Former Italian premier Silvio Berlusconi has said he believes he will overcome the lung infection caused by chronic leukaemia which has landed him in intensive care, reports in Italy said.
“It’s hard, but I’ll make it once again,” the 86-year-old media mogul said in a phone call with Augusto Minzolini, editor in chief of daily newspaper Il Giornale.
“I managed, also in delicate and difficult situations, to pull myself up,” Mr 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 he has had leukaemia “for some time”, but that the cancer of the blood cells is in a “persistent chronic phase”.
“The current treatment strategy envisions treatment of the pulmonary infection” as well as specialised treatment “aimed at limiting the negative effects” of the chronic leukaemia, the bulletin said.
On Friday morning, foreign minister Antonio Tajani, quoting Mr Berlusconi’s personal doctor Alberto Zangrillo, reported that the ex-premier was alert and responding to treatment.
Mr Tajani is the co-ordinator of Forza Italia, the political party Mr Berlusconi created 30 years ago.
The media mogul 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 leukaemia afflicting Mr Berlusconi usually appears in people of advanced age and is characterised 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 non-profit association dedicated to combating leukaemia. Another treatment would involve controlling the white blood cell count.
Mr Berlusconi has suffered numerous health problems in recent years, including heart ailments and Covid-19 in 2020, which saw him treated in hospital 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.