The mayor of the Fairbanks North Star Borough announced today (Wednesday) that he has cancer. Bryce Ward says that he will remain on the job while being treated in Fairbanks for lymphoma.
In a public release Wednesday morning, Bryce Ward says he was diagnosed with B-Cell Lymphoma in December, after finding a lump on his chest. He reports it took a few weeks to diagnose the type of cancer and determine treatment. He started chemotherapy at Fairbanks Memorial Hospital last Friday.
“Over the next few months as I continue treatment here in Fairbanks, I’m not going to be traveling, and I’m going to be taking some intermittent time off to get better. My office hours are going to be a little flexible, and I ask for you patience as I take a little bit of extra time to get better.”
Ward released a written message and a short video explaining his diagnosis. The mayor has taken to making announcements on videos addressed to the community in an effort to be accessible and transparent. Earlier this week, Ward made a video with the mayors of the Home Rule cities of Fairbanks and North Pole about participating in the Census.
The Fairbanks North Star Borough is a second class borough and is not consolidated with the City of Fairbanks nor the City of North Pole. The mayor is the chief executive of the administration, but has no vote on the citizen oversight board, which is the Borough Assembly.
Before the public release about his cancer, the mayor’s office informed Borough Assembly members and borough employees.
“I have full confidence in the borough team here, that normal operations will continue.”
Much of the mayor’s duties are shared with his Chief of Staff, Jim Williams. The Borough Mayor’s office also has a Public Information Officer, an Administrative Assistant and Video and Web Technician.
In the video statement, he said the faith, love and support of his family are keeping him optimistic. Then he reminded citizens to take care of their health.
“As I go forward in this journey, I look forward to keeping you updated on how things are going. I also encourage you to seek out medical help if something doesn’t feel right. It's important to listen to your body.”
The mayor’s office asked for sensitivity regarding his diagnosis.