Saturday, Nov. 26, 2022 |
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Former Hawaii County mayor Billy Kenoi announced in a Facebook post Thursday he is battling a rare, aggressive cancer.
Kenoi said in the post he was diagnosed in late 2015 with myelofibrosis, an uncommon type of chronic leukemia which causes excessive scar tissue to form in the bone marrow and impairs its ability to produce normal blood cells, according to the MPN Research Foundation, a blood cancer research nonprofit.
Kenoi said the cancer began to accelerate in March 2017, which was three months after completing his second term as mayor.
Kenoi said he began the process of undergoing a bone marrow transplant in June 2017 at City of Hope in Duarte, Calif.
He said he underwent chemotherapy, a month of hospitalization and three months of on-campus rehabilitation. He said he returned home in late October and “began to slowly return to feeling normal.”
However, he said he learned during a doctor visit Wednesday his cancer had mutated and “came roaring back.” He said he and his doctor initially believed it would be a “quick check up” and “continued good news.”
His doctor “did not anticipate this because everything was so positive,” Kenoi said in the post. “He also expected a quick check up, talk story, see you in a couple months. Instead he said if I jumped on the plane back to Hawaii that I would not live more than a month. The disease was back and it was aggressive.”
Kenoi said he will undergo aggressive chemotherapy and treatment over the next month.
Kenoi said he kept the diagnosis private initially but decided to announce it on Facebook Thursday because “there is just too many folks to reach and so little time.”
The MPN Research Foundation says the prognosis for myelofibrosis differs for every patient.
“Some individuals live for many years without developing major symptoms, others find that the disease progresses more quickly,” its website states.
Kenoi said in the post he plans to make it to his 50th birthday in November and asked his Facebook friends to “continue to Aloha my Ohana.”
News of Kenoi’s diagnosis quickly spread on social media Friday. Nearly 100 people commented on a Facebook fan page for the former mayor wishing him well.
Bobby-Jean Leithead Todd, former county environmental manager and director of planning, told the Tribune-Herald Friday she was devastated for Kenoi.
Leithead Todd worked with Kenoi for nearly 16 years and said she first met him in 1995 while he was in law school. She said she “immediately was impressed with him, and I knew he had a future in politics.”
“He’s one of the smartest and funniest guys I know, and he’s got more charisma in his little finger than most people do in their entire body,” Leithead-Todd said. “… All I can think about is his family and kids. You want it to turn out. You want him to beat this. He’s a fighter, he’s overcome a lot of obstacles in his path to success, so I’m just hoping the chemo works and he bounces back from this.”
“We hope the best for him and his family, and we just hope he keeps fighting and comes out of it,” added state Sen. Chris Todd on Friday. “The first time I met (Kenoi), I was like 19 years old, we were at my uncle’s house, and we all got together to talk about his campaign (to run for mayor) and his plans for the county.
“The first time you meet Billy, it’s always kind of a noteworthy thing. You come away from it kind of blown away by his charisma and that spark he has. It was kind of transformative for me.”
Kenoi was mayor from 2008 to 2016. In November 2016, he was found not guilty by a 12-person jury of Hawaii Island residents on all charges stemming from his alleged misuse of a county-issued purchasing card.
Email Kirsten Johnson at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sorry to hear anyone has to battle cancer, but doesn’t excuse his poor judgement misusing taxpayer funds.
Shut up you insensitive idiot! Prayers go out to him and his family for a complete recovery!
Truth remains the truth.
Truth is you’re more of an idiot that I initially thought.
So what part of the Korean Host Bar charges to the County credit card that Kenoi racked up do you and your wife approve of??
Was he charged for that? I mean the AG’s spent $250k and couldn’t prove a damn thing and for your information idiot, he wasn’t charged for that Pcard charge because he paid it back. Harry Kim hired his friends on contract costing hundreds of thousands of tax payer money, friends mind you! I approve of him paying $600 back, I don’t approve of 1.5 million in raises and thousands more in contracts for his friends!
He felt guilty enough to “pay it back” so ergo he admits guilt. The fact that the County dropped charges is irrelevant to his guilt.
I will pray for his recovery…..but the fact remains that he “allegedly” stole from the taxpayers. What part of the Korean Host Bar charges to the County credit card that Kenoi racked up do you and your wife approve of??
Don’t kick someone again who is already on the ground.
Like he kicked the taxpayers?
Wow Big Ideas, you’re a really special kind of person. And not in a good way.
Too bad -situation does not change the truth.
So what part of the Korean Host Bar charges to the County credit card do you and your wife approve of??
Big Ideas, you need to chill out. Not cool.
Stealing from taxpayers is “not cool” either….doesn’t change the facts!
Praying for Billy and his family, but what is West Hawai’i today doing reporting on a private citizen’s Facebook post? I bet it wasn’t something Billy shared with them.
That does seem kind of Big Brother, man…
Stupid is as stupid does. He’s sick.
There is no expectation of privacy on Facebook, or on the Internet, for that matter.
Sending some good Kona vibes his way. Hope he’s trying all kinds of healing. Natural, spiritual, and medical.
Sending thoughts and prayers to Billy and his beautiful family, from a resident grateful for the first mayor who truly cared about Kona.
We had our differences. But this overcomes them. Am praying for you brah
Uncle Billy,We had our differences. But this overcomes them. Am praying for you
If anyone deserves some good luck and kind words Billy does. He has been a good man. God knows that we have all made a few mistakes in our life. There is no doubt that all that political B.S and the law suit or 30K affected him and probably his health.
Without Billy today’s hypocrisy in Hilo is frightening. Today the Hilo group can’t even wipe their ass with the 30K they tried to put Bully in jail for, the county budget is run away train wreck up 30-50M since Billy left, and now instead of county contractors we have new full time county employees with benefits that will haunt us for a long time.
So true, Billy was a good Mayor and is a good person that made a few mistakes.
Too bad, hope he fights it. He was a good mayor, just made some bad judgements (who doesn’t, especially politicans) but overall seemed a lot better than the prior and current as far as bang for the taxpayer buck. Best wishes to you and your Ohana, Billy!
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