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Canadian author Alice Munro holds one of her books as she receives her Man Booker International award at Trinity College Dublin, in Dublin, Ireland, on June 25, 2009.

PETER MUHLY

Alice Munro, one of Canada's most revered and internationally recognized authors, revealed Wednesday night that she has battled cancer.

Speaking at a sold-out, $100-a-head fundraising event in Toronto marking the beginning of the 10-day International Festival of Authors, the 78-year-old Ms. Munro made the admission during a discussion about age with acclaimed British author Diana Athill.

"I've been lucky with my health. Also, I think we are lucky now in our medical intervention that keeps us going. I have a heart bypass and I've just had cancer and things like that are just dealt with now."

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Looking trim, elegant and silken haired, she compared her own fate to that of her mother, who contracted Parkinson's disease at a relatively young age and died in her late 50s.

In February last year, Ms. Munro published a short story in The New Yorker about a character with cancer. She did not say Wednesday when she fought the disease.

Earlier this year, Ms. Munro was named the third recipient of the Man Booker International Prize, honouring her life's work.

At the time of its release two months ago, she removed her latest work, Too Much Happiness , from contention for the prestigious Giller Prize, for which her collection of 10 short stories was widely considered a surefire contender.

"Her reason is that she has won twice and would like to leave the field to younger writers," Munro's publisher, Douglas Gibson, said at the time.

She has won the award twice previously - for The Love of a Good Woman in 1998 and Runaway in 2004 - as well as three Governor General's Literary Awards.

Ms. Munro has previously announced her retirement, only to continue writing. She lives in both Clinton, Ont., and Comox, B.C.

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With a report from The Canadian Press

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