Willie K says persistent cough preceded lung cancer diagnosis

MAUI (HawaiiNewsNow) - Entertainer Willie K took the stage at the Maui Arts & Cultural Center's Super Bowl Party on Sunday, despite his ongoing treatment for lung cancer.

In January, doctors diagnosed him with limited stage small cell carcinoma localized to his upper right lung.

"Last year, when I was getting a lot of cough symptoms and stuff, I wanted to find out what was wrong because I had been coughing for about maybe three or four weeks straight," he said.

The 57-year-old, born William Kahaialii, has finished the first of four rounds of chemotherapy.

He is limiting his performances to focus on his treatment.

"I had an emotional moment. It was over pretty quick because I know so many cancer survivors. I'm surrounded by people who fought and survived it," he said.

Friends of the award-winning musician are planning fundraisers on different islands to help offset his medical bills.

"I think it's time for us to do what we can, prayer because it's really powerful, and I think it's time to give back to someone who has been there for everybody," said television host Emme Tomimbang.

For 15 years, Willie K has helped raise funds for Maui Memorial Medical Center's oncology department through a charity golf tournament.

"He has done a lot of fundraisers so now we just turn it around and say, 'Okay, Willie. Here, mahalo,'" said Tomimbang.

Fellow entertainers are ready to rally around him and lift up their voices in support.

"He's such a legend and veteran of Hawaiian music. That's kind of how we do it, Hawaiian entertainers, when somebody is hurting or sick we just all pull together and do what we can," said entertainer Amy Hanaialii.

This story will be updated.

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