Kandice Johns

Kosianjra

Kosianjra is 18 years old and was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia in May 2023 as she was nearing completion of her senior year at Kamehameha Schools on Maui. Kosianjra was living with her mother, Tamara, and younger brother at the time. Shortly after that, the cost of rent was increased significantly by the family’s landlord forcing the family to move out and stay with friends temporarily until they could afford another place. During this time, Kosianjra began her cancer treatment at Kapiolani Medical Center for Women and Children on O’ahu while her mom stayed at Ronald McDonald House and her brother was housed with other relatives on Maui. There is no pediatric cancer care available on Maui so Kosianjra must travel to O’ahu for all of her appointments, tests and treatments, which adds a significant amount of cost and physical/mental exhaustion to managing an already difficult situation.

In the August fires, the temporary housing where Kosianjra and her mom could stay when they were back on Maui in between treatments on O’ahu was burned, so they were placed at the Hyatt. Limited housing inventory has made it impossible to find rental housing on Maui that is affordable for a family of three on a single income – especially while Kosianjra and Tamara must regularly travel and spend extended, unknown amounts of time on O’ahu for her treatment regimen.

Many Maui Fire Relief programs have very narrowly defined qualification criteria, which has hindered Tamara’s ability to obtain housing and financial resources to support them during this challenging time. UVSC’s financial assistance has helped Kosianjra and Tamara relocate to O’ahu and obtain stable housing during Kosianjra’s ongoing treatment for the next six months.

Tamara has continued to maintain her employment by flying back and forth from O’ahu to Maui every few days, often working full day shifts and returning without sleep to be back at Kosianjra’s side while she bravely fights cancer. Recently, Tamara shared her story with American Cancer Society’s national leadership team to bring greater awareness to the experiences, issues, and challenges faced by the Asian American and Pacific Islander communities in Hawai’i that are facing cancer in the aftermath of the Maui fires. The strength, love, determination and resiliency of this family is nothing short of astonishing and UVSC is proud to support them.

February 2024 Update: Kosianjra is now receiving outpatient services and is looking forward to her graduation ceremony soon!

Madoka Franklin

My name is Madoka Franklin. I am a wife and mother of two beautiful children and live in Lanai. I love my family very much and a “beach day” with them is my favorite thing to do.

My family went through medical issues in 2022 and I was their care giver. After my family members had recovered, I was diagnosed with Stage 2 breast cancer when I had my annual mammogram in March 2023.

When I heard the news, my heart was broken because my kids are still young. Also, I was the main provider for our family and I didn’t know what to do with our finances.  I was scared and hopeless. I couldn’t eat or drink anything for couple of weeks, but I had to stand up and get ready to do whatever needed to be done for myself and family.

I had right breast mastectomy in May and chemotherapy in July. When I had chemotherapy, I had to stay on Oahu for three whole months. It was really hard for me being away from the family. I missed their first day of the school, my son’s birthday, basketball game and so on. Thankfully for technology, I was able to maintain my emotional health with daily video calls with them.

My next step is reconstruction surgery and hormonal therapy. I am slowly going back to a regular routine after this surgery, but I will do it a little bit different this time. I will slow down and take care of myself more and enjoy the present moment, especially time with family.

I am really thankful for UVSC with their assistance and also the people on Lanai’s loving support.