New treatment for cancer patients used at Queen's Medical Center
Kanani Yojo was on the job as a nurse at Queen's Medical Center when she found out her mother, 75-year-old Mary Bona had cancer on her ovary.
"We showed up at Dr. Clayton Chong's office for our first visit and the first thing he told us was, this is a cancer you're never going to beat. This is something you're going to have to learn to live with. You're going to have to make some life changes."
Mary suffered through abdominal pain and diarrhea, and her treatments only temporarily suppressed the cancer.
"It worked for a moment and then it failed," Yojo said.
One day the doctors told Mary she was the perfect and first candidate for a new treatment, lutathera, pronounced luda-thera.
The treatment is originally from Europe and new to Hawaii.
"What the compound is is luthisim which is a radioactive material and that's what kills the cancers," Director of Nuclear Medicine Dr. Marc Coel said.
"It breaks up their DNA so they can't reproduce and so they die," Dr. Coel said.
Patients who undergo the treatment receive a total of four sessions once every two months.
"Hopefully this will give our patients the opportunity to live a normal life for a much longer period of time," Dr. Coel said.
"It was promising, it was exciting to hear that instead of just trying to live day to day we might get the cure," Yojo said.
Mary finished her first round of treatment and is already back to work.
"There's many out there that hide these type of illnesses. We wanted to share our stories to let you know that there is hope out there. There is treatment," Yojo said.
The cost of the procedure is $45,000 per treatment.
According to Dr. Coel, lutathera is covered by most insurance, and there's aid for those who can't afford it.