Hirome Kageyama

Courtesy of HIROME KAGEYAMA

Kodiak High School senior Hirome Kageyama poses for a photo with two nurses at Providence Hospital in Anchorage on Halloween. 

Hirome Kageyama played his trumpet on Tuesday. 

For most, playing the trumpet wouldn’t be a triumph, but for Kageyama it was. 

The Kodiak High School senior tennis player and musician was diagnosed with chronic myelogenous leukemia in late October.  

After spending three weeks at Providence Hospital in Anchorage, Kageyama returned to school on Tuesday. 

“It was nice playing music after three weeks,” said Kageyama Wednesday afternoon from his home in Kodiak. 

Because the leukemia was caught early, Kageyama’s outlook is bright. He takes a chemotherapy pill nightly and will return to Anchorage every three months for bone marrow tests. Otherwise, it is all systems go for Kageyama. Well, almost — he can’t fully open his mouth; can’t exercise vigorously; and can’t eat hard food. 

“I can almost do everything someone normal could do,” Kageyama said. 

The soft-spoken student experienced the ultimate high and the ultimate low in October. 

He competed in his first ASAA/First National Bank Alaska Tennis State Championships on Oct. 11 in Anchorage. Less than 10 days later, he was diagnosed with chronic myelogenous leukemia — a blood-cell cancer that begins in the bone marrow. 

“I wasn’t afraid of dying, but it was scary for me because I had never experienced something like this,” Kageyama said. “I cried a little bit.”

Kageyama’s leukemia would have gone unnoticed if it wasn’t for a trip to the dentist to have his four wisdom teeth removed. 

After returning home from the dentist, the sockets in his mouth would not stop bleeding. Finally, on the third trip to the emergency room in Kodiak, a blood test was done. The test revealed that Kageyama’s white blood cells and platelet levels were high. 

Kageyama was sent to Providence in Anchorage to confirm the diagnosis of leukemia. 

His sockets were stitched to stop the bleeding, and he remained in Anchorage — with his father, who took time off from his job to be with his son — until his platelet levels were stable enough to return to The Rock.

The first week in the hospital was rough, because it was painful to move. Plus, the food options were limited. 

“When I was on the liquid diet, it was terrible because there weren’t many options of good-tasting soups,” he said. “After a week, I was starting to be able to eat normally again, and the hospital food was actually really good.”

While Kageyama was in the hospital, his phone blew up with text messages from friends, while his friends in Anchorage visited him in person. 

As of Thursday afternoon, $8,466 had been donated to Kageyama’s medical expenses on a GoFundMe page that was set up by the Kodiak Family Church

“It is really amazing how much support I have received over the three weeks,” he said. “I am really grateful to all those people.”

 

 

 

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