ROME (AP) — Former Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi said he believes he will overcome the lung infection caused by a chronic leukemia that has hospitalized him in intensive care, Italian daily Il Giornale reported on Friday.
“It’s hard, but I’ll make it once again,” the 86-year-old media mogul said in a phone call with Il Giornale’s editor in chief, Augusto Minzolini.
“I managed, also in delicate and difficult situations, to pull myself up,” Berlusconi added, according to the report.
The media tycoon and three-time premier spent a second consecutive night in intensive care at Milan’s San Raffaele Hospital, where his doctors on Thursday signed off on a medical bulletin saying that he has had leukemia “for some time,” but that the cancer of the blood cells is in a “persistent chronic phase.”
The statement was the first official word from doctors since Berlusconi was admitted to San Raffaele on Wednesday.
“The current treatment strategy envisions treatment of the pulmonary infection” as well as specialized treatment “aimed at limiting the negative effects” of the chronic leukemia, the bulletin stated.
On Friday morning, Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani, quoting Berlusconi’s personal doctor Alberto Zangrillo, reported that Berlusconi was alert and was responding to the treatments. Tajani is the coordinator of Forza Italia, the political party that Berlusconi created some 30 years ago.
Berlusconi was admitted to an intensive care unit at San Raffaele Hospital on Wednesday for treatment of what aides indicated was a respiratory problem stemming from a previous infection.
The former premier and now senator had left the same hospital a week earlier after several days of tests.
Doctors said the kind of leukemia afflicting Berlusconi usually appears in people of advanced age and is characterized by an increase in white blood cells known as monocytes.
Treatment for older patients can involve a stem cell transplant. But that could be difficult, according to an Italian nonprofit association dedicated to combating leukemia. Another treatment would involve controlling the white blood cell count.
The last years have seen Berlusconi suffer numerous health problems, including heart ailments and COVID-19 in 2020, which saw him hospitalized then in critical condition with pneumonia.
He has had a pacemaker for years, underwent heart surgery to replace an aortic valve in 2016 and overcame prostate cancer decades ago.