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Florida Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis presents a check to the Moffitt Cancer Center team.

Today, Florida Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis awarded $149,000 in unclaimed property to Moffitt Cancer Center. He presented a check to Moffitt’s Dr. Brian Czerniecki and Dr. John Cleveland. He also highlighted Breast Cancer Awareness Month because the disease has hit so close to home.

His wife, Katie, was diagnosed with early stage breast cancer in 2018 after her first screening mammogram at age 40. Czerniecki performed a lumpectomy on Oct. 10, 2018, the same day that category 5 Hurricane Michael hit the Florida Panhandle, where the Patronises call home.

Five years later, Katie is doing well and ensures she gets her annual mammogram and MRI. That’s also why Jimmy Patronis is encouraging women to get their breast cancer screenings.

“Just five years ago, I sat here beside my wife, Katie, at Moffitt as she underwent breast cancer surgery. Her battle with breast cancer taught me that life is precious, and October is an important time to remember all those we have tragically lost to breast cancer and all those who survived through sheer strength and God’s grace. I encourage Floridians to schedule an appointment for a breast cancer screening today,” Jimmy Patronis said.

Moffitt is focused not only on treating cancer, but also on the innovative research that will drive a cure. Czerniecki, chair of the Department of Breast Oncology at Moffitt, shared some of the research under way. Investigators are injecting viruses that help activate the immune system to fight triple-negative breast cancer, improving survival and decreasing recurrence when given before surgery. Researchers are also injecting specialized antigen presenting cells into a breast tumor and watching tumors “melt” before giving chemotherapy.

“We are trying to approach a day where we won’t need to give chemotherapy and have women lose their hair,” Czerniecki said.

The cancer center serves approximately 11 million patients across the state of Florida, and a top priority is to bring mobile screenings to even more Floridians.

“Unfortunately in Florida, we lose 50,000 citizens to cancer every year, which is the second highest in the nation. If we do early screenings, we can save half the lives of the number of Floridians who die of this disease,” said Cleveland, executive vice president, center director and chief scientific officer at Moffitt. “Moffitt is 100% laser focused on the prevention of all cancers.”

Since Patronis took office in 2017, more than $2.1 billion in unclaimed property has been returned to Florida citizens and businesses. Check