Kahalau Au Hoon

Wall of Hope: Stories of Courage & Inspiration

People

For the first three years of her life, Kahalau Au Hoon was a happy and active child who kept her parents busy running after her, as most toddlers do. Then, shortly after her third birthday, she began experiencing balance issues and eventually lost the ability to walk.

The Maui family traveled to Kapi‘olani Medical Center for Women & Children where Kahalau was diagnosed with stage 3 neuroblastoma. Leg weakness is one of the symptoms of this rare pediatric cancer most common in children ages 5 and younger. A tumor discovered in her abdomen confirmed the diagnosis. At such a young age, Kahalau struggled to process everything that was happening to her.

I was angry and scared, because I couldn’t go home.” 

Kahalau and her family settled in for the long road ahead. After six rounds of chemotherapy, Kahalau’s treatment continued with an autologous stem cell transplant and six rounds of immunotherapy. She also underwent radiation therapy at another medical center and a 10-hour surgery at Seattle Children’s Hospital.

Her Kapi‘olani medical team, led by pediatric oncologist Dr. Darryl Glaser, was and continues to be a constant source of support and encouragement amidst the endless treatments.

“Dr. Glaser is a good doctor, and the nurses who took time to get to know us really helped make the experience more positive and made us feel welcome, especially since we had to be there for so long!” Kahalau says.

One of Kapiʻolani’s former furry team members had an especially memorable impact on Kahalau’s experience during her hospitalization.

“Winnie the hospital dog made my stay so much better,” she remembers. “I loved being able to pet her.”

Now 6 years old, Kahalau is on a trial drug to help prevent a relapse during this maintenance phase. She’s also just completed her very first year in school and is preparing to enter the first grade as an active, normal kid.

For all of the young children out there who are facing a similar health challenge, Kahalau has some words of advice.

“Never give up!” she says. “Always find the blessing out of any adversity. No matter what happens, aloha should be your primary motivation to carry you through it all.”

Published on: December 8, 2020