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Hirono Announces New Treatment in Battle Against Kidney Cancer

In Exclusive Interview with KITV Island News’ Paula Akana, Hirono Announces She Will Undergo Surgery to Remove Rib Lesion Next Week

WASHINGTON, D.C.- In an exclusive interview with KITV Island News’ Paula Akana, Senator Mazie Hirono announced a positive change in her ongoing battle with kidney cancer and discussed the fights ahead in Washington. Because her cancer is less aggressive than originally thought, she will undergo surgery next week to remove the lesion on her seventh rib.

A transcript of the interview follows:

Paula Akana: Senator Mazie Hirono invited us in to talk about her health issues as she deals with Stage 4 kidney cancer. The latest- she’ll soon undergo surgery to remove a rib where a second tumor was found. The Senator expects a full recovery.

Senator Hirono: It’s good to have you Paula. A bit of Hawaii, I say, with you here.

Paula Akana: The cancer was found during a routine physical in preparation for eye surgery. It showed up on an x-ray. This with a 69-year-old woman who was last hospitalized when she was 17. Did you, when you look back now, have any kind of symptoms?

Senator Hirono: Yes, I did, but I ignored them. I have a tumor on my seventh rib, and for a while I felt this weird kind of a tightness sensation, a bit of pain. I just thought it was a muscle spasm or something and I ignored it. I’m just glad that my cancer was caught early enough because if it weren't for that exam that I mentioned to you I’d still be walking around thinking everything was fine when everything wasn't fine.

Paula Akana: And now news of a change in plans; to actually remove part of her rib. Her doctor is Dr. Michael Atkins at Georgetown University Medical Center. He wouldn’t talk about his patient, but instead about the kidney cancer in general.

Dr. Atkins: If you have a tumor that appears less aggressive its more likely that the one site is the only site. And therefore, I think that if it has a high chance of being the only site, you want to do the most definitive way of handling that particular site, which is typically surgery.

Paula Akana: Don't expect it to slow her down. It was hard to keep up with the Senator as she walked the capitol going from conference calls to chambers to news conferences. The Energizer Bunny clearly loves what she does. And she isn’t retiring anytime soon.

Senator Hirono: There's work to do. I’ve been privileged to do what I do for over 30 years and I believe that there is justice. So it keeps me going and I have work to do.

Paula Akana: There's a lot for her to handle, she says, especially with the Trump Administration. Top on her list: immigration reform and health care. Hirono says her experience has now made health care a personal battle.

Senator Hirono: I just thought that major health issues happen to other people but this really taught me one thing: it can happen to any one of us. All of us- one diagnosis from a major illness. So as we sit here debating health care, it’s even more important that people have the health care that they need.

Paula Akana: Senator Hirono will undergo that surgery to remove that part of her rib next week Tuesday at the Georgetown University Hospital. She’ll be hospitalized for a day or two, and while she won’t be able to come home for a little while, she says she’ll be back at work as soon as possible.


 Exclusive Interview with KITV Island News Paula Akana

Click on the photo above to watch the exclusive interview