Breast cancer survivors (from left) Thu, Christine and Hanna formed an unbreakable bond during their treatment that continues to this day.

Christine Song

Wall of Hope: Stories of Courage & Inspiration


A breast cancer diagnosis can be confusing, frightening and lonely. Having someone to lean on makes it a lot less scary, and going through the experience together with someone creates an indescribable, unbreakable bond. That’s what breast cancer survivors Christine Song, ThuTrang Inouye and Hanna Dow have found in each other.

Though they had known each other as teenagers, the three women were reconnected during the most unlikely of times – while each were going through breast cancer treatment at Kapiolani Medical Center for Women & Children. Their doctors linked them together as they were all around the same ages, just 34 and 35.

“We bonded and became cancer sisters,” says Christine. “Still to this day, we are in contact.”

Christine was diagnosed with triple negative breast cancer when she was 35 years old. At the time, she was 22 weeks pregnant with her first child and discovered a small lump in her breast. She initially thought it was a clogged milk duct, but when the lump didn’t go away – in fact, it quickly grew in size – she asked her obstetrician for a referral for a biopsy. The test revealed she had cancer.

“I was very confused and scared,” Christine remembers. “I imagined it would be all happy thoughts and a smooth pregnancy. No one would have imagined being diagnosed with cancer while pregnant.”

Despite her shock, Christine says the phone call from her breast surgeon, Dr. Laura Peterson, gave her the encouragement she needed to move forward.

“She was very sensitive and told me she already had a treatment plan ready to go,” Christine says. “She assured me that I was in good hands and that I was going to beat this.”

What followed were eight rounds of chemotherapy and a lumpectomy. Christine’s top concern was the health of her unborn baby, but breast medical oncologist Dr. Jami Fukui assured Christine that the dosage was safe for both mother and baby.

Christine’s treatment lasted a year and a half, during which time she gave birth to a healthy baby girl. She credits her cancer care team for helping her feel comfortable and supported the entire time.

“My care team was nothing but positive during my whole treatment,” Christine says. “I had a lot of laughter and positive energy, and I thank them for my being alive today and beating cancer.”

Christine also is grateful that her care team connected her with Hanna and Thu.

Similarly to Christine, Hanna was diagnosed with triple negative breast cancer. She received the news when she was 35, right before Mother’s Day. Her baby was only 8 months old.

“I was in shock and confused,” Hanna says. “I was also scared because I wondered if I would be around for my children.”

Hanna underwent a few months of chemotherapy and says the team at Kapiolani made each appointment a positive one thanks to their friendly, welcoming demeanor.

“I trusted the team I had,” she says.

Thu was diagnosed with Stage 2 ER-positive HER2-positive breast cancer around the time that her daughter turned 1 year old. She found a small, hard lump in her left breast and assumed it was mastitis because she was still breastfeeding. When it didn’t go away, she scheduled an ultrasound and mammogram. A biopsy confirmed the worst.

“After receiving the call, I was speechless,” she says. “I was hoping this was all a bad dream and that I would wake up in a bit and that it wasn’t real. But it was real.”

What followed was a year-and-a-half of treatments that included chemotherapy, a double mastectomy with reconstruction surgery, targeted therapies and infusion treatment.

“They also offered emotional dog support, reiki healing and breast cancer support groups,” Thu says. “I have made lots of friends and still keep in touch with local young breast cancer patients. Every patient has been so helpful and supportive through my treatments.” 

That includes her friendship with Hanna and Christine. The trio continues to get together regularly to support each other through life’s milestones.

Hanna recently had another baby and has a renewed zest for life.

“I am so happy to be alive,” Hanna says. “Everything happens for a reason and through this journey, I learned why this happened to me. Every day I realize how lucky I am to be given a second chance in life.”

Now three years in remission, Christine continues to receive preventive care at Kapiolani. In February 2023, she celebrated the arrival of her second child.

“It is scary what we have to go through during treatment, but we have to be positive and fight hard,” Christine says. “The medical team at Kapi‘olani knows what they are doing, and I would trust my life with them anytime, and for the rest of my life.”



Published on: April 17, 2023