She can handle it


POSTED: Wednesday, April 01, 2009

“;God doesn't give you what you can't handle.”;

It's a simple phrase - a bit trite even - but those eight words have gotten 17-year-old Sheridan Mahelona through unimaginable pain, through the fear of potentially dying, through a 10-day stretch when she couldn't eat or drink anything, through months of chemotherapy treatments, through a long and frustrating battle with a debilitating disease and back onto the softball field as Pac-Five's ace pitcher this season.





        Lupus is a chronic, autoimmune disease that can affect any part of the body, according to the Lupus Foundation of America. There is no known direct cause for lupus, although studies suggest genetic and environmental factors (such as UV rays or an infection) may contribute to the disease. Systemic lupus erythematosus, the form of lupus Sheridan Mahelona has, is the most common form and can be mild or severe. SLE can inflame the kidneys, brain and/or nervous system, increase blood pressure in the lungs or harden the arteries. There is no known cure for Lupus, though treatments and medication can limit the symptoms. About 16,000 new cases of lupus are reported in the United States each year, and about 1.5 million Americans are living with lupus, according to the foundation.

For more information, go to lupus.org.



        Friends of the Mahelonas will be hosting a fundraiser to help the family offset the medical costs of Sheridan's lupus treatments. On April 26, there will be food and entertainment at the Pipeline Cafe in downtown Honolulu. Tickets are $10. For more information, call Darrell Wilcox at 852-0765.

“;That was kind of my inspiration,”; said Mahelona as her eyes welled up with tears. “;I think that's true. And if you give up, you're just being a failure; you're not really trying. I think you can practically do anything if you want to, you just have to try.”;

But try as she might, there's nothing the high school junior can do about a body that is raging with lupus, a chronic autoimmune disease that flares up at any time, creates extreme fatigue and attacks the vital organs. So instead, she crosses her fingers and prays that she stays healthy enough to remain on the field of the sport she loves so much. In a cruel reality that has stripped this young woman of normal teenage behavior - going out with her friends, eating junk food, living a care-free life - softball is Mahelona's one act of normalcy.

“;Win or lose, it doesn't even matter,”; said Melissa Mahelona, Sheridan's mother. “;Just her being here, is a miracle.”;

Sheridan Mahelona was first diagnosed with lupus four years ago. The once active 13-year-old suddenly started going straight to sleep after school, could barely walk from store to store in the mall and couldn't muster the strength to toss a ball from the pitching rubber to home plate. She also started suffering from sudden high fevers.

After an initial battery of tests and a fear of leukemia, Sheridan was hospitalized due to the severity of her fatigue and fevers. Two weeks later, doctors diagnosed her with lupus. And two weeks after that, they were able to control her lupus and discharged her from the hospital, 29 pounds lighter than when she entered.

Mahelona's lupus was mostly in remission until February 2008. Two weeks into the softball season, the fevers and fatigue returned and she was hospitalized, forcing her to sit out a month of the season.

But she pushed her return back to the field knowing that Pac-Five had a good chance of playing for a Division II state title. If that happened, she knew that ace pitcher Leeann Lariosa would be attending her high school graduation ceremony and unable to play. So Mahelona, the backup pitcher, came back to the team, a bit weaker and a bit rusty having pitched in so few innings but wanting to pitch if her team made the state championship.

It did, and Mahelona threw a complete game, allowing nine hits and two unearned runs in Pac-Five's 4-2 win over Kauai. She was so sick during the game that she vomited in the dugout when she wasn't on the field. She was so weak in the seventh inning that she felt relief, more than ecstasy, when the Wolfpack secured the final out. She was so tired after the game she slept in the car on the ride to the celebration dinner.

“;I wasn't feeling good at all,”; Mahelona said. “;I was giving my 100 percent at the time, but I knew it wasn't my 100 percent. So then that made me feel bad, but it was all I could do.”;

Mahelona paid a hefty price for that championship. Two weeks after the win, she was admitted to the hospital in severe pain. She spent all of June in the hospital, and the situation was so dire her parents feared she might die. That's when she turned to the phrase, “;God doesn't give you what you can't handle,”; a sentence she wrote on the hospital white board in her room.

“;I can do this,”; she said she told herself. “;I can fight through this.”;

After leaving the hospital in July, Mahelona then spent most of August through December at home, so sick this time that doctors put her on a monthly chemotherapy treatment. She hated to miss the volleyball and basketball seasons, but she figured her junior year would be salvaged if she could just return for the softball season.

Her doctors cleared her to play just one week before the start of practice, and Mahelona has been Pac-Five's go-to ace so far this season. With a 4-0 record, she has every intention of staying on the field and defending the state title.

“;She has it in her to just get out there and compete and play the game that she loves so much,”; said David Mahelona, Sheridan's father. “;Just to see her do that, to me, it's a miracle in itself.”;


Athletes of the Week

Breland Almadova

'Iolani baseball

The two-sport standout hit two homers, drove in five runs and scored twice against Mid-Pacific. The UH-bound senior also had a triple and three RBIs against Damien.

Katie Manuma
Campbell softball

She hurled an 11-inning, three-hit shutout and hit a two-run homer in the top of the 11th in a 2-0 win over Kapolei. Manuma also went 2-for-4 in the second game of the doubleheader.

