Skip to Main Content View Text-Only

The City of Portland, Oregon

Nick Fish (In Memoriam)

City of Portland Commissioner

phone: 503-823-3589


1221 S.W. 4th, Room 240, Portland, OR 97204

Nick's Op-ed in The Oregonian on His Second Anniversary as a Cancer Survivor

Navigating Work, Life, Treatment in Two Years Since Cancer Diagnosis (Opinion)

Commissioner Nick Fish in The Oregonian, Sunday, August 4, 2019

Two years ago, my doctor called me at work. The test results were back. I had stomach cancer.

It was the ultimate sucker punch. Without warning, my world turned upside down. My thoughts turned to my dad, who died of cancer, my family and my future.

The doctors at OHSU’s Knight Cancer Institute acted quickly. A port was implanted in my chest, and I started to receive regular and aggressive chemotherapy infusions. They warned me it would be a marathon and not a sprint. 

Two years later, we have prevented the spread of the cancer. In fact, as the old cliché goes, the cure is often worse than the disease. Each treatment knocks me out for a few days; I rely on drugs, acupuncture, and massage to manage the side effects.

About 17 million Americans deal with cancer every day, according to the American Cancer Society. Some are in remission, others are in treatment. It’s the second leading cause of death in our country – we lose about 600,000 people a year.

Lots of survivors have shared their inspiring stories with me, and I’m using my platform to advocate on their behalf. For example, I have spoken out about the perils of going backwards on health care. Millions of Americans with “pre-existing conditions” are at risk of being treated as second-class citizens if Obamacare is repealed or struck down by the courts. That would be a catastrophe.

So, what has changed in my life, and what have I learned?

First, it would be an understatement to say that cancer changed everything. I never thought I’d be living with a chronic illness at 60. And while certainty about the future is a luxury nobody enjoys, uncertainty is a constant companion.

But I will not let cancer set the terms of my life. I work a full schedule, fueled by my passion for my work as a city commissioner. I cherish quality time spent with my family and friends. And I try to take the bumps in the road in stride.

Second, I have learned some powerful lessons during this journey. Here are a few:

  • Stay positive. We are surrounded by too much negativity and divisiveness.
  • Live every day fully. We are all living on borrowed time.
  • Focus on the things that really matter and bring joy to your life. For me, it’s the little things like browsing independent bookstores, listening to jazz and searching for the perfect bagel and lox.
  • Take control of your treatment. Be an empowered patient. Ask questions.
  • Accept what you cannot control.
  • We all need support. A lot of people, especially older adults, go through their cancer journey alone. Offer to be a “cancer buddy” and spend some time with them during their treatment. It will make a big difference.

These powerful lessons have deepened my sense of gratitude for the blessings in my life – especially for the love and kindness of others.

I am grateful for all the doctors, nurses and practitioners who have helped me, and for all those who believe in the mission of the Knight Cancer Institute. And I am grateful for everyone in our community who has lifted me and my family up during a challenging time.

My dream is to continue my public service, watch my son graduate from high school, support my daughter as she makes her way in this world and share my life with my wife.

Cancer is a formidable adversary. But so is my team. I will continue to fight the disease with every fiber in my body. And I intend to win.

Here is my hope for the future: that Portland leads the way in finding new cures for cancer. Millions of people like me are counting on it.

The Weekly Catch

Portland Cello Project

The Portland Mercury Events Calendar

Portland Honors World Cup Champions

Honoring World Champions

Nick Fish Blog


Thorns’ World Cup Champions Honored by Portland City Council at City Hall

Danny Miller on the Thorns FC Blog


Portland Thorns Honored by City Council

Elise Haas in KOIN 6 News


City Council Declared July ‘Portland Thorns FC Month’

Amelia Templeton in OPB News


City Council Celebrates World Cup Winners, July Declared 'Portland Thorns FC Month'



World Cup-Winning Thorns Players to Be Honored by City of Portland


Leach Botanical Garden

Celebrating Leach Botanical Garden’s Next Chapter

Nick Fish Blog


Extensive Improvements Begin at Leach Botanical Garden

PP&R News and Media Releases


‘Hidden Gem’ Leach Botanical Garden Expansion Begins

Kohr Harlan in KOIN 6 News


Leach Botanical Gardens Getting an Upgrade

KGW News

Portland Open Space Sequence

Grand Re-Opening of Halprin Open Space Sequence

Nick Fish Blog


PP&R, Halprin Landscape Conservancy Celebrate Grand Reopening of The Portland Open Space Sequence

