Gusmao's wife in Melbourne for cancer surgery

Kirsty Sword Gusmao, the wife of East Timor's Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao, has been diagnosed with breast cancer and will be undergoing surgery for the condition in Melbourne today.

Mrs Gusmao received the early diagnosis of breast cancer during a holiday with her three children to visit her mother and grandmother in Melbourne recently.

She will be undergoing surgery today at the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, Australia's only public hospital dedicated to cancer treatment.

Mr Gusmao, has flown to Melbourne to be by her side. He is expected to head back to East Timor at a later date.

In a media statement, Mrs Sword Gusmao and Mr Gusmao expressed their "special thanks to all their friends, colleagues and well-wishers from their homeland of Timor-Leste, and from all over, for the wonderful messages of support" they have received.

They also thanked the staff at the Peter Mac Cancer Centre, praising the centre for "treating all their patients equally and with the best medical and pastoral care".

Xanana Gusmao and the Australian Kirsty Sword Gusmao were married in 2000, and when East Timor gained Indonesia in 2002 he was the newborn country's first President and she was its first First Lady.

The two met in 1994, while she was working as an English teacher and while he was serving a 20-year sentence in an Indonesian prison for leading an East Timorese resistance group.

Mrs Gusmao is also President of the ALOLA Foundation, an organisation which supports women and children in East Timor, and a Goodwill Ambassador for Education.

The statement said Mrs Sword Gusmao and Mr Gusmao were very positive about the early diagnosis and early treatment.

This story Gusmao's wife in Melbourne for cancer surgery first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.