Jamil Newirth

Kahalau Au Hoon

Kahalau Au Hoon – a fun-loving, adorable three year old from Maui

I’m Kahalu’s mom, Rachel Ray Au Hoon. Our story is one about love and family! Duke, Kahalau’s dad, and I met in high school and were even prom sweethearts! Kahalau is our second child born in May, 2014 on our home island of Maui. We wanted to spend more time with our two children, Kahalau and Honi Honi, and thus decided to quit our jobs to open our own art business. We started in open air market venues but within a year I was able to get my artwork into 10 galleries and 4 restaurants and we now have a small gallery in Kahului, Maui called U’i Gallery.

Our family was living a happy life on Maui when in June 2017 we noticed something wasn’t right with Kahalau. One weekend during a family outing, Kahalau who had recently been unstable on her feet at times, couldn’t even stand up. Something obviously was not right but we had no idea what it could be. Why was our perfectly rambunctious little 3 year old seemingly deteriorating before our eyes? We had taken her to the doctor several times because she was unable to maintain balance and was very fussy at times. It was labeled as ataxia and lactose intolerance.

I decided that weekend that it was time to go to the emergency room and figure out why my child was so sick, why she was walking irregularly and suffering leg pain. Cancer didn’t even come to mind, we thought maybe it was vertigo or some type of infection.

A scan of her brain at Maui Memorial didn’t reveal anything. Since nothing was found, we were flown to Kaiser Moanalua to get more detailed imaging of her brain. An MRI, however, found nothing. They even did a spinal tap and still found nothing, so I asked for a CT and MRI of her abdomen because she had also been complaining about her stomach a little as well. Duke and Honi Honi flew over that week for the results.

As I held Kahalau in my arms recovering from sedation and feeling awful the doctor went over the CT scan results and showed us a very large mass that covered her entire abdomen across her stomach and kidneys. We cried in disbelief but had to be transferred to Kapiolani Hospital for a biopsy. Finally after two weeks of living in the hospital, Kahalau’s diagnosis was confirmed as Neuroblastoma Stage 3 High Risk. The next day she started her first round of chemotherapy on a clinical trial with frontline treatment in addition to targeted molecular medicine.

Kahalau was such a trooper every step of the way. After her first round of chemo, we were discharged and went to stay at the Ronald McDonald House. While there her count recovered and she walked more than she had in a month. She was starting to be a happy and active child again. After another round of chemotherapy, we saw more improvement in her walking and she began to eat more.

Kahalau is still undergoing chemotherapy treatment but remains active and is known to inspire other patients at the hospital. One Mom commented how her son did not want to walk for a few days and seeing Kahalau playing in the halls with her IV Pole made him walk more than he did in a while! She still has her tough days but she is so strong and pulls through even managing to display her silly personality, laughter and love of singing.

We are look forward to the day our daughter is no longer in the hospital fighting cancer and we are honored and excited to have UVSC at our side.

Tekaurinuiotekaupapawaka Kaʻuluku Hideo Tanaka

If you ask Tekauri what his favorite color is he will tell you, “all the colors are my favorite colors.” Tekauri sees the world through a unique and original lens that is beautifully and always positive.

In December of 2020, Tekauriʻs mom and dad noticed a lazy eye and took Tekauri to get glasses but that did not seem to help little Tekauri. They took Tekauri back to the doctor a few weeks later because he was now having trouble with his balance. While Tekauri was in the hospital in January of 2021, an MRI revealed a large tumor located in Tekauri’s brain stem. Tekauri and his mom were immediately transported via medivac to Kapiolani Hospital on Oahu where two days later Tekauri underwent surgery to remove the cancerous tumor.

Prior to the surgery, Tekauri was entertaining all the nurses and bragging about the cool things he could make in minecraft. After the surgery, however, Tekauri was unable to talk, swallow, or move his body. Mom and dad found out the fast growing tumor was a malignant and rare type of cancer. The fast growing nature of his type of tumor made it important that Tekauri begin treatment within 4 weeks to improve his chances for survival. Therefore, Tekauri statyed in the hospital where he turned 6 years old. The nurses made a special poster for him, family and friends sent gifts. Tekauri left Kapiolani to begin his six week treatment of Proton radiation and chemotherapy in Seattle where he had to have special support to help keep his head up as he was not able to hold his own head up, walk, or move his arms.

