Former Ottawa MP Paul Dewar reveals his brain cancer is terminal

Former MP Paul Dewar has confirmed he has glioblastoma — the type of brain cancer that The Tragically Hip singer Gord Downie died from last year.

“It is grade 4, which is terminal. There is no cure. There is treatment, and so that’s what I’ve been dealing with for the last couple of months,” Dewar told Robyn Bresnahan, host of CBC Radio’s Ottawa Morning, in an interview on Tuesday.

“To treat it there are limited tools in the tool kit. What I’ve gone through is surgery and then radiation and chemotherapy, and then you hope for the best in terms of how much time you have to live.”

Dewar, the former NDP MP for Ottawa Centre from 2006 to 2015, first announced publicly on Feb. 17 that he has cancer.

He said he felt discomfort in his arm after skating on the Rideau Canal. He thought he might have some kind of vascular problem or a thrown arm, so went to the hospital to have it checked out.

“And then just by happenstance I had my arm over my head for the CT scan. They picked up the tumour,” Dewar said.

A followup MRI revealed that the tumour was large, and on Feb. 14 he underwent brain surgery to remove it. The tumour was then sent for analysis, revealing the grade 4 glioblastoma. He was with his wife and children when he found out, after deciding to let them know what’s happening.

“They’re obviously the best kids in the world because they’re your kids, but they’ve been just amazing and we’ve been open with them. And it’s been tough but we’ve been transparent about everything, and they heard the news, they took it in, and they’ve been dealing with it with their friends and with us ever since,” he said. “I love them to death, and they’ve been great support.”

Since then, Dewar hadn’t spoken publicly about his condition, other than to say he was continuing treatment.

Dewar said his diagnosis has changed both his political ambitions and his perspective on the work he considers important.

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