WEST Mercia’s Police and Crime Commissioner Bill Longmore has revealed he is battling lung cancer.
The Independent PCC, who was elected as the first person to hold the post in 2012, made the announcement yesterday, saying he would be taking a temporary break from his duties while he undergoes treatment and hoped to return to work in March.
Mr Longmore said the disease had been revealed during a routine medical check in November.
“The role of commissioner has meant travelling the length and breadth of West Mercia meeting and engaging with communities and organisations to listen to their wishes and ideas,” he said.
“During this time I felt perfectly fit and was continually told I was looking much younger since becoming commissioner.
“In November 2013, purely to satisfy myself that I had no underlying medical problem, I went to my GP and requested a medical check. This included blood tests and an x-ray.”
Although he said he had not felt unwell, the x-ray showed a shadow on his lungs, which was later diagnosed as cancer.
“The thought of having lung cancer and the question of how long you have left to live quickly becomes an every day concern,” he said.
“On reading the literature published by MacMillan on lung cancer awareness I tried to associate potential symptoms I may have had that would have been early warning signs.
“Perhaps my early morning cough that I had had for many years was not catarrh but had been a sign. Was the aching in my shoulders not from my long time arthritics but an association with lung cancer?
“What I could not understand was why I felt so fit and well, better than I had felt for years. Is there truth in the term ‘lung cancer can be a silent killer if not diagnosed early enough’?”
He praised the work of his doctors and the staff at Stoke-on-Trent’s University Hospital of North Staffordshire, where he has begun treatment for the condition.
“Following the initial shock of being diagnosed with lung cancer and thinking that my life would be cut short I believe that I can and will recover and look forward to completing my term as PCC,” he said.
He said he would be in constant contact with his deputy Barrie Sheldon, who will take over his duties while he recovers, as well as West Mercia Police Chief Constable David Shaw.
Mr Longmore added he hoped others would follow his example of visiting their doctor for regular check-ups so signs of the disease could be identified early enough for treatment.
Chairman of the West Mercia Police and Crime Panel – which replaced the former police authority in November 2012 – Coun Paul Middlebrough said there were “very satisfactory” arrangements in place to ensure police services continued to run as normal during Mr Longmore’s recovery.
“I wish him a speedy and permanent recovery,” he said.
For more information on identifying the signs of cancer, visit macmillan.org.uk