Kaikea Ahuna "Rocket Strong"

Aloha - 

We are Dan and Kanoe Ahuna the parents of Rusdan-Rocket Kaikea Ahuna. Kaikea is an active, well-rounded 14 year old. He is a ninth grader at Kapaa High School, a straight "A" student and a great athlete. He enjoys volleyball and we are very proud of him for making the varsity team this season. Kaikea loves hula and dances for Halau Ka Lei Mokihana o Leinaala and competed and won 1st place in Keiki Hula 2012 and 2013, kahiko and auana. Kaikea has been blessed with special hands. He makes beautiful lei and was fortunate and very humbled to study under Kumu Paulette Kahalepuna for mastering the Lei hulu. Kaikea is a happy go lucky and caring and loving person. 

We recently found out that Kaikea has a brain tumor... hereʻs his story...

July 2015 – Kaikea got the flu and lost his voice. His voice slowly returned over the following 2 months. However, it did not recover fully, today he is unable to yell or scream and has a hoarse voice. Dr. Carolan (Kauai pediatrician) referred us to Dr. Murphy (Kauai ENT). 

December 2015 – Dr. Murphy diagnosed him with a collapsed vocal cord and moved to get a CT scan.

January 2016 – Kaikea (age 14) was diagnosed with a marble size Schwannoma on his vagus nerve (left side).  We detected it from a change in his voice over the past 6-8 months. At first we thought his voice change was due to adolescence. However, our pediatrician, Dr. Carolan scheduled us to see an ear, nose, and throat specialist, Dr. Murphy here on Kauai. Dr. Murphy detected the growth through a CT scan in December, followed by an MRI in January. 

February 2016 – We were scheduled with pediatric neurosurgeon specialist on Oahu; he diagnosed Kaikea with Vagal Schwannoma - tumor on his Vagus Nerve #10, size of a marble/quarter and recommended open surgery he advised us to see Otolarynology and Head and Neck Specialist; he used a nose camera to video Kaikeaʻs vocal cords; clearly shows that his left cord is collapsed due to the growth. Both doctors said that the tumor is in a critical location on the 10th nerve and that it’s very rare and needed immediate attention.

At that time both doctors agreed that the tumor is most likely 99% benign, however in a very challenging location on the vagus nerve and around other nerves that are connected to facial movement, tongue, swallowing, trapezoids (neck/shoulders), etc.  Both recommended opened surgery however were unsure of the tumors growth rate and its affect on other nerves near the area. For this reason we sought further review of his diagnosis with John Hopkins Medical Hospital and Stanford Lucile Packard Childrens Hospital as well as other options such as radio surgery (cyberknife) for treatment. Thus, we were fortunate to contact Dr. John Adler.

Dr. Adler is the former past Chief Neurosurgeon at Stanford Lucile Packard Hospital and founded Cyberknife in the 90’s. We are grateful to Dr. Adler for taking the time to consult with us via email and in person. Dr. Adler introduced us to the present Chief of Neurosurgery at Lucile Packard, Dr. Gerald Grant in our interest to pursue Cyberknife treatment.

After review of his CT Scan and MRI, Dr. Grant red flagged the growth due to questioning its placement above and near to the vagus nerve. Dr. Grant referred Kaikea’s records to the Stanford tumor board to review his records. Dr. Grant and tumor board reviewed Kaikea’s records and latest MRI’s on Monday, March 21st. In their review they are unsure of the type of tumor and his diagnosis, however know that bone tumor is located at the base of his skull that has expanded, pushing up on and affecting his vagus nerve (10th nerve, vocal cords) and possibly other nerves.

The tumor has grown in size over the past 2 months from his initial CT Scan and MRI (January) to the latest MRI’s taken on March 17th. What we do know is that that there is only 1 tumor, it is in a critical area at the base of skull and has already eroded the bone and remodeled his skull in addition to being very near to other nerves. Thus, ruling out the diagnosis of Vagal Schwannoma and NF1 and NF2. 

Due to its unknown growth rate and the critical location of the tumor Kaikea's Kauai and the Stanford Medical Team are pushing for immediate care. They are moving to do a CT biopsy on April 9th to determine the correct diagnosis, followed by open surgery on April 13th, to remove as much as the tumor as possible and attempt another type of treatment for the any of remaining growth.

The urgency for immediate medical attention for Kaikea has uncertain medical costs and our length of stay at Stanford. Any funds received will be used to cover medical costs for Kaikea's treatment and recovery at Stanford Lucile Packard Children's Hospital. 

We know we are in good hands and have the best medical team caring for Kaikea at Stanford Lucile Packard Children's Hospital. We are hopeful for a successful surgery and recovery.

We are “Rocket Strong”

We are deeply grateful and thank you for the many prayers and support.

Dan and Kanoe Ahuna 
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Kanoe Ahuna 
Kapaa, HI