Sunderland City Council leader battling cancer after shock diagnosis

Leader of Sunderland Council Paul Watson

Leader of Sunderland Council Paul Watson

Sunderland City Council leader Coun Paul Watson was given just months to live after being diagnosed with cancer.

The 62-year-old was given the awful news in June - but is still working hard and hoping to get back to full fitness after chemotherapy.

Sunderland City Council leader Coun Paul Watson visits the site of the new Wear Crossing at Pallion.

Sunderland City Council leader Coun Paul Watson visits the site of the new Wear Crossing at Pallion.

He was diagnosed after taking part in a screening programme: “They said there was an anomaly. I went in and did an endoscopy test. They found polyps so they did a CT scan which showed some of the polyps had turned cancerous in the colon and bowel,” he said.

Tests showed the cancer had spread to the lungs and liver: “I was told ‘if we do nothing, you will have three months. With chemotherapy, you will get an extra year’.”

Coun Watson was referred to the RVI, where cancer specialist Dr Kathryn Wright put him on a course of chemotherapy.

A subsequent CT scan showed the tumours had stopped growing and some had even shrunk, while the count of tumour indicators in his blood has dropped from more than 540 to just 12.5.

“I was told ‘if we do nothing, you will have three months. With chemotherapy, you will get an extra year’.”

Coun Paul Watson

Coun Watson paid tribute to NHS staff, council colleagues and opposition councillors, whose co-operation has helped him perform his duties while undergoing treatment.

“The nurses at the hospital have allowed me to keep working - they have accommodated me and my erratic lifestyle unbelievably well,” he said.

“They are always optimistic and push you to try hard and keep on with your chemo.

“I have had tremendous support from all the councillors, especially the cabinet members and councillors Harry Trueman and Mel Speding.

“The council officers and the Conservative group leaders Coun Peter Wood and Coun Michael Dixon have been extremely helpful.

“I don’t think there’s anything I have missed that I thought ‘I really need to go there but I have not been able to’.”

Now Coun Watson is awaiting the results of a third CT scan, taken earlier this month, and hoping for more good news.

“I am seeing Dr Wright on the ninth of January,” he said.

“She is not going to say ‘you are going to be all right’ or ‘you’ve only got three months to live,’ she will probably just say ‘it is travelling in the right direction.’

“It takes a year before they say it is in remission and five years before you get the all-clear.”