JAY — Police Chief Larry White Sr. is on a mission to beat the Stage 3 pancreatic cancer he was diagnosed with in January.
“It turned my life upside down,” the 61-year-old Jay man said Monday.
White, who also oversees the Fire Rescue Department, went home and told his wife, Janice.
“It was a shock,” he said.
He had gone to the doctor for six months with issues that were thought to be related to his diabetes.
“My sugar was out of whack,” he said.
His doctor tried to adjust the insulin but it didn’t work. He started having stomach cramps and was doubling over in pain at work.
White told the doctor he could not stand it. More tests were ordered, and he was notified Jan. 7 that he had cancer.
Initially, he said, it was believed the cancer had spread to his lungs, but he found out later that was not the case.
White planned to go to Lewiston for cancer treatment but, unbeknown to him, his wife made arrangements for him to go to the Cancer Treatment Center of America in Philadelphia.
His wife called him at work and told him, “‘You’re going to listen. I don’t care if you are busy. Too bad,’” he said.
A woman came on the phone and told him that he was accepted into the program.
He said he’s glad his wife made the arrangements.
“I’m getting the best care,” he said.
He has traveled to and from the center, but is headed back this week for an extended stay.
Doctors are trying to match DNA from the tumor to the best cancer treatment for him.
His chemotherapy started last week.
“I’m going back and will have targeted radiation,” White said.
Instead of block radiation where other organs are damaged, it will be targeted to the specific location of the cancer, he said.
They planned to map the cancer on the computer for the treatment.
“I’m a lucky man. It is still localized in one area,” White said of the cancer.
He expects to be away for awhile.
One day at the center, he was sitting next to a man who had come in for his yearly checkup. He had had pancreatic cancer and had been cancer free for 10 years.
“That gave me inspiration,” he said.
White said the support and help of his wife, family, friends and community members has given him the strength to push forward.
“We’re going to beat it,” he said. “I’m going to fight like hell. I never gave up on anything. I’ve never run from anything and I’m not running from this. I have a lot of hope and courage, and I intend to come back to my job.”
White has worked in law enforcement for 32 years. He served with the Androscoggin County Sheriff’s Department and Livermore Falls Police Department before becoming a Jay police officer in 1987. He worked his way up to sergeant and became chief in 2002.
“I just want to thank the community for all the support and my town fathers, town manager and my new incoming town manager for all their support,” he said. “I’m very grateful.”
Firefighters have started placing purple pancreatic cancer awareness ribbon stickers on their helmets in support of their chief.
White is going to try and make it back for the benefit supper and raffle being organizing from 4 to 6 p.m. March 1 at Spruce Mountain High School in Jay.
If he cannot make it due to his treatment, he said, his family will be there to represent him.
He said he has left the departments in good hands. Police Detective Richard Caton IV is overseeing the Police Department and Assistant Chief Mike Booker is overseeing the Fire Rescue Department. They are keeping in touch with him, he said.
One of his patrolmen, Nicholas Gulliver, gave him a medal this past weekend that he won in a martial arts competition in January.
“I know how hard he trained for this and for him to give me this medal, it meant a lot to me,” White said. “I’m going to take it with me to every treatment.”
A fundraising page is available at www.gofundme.com/helpchiefwhite.