Honor Roll


» Ed Agag, Waipahu: went 4-for-4 against Farrington

» Cyrus Ahquin, Leilehua: went 5-for-8 with a grand slam, two doubles and six RBIs in a doubleheader against Waianae

» Timothy Arakawa, Moanalua: homered against Roosevelt

» J.R. Bunda, 'Iolani: homered and drove in two runs against Mid-Pacific

» Jordan Camara, Kamehameha-Maui: went 4-for-5 with a double against King Kekaulike

» Keanu Carmichael, Kamehameha: socked a triple and double and drove in four runs against Saint Louis

» Eddie Char, Kaimuki: homered, doubled and drove in three runs against Waialua

» Sam Chee, Waipahu: went 3-for-4 against Farrington

» Kaulana Ching, Baldwin: went 4-for-5 with a triple and two RBIs against Lahainaluna

» Dylan Comilla, Hilo: went 4-for-4 against Hawaii Prep

» Kainoa Crowell, Punahou: went 3-for-3 with a triple and two runs against Maryknoll

» Bryson Gauthe, Kailua: fired a no-hitter against Kalaheo

» Buen Hatanaka, 'Iolani: homered and drove in two runs against Mid-Pacific

» Jonathan Igarta, Waipahu: drove in four runs and was the winning pitcher against Farrington

» Grant Iwamoto, 'Iolani: doubled, drove in three runs and scored twice against Mid-Pacific

» Devin Lee, Kalani: tossed a four-hit shutout against Castle

» Kewby Meyer, Kamehameha: went 3-for-3 with a triple and two runs scored against Damien

» Reyn Nagamine, 'Iolani: homered and drove in two runs against Mid-Pacific

» Derek Nakasato, Saint Louis: went 3-for-4 with a triple and two runs against Mid-Pacific

» Bryson Namba, Pearl City: homered, double and drove in three runs against Aiea

» Allyn Oliva-Respicio, Campbell: went 4-for-7 with three runs scored in a doubleheader against Kapolei

» Desmond Ontai, Leilehua: went 4-for-4 with a triple, double and four RBIs against Waianae

» Kinohi Paleka, Molokai: went 4-for-4 with two RBIs against Lanai

» Jensen Park, 'Iolani: went 3-for-5 with three RBIs against Damien

» Dustin Prem, Kauai: went 3-for-3 with two runs against Kapaa

» Geonah Ragual, Hilo: went 4-for-4 against Hilo

» Ryan Rice, Hawaii Prep: struck out 13 in a complete-game win over Makua Lani Christian

» Cheyne Stanique, Waipahu: five RBIs against Farrington

» Daniel Sugihara, Moanalua: homered against Roosevelt

» Michael Suiter, Punahou: went 3-for-4 with a triple against Maryknoll

» Ryan Tabancura, Waianae: went 4-for-5 against Leilehua

» Maanoa Tau, Kaimuki: went 4-for-4 with a double and two RBIs against Waialua

» Justin Van Ness, Kahuku: went 3-for-4 with a triple and double against Farrington

» Amy Austin, Kalani: went 5-for-8 in a doubleheader against Kaiser
» Kristi Belshe, Kalani: went 3-for-3 with a home run against Kaiser
» Trinity Cristobal, McKinley: homered and finished 4-for-9 in a twin bill against Anuenue
» Althia Dicion, Waialua: went 4-for-4 with two homers, a triple, six RBIs and four runs scored against Nanakuli
» Letisha Fa'asoa, Kaimuki: homered and drove in two runs against Farrington
» Brittney Guro, 'Iolani: fired a one-hit shutout against Maryknoll
» Caliann Fukuda, Kaiser: homered against Kalani
» Samantha Kuakini, Waianae: homered against Leilehua
» Kala Lewis, Anuenue: went 5-for-7, including a homer and double, in a doubleheader against McKinley
» Jaime Millwood, Kamehameha: homered against Sacred Hearts
» Chelsy Okuma, Kaiser: homered against Kalani
» Keani Passi, Pearl City: went 4-for-4 with two runs against Waipahu
» Amanda Sakagawa, McKinley: went 3-for-5 with four runs against Anuenue in the first game of a doubleheader, then went 4-for-5 with a homer in the second game.
» Shanelle Sato, Waipahu: went 3-for-4 with three runs against Pearl City
» Alexandria Smith, Leilehua: went 3-for-4 against Waianae
» Alana Tsue, Waiakea: hurled a one-hit shutout against Keaau with 14 strikeouts
» Krysta Yasui, Kaiser: homered against Kalani

» Kanani Bickle, Kahuku: three goals against McKinley
» Kelsie Buchanan, Moanalua: three goals against Castle
» Patrice Dang, Roosevelt: four goals against Kalaheo and five goals against Castle
» Erika Edwards, Mililani: four goals against Kailua
» Alisha Ferguson, Kahuku: three goals against McKinley
» Ashlee Franklin, Mililani: four goals against Kailua
» Gina Galmiche, Roosevelt: four goals against Castle
» Kaila Garcia, Kalani: five goals against Mililani
» Taylor Kaalele, Kailua: nine goals against Moanalua
» Al Jamora, Kapolei: three goals against Leilehua
» Taesha-Marie Keola, Roosevelt: four goals against Kalaheo, seven goals against Roosevelt, and five goals against Castle
» Rei Koizumi, Moanalua: five goals against Kailua
» Kanani Mazzone, Mililani: three goals against Kailua
» Poni McGee, Kalani: three goals against Mililani
» Tina Pulu, Kalani: three goals against Mililani
» Ocean Radke, Castle: three goals against Moanalua
» Nicole Sakuda, Castle: four goals against Moanalua
» Minnie Whitford, Kahuku: three goals against Pearl City

To nominate: Call: 529-4782. Fax: 529-4787. E-mail: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)