EXCLUSIVE: Interview with Sen. Mazie Hirono on her battle with kidney cancer
Sen. Hirono will undergo that surgery to remove that part of her rib next Tuesday at the Georgetown University Hospital.
WASHINGTON, D.C. - Sen. Mazie Hirono invited Island News to talk about her health issues as she deals with stage four kidney cancer. She'll soon undergo surgery to remove a rib where a second tumor was found. The senator expects a full recovery.
Last month, doctors removed one of her kidneys after she was diagnosed.
The cancer was found during a routine physical on an x-ray, in preparation for eye surgery.
This 69-year-old woman was last hospitalized when she was 17-years-old.
Island News asked "did you, when you look back have any kind of symptoms?"
"I did, but I ignored them. I had a tumor in my seventh rib. For awhile, I just 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," Hirono said. "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."
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 about kidney cancer in general.
"If you have a tumor that appears less aggressive, it's more likely that the one site is the only site. And therefore, I think it has the high chance of being the only site, you want to do the most definitive way of handling that particular site which is typically surgery," Atkins said.
Don't expect it to slow her down, it was kind of hard to keep up with her as she walked the capitol going from conference calls to house chambers to news conferences.
She loves what she does and she's not going to retire anytime soon.
"I'm definitely running for re-election. There's work to do," Hirono said. "I've been privileged to do what I do for over 30 years and I believe that there is justices, so it keeps me going and I have work to do."
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 made it a personal battle.
"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. As we sit here debating health care, it's even more important that people have the health care that they need," she said.
Sen. Hirono will undergo that surgery to remove that part of her rib next Tuesday at the Georgetown University Hospital. She'll be hospitalized for a day or two. While she won't be able to come home for a little while, she says she'll be back to work as soon as possible.