While in Seattle, Tekauri pushed through radiation and chemotherapy. As part of his proton radiation treatment he had to wear a special mask to keep his head still. The nurses decorated the mask into Tekauriʻs favorite cartoon character. Tekauri continues to heal and he no longer needs a neck brace and he has began moving more and can now walk slowly. Three weeks into treatment in Seattle his brother, Kalaeʻula, and sister, Kamani, came up to stay with him as well as his grandparents. Tekauriʻs health and overall well being improved by having his siblings and grandparents around, he was happier and more motivated to move and do things. Tekauri spent a lot of time sitting next to his grandpa on the couch watching basketball games or sitting along the edge of the lake. Unfortunately, grandpa passed away unexpectedly of a heart attack while in Seattle. On April 23, 2021 Tekauri and his family returned home to Hawaii after spending eight weeks away. They stayed beyond the six weeks in order for Tekauri to receive intensive physical, speech, and occupational therapy at Seattle Childrenʻs Hospital.

Tekauri has since begun his 11 month maintenance chemotherapy plan and is receiving treatment on Oahu at Kapiolani. He continues to progress and the family is confident that one day he will be walking and talking normally on his own. Mom, Kala Baybayan Tanaka, is a community teacher of Hawaiian voyaging and navigation, she is a navigator and crew member on voyaging canoes Hokuleʻa, Hikianalia, and Moʻokiha. Dad, Daniel Tanaka, works in the Mauna Kahalawai watershed (West Maui) as a conservationist, both parents have taken leave from their work to focus on Tekauri and their family.

Tekauriʻs mom believes that all children battling cancer are heroes and she continues to learn so much from her own son’s fight. She, along with her family and friends are inspired daily by Tekauri’s strength, love and resilience. UVSC, along with the entire Maui community, stands beside them to help provide that much needed strength and hope.

James Gonzalez-Wesley

James Gonzalez-Wesley is a sweet, affectionate 4 year old boy with a playful laugh and dimples that bring a smile and joy to everyone he meets. Little James loves to sing songs, go to the beach, pop water balloons and play with his family and friends.

James’ parents, Matias Gonzalez-Wesley and Malia Lonzaga, first noticed he wasn’t gaining weight, he looked pale and was less playful. He would not run around as usual and complained that his legs hurt. His parents took James in for a blood test and the results were alarming and indicative of possible cancer. James and his parents raced to Oahu where he was diagnosed via a bone marrow test with b-ALL Leukemia on 1/21/20. The following day little James began an intensive chemotherapy regimen that involves 5 chemo drugs (plus others to control side effects), multiple spinal taps and bone marrow tests, and the insertion of a central line i.v. “port” to deliver fluids and chemo directly into his heart.

His parents have not left his side. The family is experiencing the tremendous hardship of being away from the support of family and friends and they are unable to work. They are, however, determined to face this challenge with bravery and optimism and they will do everything they can to comfort and care for their child, while trusting that God has a plan for James.

James, although weak from treatment, still manages moments of humor and tender sweetness. The hospital nurses continuously comment on what a cooperative patient little James is, as he extends his arm out for yet another blood test.   Before becoming ill, James would play Doctor with his stuffed animals, carefully checking their vital signs with a pretend stethoscopes and thermometers. Now, during treatment, he has an intense curiosity and intently watches what the doctors and nurses are doing and his family can’t help but wonder if his future lies in the field of healing and helping others.

James’ family looks forward to the day that he will be home & back to playing doctor with his usual enthusiasm. Although this is not a journey the family would choose to take, they are so grateful that they do not have to walk it alone. With UVSC and the love and support of the community, the family hopes and plans for a bright future for little James.

Tavin Hashimoto

Tavin Hashimoto is a nine year old fun-loving, upcountry Maui boy who loves to help on his grandpa’s farm.

