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Oke keeping focus on the positive

Whether the news he’s expecting soon about his health is good or bad, Sen. Bob Oke (R-Port Orchard) says his strong belief system will help him through the next potential obstacle.

“I’m looking at this very positively,” said Oke, who is currently midway through his fourth term as a senator in the state’s 26th Legislative District.

By today, Oke is expected to learn whether, in fact, he has multiple myeloma, a rare blood cancer that affects the body’s plasma cells, a type of white blood cell.

Last week, Oke visited Dr. Daniel Wu at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle on the advice of his regular doctor at the VA outpatient clinic in Bremerton.

So far, Oke said Dr. Wu — whom the senator described as a “guru” on this type of cancer — is “90 percent sure” of the diagnosis, but last Thursday took a sample of Oke’s bone marrow to confirm it.

Although the process was “not very pleasant,” Oke said he was in very good medical hands, and was especially grateful to have a longtime friend, who just happened to be a doctor himself, accompany him.

“I heard a lot of new terminology that day, so it was really nice to have my friend there to break down the lingo for me afterward,” Oke said.

Even if the final results confirm the diagnosis, Oke said he will handle the news in stride.

“It’s a big bump in the road,” he said, but one he can manage the same way he’s tackled everything else in his life — with his strong Christian belief.

“Death does not worry me at all — I know I have another place waiting for me,” Oke said. “But I still have a lot of things to get done, and (my wife Judy) wants to keep me around.”

Oke said he also feels lucky that it appears the possible cancer was caught early.

“Dr. Matthews at the VA clinic tested my blood in August, but it didn’t show anything, so that sort of tells us this is in the early stages,” Oke said.

Oke said he does not foresee his current or future health problems to keep him from finishing his current term in office.

Although he has noticed some increased fatigue that has kept him out of his beloved garden, Oke said it’s not that much worse than simply getting older.

“The aging process is not for wimps,” Oke said. “I feel like I have enough strength to do the next two years.”

Oke was hospitalized last September when he underwent surgery in Seattle to remove an abdominal aortic aneurysm — a potentially life-threatening weak spot in a blood vessel that could have erupted — discovered during his yearly physical.

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