Six weeks after beginning his work as the co-director of Boston University’s Initiative on Cities, former Boston Mayor Thomas Menino announced that he has been diagnosed with an advanced form of cancer.
A five-term mayor who served the City of Boston for 20 years, Menino has begun receiving ongoing treatment for the illness, which he learned about in February. The cancer has since spread to his liver and lymph nodes, according to a Boston Globe article published on Sunday.
Boston Mayor Martin Walsh, Menino’s successor, worked closely with the former mayor in the months following the election to ensure a smooth transition between the two city leaders, a promise Walsh made shortly after his November victory. Most recently, Walsh has followed in his predecessor’s footsteps in his boycott of the annual South Boston St. Patrick’s Day parade for their exclusion of openly gay and lesbian groups.
“I’ve never known Tom Menino to back down from a fight, and I don’t expect him to start now,” he said in a statementSaturday. “Mayor Menino has always been here for the people of Boston, and we’re behind him today, 100 [percent].”
Graham Wilson, the chair of BU’s political science department, has partnered with Menino for Initiatives on Cities and said Menino’s resilience and unwavering determination will help him continue to live his life as he battles the cancer.
“I was obviously saddened to hear of the illness and concerned for him, and impressed by the positive way in which he’s dealing with the situation and his bravery and determination,” he said.
Wilson said he has no reason to believe the illness will change Menino’s plans to continue working at Boston University, and he looks forward to the continued partnership.
“We haven’t discussed [his medical condition] in detail, but I do know that he will be determined to carry on with energy and enthusiasm. He’s very enthusiastic, gracious, very personable, very easy to work with. It’s been a fabulous experience.”
John Guilfoil, who served as the deputy press secretary for Menino for his last two years in office, wrote a blog post Mondayin which he addressed Menino’s announcement and spoke about his respect for Menino, as a politician and a Bostonian.
“It always seemed as if no obstacle was too big for Mayor Menino, and that’s why I’m confident that he will face down this latest challenge,” he said. “Mayor Menino is a strong man in more ways than one, and I am praying for him and his wonderful family.”
Several residents and students said the news of Menino’s cancer is disappointing, especially in the wake of his new position at BU.
Jasmine Little, 23, of Brighton, said Menino spoke at her BU graduation ceremony in 2013, and her experiences through college were often defined by Menino’s actions as mayor. Although his illness may limit his involvement with Initiatives on Cities, she said BU and Menino will bounce back.
“BU always makes things happened, so I’m sure whatever they have planned, they’ll do it,” she said. “[But] I’m sure it’ll have a huge effect of the identity of the city in general.”
Katie Robidoux, 23, of the South End, said Menino’s fight against cancer will be an example of Boston’s fighting morale.
“We’re fighters in Boston,” she said. “It will be an example for everyone as he fights on and continues his fight against the disease to show us all not to stop.”