Hamilton County Commission President Todd Portune battling cancer

Leg to be amputated Monday

CINCINNATI -There are no breaks for Hamilton County Commission President Todd Portune.

Portune, 59, was already making plans last week for his return to work after doctors surgically amputate his left leg Monday to remove a cancerous tumor.

The Green Township resident will spend a few days in the hospital following the procedure, then recover at home.

“I do expect to return to the office and attend our county business and board meetings shortly thereafter,” Portune, an 18-year veteran of the commission, said. “The board will remain in great hands for those few days I expect to miss.”

Doctors discovered last month a cancer of the muscle, ligaments and bone in his left leg, Portune announced Wednesday.

Portune, whose legs were paralyzed in 2003 when cancerous tumors along his spinal chord hemorrhaged, described the newly discovered cancer as a “blessing.”

He hopes the prosthetic that will replace his leg will make it easier for him to get around. The cancer has not spread, and is only isolated to his left leg.

“I’m cancer-free throughout the rest of my body,” Portune said with a smile.

Hamilton County Commissioner Denise Driehaus believes Portune when he says he’ll be back to work soon.

“He’s approaching this with a great deal of optimism – this is Todd Portune,” Driehaus said. “I have full confidence he will come back quickly. He has a way of working through this stuff.”

Driehaus will lead the three-member commission while Portune is gone. The board still has quorum to meet during Portune’s absence.

Portune, who has served on both the commission board and Cincinnati City Council over the last two decades, waged a very public battle for months with spinal tumors 15 years ago.

He took constituent phone calls from his hospital bed and the county commission held some of its meetings from Drake Hospital so he could be present while he recovered.

Doctors warned him he might have to use a wheelchair for the rest of his life.

That didn’t last very long. Today, Portune walks with the help of Lofstrand crutches.

“His perseverance and tenacity is so evident,” said Hamilton County Commissioner Chris Monzel, who has worked with Portune on the board for eight years. “Any challenge he’s been faced with, he’s always overcome.”

Former Hamilton County Commissioner David Pepper served alongside Portune from 2006 to 2010, and watched in awe as he overcame the medical blow.

“It never slowed down the pace of his work,” Pepper said. “He was so productive, so busy, he was everywhere in the county. You forget that he’s always still been recovering from the initial challenges. He never complained. He just endures.”

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