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(Updated 4:10 p.m.) Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago announced on Wednesday that she has been diagnosed with Stage IV lung cancer.
"I have cancer of the left lung, which makes it difficult for me to breathe. I think you have noticed that for the past years, I've always had difficulty. I've always had shortness of breath," Santiago told a news conference.
Her doctors have not determined the cause of her lung cancer, the senator said.
A report from Makati Medical Center provided by Santiago's office to the media said tumor cells were found in the senator's left lung after she underwent biopsy last June 21.
Santiago, however, said that her cancer wasn't metastatic. She said she was hopeful that the cancer could be cured in six weeks with the medication she was taking.
"Today, chemotherapy has been reduced to a tablet. This tablet is called molecular targeting,” Santiago said.
“This is some sort of magic tablet so that I won't have to take anything and in effect, it will give me all the effects of chemotherapy without the side effects. So I hope to be able to see you in six weeks, fully cured of cancer," she added.
Santiago said she had a rare condition which enables her lung cells to fight off cancer.
"I have a very rare condition called behavioral mutancy. By themselves, the cells in my left lungs develop a genetic mutation that makes them impermeable to cancer and which gives them the energy to fight off cancer," Santiago said.
"It is not spreading. In my case, they are very well behaved. I believe in discipline all my life. Even my cancer cells are showing excellent discipline," she added.
Santiago was jolly and even managed to joke about her cancer when she made the announcement.
"I don't know what the reactions of my enemies are. Maybe they'll be happy because I might die and then they could get rid of me. On the other hand, I might survive and I'll get rid of them," Santiago said.
"I am very excited. I said yes, I have cancer. Now, I am entering another dimension of human life. That has always been my attitude," she added.
According to Mayoclinic.org, lung cancer is considered Stage IV when the "cancer has spread beyond the affected lung to the other lung or to distant areas of the body."
Patients diagnosed with Stage IV lung cancer usually have a five-year survival rate of less than five percent, according to Medscape.com.
She has previously complained of chronic fatigue and has been on medical leave since 2010, although she had delivered several speeches in various events over the past few months.
Her chronic fatigue has forced Santiago to let go of her post in the Netherlands-based International Criminal Court.Along with Senator Antonio Trillanes IV, Santiago registered the most absences during the 16th Congress' first regular session, data from Senate journals culled by GMA News Online showed. Out of the 80 plenary sessions with roll calls, Santiago has attended only five.
In Malacañang, Presidential Communications Operations Office head Herminio Coloma Jr. said they are one with the Filipino people in praying for Santiago's recovery.
"Sa kabila ng kanyang karamdaman, kahanga-hanga ang kanyang kasipagan sa pagtupad sa tungkulin bilang mambabatas at lingkod bayan," he said in a text message. —KG/YA/TJD/NB/KBK, GMA News