July 21, 2005 in City

West to resume chemotherapy

By The Spokesman-Review
 

Spokane Mayor Jim West will resume chemotherapy this weekend after routine blood tests and a CAT scan showed he has lesions on his liver, which signal a return of his cancer.

West sent a memo to city employees Wednesday evening, explaining that he will be out of the office every other Friday as part of the treatments. He will have chemotherapy at a facility in Spokane on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, then skip a week, and return for treatment the following weekend.

He doesn’t know how long the chemotherapy regimen will last, saying doctors will evaluate his progress during the treatment.

Asked in an interview if he is stepping down as mayor, West replied: “Hell no, not under any circumstance, as long as I can do the job.”

The regimen is similar to treatment West received in 2003, after he was diagnosed with colon cancer while serving as a state senator, and again in 2004, after he was elected mayor. In late 2003, he also underwent surgery to remove part of his liver, where the colon cancer had spread.

There is no talk of further surgery at this time, he said.

West said he had a colonoscopy in June, which showed no problems, and went in for routine blood tests in July. Those showed elevated cell counts, and his oncologist ordered a CAT scan that showed the lesions on his liver.

He had no hair loss or nausea from previous chemotherapy treatments, but did experience some fatigue and lack of appetite; his feet are still numb. Last year, West was able to return to work between chemotherapy treatments.

“We had a good year in 2004, and a good start to 2005,” he said.

Recent months, however, have been tougher. Since May, West has been the subject of a Spokesman-Review investigation into allegations of child sex abuse and misuse of public office. The newspaper interviewed young men who accused West of meeting them on the Internet through a gay chat line, then offering them gifts or City Hall positions for sex.

One of the people he met online was a forensic computer specialist hired by the newspaper to help verify the account of another young man.

West has denied he broke any laws, but has admitted to poor judgment in his personal life. A recall petition is before the state Supreme Court with an allegation that West’s offers of a city internship to the computer expert, whom he thought was an 18-year-old high school student, was “an improper exercise of an official duty.”

The court is scheduled to hear arguments on West’s appeal of the recall language the week of Aug. 22.

Last week, West and other city officials announced the budget is in dire straits, with a gap of as much as $6 million between revenues and expenses.

Asked if doctors had suggested a reason for the cancer’s return, West replied: “I never look for a reason, or something to blame.”

But he said he wouldn’t use his cancer as an excuse to walk away from his office and “shrivel up and die.”

“I’m not dying. Lots of people in this town are going through chemotherapy,” he said. “Lots of people are going through more than I am, and doing more than I am.”

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