Comartin's to-do list: Work, health and a grandaughter to play with
-posted by Tonda MacCharles, Ottawa bureau, 15/09/2011
I didn't see NDP justice critic Joe Comartin in shots of the caucus on stage at the Quebec City news conference earlier Thursday which struck me as odd.
When I tracked him down, I joked it sounded like he was at a daycare centre. I could hear the sounds of children's laughter. Not quite.
He was just coming out of a clinic at Women's College Hospital in Toronto. He'd been referred there a few months ago for a specialized procedure to treat - as he called it - a couple of patches of "skin cancer" on his nose and neck.
NDP Jack Layton's struggle with prostate cancer was the most high profile health battle fought by a public figure of late. Many MPs have dealt with cancer or other serious illnesses. Joe downplayed his, and said he will be back at work when Parliament resumes next week.
As a deputy house leader for the Official Opposition and an MP on the selection committee reviewing potential Supreme Court of Canada candidates, Joe said it's a bad time to take any more time off.
His cancer, he said, is not melanoma, and not life-threatening. He has 5-6 stitches on his nose and the same on his neck where the doctor excised patches of "pre-basal" cell carcinoma. He's bandaged up, but doesn't need reconstructive surgery, and in "98 per cent of these cases" the doctor doesn't need to do more.
"It's not a big deal," he told me. "The doctor told me today that his Thursdays are the light cases. It's like a production line. There were probably 20 or 30 other patients there this morning."
Comartin had attended the caucus meeting but it was extended only after he'd booked his medical appointment. All that over with, he was "going to go play with my grandaughter right now."