CARACAS, (Reuters) – Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez appeared on television yesterday with his head closely shaved and bald patches from hair loss caused by chemotherapy for a cancer that has slowed him ahead of a re-election bid.
Wearing a sombre suit and red tie, Chavez talked about the reasons for his hair loss, saying it was a sign the chemotherapy was working against fast-growing cells such as those associated with cancer.
“This is my new look,” the president joked during his second hour-long appearance of the day and then held up a photograph of himself as a toddler with little hair. “I’m returning to my youth,” he said.
A close friend of Cuban leader Fidel Castro, Chavez had a large tumor removed in Havana in June and has since been back to the Communist-led island for treatment. His illness raised doubts about his fitness to run in elections next year but he has looked stronger in recent days.
“Last night I had to call the barber and I said ‘look, my hair is falling out,’ because I went for a bath, I used the shampoo I always use and I felt, zas!, a bit fell out,” he said earlier in a phone call to a breakfast show on state TV.