Hyer battles cancer for second time

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Thunder Bay-Superior North MP Bruce Hyer announced Monday that he is to have a cancerous tumour removed from his tongue on Wednesday.
(Brent Linton)
Thunder Bay-Superior North MP Bruce Hyer announced Monday that he is to have a cancerous tumour removed from his tongue on Wednesday. (Brent Linton)

A Thunder Bay MP is “optimistic” that his second battle with cancer will go as well as his first.
Bruce Hyer is to undergo surgery in Ottawa on Wednesday to remove a small tumour from his tongue.
It’s the second time the MP has battled the disease. About three years ago, Hyer, who sits as an independent, successfully underwent treatment for lymph node cancer.
“I’m optimistic,” Hyer said at his Thunder Bay constituency office on Monday.
“Doctors say the prognosis is good.
“I’ve always been open with my constituents and the media, and so I wanted you to hear it first rather than by rumour or innuendo.”
Hyer said he was “surprised” when he learned of the tumour.
“I thought I got past that, so here I have to go and do it again,” he said. “Anyway, I was one-for-one, and hopefully now I’ll be two-for-two, and continue to be effective in my job.”
The surgery will involve removal of the tumour, as well as a “chunk” of Hyer’s tongue. That will be followed by a recovery period that could stretch to a couple of months, he said.
“I am told, though, in the short-term, and possibly in the longer-term, that I may have some impairment to my speech, so a politician that maybe won’t be able to talk, now isn’t that something?” Hyer said with a grin. “But hopefully that won’t be the case.
“With the technology today, I’m sure I’ll find a way to communicate in some fashion.”
It will be business as usual at his Thunder Bay and Ottawa offices, Hyer said. And he’ll be able to ask questions and make statements in the House of Commons during his recovery; MPs who are unable to speak due to health matters are allowed to ask colleagues to speak on their behalf, Hyer said.
He said he wasn’t sure exactly how much of his tongue will be removed during Wednesday’s procedure. He said it would be a “significant little chunk.”
Hyer’s announcement prompted an outpouring of support from his federal and provincial colleagues.
Natural Resources Minister Michael Gravelle, who is currently undergoing treatment for lymphoma, said his “heart goes out to Bruce and his family.
“This is obviously not good news, but Bruce certainly is somebody who feels very strongly about the optimistic approach to life as well,” Gravelle said. “I know he is approaching this as best he can.
“I’m sorry to hear the news,” he said. “I only wish him all the best.”
John Rafferty, Hyer’s fellow MP and former party colleague — Hyer was elected a member for the NDP, but quit the party to sit as an independent last April — said he doesn’t think the diagnosis “will slow (Hyer) down at all.
“It doesn’t sound as if it’s going to either influence the work that his offices do, or the work that he does in Parliament,” Rafferty said. “He’s got a very strong office in Ottawa and in Thunder Bay.
“He’s got good staff, so I don’t think anyone should hesitate (about) approaching his office if they have the regular issues that our offices deal with.”
NDP MPP Sarah Campbell, meanwhile, said she was saddened to learn of Hyer’s diagnosis, but is confident he’ll pull through.
“Like everyone, I was shocked and saddened to hear of this news,” Campbell said in a statement on Monday. “I have known Bruce for many years and consider him to be both a friend and mentor. I also know that he is a fighter, having battled and defeated cancer three years ago, and I have no doubt he will make a similar recovery from this current setback.
“On behalf of myself and all the residents of Northwestern Ontario, I would like to wish Bruce a speedy recovery.”