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Miracle Malu

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“Courage does not always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, “I will try again tomorrow.” - Mary Anne Radmacher

Meet Malu Punohu. Born, raised and residing on the island of Oahu. Mother of 4-year old twins U’lu and La’i (their full names are both quite the Hawaiian mouthful). Sweet, genuine, strong, smart, capable, caring - the kind of person others would do well to emulate. A woman who spent well over a decade attending to the needs of others through her employment aboard cruise ships trading in Hawaiian waters. She began that career caring for children, then educating guests in the history and traditions of the Hawaiian people, and finally coordinating the entertainment of thousands each week as they sailed through the islands of Hawaii. This is an individual who has brought great joy to an enormous number of people.

However, no life is without its share of challenges, and this page wouldn’t exist if not for a significant one. A little historical perspective, before we get to the present day:

After beating back breast cancer in 2011 and then a second round of breast cancer and a uterine tumor in 2016, Malu was given a “less than zero percent chance” of being able to become pregnant. As may be apparent from the nature of her seagoing employment - caring for the needs of others - motherhood was something she longed for, and she refused to accept the dire prognosis of the “experts.” Her faith and diligent efforts resulted in the miraculous birth of her twins in 2017 - and after being told for the better part of 9 months that these children would likely never see the light of day, this was quite obviously the answer to her prayers. However…this was not destined to be the last test of her resolve.

Fast forward to August of 2021, when Malu experienced a sinus infection that subsequently became bronchitis and pneumonia - which nearly killed her. Following her recovery from that, she began to experience chronic sinus infections - or so she thought. Once specialists became involved, it became apparent that she actually is dealing with a tumor in her sinus cavity that is wrapped around the optic nerve of her left eye; that the tumor is pushing into her brain cavity through a hole in her skull; that the persistent runny nose associated with the “chronic sinus infections” is in fact a leak of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF). All of this adds up to a condition so rare that there are apparently less than 80 recorded cases since the 1920’s.

This is a complex enough issue that the best oncologists in the state of Hawaii have enlisted the assistance of the professionals at the MD Anderson Center in Houston Texas to develop a plan of attack. There may or may not be a surgeon talented, confident or competent enough to attempt a procedure that would remove the tumor in its entirety. Without finding a way to gain access to the hole that is allowing the tumor to create pressure on her temporal and frontal lobes – and close that opening - she will continue to leak CSF and the tumor will have a greater likelihood of metastasizing into the brain tissue itself. If that hole cannot be closed, there is also a substantial risk of infection (such as bacterial meningitis) resulting from any type of chemotherapy. It’s a situation that most people on this planet will never experience, nor ever know exists as a possibility.

Thankfully, Malu’s family and friends are there to support her as she is attempting to cope with all of this. However, just caring for the day to day needs of Ulu and La’i as Malu conserves her strength for dealing with hospitals and insurance issues brings its own set of challenges for Ti-Ti and Papa (Grandma and Grandpa). All of this is compounded by the fact that she now must live in a “bubble” of sorts, since any sort of infection could have disastrous consequences. It’s all Malu can do to simply try to cope with the hand she’s been dealt and prepare herself for the battle that lies ahead.

This is going to be the fight of (and for) her life - and the last thing that this wonderful soul and her family should have to concern themselves with while navigating these waters is how bills related to the medical care that certainly lies ahead will be dealt with. And that’s where you - the GoFundMe community - comes in.

I urge everyone reading this to strongly consider donating to this cause - and if you’re willing to take things a step further, please share this campaign far and wide. The greater our reach, the greater the potential impact.

Malu, Ulu and La’i deserve a lifetime together, free of these sorts of burdens. Let’s all do what we can to help ensure they wind up with that very result.

***Important note from Jen: The above masterpiece, the tribute, the words that spoke of the energy, perseverance and mana that are the cornerstones of our dear friend, Malu, were authored wholly and completely by her very close friend, Captain Ron Chrastina. All credit and kudos for crafting the necessary support and voice to this important cause are due his way. Sincerest gratitude to Ron and Shelby for the gift of your energy, love and words! 


  • Glenn Struck
    • $50 
    • 7 d
  • Lisa Kopacz
    • $100 
    • 7 d
  • Russell Fralick
    • $1,000 
    • 8 d
  • James Hokama
    • $75 
    • 8 d
  • Aubrey Mills
    • $50 
    • 8 d

Organizer and beneficiary

Jennifer Kenney
Reno, NV
David Punohu

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