COVID-19 adds another layer of complexity for Neighbor Island cancer patients

Coronavirus adds another layer of complexity for neighbor island cancer patients

HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - While many are avoiding travel during the pandemic, some families with children diagnosed with cancer don’t have a choice.

The Kawasaki family hops on a plane at least once a month for 10-year-old Paige’s leukemia treatment.

Paige was diagnosed in 2018 with acute lymphocytic leukemia, and her family needs to travel to Kapiolani Medical Center to receive treatment.

“She has Down syndrome, so she takes a lot of things in stride,” said Paige’s father, Jordan Kawasaki. “She’s really tough and she puts up with a lot.”

Kawasaki said she just finished her last spinal-tap surgery and is scheduled for her last chemotherapy treatment.

“She has oral chemotherapy for another couple of weeks, and then it’s time to stop,” said her physician, Dr. Darryl Glaser, Kapiolani Medical Center hematologist and oncologist. “And then we just keep a really close eye.”

Glaser said a number of families like Paige’s have to travel from neighbor islands for treatment.

“It’s hard enough before the pandemic just getting here,” he said. “With different islands having different rules for isolating and quarantining afterward, having the get COVID testing, the fear of getting on a plane, all of that adds a lot of stress.”

Glaser said the families he has worked with have also suffered financially because of the pandemic.

Paige’s family received financial help through the Hawaii Children’s Cancer Foundation.

“We got connected with HCCF,” Kawasaki said. “And that was a really good help for us because it took some load off with all these added expenses.”

If you would like to help families like Paige’s you can donate to the Hawaii Children’s Cancer Foundation by going to their website.

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