Lending Kokua To Keiki With Cancer
Wednesday - August 26, 2009 Share
By Dale Saito, President
Hawaii Children’s Cancer Foundation
Every year in Hawaii, more than 60 children are diagnosed with cancer - and the number keeps growing. In 1991, after a statewide study showed that the needs of children diagnosed with cancer were not being met, a group of parents and medical providers formed Hawaii Children’s Cancer Foundation, HCCF.
HCCF is an IRS 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation. Services and programs are provided entirely free to children and their families, including financial assistance, social events, education and advocacy. This year alone HCCF has assisted 93 families.
“HCCF was there for us every step of the way,” says Wanda Yonamine, whose son Daniel Perreira was 2 years old when he was diagnosed with Stage Four Neuroblastoma.
At Kapiolani hospital, Wanda was introduced to HCCF by a social worker. “We were given a kokua basket that included a teddy bear, flashlight and information about childhood cancer and HCCF,” she says. “Although nothing could ease the shock of the diagnosis, we were glad to find out about HCCF.”
After undergoing chemotherapy, surgery, a stem-cell transplant and radiation therapy, Daniel returned home to Maui. But soon he started complaining of headaches. He was flown back to Kapiolani, where they discovered Daniel had a tumor that was bleeding in his brain.
“The doctor told us that there was nothing else they could do for him,” Wanda says.
“Daniel hated being in the hospital, so I asked if we could bring Daniel back home to Maui. When no commercial airline would allow us to travel on their planes, HCCF arranged to bring Daniel home on a Hawaii Air Ambulance,” Wanda says.
Daniel passed away two days later, in his own bed, surrounded by his family. “HCCF helped Daniel and me so much, especially with our travel expenses since we are from Maui. I am extremely grateful for their support.”
“One of my lasting memories of Daniel was at the Maui County Fair,” Wanda recalls. “We were on the helicopter ride and I asked him if he was having fun. He said, ‘Yah, I love you, Mommy.’ I would give anything to have just one more day with him.”
You can help HCCF help Hawaii’s children diagnosed with cancer by visiting its website at www.HCCF.org or sending a check to 1814 Liliha St., Honolulu, HI 96817. All mony donated to HCCF remains in Hawaii.
FYI: September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. Join HCCF at the Honolulu Zoo for its annual “Jungle Adventure” event presented by Team Praxis on Sept. 13 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Enjoy free rides, games, prizes and entertainment.
Visit www.HCCF.org for more details.
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