NOTHING prepared Tom Tate for the moment he was told he had bowel cancer.

The Gold Coast Mayor was sitting in Benowa's Pindara Hospital with his wife and a doctor late last month to discuss the results of a minor surgery to remove polyps from his colon.

"There was a moment of disbelief because I hadn't felt any symptoms and I said to the doctor, you have got to be kidding me," the 58-year-old told the Bulletin yesterday.

"I've known plenty of guys who have had bowel cancer over the years. I never thought I would be one of them.

Cr Tate says he is staying positive despite the news. Photo: Jerad Williams
Cr Tate says he is staying positive despite the news. Photo: Jerad Williams

"The lesson from this is if I had left getting checked for another year I'd be walking around carrying a bag with my bowels cut out."

As he prepares for surgery this week to have a muscle layer of his intestine removed, the Mayor says he has been comforted in the past two weeks by his wife, Mayoress Ruth Tate, and children.

DIAGNOSIS

THE Tate family's health woes began in June when the Mayoress had a near-fatal heart attack while travelling with her husband in Singapore.

The Tates speaking after the Mayor’s health check up. Picture Glenn Hampson
The Tates speaking after the Mayor’s health check up. Picture Glenn Hampson

The shock moment led Cr Tate to have his own medical checkover at Pindara Hospital where he underwent a colonoscopy.

In early October he got the sobering news that a 4cm growth of polyps had been discovered on his bowel, requiring surgery to remove.

Initially the Mayor was pleased with the result and told the Bulletin shortly after the colonoscopy he believed he had "dodged a bullet".

"The good news is that if I had put this off for 12 months I was told it would have been bowel cancer," he said at the time.

The surgery was performed in late October, after which his doctor gave him the news too many thousands families hear across Australia each year. He had cancer and further surgery was needed..

The mayor has urged people to get checked in a bid to boost early diagnosis. Picture: Jerad Williams
The mayor has urged people to get checked in a bid to boost early diagnosis. Picture: Jerad Williams

"The main reason I decided to get a full checkout at my age was that Ruth had the cardiac arrest even though she was fit and healthy.

The Tates have had a tough year, with both experiencing health issues. Picture: Regina King.
The Tates have had a tough year, with both experiencing health issues. Picture: Regina King.

"For years, I had friends telling me to go and get checked but I always said no and it has taken this serious episode to wake me up.

"Please, please don't be like me, you should get yourself checked."

TREATMENT

TREATMENT of the cancer began immediately as the Tates met with specialists and other doctors to determine the proper treatment.

The mayor will underog surgery on Wednesday night. Picture Glenn Hampson
The mayor will underog surgery on Wednesday night. Picture Glenn Hampson

The Mayor will today undergo a CT scan before surgery on Wednesday night.

Councillors were notified of the Mayor's health in a confidential email to all city leaders and council chief executive Dale Dickson last night.

Cr Tate hopes to resume his mayoral duties on November 20.

Deputy Mayor Donna Gates is expected be appointed Acting Mayor during his recovery.

PROGNOSIS

MAYOR Tate admits news of his health battle has left him shaken, but he says remains positive.

Mayor Tom Tate says his wife Ruth and children have been supportive and comforting. Picture Glenn Hampson
Mayor Tom Tate says his wife Ruth and children have been supportive and comforting. Picture Glenn Hampson

"They'll do more tests again after (this week's surgery) if they show nothing, but if more (cancer) is found we will have a long journey.

"It was a hard thing to hear, especially when they showed me the photos of my bowel, both before and after.

"My attitude is a glass-half-full approach and I believe everything will be fine but my main concern is getting people to have a check-up.

"I want to be around for many years, especially to see the grandkids."

ANNUS HORRIBILIS

THE Mayor said this year was the worst he could remember.

The Tates have had a tough year, with both experiencing health issues. Picture: Regina King.
The Tates have had a tough year, with both experiencing health issues. Picture: Regina King.

Inspired by his icon, Queen Elizabeth II, he declared 2017 to be his very own Annus horribilis.

The Latin phrase, meaning "horrible year", came in popular usage after the Queen used it to describe 1992, the year in which two of her children's marriages ended and Windsor Castle caught fire.

"Right now I am looking back on it and thinking, 'wow what a year'," Cr Tate says.

"We've had Ruth's health scare, the CCC inquiry into the council and now this.

"It brings a new personal meaning to the Annus horribilis phrase the Queen once used."



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