Former SDLP leader Margaret Ritchie has revealed she is battling breast cancer.
The 60-year-old – who lost her Westminster seat a year ago –had a mastectomy in March and is halfway through a course of chemotherapy.
Doctors have told her the cancer is treatable and she said she is “looking forward to recovery and restoration to full health”.
Ms Ritchie told BBC News NI that she received the shock diagnosis after going for her three-yearly mammogram.
“There was no evidence of this within my family history, it was quite a shock to me but in a quick space of time I got my head around it,” she said.
“I’m a fairly pragmatic individual. I knew that this had to be dealt with and the only way I could get it dealt with was via surgery and also getting rid of it and it would mean treatment.”
Ms Ritchie felt maintaining a positive attitude was vital, adding: “You could feel sorry for yourself, but feeling sorry for yourself doesn’t achieve anything.”
Despite losing her seat, the former South Down MP said she is still heavily involved in politics in her constituency, adding “politics is in her DNA”.
But she said that she now needed to focus on herself.
“I’m going to get on with this treatment and then get on with my life,” she added.