Taking Part in Paddle For Life 2016 – Maui to Lanai: Emalia's Story
Mahalo Nui Loa Kakou
Many, many thanks for all of your support this October for the Pacific Cancer Foundation Paddle for Life from Maui to Lana’i. We were, and I still am, overwhelmed with support prior to the event.
Within 72 hours of my decision to participate, friends and family joined together to support Emalia’s wishes, and we raised over $7,000. By the time we returned from a successful voyage, we had raised over $11,000. To this point, we have raised over $12,500 with over 95 donations to Pacific Cancer Foundation and to Na Keiki o Emalia.
This was such a powerful impact by an amazing group of friends and family. Thank you to all on Team We Go supporting Team Emalia. Thank you to the Spalding ohana for setting up our crew, our transportation, everything else, and for so many great family memories over the years.
The event was a huge success all around for every crew and participant. Our crew had a great weekend and my son, Kahalakea, paddled his legs and/or sat in the canoe for over 2 hours on the way to Lana’i. He is a trooper and his mom emanates from his little body and mind. His confidence grows every day and he was truly up to the task to be involved with raising the funds we asked for.
Thank you, thank you, thank you. I am grateful for your support through this and to all of you for the kind words and thoughts that have supported us through our darkest years that we have recently emerged from.
On a very personal note, thank you for reading our story. It was cathartic to finally express feelings and memories that have been bottled up inside of me. Emalia was the only other person that would have known of so many of our great times and adventures. Many of those shared memories passed with Emalia, leaving me with a huge void. This month has truly been my best month since entering the world of cancer. A huge amount of internal anger and helplessness has been lifted just by receiving your supporting words this month.
Our History of Octobers
Here is our final recap of Octobers on our saga.
This October marks the 6th anniversary of Emalia’s initial signs of cancer that went untested and undetected. Pregnant with Kahalakea, we were prancing around NYC. Emalia complained of bleeding and we were scared it was a pregnancy issue. Upon returning home and reporting it, we never received a fecal blood test. For anyone else, please do this Early Cancer Detection screening as a matter of life and death.
It also marks the 3rd anniversary of the valiant effort for a surgery for Emalia to have her colon removed and the majority of her liver removed at Stanford University. That surgery was unsuccessful as they opened Emalia up from sternum to belly button only to discover that the cancer had spread.
This news brought me to my knees in grief as I watched over Kahalakea at a friend’s home near Stanford. Our hope of resetting the clock on our fight against cancer was snatched out of our grasp on that surreal day. So much hope and effort had gone in to over 24 rounds of chemotherapy, therapies to boost her immune system over the prior 14 months.
Emalia would only be fully functioning until January when we courageously entered Hospice Maui care while still keeping hope alive for a last minute trial or benefits from any other remaining options.
She elegantly departed on February 10 of 2014 after seeing Kahalakea leave with a big hug on his way to school. I made it home as she waited to say goodbye and the love of my life left my side less than 15 minutes later in bed at our home on Maui’s North Shore.
The Next Chapter
With this, our next chapter in life will be remembering Emalia and honoring her spirit through our positive actions. Na Keiki o Emalia, Seabury Hall Maunalei Scholarship, Pacific Cancer Foundation, Hospice Maui, and Maui Family YMCA would be our top 6 of groups to support Emalia’s memory.
JB and Kahalakea Guard