POSTED: 1:30 a.m. HST, Sep 6, 2013
An internationally renowned cancer researcher who focuses on finding cures is waging her own battle against stage 4 metastatic breast cancer.
Patricia Lorenzo, 49, associate professor of cancer biology at the University of Hawaii Cancer Center, has been fighting the deadly disease since she was diagnosed in April 2012. The cancer quickly spread to her brain, lungs and spine despite chemotherapy and radiation treatments.
"It's difficult," said her husband, Daniel Maio. "Our whole world has collapsed on us. She's the air that I breathe."
Lorenzo's friends are asking the community for help covering the family's expenses. She was admitted to Hospice Hawaii in Kailua on Sunday.
Her husband, who previously worked as a pastry chef at Sam Choy's restaurants, is tending to his wife and caring for their children, 9-year-old Fiona and 4-year-old twins Dylan and Owen.
"She's tired and wants to give up," Maio said. "At the same time, she wants to keep fighting."
An account has been established at Central Pacific Bank called "Friends of the UH Cancer Center-Dr. Patricia Lorenzo" to help the family with expenses.
Donations may be made at any bank branch statewide, or mailed to any branch.
Lorenzo, originally from Buenos Aires, Argentina, moved to the United States with her husband in 1996. Five years later, they moved to Hawaii and Lorenzo began working at the cancer center.
A fellow of the National Cancer Institute, she has funded her research on skin cancer through grants from the National Institutes of Health.
"She has been a gem at the cancer research center," said Diane Ono, president of the Friends of the UH Cancer Center.
Lorenzo's husband said his wife felt a lump the size of a pea in her left breast in April 2012. Seven months earlier, she underwent a mammogram that did not detect any abnormalities.
A month after she was diagnosed, the lump grew to the size of an egg.
While undergoing treatment, Lorenzo obtained a grant for breast cancer research to find a way to stop the formation of aggressive tumors.