Dalai Lama in good health: Personal physician slams news report's claims of prostate cancer

Dr Tseten Dorjee, the personal physician to the Dalai Lama vehemently rejected claims that the Dalai Lama wore an extra layer of robes to hide a colostomy bag as 'absolute rubbish'.
Tibetan spiritual leader Dalai Lama | AP
Tibetan spiritual leader Dalai Lama | AP

Belying reports that he is terminally ill, His Holiness the Dalai Lama left on a 10-day lecture tour of the Baltic states Tuesday.

On Monday, an ‘exclusive’ report by a website citing unnamed Indian intelligence sources claimed that the Tibetan leader “is suffering from prostate cancer and has been undergoing treatment in the US for the last two years.

Asserting that “his ailment has advanced well into the last stages,” the report also says that both Indian and Chinese intelligence agencies were aware of this ‘for months.’

“This is fake news," Dr Tseten Dorjee, the personal physician to the Dalai Lama, told The New Indian Express. “He is doing very well, and if that was not the case he would not have given discourses for 3 days in a row and taken this 10-day trip to Latvia and Lithuania.”

The Dalai Lama's health has been a cause of constant concern for his followers and well-wishers worldwide, particularly since China has announced that it would replace him with a "Chinese reincarnate” after his demise.

Vehemently rejecting claims in the report that the Dalai Lama wore an extra layer of robes to hide a colostomy bag as "absolute rubbish,” Dr Dorjee said that Holiness has been “so active recently, that it defies common sense for someone to write an article like this.”

As for insinuations that the Dalai Lama needed support while walking because of cancer, he said that the Dalai Lama did have mild osteo-arthritis, common to people his age, but that did not prevent him from maintaining “a gruelling pace” which many youngsters would find hard to match. In fact, the condition was so mild that it did not even require surgery, he said.

When politicians and world leaders fall ill, they occasionally make public appearances to prove otherwise, but in this case, his holiness has been holding back to back public meetings and discourses and was even going to Ladakh next month, he said. “Imagine the distress his followers must have felt when they read something like this.”

"His Holiness the Dalai Lama is in excellent health. He himself has repeatedly told the Tibetans that he is in excellent health despite his age and not to worry," concurred Sonam Dagpo, Secretary, International Relations, and spokesperson for the Central Tibetan Administration in Dharamshala.

Chime Rigzin, a secretary to His Holiness, expressed surprise over the report, and said that it was disturbing that the writer had not called the Dalai Lama’s office to confirm.

On June 18 last year, addressing a large gathering of Tibetans in San Diego, California, the exiled spiritual leader said that doctors in Rochester, Minnesota, had found nothing left of a “small sign of cancer” in his prostate gland they had identified and treated two years before. “This time during the examination at the Mayo Clinic, they saw no trace of it. It is completely cured,” he said. “I arrived [at the clinic] on June 13, and a medical exam was done on the 14th...I was told that my health was very good.”

A look at the Dalai Lama’s public schedule shows a hectic schedule right up to February 2019. After his return from Vilnius, Lithuania, and Riga, Latvia (June 13-18) where he delivers back to back talks and lectures, His Holiness returns to Dharamshala and conduct four days of teachings September 4-7 at the request of a group from Asia including Indonesia, Korea, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam at the Main Tibetan Temple. He will then travel to Rotterdam, The Netherlands, September 16 -17, for talks and lectures, and then attend a conference on non-violence in Darmstadt, Germany, before participating in a religious ceremony celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Tibet Institute in Rikon and Winterthur, Switzerland. In October, he will continue teaching and lectures in Dharamshala, and attend an event in Manali Himachal Pradesh.

“Does this look like the schedule of a ‘terminally ill’ person?” asked an official from the Dalai Lama’s office, wondering whether there was some 'ulterior motive' behind the article which said he was terminally ill.

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