Tom Menino Reacts to Cancer Diagnosis with Typical Determination

The former mayor has late-stage cancer but remains determined to beat it.

Thomas Menino, Tom Menino

Associated Press

Tom Menino appears to be approaching his diagnosis of late-stage cancer in much the way the former Mayor takes on most challenges: with a lot of determination and some grim humor.

Menino and his doctors shared with the Boston Globe this weekend that just a few months after leaving the office he held for 20 years, he has been diagnosed with an advanced cancer that has spread to his liver and lymph nodes. The cancer’s origin is unknown and unrelated to the health problems that plagued him as he made the decision not to run for reelection last year. Menino told the paper that he began chemotherapy earlier this month.

The news that a much lauded mayor would face such a challenge so soon after his retirement came as a sad shock to many in Boston. Yet Menino hasn’t abandoned his typical jocular public persona. The Globe reported that when Menino appeared publicly in Dorchester on Sunday to promote a children’s book about his mayoralty, he made light of the book’s title, Goodbye Mayor Menino, saying, “What an appropriate title that is!”

And yet, for someone who long seemed a bit unsure what he’d live for if not the job of mayor, Menino isn’t speaking like someone who’s done living. 

“I look forward to a healthy life afterwards, and I’m very confident on this,” said Menino.

“I’ll be OK,” he added to the Globe. “I have to be. I want to watch my grandkids grow up.” Menino reported that he’d be attending work at Boston University on Monday, where he is co-director of the school’s  Initiative on Cities.

And so, around the city, others have adopted Menino’s shrugging optimism, with public figures taking to social media to release statements of confidence and support. The buzzword in all the public statements is “fighter,” and for good reason.