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Elizabeth Quigley, political correspondent
"Another day at the office, but with a difference, for Rhona Brankin"
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Wednesday, 22 March, 2000, 15:28 GMT
Minister defies breast cancer
Rhona Brankin office
The minister sought to highlight her condition
Scottish minister Rhona Brankin has returned to work after undergoing surgery for breast cancer.

The deputy culture and sports minister went public when she first discovered she had the condition and said she hoped her example would help to reassure other women in the same situation.

Ms Brankin underwent a mastectomy and had reconstructive surgery using tissue and muscle from her stomach.

I want to get on with the rest of my life now

Rhona Brankin
Speaking as she returned to her office, the Midlothian MSP, who made the discovery in the week she celebrated her 50th birthday, said it was now a question of getting back to normal.

She said: "I want to just get back on with the job. In a sense I want to put it behind me and say, well as far as I'm concerned I've had cancer and I want to get on with the rest of my life now."

The minister received hundreds of cards and messages of goodwill from across Scotland when her condition came to light.

Rhona Brankin
Rhona Brankin: "Time to get on with it"
She also earned praise from cancer campaigners and the support of political colleagues and opponents alike.

Before going into hospital Ms Brankin said she hoped to be back at work within weeks.

In a BBC Scotland interview, prior to surgery, she said: "I, in common with many other women, know lots of women who have had breast cancer and are fine.

"If we're going to encourage more women to become more breast cancer aware, we have to be up front about it, but also let people know that it isn't the killer disease that it used to be."

Ms Brankin, a former chair of the Scottish Labour Party, has been viewed as one of the rising stars within the Scottish Executive and a staunch Blairite.

She has special responsibility for cultural matters, including the arts, heritage and architecture within the Scottish Executive.

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