Jim Armbrister, a member of the Mount Airy Board of Commissioners, is now a surgical patient at Duke University Hospital in Durham.
This was disclosed during a meeting of the city council Thursday afternoon, which Armbrister did not attend.
While delivering an opening prayer, a practice that is rotated among the five board members from meeting to meeting, Commissioner Jon Cawley mentioned Armbrister and “his struggles for health at Duke hospital.”
Chief Dale Watson of the Mount Airy Police Department — from which Armbrister retired in 2012 after being diagnosed with cancer — disclosed Friday that the former lieutenant on the force had undergone surgery in Durham to remove a tumor from his small intestines.
Armbrister, who is in his late 50s, has been in a lot of pain recently, Watson said, which could not be remedied through medication.
That resulted in the surgical procedure being scheduled at Duke University Hospital, where Armbrister has been a patient in the past.
During that procedure, the tumor was taken out and the small intestines were reattached.
The police chief, who has remained in close contact with Armbrister since his retirement, added Friday that the city commissioner was expected to be hospitalized for three or four more days.
Armbrister has waged a public battle with cancer since being diagnosed more than four years ago with a type that involved tumors striking areas surrounding the liver. In 2012, it was reported that surgery was not an option, because of fears the liver would be damaged, and chemotherapy couldn’t be used for the same reason.
Radiation treatments were deployed as an alternative for the cancer considered not curable at that time.
In June 2012, between 400 and 500 people jammed into Wallace Shelton Stadium for “Officer Jim Day,” to show support for the highly respected officer who during his nearly 20-year career had headed the city police Community Services Division among other functions.
With his health greatly improved, Armbrister was appointed as the at-large member of the Mount Airy Board of Commissioners in February 2014 to replace the late Scott Graham. Armbrister was elected to his first four-year term last November.
Armbrister’s fight to overcome cancer has been a source of strength for others in the community facing medical crises, Chief Watson agreed Friday.
“He is an inspiration.”
Tom Joyce may be reached at 336-415-4693 or on Twitter @Me_Reporter.