Olivia Chow announces she has Ramsay Hunt syndrome, face partially paralyzed

Popular NDP Member of Parliament Olivia Chow announced on Friday that she was suffering from Ramsay Hunt syndrome – a temporary affliction that causes the partial paralysis of one’s face and neck.

Chow, a perceived contender to be Toronto's next mayor, made her condition public on Twitter, posting a picture of her with her cat. The left side of her face appears slightly downcast, although not excessively so.

Ramsay Hunt syndrome (RHS) is similar to Bell's palsy in that the virus causes partial facial paralysis.

In a blog post, Chow said RHS is the same virus that causes chicken pox. It could take weeks or months for her facial nerves to fully recover. She said her condition made it hard for her to smile or put in contact lenses.

“Overcoming challenges and adversity is something I have always done. This is no different. While my smiles may not be completely symmetrical, it will not impact on my continual push for more investment for transit and infrastructure in the upcoming Federal budget,” she wrote.

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One of Chow’s latest and most public challenges was recovering from the loss of husband and former NDP leader Jack Layton, who passed away in 2011 after an extensive battle with cancer.

While she has not confirmed her intention of running for Toronto mayor, she has been polled as the key threat to a Rob Ford re-election.

Stephen Harper’s communication director, Andrew MacDougall said on Twitter that the prime minister sent his best wishes to Chow after hearing the news of her affliction.

The rest of Canada assuredly does the same.

(Photo courtesy The Canadian Press)