Tavin Hashimoto is the nine year old son of Davin and Tammi-Lynn Hashimoto. The Hashimotos live in Kula, Maui with Tavin and his two younger siblings. In March of 2017 the family was devastated to learn that young Tavin had Acute Myeloid Leukemia, an aggressive form of leukemia. The family immediately flew to Kapiolani Hospital on Oahu and started his grueling treatment plan.

Tavin was tough and endured long hospital stays and a lengthy, painful chemotherapy schedule. During it all, Tavin remained positive and playful and in October 2017, the family was told that the treatment had worked and Tavin was in remission. It wasn’t long, however, until the family received the unfortunate news that Tavin’s cancer had returned. While the treatment had worked the first time around, it was extremely taxing on little Tavin’s body and immune system. Even with that painful experience, Tavin remains tough and ready to fight cancer for the second time. The family is praying that a new, more aggressive chemotherapy regime will be effective and allow Tavin to undergo a bone marrow transplant as soon as possible.

When not fighting cancer, little Tavin likes to play outside with his siblings or help his grandfather on the family farm. Tavin is tough, never complains, and is still joyful to be around. Tavin is a young optimistic Maui boy courageously fighting aggressive cancer for the second time in his young life. He knows he will beat cancer again and if you ask him how he knows, he will answer because “God’s got me.” Tavin has spent his last two birthdays in the hospital but rather than complain, he makes up for it by enjoying the limited time he spends at home these days. We all need to support little Tavin, so he can once again beat cancer and just enjoy his childhood with his family. #tavintough #lovebeatscancer #uvscfamily.

Christa Wittmier: A Honolulu Legend

Christa Wittmier, a Honolulu legend, was diagnosed with late stage IDC in left breast with metastasis to lymph nodes and lungs in May of 2015. By September of that same year she showed no signs of cancer. However, in May 2016, the cancer returned more aggressively. She was diagnosed with Stage IV Breast Cancer and it also moved to her liver, lungs and brain. She underwent hormone therapy and finished whole brain radiation with regular scans to stay on top of the metastasis.

Contrast Magazine called her “the most important person in Hawai’i’s nightlife.”

FLUX Magazine confirmed she paid her dues as far as the industry is concerned and has helped countless promoters, musicians, DJs, and clubs especially in Chinatown.

BJPenn.com said “Chances are that this dynamic woman has had an influence in the Hawaii life you love.”

Christa, also known as “supercw” was a DJ, Columnist, and Marketing Director. Her nightlife website has intimately depicted many era’s of the scene as far back as 2005. Its content has appeared as it’s own TV segment, radio show, magazine column and won many awards.

She was a founding director for the POW! WOW! Hawaii arts festival, and the creator of many popular signature events on Oahu. Her end of the year awards blog post and accompanying events garnered many avid readers and fans.

In 2015 after a late stage breast cancer diagnosis, Christa took to social media to share her journey, notably taking an integrative approach to her treatment. Combining natural, Eastern and Western treatments she shocked everyone by showing no traces of any cancer after 12 weeks. She detailed everything she did in a viral YouTube video and wrote a free paper “A Cancer Plan of Attack” shared Google doc which has already helped thousands across the world. She also caught the attention of local press who featured both her treatment regimens and her events post-cancer to help other cancer patients.

With the response of her YouTube video of her Snapchat Story and TEDxHonolulu appearance Christa began filming her documentary “Invisible Illness” in October of 2015.

Sadly, in January of 2019, we lost Christa, but her love and memory has encouraged us and many others to keep fighting!  #lovebeatscancer #cwstrong #weloveyouchrista

Blythe Tai-Arthur

Blythe is a full-time single mother to four young sons, Kohdy (12), Kayzn (4), Kaleb (3), and Keanu (1), with whom she loves taking on beach adventures. She was also very career-driven and enjoyed several years as a Target Executive. She’s got a magnetic personality, making friends wherever she goes and is the type of friend that’s always there for you, no matter what. Those close to Blythe know she’s also the life of the party, always singing, dancing, and making everyone laugh.

