By Alex Lippa
---- — PLAISTOW — It may bear police Chief Stephen Savage’s name, but he doesn’t want it to be all about him.
Pollard School and the greater Plaistow community are honoring Savage today as he battles kidney cancer with the Run of the Savages 5K.
“It’s very flattering,” Savage said yesterday. “But I have stayed out of the organizational piece. This isn’t about me. It’s about the sickness.”
Doctors diagnosed Savage, 66, with cancer two years ago when they found a tumor on his kidney, which had to be surgically removed. After that, he started to undergo chemotherapy briefly, before stopping the treatment.
“It just wasn’t for me,” Savage said. “I decided I wasn’t going to do that because it is such slow growing (cancer). Instead, I want to enjoy life to the best I can and keep working long hours like I have been.”
Savage has taken several medical leaves, including a brief leave last month. While he was on leave, Deputy police Chief Kathleen Jones took over as interim police chief.
For now, Savage says he feels great and has no plans to take any more medical leaves.
“I plan on staying until they scrape me from my desk,” Savage said. “Until I get to a point where I feel I need to spend more time with my family at home, I plan on staying. Hopefully, I will get to a point where I am able to realize that.”
Savage hasn’t put a timeline on when that will be.
“I don’t want to be in a position to sit there and write my self off,” Savage said. “I don’t believe in doom and gloom.”
While Savage has a positive outlook, it’s been tough at times on his kids, Billy, 10, and Michael, 6. Billy’s teacher at the Pollard School, Alexis Vengren, noticed Billy was having some troubles at school.
“She called me around Thanksgiving and told me that Billy was having a hard time at school concentrating,” said Kristin Lewis-Savage, the chief’s wife. “So we thought something positive could come from something negative.
Vengren worked with Lewis-Savage and Terri Rousseau to organize the event. Billy designed the T-shirts for the 5K.
“It’s going to be just a whole bunch of friends coming together,” Savage said. “I’m taking a backseat. I just want this to be a blast.”
The run will be held today at 10 a.m. More than 400 participants had signed up to run as of yesterday. Police departments from all over the state have formed teams. U.S. Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., will lead the race.
All proceeds from the race will go toward the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and the Jimmy Fund.
The 5K begins and ends at Pollard School, 120 Main St.