Toronto’s medical officer of health to undergo surgery to remove precancerous cells

Toronto's medical officer of health to undergo surgery to remove precancerous cells-Milenio Stadium-Ontario
Dr. Eileen de Villa, Toronto’s medical officer of health, is scheduled to undergo surgery on Wednesday to have precancerous cells removed following a routine mammogram. (Michael Wilson/CBC)

Toronto’s medical officer of health says she will undergo surgery on Wednesday to have precancerous cells removed following a routine mammogram.

Dr. Eileen de Villa said in a news release on Tuesday that she will take a temporary leave of absence until Dec. 20. She said further treatment will be determined after surgery.

“My story is not unique. Women throughout Toronto receive news like this every day,” said de Villa, who first came to prominence early last year due to her leading role in the city’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The cells were identified through the routine screening mammogram, which was done in the summer, and testing that followed the medical procedure, she said.

“My message to Torontonians is simply this: please do take the time to participate in screening programs, as recommended. I am grateful that I took the time to get screened as it has allowed me to have early detection and treatment.”

Dr. Na-Koshie Lamptey, currently deputy medical officer of health, will take over for de Villa temporarily in her absence.

Mayor, councillor wish de Villa quick recovery

In a news release on Tuesday, Mayor John Tory said on behalf of all Toronto residents that he wished de Villa all the best as she undergoes surgery.

“I have no doubt she will make a speedy recovery and I look forward to continuing to work with her upon her return. Her professionalism and balance have been key to Toronto’s progress in fighting COVID-19,” Tory said.

“I also want to thank Dr. de Villa for stressing the importance of routine checkups and visits with your family doctor.”

Coun. Joe Cressy, chair of the Toronto Board of Health, also wished de Villa a quick recovery, saying she has been “the people’s doctor.”

“Throughout the pandemic, Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health Dr. Eileen de Villa has guided us every step of the way — from making tough calls to reduce COVID-19 transmission, to spearheading the most expansive vaccination program in our city’s history,” he said.

“I look forward to having Dr. de Villa — and her trademark scarves — back with Team Toronto soon.”

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