Golden Valley Mayor Shep Harris informed virtual viewers of the Jan. 5 City Council meetings that he has been fighting cancer. He confirmed his diagnosis shortly after the Pledge of Allegiance.
“For those of you who saw, I’m not being disrespectful by wearing a hat, my parents taught me to take your hat off when you’re indoors,” he said. “But as you may have seen a moment ago for those who were watching, I am recovering from cancer chemotherapy treatment and one of the side effects is to be bald and beautiful.”
Harris was diagnosed with early-stage testicular cancer in October and underwent surgery and chemotherapy in the last months of 2020.
While this was his first time acknowledging the matter in a public meeting, Harris said he has not been private about his diagnosis. He has posted about it on social media and has a dedicated CaringBridge site for those that want to stay updated.
“I’m having fun with it as best as one can,” said Harris. “It’s not stopping me from doing my day job or doing work for the city.”
He decided to address the issue publicly to remain transparent to residents.
“At one point or another people were going to find out, so I figured I’d just go ahead and announce it,” he said.
A few months ago, Harris and the council reviewed contingency plans in the event the mayor would have to miss a meeting due to surgery or chemotherapy recovery.
Harris said having the diagnosis during COVID-19 had its pros and cons. The danger to a suppressed immune system necessitated extreme caution, but there were no in-person events to miss.
“If we had all of our regular activities, then it would have been difficult for me,” he said.
Harris was happy to report he is currently cancer-free and mainly underwent chemotherapy to decrease the risk of a future occurrence.
Still, he was moved by the support from not just friends and family, but from the Golden Valley community.
“Residents have reached out and shared their experiences and their support and their encouragement has been really, greatly appreciated,” he said.