Laulima: Fishpond volunteers as young as 8 battle cancer

laulima-fishpond-shore-cancer-volunteer


Volunteers in Windward Oahu are all too familiar with the season of giving, but they could use some help this holiday season.

Shore seems to be the perfect name for an 8-year-old who loves the water. She and her family volunteer at the 800-year-old He‘eia Fishpond.

Shore’s mother, Jazmin Hong, fiercely nurtures a healthy and active life for her four children, soon to be five, “focusing on aina-based learning and promoting kids to have skills to feed themselves, so the fishpond is a big influence and part of that.”

But as Hong learned, cancer spares no lifestyle.

“(Shore) was in the middle of diving, snorkeling and farming, and she seemed perfectly normal. She just had a distended stomach, but nothing to complain of or anything,” Hong said. “But I just felt like something was wrong so I just kept taking her back to the doctor.”

Shore was diagnosed with stage three Burkitt lymphoma, a rapidly progressing cancer that starts in immune cells. Shore began three months of intense chemotherapy and scans now show she’s tumor-free.

“The one thing that she just wants to feel normal,” Hong said.

Fishing out predators is normal for Shore. Every second and fourth Saturday mornings of the month, the non-profit Paepae o He‘eia invites the public to do the same and dozens showed up.

On this day, Paepae gave all proceeds to Shore and her family, and other volunteers battling cancer.

“There’s also two other families that do a lot for our fishpond, for our family,” explained Kanaloa Bishop, Paepae O He‘eia educational coordinator, “so we wanted to do a little something for them.”

We can do a little something too. One volunteer was diagnosed with stomach cancer at age 19. Some pampering that she can’t afford would offer a break from treatments, maybe a spa day, movie tickets, a dinner.

Another volunteer is fighting breast cancer. With medical bills piling up, a gas card and perhaps a Christmas dinner for the ‘ohana would help.

As for Shore, she’s been wanting to explore the water slides at Aulani. All the children could use wet suits. A gas card and groceries would help Mom and Dad, plus a baby carrier.

These volunteers at the fishpond give their time and receive the healing power of an extended family.

“Our community’s been one of the biggest reasons we’ve made it through,” Hong said.

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