HONOLULU (KHON2) — Selfless. It’s the way loved ones describe Debbie Morrow, a Kailua Elementary preschool teacher who dedicated herself to her family and students.

KHON2 first introduced viewers to Morrow back in September, when she had been recently juggling virtual learning for her preschool students while fighting cancer amid the Delta surge of the pandemic.

Check out more news from around Hawaii

Debbie battled until she passed away on July 2.

“She never thought about herself up until the very end she was apologizing for her having cancer and doing this to us,” Morrow’s mom Rendy Perreria said. “Never once thinking about what it was doing to her.”

The mother of four leaves behind her husband Peter and their daughters Faith and Ashley, as well as their sons Jason and Aidan.

“She was just so important to everyone and she was definitely always there for everyone and loved everyone.”

Ashley Morrow, daughter of Debbie Morrow

Debbie had a difficult time getting diagnosed. Her symptoms first came in March of 2020 when hospitals were overwhelmed and many folks were encouraged to do telehealth. Her cough was considered to be caused by asthma, but when that turned into coughing up blood in December of 2020 a test revealed cancer.

Doctors want people to know that even though the virus is still present and hospitals have been filling up for non-COVID reasons, don’t delay getting treatment.

“If you need to go to the hospital you need to go to the hospital and I know the hospitals are working really hard to care for as many people as possible,” Dr. Christine Chun of Hilo Medical Center said. “Things like not having as good of an appetite or weight loss those can be concerning for cancer,”

Debbie’s husband Peter advocated for Debbie the best care possible.

“Just keep pushing, keep advocating for your spouse and loved ones and get the best care that you can and just keep fighting for it,” Peter said.

In Debbie’s case, she found that treatment in California. The funding came in part through donations from family, friends, her school community, and KHON2 viewers who were moved by her story.

“We want to say thank you very much, the outpouring of love prayers, funds that they’re giving us,” Peter said. “I honestly believe that helped extend and gave us more time with her.”

“Thank you for helping us with it and giving us more time to be with my mom. I really really appreciate it,” Debbie’s daughter Faith added.

It also allowed her to do what she loved. The 2018 Windward District teacher of the year taught through her treatment, going to class after grueling chemotherapy sessions.

During remote learning, she spent hours creating a virtual library where her students could pick books that she read to them on video, and even created exercise videos to keep them active.

Her legacy will live on in her classroom.

“She was so proud of that classroom,” said Elizabeth Lalo’ulu Espiritu, whose children were in Mrs. Morrow’s preschool class. “She shared with me that whoever takes over is set, and she’s prepared her room for the next person that comes after her and all the children that come into that classroom after that.”

Get Hawaii’s latest morning news delivered to your inbox, sign up for News 2 You

Debbie’s celebration of life is scheduled for Aug. 6 at Anchor Church in Kaneohe with visitation from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. and service from 11 a.m. to 12 p.m.