Margaret Ritchie has revealed to the News Letter that her health has improved substantially following her diagnosis of cancer, something she revealed publicly last year.
The former SDLP MP had declared that she was unwell to the BBC last June, prompting an outpouring of sympathy from political comrades and rivals alike.
The political veteran, who led the SDLP from February 2010 until November 2011 and is understood to be in her early 60s, had undergone a mastectomy in March last year, having been diagnosed in February.
She told the broadcaster: “This is probably my toughest battle... But I’ve been told it’s a treatable breast cancer, and I’m looking forward to recovery and restoration to full health.
“I think at the end of the day we always must realise that life is about living, and that things can happen that you could never have predicted.”
Naomi Long of the Alliance Party, who herself had suffered cancer, said at the time that Miss Ritchie had “real courage and guts”, and would need them in the fight ahead of her.
Yesterday Miss Ritchie said: “I’m doing good now. I’m recovering very well.
“All my treatment finished in September and obviously, like many other women in my position, they put you on medication for so many years.
“But I’m feeling grand now, and looking to do things – I’m doing well, recovered very well, and am looking to do things in a very, shall we say, positive light. And a happy new year to you!”