“I’m going to beat this,” said Perrin, who faces off against Republican Don Coram of Montrose in next month’s general election.
Perrin expects to undergo a combined eight-week course of radiation and chemotherapy in the coming weeks to treat what he described as a “fairly advanced” case of cancer that has spread to the lymph nodes behind his left ear.
Because of the tumor’s primary location at the base of his tongue, “Surgery is not an option,” he said.
Before he undergoes that treatment, Perrin told The Watch in a telephone interview from Denver - where he said had just finished a green “superfood” smoothie - that he is trying to gain some weight in anticipation of weight he will lose.
“I think that’s the best way to keep your strength up,” he said.
Otherwise, “I’m following doctors’ orders and trying to be the best patient possible,” he said.
As a chronic sufferer of sinus infections that frequently resulted in sore throats – a symptom of the disease – Perrin didn’t think much of the persistent sore throat and earache he had for months before seeking medical attention.
“I thought it was a sinus infection again,” he explained, noting that cancer is not common in his family, and that he has otherwise remained in generally good health.
“I don’t smoke, I don’t drink, I don’t know how I got this,” he said.
In fact, it was only after actor Michael Douglas recently disclosed his own case of throat cancer that Perrin became concerned that his condition might be something more serious.
Learning more, “I realized I had all the symptoms; I was a textbook example of the disease.”
For Perrin those symptoms included the sore throat, earache and fatigue that he attributed to 16-hour days on the stump.
“I thought I was just campaigning really hard,” he laughed.
Perrin said that the district’s voters in Montrose, Ouray, San Miguel, and Dolores Counties, and parts of Delta and Montezuma Counties have a right to know about his medical condition, and that doctors have given him a good prognosis.
“I’ve been told that I can cure this and that’s what I intend to do,” he said. “The best therapy is to have the best attitude as possible.”
And staying in the race is part of keeping a good attitude.
“I feel it’s important that I continue,” he said, expressing confidence that he has made headway in reaching the district’s conservative-leaning voters.
“It’s going really well,” he said. “People really like how I speak and what I say.”
Perrin is also staying in the race, he said, because he believes the voters should have the opportunity to elect their representative, not to receive one “by default” because the candidate had no opposition.
Finally, Perrin hopes his continued run will help encourage other cancer patients not to give up.
“You’ve got to keep on with your life and keep living it,” he said. “You keep your attitude strong and you beat it.”
Perrin, who said he has seen significant adversity in his life including becoming a single parent as a young man when he lost his wife to lupus shortly after the birth of their second child, feels confident he will.
“I’m really positive, really hopeful and I’ve got great care.”
Not to mention an outpouring of love and support.
“That’s the best medicine of all,” he said.