10/19/2010 05:58 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Chicago Sun-Times Chairman Jim Tyree Diagnosed With Stomach Cancer As More Layoffs Hit Newsroom

Today was a rough one for employees of the Chicago Sun-Times. First, the newsroom lost at least five veteran employees to surprise layoffs. Then, columnist Michael Sneed learned that the paper's chairman--who rescued the news group from closure last year--was diagnosed with stomach cancer.

According to multiple sources, layoffs have been happening for several weeks at the Sun-Times Media Group's suburban branches. Also, the advertising and marketing staff on the 10th floor of the paper's Chicago office said goodbye to several people last week.

One source said they suspected layoffs would reach the paper's editorial team--but the newspaper's union was not given a heads up.

Among those reportedly leaving the Sun-Times due to layoffs is a sports columnist who started at the paper in 1996, an editorial page assistant who has been at the paper since 1977 and two longtime editorial assistants.

"It was really sad," one Sun-Times employee said of the departures.

Along with the layoffs came more bad news: Jim Tyree, the businessman and Mesirow Financial CEO that purchased the paper last year, has been diagnosed with stomach cancer.

Michael Sneed reports:

An incredibly optimistic guy, Tyree is still awaiting several test results in order to proceed with a treatment plan--and is telling friends and co-workers he is prepared for the upcoming fight.

The Chicago Newspaper Guild could not immediately be reached for comment.