Sheriff Sherman Block disclosed Wednesday that he has a severe kidney problem requiring hemodialysis three times a week. But the septuagenarian sheriff, who has survived bouts with lymphatic and prostate cancer since 1990, says, yes, he’s still planning to run for reelection to a fourth term next year.
The treatment “is a process that in no way will interfere with either my duties or responsibilities as sheriff or my intentions to vigorously campaign for reelection,” Block told reporters at a monthly open house at sheriff’s headquarters. “Life will go on as it has, and I anticipate having more energy than my staff can handle.”
Block, who turns 73 next month, said his doctors warned him four years ago that he might suffer kidney problems in the wake of the chemotherapy treatments he endured for lymphatic cancer, which he says is now in remission. Despite taking kidney medication, Block began feeling increasingly sluggish.
“I would walk a distance and I would be short of breath,” the sheriff said. He added: “I finally faced reality and got out of denial and submitted to the hemodialysis.”
Since beginning the treatment two weeks ago, Block said, he feels “better today than I have in years.” He undergoes the dialysis Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, with his sessions lasting 3 1/2 hours each.
When asked by a reporter Wednesday if he transfers authority while undergoing the treatment, Block quipped: “Well, I’m not unconscious. I’ve got a telephone by my side.”
The Chicago native joined the Sheriff’s Department at age 32 and eventually served as undersheriff for seven years before his January 1982 appointment as interim successor to Sheriff Peter J. Pitchess. Block heads the nation’s largest sheriff’s department, with more than 12,000 employees.
His tenure has not been without controversy. Recently, Block’s department has come under tremendous scrutiny, mostly related to his methods of coping with the long overcrowded conditions in county jails. In recent months, the sheriff has directed his department to make changes in its jail work release program and its methods of processing thousands of pieces of paperwork for inmates entering and leaving the jail system each day.
The next election is in June 1998.