School board member fights cancer

hussein samatar 2.jpg Hussein Samatar, a Minneapolis school board member who has been considering a mayoral bid, announced today on Facebook that he has been diagnosed with a form of leukemia.

Samatar did not say if or how the illness would influence his decision whether to run for mayor this fall.

UPDATE: Samatar told me this morning he hasn’t yet ruled out a bid, but acknowledged that the timing of his illness couldn’t be worse.

“I would have liked by now to be campaigning,” Samatar said. “Had I not been diagnosed, I would have announced by Feb. 1. Therefore, everything is up in the air. The only race I need to win is my life.”

The founder and director of the African Development Center was diagnosed in December with chronic lymphocytic leukemia — a kind of cancer of the blood and bone marrow — and has gone through three rounds of chemotherapy.

Doctors have found Samatar a match for a bone marrow transplant, which he expects to receive sometime over the next couple of months.

“As you know, I am civil-war survivor,” he wrote on his Facebook page. “There are days that I feel great and there are days that I feel terrible. But in the end I am determined to defeat this disease and I have worked hard to maintain a normal schedule during my illness including not missing a school board meeting since the diagnoses.”

Samatar, who won a seat on the school board in 2010, is believed to be the first Somali-American elected to public office in the United States. We’ll update this post when we hear back from him.

Samatar says his prognosis is good, and doctors tell him the chemo appears to be working.

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