Rare cancer forces coun­cil­lor to quit

BY-ELEC­TION: Ill-health trig­gers con­test in town ward

The Wokingham Paper - - FRONT PAGE - By PHIL CREIGHTON

A COUN­CIL­LOR has had to re­sign af­ter learn­ing that she has in­cur­able cancer, forc­ing a by-elec­tion.

Last May, He­len Power beat the then ex­ec­u­tive mem­ber for chil­dren’s ser­vices, Mark Ash­well, to take the Even­dons seat for the Lib­eral Democrats, some­thing that de­lighted her.

But not long af­ter that vic­tory, He­len learnt that she had an un­usual type of in­cur­able cancer.

She took part in a course of “pretty bru­tal chemo­ther­apy” but said that in Septem­ber med­i­cal ex­perts told her that the treat­ment had not worked and she prob­a­bly had less than 12 months to live.

Through­out all this, He­len car­ried on with her coun­cil­lor case­work, but took time out from Oc­to­ber to fo­cus on her­self and her fam­ily.

Last month He­len started a new chemo­ther­apy treat­ment which is hoped will have some suc­cess.

But the dis­ease has meant that He­len feels com­pelled to step down as a bor­ough coun­cil­lor and con­cen­trate on her health.

Speak­ing to The Wok­ing­ham Pa­per, she said: “Last year was a year of highs and the low­est of lows for me.

“In May, I was so de­lighted and proud to be elected as Wok­ing­ham bor­ough coun­cil­lor for Even­dons Ward. The sup­port­ive and con­grat­u­la­tory mes­sages from so many res­i­dents were a joy and in­spi­ra­tion. I thor­oughly en­joyed im­me­di­ately get­ting stuck into my coun­cil­lor role.”

Con­tin­ued from front page He­len Power said that high­lights of her stint as a coun­cil­lor in­cluded be­ing able to work with her fel­low Even­dons res­i­dents on is­sues such as an­ti­so­cial be­hav­iour, town cen­tre re­gen­er­a­tion, traf­fic, hous­ing and the re­cent cam­paign to save school cross­ing pa­trollers.

“Sadly over the sum­mer I was told I had in­cur­able cancer, an un­usual type called ‘ cancer of un­known pri­mary’,” He­len said.

“I was very fit, healthy and had no fam­ily his­tory of cancer. It was a bolt out of the blue and my life was turned up­side down. It was so hard to take on board as I felt phys­i­cally well but it was hard men­tally to ac­cept the di­ag­no­sis and what it re­ally meant.”

Four cy­cles of “pretty bru­tal chemo­ther­apy” fol­lowed be­fore a di­ag­no­sis in Septem­ber.

He­len re­called: “Af­ter a scan I was told the treat­ment had not worked and I prob­a­bly had less than a year to live”.

Although she tried to keep go­ing as nor­mal, as the weeks went on, He­len came to the con­clu­sion that some­thing had to give.

“My coun­cil­lor work was a great dis­trac­tion [from the cancer], but by the end of Oc­to­ber I re­alised I had to take some time off to re­assess my pri­or­i­ties and re­main­ing time,” she ex­plained.

“I started a dif­fer­ent chemo­ther­apy regime in De­cem­ber and I hope it will be more suc­cess­ful and en­able me to be ‘ liv­ing with cancer’ for longer than the sta­tis­ti­cal time I have been given.

“And so it is with great sad­ness and dis­ap­point­ment that af­ter such a short time as Even­dons ward coun­cil­lor – a role I was thor­oughly en­joy­ing –I re­alised I had to re­sign.

“I have to con­cen­trate on my health, fam­ily and friends. A coun­cil­lor role never stops and I could not, in good con­science, carry on with­out be­ing able to fully com­mit to the res­i­dents I rep­re­sent.”

Wok­ing­ham Lib­eral Demo­crat deputy leader Cllr Clive Jones said: “It’s a tragedy. For the short time she was a coun­cil­lor, He­len did a re­ally good job.

“Every­one in the party has been of­fer­ing sup­port for her. She is an in­cred­i­bly strong per­son and very brave.

“It is just a huge shame that she wasn’t able to ful­fill her po­ten­tial.

“We all have huge re­spect for her.”

The leader of Wok­ing­ham Con­ser­va­tives, Cllr Ju­lian McGhee-Sum­ner, paid trib­ute to He­len: “I am deeply sad­dened to hear that He­len will not be able to con­tinue as a coun­cil­lor.

“De­spite our party po­lit­i­cal dif­fer­ences, He­len de­serves praise for the hard work she has done for her res­i­dents in the short time since she was elected.

“On be­half of all Wok­ing­ham Bor­ough coun­cil­lors and of­fi­cers, I want to thank He­len for her ser­vice to the com­mu­nity, and of­fer her and her fam­ily our best wishes.”

And Wok­ing­ham Labour group leader Cllr Andy Croy said: “I was shocked and sad­dened to hear He­len is stand­ing down and of her ill­ness. My thoughts are with He­len, her fam­ily and her friends.

“It is so hor­ri­bly un­fair. Tragedies like this are a re­minder of the things which are re­ally im­por­tant in our lives – love, fam­ily and friends. I hope He­len will have as much of these as is pos­si­ble.”

Pic­ture: Tony John­son

He­len Power on learn­ing of her win in Even­dons Ward last May. The Lib­eral Demo­crat has had to stand down due to ill-health and a by-elec­tion will be held on Fe­bru­ary 7

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.