Devin Nakasone

Christina O'Connor
Wednesday - December 28, 2011
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Photo courtesy Sharlene Oshiro

When he was just 11 years old, Devin Nakasone was diagnosed with leukemia. He immediately started treatment, going through chemotherapy and taking a range of different medicines. On some days, Nakasone would spend up to eight hours in the hospital. His treatment lasted three and a half years. But, thankfully, when his treatment was complete, Nakasone was cancer-free.

Now, nearly 30 years later, Nakasone has grown into a healthy adult. He works for Hawaii Public Housing and moonlights as a musician. But that’s not to say his childhood battle with cancer didn’t leave lasting scars. Physically, he had fully recovered by the time he was a teenager. But the emotional troubles were just as difficult. While he was sick, he knew that his parents were struggling, too. He began to feel guilty for causing them emotional and financial stress.

While his parents were always loving, he didn’t know how to tell them about the feelings of guilt he had.

“We never did talk about those things,” he says. “Instead, I would lock myself in the bathroom and tell my fears to my rubber ducky.”

As a way to help other families communicate effectively with one another, Nakasone is spearheading the Rubber Ducky Project, which provides children and their families with two rubber ducks. The idea is that the child and a loved one will paint the ducks for one another, exchange the ducks and keep them as a reminder and a promise to communicate with one another.

“The promise is that the child will be able to tell the parent anything they want, and the parent will listen and address concerns, and also talk to the child about anything they want to,” Nakasone says. “With the Rubber Ducky Project, I hope to accomplish stronger families,” he says.

In conjunction with the project, Nakasone has founded an organization called Prayers on Wings, which will begin hosting workshops in January to educate families on maintaining open communication during difficult times. Prayers on Wings also aims to raise money for various charities that support children with cancer.

Nakasone is raising money for The Rubber Ducky Project and Prayers on Wings through his passion for music. You can download his recording of the Rubber Ducky Song on iTunes for 99 cents, or visit for more information on ways to donate and upcoming workshops.

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