Drink a beer or a pink martini, listen to some great music and save a life! You can do all three of these March 3, at ’s annual Beach Party, where a portion of the proceeds will help fund cancer treatments for a 37-year-old, Ashburn mother of four.
Malea Kanoho has stage IV metastatic breast cancer. Her treatments cost between $1,800 and $2,700 a week, and her health insurance does not cover the cost.
Kanoho was first diagnosed with breast cancer in April of 2009 and was declared to be in remission in November 2009. Unfortunately, the cancer came back and spread to her lungs. On New Year’s Eve 2011, Kanoho was told that there was nothing more the doctors could do to help her. But, Malea and her husband, Jason Kanoho, decided they weren’t going to give up that easily.
“I didn’t just want to have the chemo, go home, and hope for the best. I wanted a better chance to live for a longer time,” Malea said.
So, they did some research and found an alternative medicine center that would help Malea continue to fight, by helping her detox her body, build her immune system and fight the cancer with low-dose, chemo treatments that target only cancer cells, not healthy cells. The only catch is that her HMO does not cover the treatments.
With the help of friends and family, Malea began the treatments, but the Kanohos need lots of help to continue paying for the costly treatments.
Connie Badua, a friend of the Kanohos whose mother and sister had breast cancer, decided she couldn’t simply sit by and do nothing.
“I told Malea, ‘You have to have hope. You are not going through this alone,’ and that we would find a way to pay for the treatments,” Badua said.
Jason was hesitant to ask for help, at first. “We’re not the type of people that feel comfortable asking for help. We like to give and not receive,” he explained. “But, if it wasn’t for other people suggesting that they would like to do something to help us raise funds, we’d be alone in this thing.”
Badua knew Malea’s only hope would be to spread the word, so she started a website called SaveMalea.org to tell Malea’s story and help raise funds for her treatments. “I knew if I put together a tool so people knew about it, they might want to help her … No one likes to ask for help, but to save a life is a good reason,” Badua said.
Ashburn Pub co-owners Kevin Bednarz and Mark Eckert also wanted to help.
“Jason’s band was the first band that played in the pub when we opened,” Bednarz said. “They have become like family to us and to a lot of people at the pub. So the community wanted to rally together and help him and Malea.”
So Bednarz and Eckert decided to help the Kanohos raise funds during Ashburn Pub’s annual Beach Party. “It will be a lot of fun for everyone, and it’s for a good cause,” Bednarz said.
The Beach Party fundraiser takes place from noon to closing March 3 at the pub, 44110 Ashburn Shopping Plaza, #196, in Ashburn.
To raise funds for Kanoho, the pub will sell pink martinis in special, take-home glasses and “Support Malea” bracelets and T-shirts; auction off items, including Washington National’s tickets, Loudoun wine tours and rounds of golf at 1757 and Raspberry Falls golf clubs; and hold a 50-50 raffle. Jason’s band, Island Tyme, will play at 7 p.m.
Jason said he and his family have been overwhelmed by all the support they have received.
“We are fortunate to have family and friends who have heard our story and want to help, and we’re very thankful for that,” he said. “I know people have their own financial responsibilities, and it’s a bad economy. So if people find it in their hearts to give, to help us, people have got to know that we are so grateful.”
Kanoho hopes that in the future he can do the same for another family struggling to pay for costly treatments.
“It’s my hope that we will be in a position to help someone else in the same position as us … I want to pay it forward someday,” he said.
Future planned fundraisers include an authentic Hawaiian luau—the Kanohos and Baduas are originally from Hawaii—selling cake pops and a battle of the bands. Visit SaveMalea.org for news on future fundraisers, to follow the Kanohos' story, and to see how you can help save a life.