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Engen undergoing chemo for cancer, maintains humor and spirits

Missoula Mayor John Engen updated his condition on Monday night. (Missoula Current screen capture)

One month after being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, Missoula Mayor John Engen has maintained a stoic public presence and, on Monday, said he was undergoing chemotherapy.

The mayor, now in his fifth term, has also maintained a sense of humor while seeking privacy as he deals with the diagnoses and the challenges of treatment.

“I have infusions every Friday morning for three weeks, then I get a week off, then I have infusions for another three weeks,” Engen said. “Ultimately, we’ll do another scan to see if the poison is shrinking the tumors, which is the goal at this point.”

Engen said the chemotherapy has been challenging.

“I can tell you, based on how I feel, the poison is doing something, because the rest of me feels it,” he said. “I have some days that are better than others, but I’m grateful to the community for all the support.”

The city in early March confirmed that Engen had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and was set to undergo treatment. The mayor had been tired and suffering from abdominal pain for several months.

An MRI, followed by a biopsy, confirmed that had carcinoma on his pancreas and a cancerous tumor on his liver. The mayor has declined interviews but, on occasion, has offered public updates on his condition.

“I only wish I were remotely hungry because of all the offers of food I get,” Engen said. “I’ve never had a doctor in my life tell me I should eat whatever I want whenever I want. Now that they do, I’ve got no interest.”