World

Hugo Chavez says he'll
beat cancer, finish chemo

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said Saturday that he's confident he is overcoming cancer and that his hair should grow back in the coming months as he finishes chemotherapy.

Chavez spoke at a televised event with indigenous people who prayed and sang for his health in rituals at the presidential palace.

"The cancer was removed, and with the grace of God and all our gods, it went away and will never again return," Chavez told people from several indigenous communities, some of whom wore feathers, face paint and traditional dress.

One indigenous woman presented Chavez with an open-topped "healing hat," which he wore with his bald scalp portruding while a group danced.

The Venezuelan leader underwent surgery to remove a cancerous tumor from his pelvic region in June. He has said the chemotherapy aims to prevent any malignant cells from reappearing. He has appeared with his head shaved since the beginning of August after his hair began to fall out due to the treatments.

"Soon I should have an afro," Chavez quipped. "I'm going to go from here, from the shaved coconut to the afro."

He said he expected to have hair again by December or January.

Chavez said previously that he expects his cancer treatment to conclude roughly around the end of October.

The leftist leader, who took office in 1999, plans to run for re-election next year. A date for the vote has not yet been set.

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