Cancer Patient Stays Positive Despite Long Odds

Sharnell Onaga
Sharnell Onaga
Roy Yonashiro,
Roy Yonashiro,

Oct 14, 2006 08:05 PM

by Stephen Florino

(KHNL) - Her chances of finding a match are slim, but that isn't stopping Sharnell Onaga from staying positive. We first told Sharnell's story, when she talked story with us.

She's a mother of two, with a third baby on the way. And she was just diagnosed with an aggressive form of leukemia.

"There are times where you can't believe it's you," said Sharnell Onaga. "You think about it, and they're talking about it. It's strange."

Family and friends are helping, by helping the Hawaii Bone Marrow Donor Registry with a drive Saturday at Kapiolani Park. It was during the Hispanic Festival. Onaga is half Puerto Rican, half Portuguese.

Organizers say it was a good turnout, but the odds of finding a match are against Onaga.

"They tested 6.6 million people and no one matched, so it's just like winning the lottery," said Onaga.

"But if you do, you have the chance of a lifetime, to give someone that opportunity to try again, and have a second chance on life," said Roy Yonashiro, of the Hawaii Bone Marrow Donor Registry.

Yonashiro says more people are also registering because samples are now taken with a swab, versus a needle.

"A lot of people who had aversions to finger prick or needles, they don't mind donating bone marrow later on cause there's no needles involved in that," said Yonashiro.

The process of potential donors being listed on the registry takes two months. So for now, Onaga can only wait. And she'll be doing it with a smile.

"Have lots of hope," said Onaga. "Lots of friends, lots of support from family and lots of prayer, so we're gonna get through this."

And hopefully, her name will be called in the lottery.

Onaga says right now, her baby is fine. So she plans to start chemotherapy after she gives birth.

there will be more drives and fundraisers in the future.

To find out how you can help:

Sharnell Onaga's website

Hawaii Bone Marrow Donor Registry Website