s National Party (PNP), Phillip Paulwell, has sought to rally supporters worried about the health of Dr Peter Phillips that the party will not suffer as he takes a two-week break from active political duties.

Following mounting concerns about the health of Phillips, the PNP president yesterday confirmed he had been diagnosed with Stage Three cancer of the colon, for which he underwent a medical procedure to treat.

Phillips underwent complete and successful surgical removal of the cancer on March 23 and is now recovering, the PNP said.

“Just before the Budget Debate, having completed my annual medical examination, the doctors discovered an anomaly and figured that we needed to move rapidly, particularly because the COVID crisis was upon us as a country.

“The truth is, we rushed all of this because we weren’t sure how the COVID situation was going to turn out,” Phillips said, adding that he was in “full recovery mode”.

Phillips heaped praises on the medical team that assisted him during the procedure.

“I want to say thanks to them … . We need to give them a country equal to their talent, skill, and professionalism,” he said.

As the news broke of Phillips’ illness, Prime Minister Andrew Holness sent “well wishes for a speedy recovery”.

Paulwell said the PNP had frozen campaigning amid the COVID-19 crisis, but said Phillips remained accessible to the party for political guidance.

“He is not totally indisposed. Even during this period, we continue to speak to him to get his leadership. I don’t see a difficulty in us maintaining our political activities, our preparations for campaign.

“But we are facing COVID-19 now, so we have pushed that on to the back burner for the time being now until the country can come out of this period,” Paulwell told The Gleaner yesterday.

Given that a general election is due by 2021 and the major political parties are tuning their machinery for the calling of a date, Paulwell further sought to assure PNP supporters who have taken to social media to voice concerns about whether Phillips will be physically fit to face to polls.

“I think it is probably fortuitous that during this period of the COVID-19 virus, we are encouraging everybody not to be on the ground as we would have wanted them to be, but as soon as we are out of this period, Dr Phillips will be fully with us as we get into campaign,” said the PNP vice-president, who said the officer corps of the party will step up their roles.

The PNP says Phillips will need further preventative treatment in the form of chemotherapy over the next few months, as an outpatient, as he continues his public duties.

It said Phillips’ medical and surgical teams are optimistic of complete remission based on the worldwide experience of managing this stage of cancer.

Meanwhile, the PNP said that party officers were briefed yesterday afternoon by the medical and surgical teams attending to Phillips and that they have reportedly expressed confidence in his full and complete recovery.

The party officers reportedly indicated that they fully understood and supported the doctors’ position of not making a public statement before completing their evaluation.