Greek politician Dora Bakoyannis revealed on Monday that she has been diagnosed with multiple myeloma, a cancer of the white blood cells, but she declares that she intends to keep on working.
Bakoyannis, the first female Minister of Foreign Affairs in Greece, admitted in a post on Facebook that “It’s never easy to hear that you have cancer,” but added that she is undergoing treatment and remains optimistic about a satisfactory outcome.
“I have never in my life backed down from a fight. I will continue to work and fight for the country which I love so much, while undergoing treatment,” she said.
The 67-year-old politician added that “Five hundred people a year are diagnosed with multiple myeloma in Greece. I am one of them now. Multiple myeloma at a very early stage and with the best possible prognosis for the course of the disease.”
Bakoyannis is the sister of Greek PM Kyriakos Mitsotakis. She is the eldest of four children of the former Prime Minister of Greece, Konstantinos Mitsotakis.
Last week, Fofi Gennimata, the leader of the socialist party PASOK and the center-left coalition Movement for Change, announced she is withdrawing from the race to elect a new leader for the party in December after she was also diagnosed with cancer.
Bakoyannis: A dominant figure in Greek politics
Bakoyannis is a one of the heavyweights of the governing New Democracy party.
From 2006 to 2009 she was Minister of Foreign Affairs of Greece, the highest position ever to have been held by a woman in the Cabinet of Greece at the time; she was also Chairperson-in-Office of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe in 2009.
Previously she served as the mayor of Athens from 2003 to 2006, being the first female mayor in the city’s history; she was also the first woman to serve as mayor of a city hosting the Olympic Games. She also served as Minister for Culture of Greece from 1992 to 1993.
In December 1974, she was married to journalist Pavlos Bakoyannis, later giving birth to their two children, Alexia and Kostas. In 1977, she took examinations at the Ministry of Economic Coordination and was appointed in the Department of European Economic Community Affairs.
When her father was elected leader of New Democracy in 1984, she served as chief of staff until 1989. On September 26, 1989, her husband, who had been elected a member of the Hellenic Parliament in the June 1989 election, was assassinated by members of the terrorist group Revolutionary Organization 17 November, as he entered his office building.
She married businessman Isidoros Kouvelos in 1998, but she retains her late husband’s surname.