Paul Watson's brave and honest words on his cancer battle before his death

Paul Watson posing next to the Vaux site in 2016. Seeing the land transferred to the council and work start was one of the successes of his leadership
Paul Watson posing next to the Vaux site in 2016. Seeing the land transferred to the council and work start was one of the successes of his leadership

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

He spoke to us in a frank interview last December, months after his diagnosis in June 2016 while he was still working hard at the helm of the council and hoping to get back to full fitness after chemotherapy.

Today, after his sad death, we're publishing his words again.

Coun Watson told us 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 told us.

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’.”

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.

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’.”

Related: Tributes pour in for Sunderland City Council leader Paul Watson