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Kate Middleton Reveals She Was Diagnosed With Cancer

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Kate Middleton announced on Friday that she was diagnosed with cancer following a planned abdominal surgery earlier this year and is undergoing what she called “preventative” chemotherapy.

In a video message released by Kensington Palace, the Princess of Wales thanked the public for their messages of support during her recovery from surgery, sharing that while doctors thought her condition, which required her to get abdominal surgery, was non-cancerous, “tests after the operation found cancer had been present.” Kate said she is still in the early stages of treatment. "I am well and getting stronger every day," she said.

A Kensington Palace spokesperson said that Kate began treatment in late February, but added that they will not be sharing more information about her medical condition.

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Kate said that the news had come as a “huge shock” and that she and Prince William had been doing their best to process and manage the news privately.

The announcement comes amid Kate’s father-in-law, King Charles III, undergoing treatment for an undisclosed type of cancer. Per a statement released by Buckingham Palace on Feb. 5, His Majesty “has been advised by doctors to postpone public-facing duties” as he maintains a “schedule of regular treatments.” On Thursday, Queen Camilla said Charles is "doing very well" as she met well-wishers during a royal visit to Belfast. 

King Charles is “proud of Catherine for her courage in speaking as she did,” saying that their time in the hospital together has allowed him to remain “in the closest contact with his beloved daughter-in-law throughout the past weeks,” according to a Buckingham Palace spokesperson. 

In the video of her announcement, Kate said that she stayed silent on the matter in part to have an opportunity to privately explain her diagnosis to her three children. “It has taken time for me to recover from major surgery in order to start my treatment," she said. "But most importantly it has taken us time to explain everything to George, Charlotte, and Louis in a way that is appropriate for them and to reassure them that I am going to be O.K.”

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Kensington Palace announced on Jan. 17 that the Princess underwent a “planned abdominal surgery” and would likely not participate in any public engagements until after Easter, on March 31. Kate was last seen publicly on Christmas Day, as she attended church services with her family.

But in the weeks following the announcement, speculation swirled in the British press and online, as the public wondered what was behind such a prolonged absence from royal duties.

On March 10, Kate posted a photo on social media to commemorate U.K. Mother’s Day, marking the first official photo shared of her since her January surgery. But the photo was quickly pulled from circulation after news wire agencies determined that it had been manipulated.

Kensington Palace’s social media accounts later released a statement attributed to Kate in which she admitted to editing the photo and apologized “for any confusion” the photograph caused.

Most recently, after the British tabloid The Sun released a video it claimed showed Prince William and Princess Kate out shopping on Saturday, March 16, social media users quickly expressed disbelief that it was the future queen in the video.

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In her video message released Friday, Kate made an appeal for continued privacy. “We hope that you’ll understand that as a family we now need some time, space, and privacy while I complete my treatment,” she said. “My work has always brought me a deep sense of joy, and I look forward to being back when I am able. But for now, I must focus on making a full recovery.”

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Write to Simmone Shah at simmone.shah@time.com