Cub Scout Pack 148, its families and Aeden Valera will be at the Relay for Life Northshore Aug. 12 at the Waioli Park in Hanalei.
“Aeden was admitted to Kapiolani Medical Center for Women and Children on the day Kauai was hosting its Relay for Life in Hanapepe,” said Gilda Valera, Aeden’s mother. “On May 3, he was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia.”
Aeden is a Cub Scout with Pack 148, sponsored by Lihue Christian Church, and has been absent from the planning and preparation for the Northshore Relay.
“When he was diagnosed, treatment started immediately, and we couldn’t come back to Kauai,” Valera said.
“We spent more than a month on Oahu because, despite the chemo treatment taking only a short while, the medical people said we couldn’t leave the island.”
Wednesday night, Aeden and his parents had just gotten off a flight after a chemo treatment, but arrived at the Cub Scout meeting in fine spirits.
Aeden didn’t miss a beat in having fun with his fellow Scouts.
“I just came home from chemo,” the little Cub Scout said. “I’m a little tired.”
But that did not stop him from getting fitted with his costume for the relay.
“People relay for a lot of reasons,” said Patti Ornellas, Kauai senior community development manager for the American Cancer Society.
“My first relay was for my mom. People relay for a lot of reasons — to support someone battling cancer, to remember someone who lost the fight. Cub Pack 148 and Aeden’s family are relaying in support of this little boy.”
Gilda Valera said Aeden is one of two students at Elsie Wilcox Elementary School who recently waged a fight there against cancer.
Shyden Likeke Kaniala Kaneholani-Ponte of Wailua Houselots passed away on July 18 at the age of 9.
“They were in the same hospital,” she said. “But because of medical reasons, they couldn’t even visit each other. They’re both about the same age.”
Back in March, Gilda said she noticed Aeden’s stomach growing bigger.
“He was really big,” she said. “You know, chubby. I told him he needed to try and diet.”
One night, while showering him, Gilda noticed how big he had become. She also noticed a lump on his neck, and became concerned. During that time, he also developed problems with his bowel movements.
A visit to the doctor revealed nothing, and the doctor dismissed the lump as a swollen lymph node. Antibiotics should cure the condition, but a week later, there was no change.
Several weeks later and more visits to the doctors yielded no changes. Aeden lost his appetite to the point where he would only eat a spoonful or two at a time.
“Something told me something was wrong with him,” Gilda said. “I sometimes cried at night, and Aeden told me, ‘But I thought you wanted me to diet.’”
One day, the lump on his neck got more lumps, similar to mumps.
“We brought him to the emergency room,” Gilda said. “They took samples for the Department of Health because of the mumps-like symptoms, but they said it was not mumps.”
Testing for Aeden stopped because of the mumps-like symptoms.
“The doctors wanted to do another test, but said I couldn’t bring him because he had mumps,” she said. “Finally, following DOH clearance, they admitted him to the hospital for testing, and the doctor told me to sit down. He might have cancer,” she said. “Everything was unknown to me. Who wants to hear their child has cancer? The doctor said the cancer might have affected his stomach and kidneys.”
Angel Valera, Aeden’s dad, said that’s when they discovered the charitable nature of businesses and communities. The family was able to stay at the Ronald McDonald House in Honolulu.
“We came home for three days, and it was back to Oahu for another two weeks,” Gilda said. “I told my husband I needed to go back to work already. The bills were starting to come in.”
Angel said it appeared the chemo was helping Aeden — until he had a reaction.
“They had to stop chemo because he was throwing up,” Gilda said. “When they stopped the treatment, the new medication is equivalent to six times, which means we go to Honolulu three times a week, flying out in the morning, getting the treatment, then coming home.”
Gilda said the treatment is predicted to take up to 30 months.
“No child should have to go through this,” Gilda said.