Surviving, with help from friends

KAPAA — Melody Pascual and Elaine Morita are getting by with a lot of help from their friends.

Pascual, a resident at the Samuel Mahelona Memorial Hospital, was diagnosed with breast cancer last year.

Morita, a 26-year veteran at the hospital, recently retired after being diagnosed with Adenoid Cystic Carcinoma, a rare cancer.

“It went into remission, twice. I had two surgeries and I thought it was beat, but it came back. I wanted to work longer,” said Morita, who is nearing her 70th birthday. “But I’m just too tired. This is life, you just live day to day.”

Josie Pablo, Mahelona Hospital recreation director, said following Pascual’s diagnosis, residents expressed an interest to support the patient, resulting in the first Mahelona Cancer Walk.

This year, following Morita’s diagnosis and retirement, the numbers grew as the Mahelona Hospital hosted the second Cancer Walk on the multi-use path, Ke Ala Hele Makalae, fronting the Kapaa Neighborhood Center, extending to the Kapaa Beach Park. October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month

“We are here to celebrate your life and to commend you for your courage, strength and ongoing spirit in living life to the fullest,” Pablo said.

Safeway stores donated pink roses as a show of support.

“This is amazing,” said Scott McFarland, Hawaii Health Systems Corp. CEO as he guided three paratransit Kauai Buses carrying patients to the event. “We have double the attendance from last year. Almost every family on Kauai has been touched by cancer.”

Janet and Chuck Nelsen, residents of the Kawaihau Sports Villas, said they are giving back.

“I found a lump at 62 years,” said Janet, whose husband Chuck bears a tattoo of her on his chest. “It’s because of what they did that I’m here, and this is my way of giving back.”

Chuck said when he first heard the news, he was inspired to do the tattoo.

“What would happen if I lost her?” he said. “I found a picture of her from high school and had it tattooed.”

Kathy Koerte, a volunteer with the American Cancer Society and cancer survivor, said cancer can be beat.

“We’re here to show everyone that it’s beatable,” Koerte said. “If it’s caught early, it’s beatable!”


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