Robin Ancog -- here with her husband, Kevin -- is battling inflammatory breast cancer. Her friends and family will hold a fundraiser at Pearl City High School on Oct. 21 to help her with mounting medical costs.
Family rallies to help patient in fight to live
Earlier this year, 42-year-old Robin Ancog noticed a lump under her right armpit while taking a shower.
Her family physician diagnosed her with a lymph node infection. But after more than a week of taking antibiotics, the lump, as well as symptoms of redness and tenderness, did not subside.
Hawaiian plate lunch fundraiser planned
A Hawaiian plate lunch fundraiser will be held for Robin Ancog -- an English teacher at Pearl City High School -- to help her with medical costs:
» When: Oct. 21 from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m.
» Where: Pearl City High School cafeteria, 2100 Hookiekie St., Pearl City
» Cost: $20 per person for a Hawaiian plate that will include laulau, kalua pig, haupia, poke and chicken long rice. Food will be provided by Ige's Catering Service Inc.
Music, entertainment that will include the Chinese Lions Club, a silent auction and raffle will be held.
Those who are unable to make it to the event may send a check made out to "Friends of Robin Ancog" to any branch of First Hawaiian Bank. Checks can also be mailed to Pearl City High School.
She went to see a specialist at the Queen's Medical Center in February when her worst fear was realized: She had stage IV inflammatory breast cancer.
"I definitely was floored. I didn't know what to say. I thought she was talking to someone else," Ancog said in a phone interview from Pasadena, Calif., where she is undergoing aggressive treatment.
But the overwhelming support from family, friends and co-workers has helped Ancog better cope with her disease and lift her spirits.
"I couldn't have done it without them," she said.
A fundraiser event will be held for Ancog at Pearl City High School on Oct. 21 to help her with mounting medical costs. It is estimated that her medical costs could run as high as $150,000 to $500,000.
Ancog, an English teacher at Pearl City High School, underwent chemotherapy and a mastectomy of her right breast at Queen's. She is currently at the City of Hope Cancer Research Center in Pasadena where she is receiving treatment to prepare for a stem cell transplant in hopes of getting rid of the cancer.
Fatigue is one of the side effects Ancog has experienced, but her positive attitude remains steadfast.
"I can't believe how much spirit and how much fight she has to go through this," said Gay Ching, an English teacher at Pearl City High School who is helping to coordinate the fundraiser. "She is just an amazing person."
While on medical leave as she underwent chemotherapy at Queen's, Ancog continued to check on her students and make sure substitute teachers had the correct material. "She is very dedicated," Ching said.
Ancog said the diagnosis came as a surprise because she is diligent about regular mammogram checks due to a family history of breast cancer. Her mother, grandmother and aunts all battled post-menopausal breast cancer.
A mammogram in November detected no sign of breast cancer. Ancog said she learned, however, that a mammogram might not detect inflammatory breast cancer.
Ancog is originally from Lanai and now lives in Pearl City. She taught at Ilima Intermediate School before transferring to Pearl City High where for the past 3 1/2 years she has taught English classes for at-risk students in ninth and 10th grades.
Her husband, Kevin, a solo bike officer with the Honolulu Police Department, is by her side as she undergoes treatment. Their two children, Lindsey, 9, and Joshua, 5, are being cared for by Ancog's parents at their Pearl City home. She said she plans to return to Hawaii next month before she heads back to the cancer research center in December. At that time she will undergo 24 hours of chemotherapy for five consecutive days, which she dreads.
But the support from relatives, friends and fellow church members of Oahu Church of Christ have made a difference to help her remain positive, she said.
"With all these people helping me, I feel like I can persevere through it all," Ancog said.