Cancer researcher dying from disease, wants legacy to live on

An internationally known cancer researcher who works for the University of Hawaii is dying from the disease she hoped to cure one day.

“She found a little lump, very little. The size not even maybe of a sweet pea,” husband Daniel Maio said.

Maio was just as shocked as his wife, Patricia Lorenzo, Ph.D, when she discovered she had breast cancer in June of last year.

“In a month, maybe less, that thing grew so fast,” Maio said.

A cancer researcher for close to 20 years, Lorenzo worked at the University of Hawaii Cancer Center for over a decade.

“One of her present research projects is to use a natural product a fungus found in plants and try to develop this as a possible drug that will stop the growth of some of these aggressive breast cancers,” said Diane Ono, President of the Friends of the UH Cancer Center.

Lorenzo’s research has come to a halt because the stage IV breast cancer spread.

“This is such a cruel, rude, irony that she herself now finds herself with metastatic breast cancer that’s incurable, and her family is really in between a rock and hard place,” Ono said.

With a 9-year-old daughter and 4-year-old twin sons, Maio, who used to work as a pastry chef, is a stay-at-home dad and caretaker for his wife, who is now in hospice care.

“Everything turned bad lately,” Maio said.

Given just days to live, it’s hoped that Lorenzo’s legacy will live on in her research and with the students she inspired as an associate professor at the University of Hawaii.

“She is not going to be able to finish this work of hers and hopefully somebody else will,” Ono said.

“You girls have to do a mammogram every year. She did it in Sept. in 2011. Not even a month passed by and she got it, and it was late. Don’t wait,” Maio said.

An account has been opened at Central Pacific Bank to help the family with emergency and education needs for the children.

Donations can be made to the “Friends of the UH Cancer Center – Dr. Patricia Lorenzo” account.

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