Belfast Telegraph

UUP's Hussey tells council meeting he's fighting cancer

By Leona O'Neill

An Ulster Unionist councillor revealed he had cancer during a meeting of Derry City and Strabane District Council last night.

Castlederg councillor Derek Hussey (69) spoke briefly after a presentation made by the Western Trust on cancer services.

The father-of-three said that he had been living with a form of leukaemia and thanked the trust's staff for their support since his shock diagnosis.

He described how he "lived with" the progressive condition and did not let it affect his council duties".

"I was diagnosed with chronic lymphocytic leukaemia (CLL) two years ago," he said.

"Fortunately I've been told that it is progressive, but not aggressive. It is under control at the moment.

"Obviously, when I first heard the word 'leukaemia', I was totally knocked back by it.

"My diagnosis was a huge shock, it came totally out of the blue. It was randomly discovered in a normal blood test thanks to the diligence of the staff in the haematology department at Altnagelvin Hospital.

"My wife came along with me to the consultation and I'm glad she did because she heard all that the doctor had to say.

"She heard that the likelihood is that somewhere along the line I'll die of something else before the CLL takes me.

"It is under control and it involves regular testing to ensure that it remains under control.

"I owe a lot to the staff of Altnagelvin Hospital.

"The word 'cancer' was never used. It was always 'leukaemia', which is an element of cancer.

"It is something that people normally associated with children, with them passing away from leukaemia, so it was a shock.

"When it was first said, it was frightening.

"But the haematologist talked me through the situation, was very reassuring and answered every question that we had.

"They explained fully and sensitively the situation that I was in.

"Thankfully, it is progressive and not aggressive. If it had have been aggressive it would have been an entirely different scenario.

"It is something that I live with. I don't make a big deal of it, I just get on with it. It's part of me, but I just get on with my life.

"I don't let it impact on the work that I do and the duties I have to carry out."

Mr Hussey welcomed news that Derry and Strabane council and Macmillan were joining forces to promote the benefits of exercise for those living with cancer.

"At the time of my diagnosis, my wife was with me and we both had the opportunity to speak with folk from Macmillan afterwards," he said.

"It is a condition that I am able to live with, but it was reassuring to have someone from Macmillan to tell us that if the need arises, they are there to help.

"I welcome the news today that the council will be appointing someone from Macmillan to run the Move More Project to encourage those with cancer to get exercise."

Belfast Telegraph

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