CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez attended Mass with family Thursday after returning from his latest round of radiation therapy treatment in Cuba, talking emotionally about his struggle with cancer.
Amid prayers, Chavez's spoke earnestly of his hopes for survival.
"Give me life even if it's ... painful life. I don't care. Christ, give me your crown. Give it to me, I will bleed. ... Give me life because I still have things to do for these people," he said. "Don't take me yet."
Chavez sat between his parents, holding hands with his mother and father while a priest led a prayer for the president's health. At one point, he shed tears that ran down his cheeks. Other relatives, including his older brother, Adan, joined him at the Mass in his home state of Barinas.
Immediately following the Mass, Chavez hung a red rosary over his neck and became visibly emotional as he spoke to the small crowd attending the event.
"I couldn't avoid several tears," said Chavez, who says he has been recovering well since surgery in February that removed a second tumor from his pelvic region.
"This life has not been easy," he added. "The paths toward revolution never are easy."
Chavez returned from Cuba late Wednesday and hugged relatives as he stepped off the presidential jet in Barinas, where his parents live.
"So far, fortunately there hasn't been any adverse reaction to the treatment," Chavez said. "All the exams that have been carried out have shown positive results of physical recovery."
The 57-year-old leader has vowed to overcome cancer and is running for re-election in October.
Chavez underwent his second round of daily radiation treatments this week. He began the treatments in late March and has said he plans to have a total of five rounds to help prevent a recurrence of his illness.
He has regularly traveled to and from Cuba for treatment since last June, when he said an initial surgery removed a tumor the size of a baseball.
Chavez has not identified the type of cancer nor the precise location where the tumors have been removed.
His illness has brought out more religious expressions by Chavez recently.
"Today I'm more Christian than ever. I've entrusted myself to the hands of Christ," he said Wednesday night. "I'm clinging to life and I ask God, Christ my lord, to continue giving us life."
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