Sen. Dorothy Hukill, R-Port Orange, who missed the whole of the 2017 legislative session battling cervical cancer, has had a recurrence of the disease. She wrote in a Friday Facebook post that she will seek hospice care.
“Unfortunately, I have recently experienced an aggressive recurrence of this cancer,” Hukill said. “Along with my family, I have made the difficult decision to enter hospice care and no longer seek treatment ...”
She said it means she must withdraw from her Republican-leaning District 14 re-election race in which she was heavily favored. District 14 covers southern Volusia County and northern Brevard County, including DeLand, Deltona, Titusville and Cocoa.
Four hours after her Facebook posting, Hukill had received 491 comments and 91 shares.
Senate President Joe Negron delivered the news to Hukill's Senate colleagues and a personal statement of concern in a solemn note.
"Today, I share with you the news Senator Hukill is again facing serious health issues," Negron wrote. "Senator Hukill is a tireless, passionate and selfless advocate for her constituents. Even in her times of greatest medical challenge, she has remained steadfast in representing her community. On behalf of the Senate, I offer our thoughts and prayers to her and her family in this difficult time."
After her year of cancer treatment, Hukill, 72, returned to the Senate in 2018 and chaired the Senate Education Committee.
Hukill was set to face Cocoa Democrat Melissa Martin, a retired Marine Corps major and an organizational leader on anti-corruption and environmental issues.
Martin told the Orlando Sentinel, “I’m devastated. My thoughts and prayers are with her and her family and her friends. It’s hard to even think about the campaign today.”
Following the resignation, local Republican officials will follow procedure, meeting to determine who will stand in her place. The ballot won't change, Hukill's name will still appear, but voters will receive a notice saying a vote for Sen. Dorothy Hukill will count for her replacement.
The Sentinel also was able to reach incoming Senate President Bill Galvano, R-Bradenton. “I am deeply saddened by the news today from Senator Hukill’s family on her declining health,” Galvano, R-Bradenton, told the newspaper. “Dorothy is a longtime, dear friend and my heart breaks at this news. I know my friend to be a fighter and she has battled this terrible disease with everything she has. Julie and I send our prayers to Dorothy and her family at his time.”
Hukill's public service career began as mayor of Port Orange and as a council member for Ponce Inlet. She was first elected to the Florida House in 2004, then moved to the Senate in 2012.
Hukill left on the Facebook post heartfelt thanks to all in her life.
“I have so enjoyed serving you and the people of Florida,” Hukill wrote. “To all of my friends, supporters, constituents, colleagues, and my dedicated staff who have all done so much on behalf of the people we've served: thank you from the bottom of my heart.”
Reach Nancy Smith at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 228-282-2423. Twitter: @NancyLBSmith