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Police Officer Loses Battle With Cancer

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TIMES STAFF WRITER

The cancer had all but conquered Los Angeles Police Officer Paul Cardinet’s radiation-worn body. He hadn’t been on duty for months. His wife, who had married him five months after his chemotherapy failed, now helped him walk from the bed to the couch.

But there he was recently talking to his friend, Officer Isaac Martinez, about promotional exams.

“He loved being a police officer up to and including last month,” Martinez said. “He knew he had terminal cancer when he said: ‘Oh, I’m going to have to start studying for the detectives exam.’ ”

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Cardinet, 42, died at his Van Nuys home Friday afternoon with Martinez holding his left hand and his wife, Jackie Campbell, holding the right.

Cardinet and Campbell were married a year ago this month at the North Hollywood station, where he worked--even after he was diagnosed with cancer.

“It’s OK, Paul, we’re right here,” Martinez recalled Campbell saying. “Don’t be afraid. I’m going to be all right. Isaac and Geno and the other officers are going to take care of me.”

Officer Gene “Geno” Ferone and Martinez spent almost all of last week with Cardinet, taking turns at first and eventually spending nights in the cramped Van Nuys apartment.

Ferone, a gruff-talking, 20-year officer, described his friend of three years as a “solid copper who didn’t complain or bitch--he just did his job.”

“There’s not much else I can tell you,” said Ferone, his voice tight with grief. “He was a solid journeyman policeman--and I’m going to cry, excuse me.”

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Ferone said Cardinet often talked about returning to his job as a police trainer at the North Hollywood station. Officer Allen Kamai, who was working at the station Saturday, said they had reserved a seat of honor for Cardinet in the back of the roll-call room, where officers were given frequent updates on their colleague’s condition.

“Everyone’s bummed,” Kamai said. “It’s very, very sad, but of course the day goes on and you’ve got to handle the calls. Business goes on as always. But he definitely won’t be forgotten. The admirable thing was how long he fought it.”

Cardinet’s cancer was diagnosed in 1996. By March 1997 he was 40 pounds lighter and had suffered through three surgeries and chemotherapy. Despite aggressive treatment, the cancer spread from his colon to his liver.

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He stopped working late last year, but his brothers in blue continued to dote on him. Sometimes, Martinez’s commanding officer would order him to visit Cardinet to watch football games with him and generally lift his spirits.

After a while Martinez and Cardinet became close friends, and it was Martinez who made the radio call announcing the death Friday.

“North Hollywood regrets to announce the death of Police Officer Paul Cardinet,” Martinez said. “Paul just lost his long battle with cancer and will be missed by all.”

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Funeral services will be at 10 a.m. Wednesday at St. Genevieve’s Catholic Church in Panorama City. Cardinet is survived by his wife.

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