PITTSBURGH (CBS) — Pat Padgett fought a brave battle after a heartbreaking diagnosis. He was young, incredibly fit, but he had oral cancer, and it was terminal.

“He kept a sense of humor as long as he could,” said Scott Padgett, Pat’s father. “He fought every day, and he fought to his last breath.”

During that battle, Pat, who never smoked, endured a series of difficult surgeries.

“They removed the majority of his tongue,” said Padgett. “It was brutal, and it’s barbaric, and it’s disfiguring.”

Patrick’s struggle was the inspiration for Dr. Manijeh Goldberg’s research to find a way to shrink oral cancer tumors to avoid those disfiguring surgeries.

“It’s a very nasty cancer,” said Dr. Goldberg.

Dr. Goldberg and her team at Privo Technologies came up with a patch that can fight cancer without the side effects of chemotherapy.

“It even looks like a Band-Aid, doesn’t it?” said Dr. Goldberg. “You place it right where the tumor is.”

Using nano-technology, the chemotherapy drug is wrapped inside tiny particles that are released from the patch and aim only for the cancer.

“So what we’ve worked for seven years on, how do we make sure that healthy cells don’t like these particles, but cancer cells love them,” said Dr. Goldberg.

The patch is in clinical trials right now in Texas and Ohio, and while this potential treatment comes too late for Pat, his father is optimistic that someday it will bring new hope to people facing oral cancer.

“Maybe they can save somebody or help to save somebody, or at least lessen the ravages of the radical surgeries that you never recover from,” Padgett said.

If clinical trials are successful, Dr. Goldberg hopes the technology could work on other cancers. Surgeons could place the bandage inside the body after removing a tumor to kill any remaining cells.