PP&R News and Media Releases


Portland Parks & Recreation Celebrates End Of $4M Project with Samba Music

Fox 12 News

MLB Diamond Project

MLB To Portland Group Expects to Meet with MLB Commissioner in Next Two Months

Jared Cowley in KGW News


MLB Stadium? Just Build It

Kerry Eggers in the Portland Tribune

In Other News

Portland Police Tout Drop in Crime in Holladay Park

Zane Sparling in the Portland Tribune


Portland’s Protected Forestland Grows Thanks to 22-Acre Donation Near Forest Park

Jamie Hale in The Oregonian

Celebrating Leach Botanical Garden’s Next Chapter

August 1, 2019

Today, Nick was honored to speak at the groundbreaking of a major improvement project at the Leach Botanical Gardens in East Portland.

The garden expansion includes new features like an aerial tree walk, a pollinator garden, a fireplace terrace, new paths, and over a thousand new plants.

At the groundbreaking, Nick said, “Leach Botanical Garden is East Portland’s hidden gem – for now. But thanks to this new investment, it won’t be hidden much longer.”

The project will transform a local treasure into world-class destination, joining other famous Portland gardens like the Japanese Garden, Lan Su Chinese Garden, International Rose Test Garden, and Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden.

The non-profit Leach Garden Friends raised over $1.26 million in donations to support the project. Other funding partners include Portland Parks & Recreation through Systems Development Charges (fees developers pay on new construction), Prosper Portland, and Metro.

Special thanks to Leach Garden Friends Executive Director David Porter and the Leach Friends Board of Directors; to Commissioner Amanda Fritz for her deep commitment to Leach during her tenure as Parks Commissioner; and a very special thank you to the late Charles Jordan who famously called Leach “a place like no other” and saved it from being sold by the City.

Honoring World Champions

July 31, 2019

Today, City Council honored the members of the Portland Thorns FC who participated in the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup.

We welcomed the four Thorns who played for the US Women’s National Team – Adrianna Franch, Tobin Heath, Lindsey Horan, and Emily Sonnett – to City Hall for a proclamation. They were joined by the Thorns head coach, Mark Parsons.

Nine members of the Portland Thorns played in the World Cup, representing four different countries.

Today’s proclamation honored the champion United States women’s national team who won their second consecutive, and fourth overall, World Cup title.

The Thorns are the most-watched professional women’s sports team in the world. Council and Portlanders are proud to support the Thorns and the US Women’s National Team’s ongoing claim for equal pay.

Special thanks to Adrianna, Tobin, Lindsey, and Emily for joining us today, and congratulations to all the Thorns who played in the World Cup.


Grand Re-Opening of Halprin Open Space Sequence

July 30, 2019

Today, Nick spoke at the grand re-opening of the Portland Open Space Sequence.

The project included the historic restoration of four public plazas and fountains – Ira Keller Fountain Park, Pettygrove Park, Lovejoy Fountain Park, and the Source Fountain.

The event celebrated the City’s public-private partnership with the Halprin Landscape Conservancy. The Conservancy, made up of a group of adjacent building owners and other local leaders, has been instrumental in raising over $4 million to restore the fountains and plazas.

Today’s celebration also included a parade and series of “mini ribbon-cuttings” at each park.

Special thanks to Halprin Landscape Conservancy Executive Director Karen Whitman and the Conservancy Board of Directors; local leaders John Russell, Bill Naito, and Randy Gragg who were the founders of the Conservancy and have been longtime advocates of the fountains; the dedicated Parks employees who worked on this project, especially Sandra Burtzos and Dave Obern; and Lawrence Halprin and his team for designing one of the great sequences of urban plazas and fountains in the world.


Downtown Fountain Repair Project Finishes For $4 Million

Zane Sparling in the Portland Tribune


PP&R, Halprin Landscape Conservancy Celebrate Grand Reopening of The Portland Open Space Sequence

PP&R News and Media Releases


Portland Parks & Recreation Celebrates End Of $4M Project with Samba Music

Fox 12 News