U.S. Sen. Mazie Hirono on Tuesday announced that she has kidney cancer.

“During a routine pre-operative physical for my eye surgery, my doctor discovered an abnormality on my chest X-ray,” she said in a press release. “After a series of follow up tests, I have been diagnosed with kidney cancer that is also present in my seventh rib.”

U.S. Sen. Mazie Hirono. Anthony Quintano/Civil Beat

Hirono added:

“My treatment is being overseen by one of the preeminent kidney cancer specialists in the country at Medstar Georgetown University Hospital. He has designed a comprehensive treatment plan — including surgery to remove my right kidney and an innovative, non-invasive, outpatient procedure called Cyberknife to eradicate the lesion on my rib. At the conclusion of this treatment, there will be no identifiable disease left untreated. My doctor expects I will make a full recovery from these treatments.

“I will continue working during my recovery, and look forward to returning to the Senate as soon as possible.

“I face this fight with the same determination I’ve fought for the people of Hawaii. And I never quit, especially when things get tough.

“I appreciate your support and good wishes, and look forward to getting back to the Senate to continue fighting for Hawaii as soon as possible.”

Hirono’s medical doctor is Michael B. Atkins, deputy director of Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center. (It’s a part of Georgetown University and MedStar Georgetown University Hospital.)

According to Hirono’s office, Atkins is a medical oncologist who specializes in treating kidney cancer and melanoma.

Atkins said in a statement provided by Hirono’s office, “About 15 to 20 percent of patients that present with documented metastatic disease at the time when their kidney tumor is first identified in these patients, we tend to treat them by having their kidney tumor removed before dealing with their metastatic disease. If the metastatic disease is solitary, it can be treated with surgery. Or if it is in the bone, with radiation.”

He added, “Here at Medstar Georgetown University Hospital, we tend to use precision radiation with a cyberknife to treat that disease, and those patients can do well long-term. And we are fortunate that there are multiple, new systemic treatments that have been developed over the past decade for patients with advance kidney cancer that are greatly improving the outlook for those patients.”

‘Mazie Is A Fighter’

Hirono, 69, is up for re-election in 2018. She is a Democrat.

The senator held town halls on Oahu and Kauai earlier this month. At that time, she was still recovering from eye surgery.

In a later statement Tuesday, this one from her campaign, Hirono said she will seek another term.

“Earlier today, I announced I’ve been diagnosed with kidney cancer,” she said. “My doctor is preeminent in his field and has designed a comprehensive treatment plan. At the end of this treatment, there will be no identifiable disease remaining. My doctor expects me to make a full recovery from this treatment.”

She added: “And here’s what I also want you to know: I am, without question, running for re-election in 2018. The stakes are too high and our shared values are under attack like never before.”

Wishes for a good recovery for Hirono are coming from many quarters, including from her Senate colleague.

“I join all of Hawaii in wishing Senator Hirono a rapid recovery,” said U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz. “Mazie’s courage and fortitude are matched only by her love for our state and people. I look forward to continuing to work together with Mazie on the issues that reflect our Hawaii values and priorities.” 

Said Gov. David Ige, “Mazie is a fighter, and I know that she brings that spirit to this latest challenge. Dawn and I pray for Sen. Hirono’s full recovery and we send our best wishes to her and her family.”

And this from Hawaii Supreme Court Chief Justice Mark Recktenwald, “On behalf of the Hawaii State Judiciary, our thoughts and prayers are with Senator Hirono. She is a strong and tireless advocate for Hawaii, and we send our aloha and support to her as she takes on this challenge.”

Hirono was elected to her first Senate term in 2012. She previously served in the U.S. House, as Hawaii’s lieutenant governor and in the state Legislature.

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