Councillor reveals she has cancer

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East Kent Coun. Melissa Harrigan will temporarily step away from Chatham-Kent council to tackle breast cancer.

Re-elected less than two months ago, Harrigan announced she has invasive ductal carcinoma.

Her diagnosis came in early December, following a battery of tests.

“I have breast cancer. While this is still very new, and difficult to share, telling my story is important to me. I try to live both my personal and professional life with transparency and a mind towards advocacy,” she shared in a prepared statement.

“I recently experienced what I thought was a change in my right breast after doing a self-exam. I felt an internal call to action to ask my primary care practitioner for further testing to establish a base line for the future, after a close friend went through a similar circumstance,” Harrigan continued.

“I am glad I did, I am now one of 28,600 Canadian women who are diagnosed with breast cancer each year. I never thought my name would make it in the count. The news was shocking and unexpected but now it’s time to shift gears to a plan forward. It is very early days in this journey, with details of a comprehensive treatment still to come.”

Harrigan announced she will temporarily step away from council to focus on receiving treatment.

“It is a personal choice to make this public, but I am sharing in hopes of bringing awareness to the importance of early detection and screening tools, like conducting self breast exams, and scheduling regular or base-line mammograms,” Harrigan said.

Mayor Darrin Canniff said council is exploring how to temporarily replace Harrigan in the horseshoe.

“In January, council will be determining the path forward to temporarily fill Coun. Harrigan’s roles on council and committees. For now, our focus is sharing Coun. Harrigan’s desire to share her message and have a bit of time to work on her transition plan,” he said in a media release. “We are all jarred by this unexpected news regarding Coun. Harrigan’s breast cancer diagnosis and will be with her every step of the way. Coun. Harrigan has been a strong advocate for many important causes. It’s our turn to support her.”

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