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NDP leader in fight mode, won’t step aside

If all goes well, Todd Hardy plans to return to the Yukon in October, in time for the coming territorial election.

If all goes well, Todd Hardy plans to return to the Yukon in October, in time for the coming territorial election.

Treatment for his cancer is in the induction stage, and doctors are hammering Hardy’s body with as much chemotherapy as it can withstand.

“I’m in this room definitely for 28 days,” the Yukon New Democratic Party leader said by telephone Tuesday from his bed at St. Paul’s Hospital in Vancouver, where he is being treated for acute lymphoblastic leukemia.

“I have nine more days to go.

“After that there are three to four more weeks of induction.

“I should be kept down here for that period. They take blood from me every single day, and take a reading.

“This Friday, they’ll be doing another bone-marrow biopsy on me, in which they go into my bones again to find out exactly what the treatment to date has brought about inside the bone.

“Then they’ll make a decision if they have to continue the induction stage to get deeper, or if they can start moving to a different type of chemo treatment on me.”

Hardy was diagnosed with the disease three weeks ago. He expects five more weeks of treatment.

“After that I can come home.”

The drugs have destroyed his immune system and it is slowly rebuilding, he said.

“Two days ago, my good cells started reproducing and that was exactly what they wanted to see, because they wipe everything out and I have no immune system,” Hardy said as medical personnel, audible in the background, began administering another intravenous dosage.

“The timeline seems to be early October, if all goes well, and right now the doctors are really encouraged by my results.

“They really don’t want to make any commitments. Leukemia, you can go sideways on this stuff.”

Premier Dennis Fentie did not reveal his plans for an election date when he visited Hardy on Friday.

“Dennis informed me, of course, that it is his decision and that he is taking all these things into account,” said Hardy.

“I asked him for nothing, of course.

“That was basically the gist of the conversation, in regards to any kind of politics.

“My advice to him was to pre-announce it. If you want to go in October, pre-announce it.

“That just cools it down and everybody knows what they’re working towards.

“That was my only advice to him.

“That was basically it. I asked for nothing and he didn’t give me anything in that regard.”

Fentie refused to comment about his visit to Hardy’s bedside.

He spoke with doctors about Hardy’s condition.

“I made arrangements to have a couple of doctors here,” said Hardy.

“Dennis came and I got the doctors in here.

“They gave him their professional information and Dennis questioned them, and then they left.”

It’s Hardy’s opinion that he was exposed to some kind of carcinogen at some point in his life.

“I have no idea. Radiation is definitely one of the things that can twitch a white (blood) cell into becoming a mutant.

“Secondhand smoke. The benzene in tobacco, but I’m not around smoke much.

“It could have been something that happened months ago, could have been longer.

“It could have been something in our environment. Something tweaked it in my system, something set it off.”

Hardy is concerned about the rising rate of leukemia patients coming out of Whitehorse.

There have been four cases in the last year alone, he said.

“That’s significantly high. And I’ve heard that there are more and more leukemia cases coming out of the North.

“I’m just one of many people that are suffering through this, but I’m concerned that maybe we need to be taking a far closer look at our environment and what possibly is happening up there.”

Hardy stood by his decision to continue leading the NDP into the next election.

Despite having a team of quality candidates from varying backgrounds, stepping aside would make the NDP “look a little weak,” he said.

“The executive, the platform that we’re developing, the election committee — all that stuff is happening whether I’m there, present, or on the phone, and continues to march forward.

“My illness caused a tremendous amount of consternation among everybody, but it did not, in any way, shape or form, shake the foundation of the NDP or stop the work of preparing for an election.

“After three-and-a-half years as leader of the NDP, everybody knows me, what I stand for, what I believe in and the type of leadership I’ve offered.

“A 30-day campaign is just a snapshot of that.

“You put all those things together and what we’ve got is one very strong message and one very strong team that will be presented, and not just Todd Hardy.”