Blythe’s health took a turn when she had her gallbladder removed in the summer of 2021, when doctor’s misdiagnosed a gallstone. Unfortunately, this turned out to be a tumor. A week later, Blythe was diagnosed with stage 3 gallbladder cancer, a very unpredictable, rare, and aggressive type of cancer. Shortly thereafter, a scan revealed cancer cells found on part of her liver, closest to where the gallbladder lay. Castle surgeons performed a liver recession surgery with robotic assistance to remove the cancerous cells. Her oncologist decided to start chemotherapy treatment in hopes of eliminating any remaining cancer cells.

After two months of treatment, another scan revealed the cancer spread throughout her abdomen. Blythe was put on a more aggressive chemotherapy treatment plan. And a few months later, another body scan revealed the cancer had spread across her liver, causing liver failure. Doctors gave her three months to live.

Blythe continues to struggle and UVSC, and the community, remembers all the times Blythe was our friend that we turned to in times need. She has always been there for us, and it’s our turn to rally support for her.

Trucker Dukes

Trucker Dukes, the youngest son of Maui fire fighter Joshua Dukes and Maui jewelry maker Shauna Dukes, was diagnosed with Stage IV neuroblastoma, an aggressive cancer that spread to 50% of his body. The 3 year old has an older sister and two older brothers and has been undergoing painful cancer treatments almost his entire life.

“A few months before I took him to the doctor he had a fever for a week,” Shauna said. “His molars were coming in, so I thought, ‘Man, he’s just a fussy teether.’ Later, we found out that it is really common for neuroblastoma patients to have a fever.” Trucker’s fever and irritability returned a few weeks later and Shauna’s mom noticed that his stomach looked distended.

“He’s always had a big ‘opu, he’s a really good eater, so I didn’t think too much of it,” Shauna said. “My mom felt his stomach, she’s actually the one who found it. It was hard as a rock.” Shauna took him to the pediatrician that morning on November 24, 2014.

“He also had a little black eye, and the doctor asked how he got it. I didn’t know. Now in retrospect, I know that black eyes are signs of neuroblastoma and I think that is what alerted the doctor.” Shauna continues, “I expected her to say, ‘He has an infection, go home, here are some antibiotics.’” Instead, Shauna was told he had a big mass in his stomach and more tests on Oahu were needed. A low hemoglobin count required a blood transfusion on Maui “I feel like I haven’t really woke up from the nightmare ever since.”

“The shock of your baby having a blood transfusion is huge. Now he’s had eight and chemo. It’s amazing how you adjust to your new normal. I was freaking out one day when I was talking to the oncologist,” Shauna said. “Under normal circumstances, you would never give your kid this much stuff.”

The oncologist asked her if she surfed. Shauna, a surfer who met Joshua while surfing at Honolua Bay in 2004, said yes. The doctor said that he was not a good surfer and when he falls off a wave into the white wash, he feels like he’s never going to come up. Then he relaxes and pops right up. “He told me, ‘Well, you’re in the white wash right now. You need to relax and accept your new normal and then you’ll be able to breathe,” Shauna said. “He’s so right. If they are not giving him all these medications then he’s going to lose his life. It is so scary, the thought of giving him chemo. They are trying to save his life. I’m trying to let go of my old normal. I’m still letting go.”

“People tell me, ‘You’re so strong’ but you don’t have a choice,” Shauna said. “I just say, ‘Thank you.’ I don’t know what else to say. When you’re in it, you just do what you have to. There are no other options. You have to be strong.”

Trucker was under the care of doctors at Memorial Hospital in New York City. During treatments, Trucker and his mom lived at the New York City Ronald McDonald House.

Trucker is recovering from a brain surgery to remove a tumor followed by radiation treatment to his brain and spine.

Trucker Dukes, the 3-year-old son of a Maui Fire Fighter, became an honorary Maui Fire Fighter on December 14, 2015.

“I, Trucker, Honorary Firefighter for the County of Maui, Department of Fire and Public Safety, do solemnly swear on this 14th day of December, 2015, to fight hard against cancer, to love my parents, family, and friends, to continue to be as strong and brave as I have been for the past year, to light up the lives of everyone around me with my smile and laugh, and to never lose my hope or my spirit, so help me God.”

Most recently, Trucker has not been feeling well at all and really needs all of our help and support! #TeamTrucker #lovebeatscancer #coolestlittlecancerfighter #weloveyoutrucker