State Sen. Dorothy Hukill, R-Port Orange, is ending her re-election bid and entering hospice care after "an aggressive recurrence" of cancer, she announced in a statement Friday.
Hukill started treatment for cervical cancer shortly after her re-election in 2016 and missed the 2017 legislative session and the special session that followed. She came back to the chamber for this year's session but said in her statement that her cancer had recently returned.
Hukill had been absent from the campaign trail in recent weeks, according to the Daytona Beach News-Journal.
In her statement Friday, Hukill said she and her family had chosen to discontinue treatment for the disease and enter hospice care.
"I have so enjoyed serving you and the people of Florida," she wrote. "I have been honored by your friendship and the trust you have placed in me, from my very first term serving on the Ponce Inlet Town Council to the past six years in the Florida Senate."
Hukill, who turned 72 less than two weeks ago, represents parts of northern Brevard County and southern Volusia County. She was opposing Democrat Melissa Martin of Cocoa in the general election.
The New York City native and former public elementary school teacher moved to Florida in 1988 and served as the councilwoman in the town of Ponce Inlet in the mid 1990s. She was the Mayor of Port Orange from 2000 to 2004, after which she was elected to the state House through 2012.
She was then elected to the Senate, where she currently chairs the Senate Education Committee and is vice-chair of the Senate Regulated Industries Committee.
In a statement, Senate President Joe Negron hailed Hukill as "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," he wrote. "On behalf of the Senate, I offer our thoughts and prayers to her and her family in this difficult time."
Incoming Senate President Bill Galvano added: "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 full note on Facebook:
Miami Herald reporter Samantha J. Gross contributed to this report.