WASHINGTON — Sen. Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii, has been diagnosed with kidney cancer, according to a statement she released Tuesday morning.
“During a routine pre-operative physical for my eye surgery, my doctor discovered an abnormality on my chest X-ray,” she said.
“After a series of follow up tests, I have been diagnosed with kidney cancer that is also present in my seventh rib.”
Hirono, 69, held a town hall meeting at Chiefess Kamakahelei Middle School on May 6, where she addressed a crowd of about 100 local residents.
She said on Tuesday she will be treated at Medstar Georgetown University Hospital.
“I face this fight with the same determination I’ve fought for the people of Hawaii,” she said. “And I never quit, especially when things get tough.”
State and federal officials responded to the news with good wishes.
Senate President Ronald D. Kouchi said Hirono has his full support.
“On behalf of the Hawaii State Senate, our thoughts and prayers go out to Senator Hirono and her family at this difficult time,” he said. “It is hoped that Senator Hirono’s tremendous grit, determination, and indomitable spirit that has served the people of Hawaii so well, will be galvanized by our support and well wishes.”
Gov. David Ige said she will be in his prayers.
“Mazie is a fighter, and I know that she brings that spirit to this latest challenge,” he said. “Dawn and I pray for Sen. Hirono’s full recovery and we send our best wishes to her and her family.”
Rep. Tulsi Gabbard also sent her regards.
“I talked with Mazie today, and she was upbeat and fearless as she takes on this fight. I look forward to seeing Mazie back at the Capitol soon to continue our work together on behalf of the people of Hawaii,” Gabbard said.
Sen. Brian Schatz said, “Mazie’s courage and fortitude are matched only by her love for our state and people.”
Rep. James Tokioka attended Hirono’s town hall meeting a couple weeks ago and had the chance to greet her and commend her for her work.
“I was able to go there and say hello and make a few comments on her behalf on how she’s working for the people of the state and especially the people on Kauai,” Tokioka said. “She’s always been a champion for equal rights. She’s always been a champion for people who need a hand up, not a hand out. I just wish her a speedy recovery.”
Hirono will undergo a procedure on her kidney today and in the next few weeks, she will be treated as an outpatient to undergo a Cyberknife procedure.
The Cyberknife procedure is one of the most advanced and effective stereotactic radiosurgery technologies, a method of controlling or destroying tumors by aiming beams of radiation at them from multiple directions, according to MedStar Georgetown University Hospital’s website.
“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,” Hirono said.
Hirono, who was elected to the Senate in 2012, has taken opposition to President Donald Trump during his tenure and said during her town hall meeting on Kauai that he needs to listen to his advisors more and surround himself with people who know what they’re doing.
A Japanese immigrant, Hirono is a former congresswoman and was lieutenant governor under former Governor Ben Cayetano (1994 to 2002).
She was the Democratic nominee for Governor of Hawaii in 2002 but was defeated by Republican Linda Lingle. She then served as a member of the United States House of Representatives for Hawaii’s 2nd congressional district from 2007 to 2013.
Hirono was also the first elected female Senator from Hawaii, the first Asian-American woman elected to the Senate, the first U.S. Senator born in Japan and the nation’s first Buddhist Senator.
Hirono succeeded long-time Hawaii Senator Daniel Akaka and assumed office in the U.S. House of Representatives in Jan. 3, 2013, serving with Sen. Brian Schatz.
She said she appreciates all the support and good wishes.
“I look forward to getting back to the Senate to continue fighting for Hawaii as soon as possible,” she said.