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Tutu cancels travel plans to battle cancer

South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu has cancelled all travel plans for the rest of the year in order to battle cancer, his foundation said Tuesday.

The 83-year-old Nobel peace laureate will embark “on a new course of medication to manage the prostate cancer he’s been living with for the past 15 years,” a statement said.

Tutu had been scheduled to attend a Nobel Peace Laureates Summit in Rome this week.

It is the latest medical setback for the anti-apartheid icon, who survived an illness believed to be polio as a baby and battled tuberculosis as a teenager.

In 2011 he was hospitalised for “minor” elective surgery.

He was hospitalised again last year for a persistent infection, but a battery of tests at that time showed no new malignancy.

Prostate cancer is common in men aged over 65 and can often be cured.

Under apartheid, Tutu campaigned against white minority rule, and was awarded the 1984 Nobel Peace Prize for his work.

Nelson Mandela, after being released from 27 years in racisit white-run jails, spent his first night of freedom at Tutu’s home.

“The Arch”, as he is known, headed South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which for 30 months lifted the lid on the horrors of apartheid.

Tutu, known for his deep-rooted compassion, broke down and sobbed at one of its first hearings.

– Moral conscience –

Officially retired, he is still outspoken on the world’s injustices, and is widely viewed as South Africa’s moral conscience — with a biting turn of phrase.

He has been fiercely critical of the ruling African National Congress, which he has said he can no longer vote for.

“I didn’t struggle in order to remove one set of those who thought they were tin gods and replace them with others who are tempted to think they are,” he once said of South Africa’s new leaders.

He has lambasted President Jacob Zuma’s government for “kowtowing” to China by barring the Dalai Lama from the Nobel Peace Laureates Summit, which was originally to be held in Cape Town.

Tutu said he was “ashamed to call this lickspittle bunch my government”.

Last week he urged South Africans to emulate Mandela’s example.

“Our obligation to Madiba is to continue to build the society he envisaged, to follow his example,” Tutu said, using Mandela’s clan name.

He and his wife Leah, whom he married in 1955, have four children.