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Mayor Dennis Walaker undergoing radiation for several weeks for kidney cancer

Fargo, ND (WDAY TV) - Concerning news coming out of Fargo's city hall tonight about the health of Mayor Dennis Walaker.2 / 2

Fargo, ND (WDAY TV) - A private issue is now becoming public for Fargo's mayor. The city announced Friday that Dennis Walaker is battling kidney cancer and has recently just been able to go home after being hospitalized for treatment side effects. He has been receiving radiation, became weak from that treatment and was hospitalized. He's a long time and much-loved servant of the city.  Now at over 70 years old and is in his final term as mayor, city officials close to him say it's been tough for him to be away from office.

It's been an emotionally difficult few weeks at Fargo city hall.

Deputy Mayor and Fargo City Commissioner, Tim Mahoney, says, “Finally, he figured out he was more tired than he normally was, and I think that's what kind of clued him in that something was going on.”

Mayor Dennis Walaker is battling kidney cancer, and is just now disclosing his condition. It’s something Mahoney says has been a personal struggle for him.

Mahoney says, “I think that it was hard for him to admit there was something going on.”

The city is releasing few details about his health, leaving many questions like: How long has he been battling cancer? What stage is it, and what is his prognosis?

We reached out to the Roger Maris Cancer Center to learn more about kidney cancer.

Dr. Anu Gaba, the Chair for Cancer Services at Roger Maris Cancer Center, says, “Most of the time, renal cell cancer gets picked up incidentally, so a patient may have it, a person can have it, and not even know they have it.”

Walaker has been receiving radiation, which doctor Gaba, who is not Walaker's doctor, says is normally only used to treat symptoms.

Dr. Gaba says, “Symptoms can be caused by any part of the body. If the cancer is in the kidney, that can cause symptoms. Mostly we see symptoms because of spread to other parts of the body”

That's a general way doctors treat kidney cancer and not necessarily related to Mayor Walaker's condition, as each person can be treated differently.

As for the city, Mahoney has taken on some of the mayoral day to day duties, and says he's hoping Walaker will be back to full health soon.

Mahoney says, “We all wish him well, that he does well, that he's in our prayers, and we all honestly hope this goes well.”

Mayor Walaker is now recovering at home. He's expected to be back in office in the next week or two.

Amy Unrau

Amy is proud to be a Red River Valley native and cover stories that matter to her community. She was raised in Hallock, Minnesota and received her degree at the University of North Dakota where she participated in the student run TV show Studio One. In college, Amy met her husband, WDAY’s Jody Norstedt, while interning at WDAZ in Grand Forks. She started at WDAY in April 2014 and is currently WDAY'Z Xtra News at Nine's anchor and producer. Have a news idea? Amy would love to share your story or investigate an issue you’re concerned about.

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