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Party paper: Christian Democrats’ chair ponders stepping down after breast cancer diagnosis

Sari Essayah will be on sick leave for two weeks while she receives treatment.

Sari Essayah
Sari Essayah Image: AOP

Christian Democratic Party chair Sari Essayah has been diagnosed with breast cancer, the party organ KD-lehti reported on Saturday. Essayah was diagnosed with early-stage breast cancer at the end of July.

The second-term MP will be on sick leave for two weeks to receive acute treatment for the disease. According to KD-lehti, Essayah is also mulling stepping down as party leader.

"[My] treatment for breast cancer will begin on Monday. I will have to consider the future of my chairmanship," Essayah said during a meeting of government coalition partners at parliament on Saturday.

The Christian Democratic Party currently holds five seats in the Finnish parliament. The party’s annual congress is scheduled to take place in Oulu at the end of August.

Time "to think about the chairmanship"

The former MEP was the unanimous choice to succeed long-time leader Päivi Räsänen as head of the CD in 2015 but may now step aside to make room for a new chair.

"I wanted to make this known as soon as possible so that party organisers would have enough time to deal with the situation and to give people enough time to think about the chairmanship. It’s still so fresh that apart from my family circle, most people are hearing about it for the first time now. I would like to thank everyone for their expressions of support and especially for their prayers of intercession," Essayah said in a statement issued by the party.

The retired race walker added that she hopes to return to parliamentary work when the autumn session opens in September and to otherwise be involved as far as her treatment allows.

Edit: Updated at 2.36pm to clarify that the Christian Democrats have five seats in parliament and to correct the statement that it is a member of the five-party government coalition.

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