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Cancer diagnosis forces Boudreau to bow out



BOUDREAU
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Selectman Norm Boudreau of Tilton announced last week that due to his health, he will not be seeking re-election in March. Boudreau was diagnosed with Stage III melanoma in September, and is currently undergoing treatment for the disease. (Donna Rhodes) (click for larger version)
January 11, 2012
TILTON — During selectmen's reports at the Jan. 5 weekly meeting in Tilton, Normand Boudreau informed his fellow board members he would not be seeking re-election for a second three-year term in March due to his health.

"I'm very remorseful that I missed the last month of meetings…it's not fair to the town for me to hold a seat I cannot fulfill the duties of," Boudreau said.

On Sept. 13, he was diagnosed with Stage III melanoma, and on Oct. 10, he underwent surgery to have 20 percent of his foot removed. In December, he began a series of daily immunotherapy infusions which left him with flu-like symptoms.

"I'd get home and just have to go to bed. It just knocked the wind out of my sails. I missed the whole month of December because I was in no condition to attend a meeting," he said.

Luckily, his cancer was diagnosed in time, spreading to only six of the nine lymph nodes in the groin areas. Because it was stopped there, the prognosis is good.

"It looks like it was festering for a long time, but they caught it. I just have to go through a year of these treatments now," Boudreau said.

After nearly four weeks of the intravenous infusions, he is now beginning self-injections of Interferon three days a week, which also produce side effects, leaving him achy and feeling weak at times.

Through his ordeal, he hopes to educate others on the importance of getting regular check-ups and requesting full body physicals when they go to their family physician. Wounds that don't heal, discoloration of the skin and other symptoms are sometimes misinterpreted or can be located on a part of the body where they go unnoticed.

When Boudreau first noticed a problem with his foot, he said he thought it was athlete's foot and tried treating it with over-the-counter medications. He finally went to his doctor, who recommended a dermatologist.

"I don't believe even she thought of melanoma, but she knew something wasn't right. People need to realize skin cancer isn't always caused by the sun. I normally wear sock and shoes, but I still got a melanoma on my foot," said Boudreau.

In fact, the disease can be genetic, and therefore, Boudreau's children and siblings may have an increased risk factor for melanoma.

Over his past three-year term, Boudreau said he had many accomplishments, but chalked up his work on the Recycling Committee as one of his proudest.

"I helped get the Recycling Committee up and running, and they are now actively looking at reducing the town's solid waste costs," he said.

He had hoped to see a newly formed Energy Committee take off and find success, but as he leaves office, he said it will need more members in order to have any impact on the town, something for which he remains hopeful.

Down the road, Boudreau said he may seek office again if his health improves to the point where he feels he can fulfill the job. In the meantime, though, he hopes to become involved in committee work in Tilton as soon as he is feeling better.

"For the next six to eight months, I'm going to focus on my health, and not do much of anything, but we'll see what the future brings," said Boudreau.

The filing period for open seats on the select board and other elected positions in Tilton will be Jan. 25 through Feb. 3.

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