HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The new University of Hawaii Cancer Center in Kakaako spreads across six floors and 150,000 square feet. In multiple laboratories, scientists and physicians search for cancer cures for people like Naomi Patoc, a breast cancer survivor.
"We're here to live. I'm not here to die," she said.
Patoc participated in one of the more than 200 clinical trials the cancer center is doing to discover new treatments for the dreaded disease.
"What it means is that they'll be learning more, and helping the condition more, where people can live longer," she said.
The center brings UH cancer researchers from multiple locations under one roof to focus on common cancers like lung, breast and colon cancer.
"But then there are cancers that strike particularly in Hawaii. We have the unfortunate record of being number one in incidents of liver cancer," said director Michele Carbone.
The center is one of only 67 across the U.S. designated by the National Cancer Institute. Carbone said it will attract top researchers.
"Everybody wants to spend some time here because it's such a beautiful place," he said. "We are bringing them here in sabbatical programs, where they work here with our scientists."
The building with its three wings has exam rooms for patients, a conference room that seats 300, and a kitchen where cancer sufferers will learn to get the most from the meals they make. Construction cost $104 million.
Patoc thinks it's worth every penny.
"I have hope. That's how I live every day," she said.
The center is involved in more than 100 cancer studies. Its mission is to reduce the burden of cancer through research. The grand opening is set for Saturday.