Ronald McDonald House
The Name “Ikaika” Means “Strength” in Hawaiian
By Gene Davis
Ikaika Ko’omoa loves living in Lower Nahiku, Maui, with its slow pace and wide open spaces. At home on the Valley Isle, the 14–year–old is surrounded by a large and supportive family. Life is good in Lower Nahiku, and the future is ripe with possibilities for a young man with Ikaika’s bright mind, big heart and good looks. He just has to deal with a couple of obstacles that has been placed before him before he can reach his full stride—subcutaneous panniculitis–like t–cell lymphoma—a rare form of cancer that he was diagnosed with in 2009, and the heart condition he has developed as well.
For more than a year, Ikaika, his mom Iris and other family members flew back and forth to Oahu for hospitalizations and outpatient treatments. They were guests at the Judd Hillside Ronald McDonald House on many occasions. Thankfully, in September of this year, Ikaika completed his many long and difficult inpatient chemotherapies, surgeries and other treatments. Now, he and Iris only travel to Honolulu on monthly day trips, for testing to make sure his cancer hasn’t returned. “He will be in treatment for four more years,” says Iris. “But he’s doing really great. It’s truly a miracle.”
Ikaika takes daily oral chemotherapy at home but is going to school again one day a week and receiving tutoring at home the rest of the time. He is slowly allowing himself to ease back into the life he had before cancer. Iris is a tower of strength and fierce defender of Ikaika’s road to recovery, guiding him to do all the right things, and inspiring his doctors to new heights. And with the endless support of family and friends, including his friends at Ronald McDonald House, there are plenty of reasons for optimism!
“It’s like my home–away–from home,” Ikaika says. “The people there are very nice and they helped me through some really tough times. They’re like my family.”