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Venezuela's Chavez says he's cancer-free

Venezuela's Chavez says he's cancer-free
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. File photo. UPI/Maryam Rahmanian | License Photo

CARACAS, Venezuela, Oct. 21 (UPI) -- Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said he is cancer-free five months after announcing he had surgery to remove a tumor while in Cuba.

Chavez said a visit to Cuba for a checkup indicated he had no more "abnormal cellular activity," The New York Times reported Friday.

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"I've begun to exit the cave," he said.

Chavez, 57, had surgery and four chemotherapy treatments, three in Cuba and one in Venezuela, for cancer. He never publicly revealed what type of cancer he had.

During an appearance in western Venezuela Thursday, Chavez appeared bloated and bald, the Times reported.

Chavez said the ordeal has made him more spiritual.

"I'm more Christian every day," he said. "Socialism is the road to Christ."

Conflicting reports about Chavez's health have surfaced.

Salvador Navarrete, a Venezuelan doctor, who says he is the president's former personal surgeon, was quoted as saying this week Chavez had less than two years to live because of a "very aggressive" tumor in the pelvic region, the Times said. However, state media dismissed his claims, with one television host charging that Navarrete never was the president's physician.

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