County Councilman Mike Cooper says cancer won’t change his plans

From the outside looking in, last week probably appeared to be a week like any other for Snohomish County Council Chairman Mike Cooper.

There were the regular council meetings, an aerospace summit in Lynnwood and work on upcoming proposals, including a special zone for mobile home parks and a countywide fireworks ban.

It wasn’t exactly business as usual, though. Cooper was returning to work for the first time since announcing that he had been diagnosed with cancer. The disease hasn’t changed Cooper’s long-term plans. He has every intention of seeking another term or two in office.

“I feel good. The treatment’s going well,” Cooper said late last week. “I’m working full time and I’m running for re-election in 2011.”

Cooper learned there was something seriously wrong with his health after being hospitalized on July 15 and placed on dialysis. A little over a week later, doctors gave him the diagnosis: He had multiple myeloma, a type of blood cancer. He started chemotherapy and returned to work Aug. 3 after a planned vacation.

“I’m certainly not going to let this cancer stop me from running for elected office,” he said.

He has started weaving a busy stream of medical appointments into his weekly routine. There are three kidney dialysis sessions per week, each lasting about 4 1/2 hours. He fits in chemotherapy treatment on other days.

“It’s like a part-time job,” he said, laughing.

Cooper, who is 57 and lives in Edmonds, is a career firefighter. He retired in 2006 as a lieutenant with the city of Shoreline. A study by University of Cincinnati researchers found that firefighters are at an increased risk for several types of cancer, including multiple myeloma.

Before being elected to represent Snohomish County County Council’s 3rd district in 2007, he served four terms in the state House of Representatives.

His County Council colleagues picked him as chairman for 2009.

Cooper said he decided to go public with his condition after the news leaked out.

“The level of support has almost been overwhelming,” he said.

That support has come from his family, colleagues on the County Council and County Executive Aaron Reardon, he said, as well as firefighters and politicians throughout the country.

Noah Haglund: 425-339-3465 or nhaglund@heraldnet.com.

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