For A Good Cause: Help Katie’s Family

THE NATOMAS BUZZ | @natomasbuzz

It’s hard enough to overcome one disease, but beating two is a battle that requires the community’s support. 

This is what 15-year-old leukemia patient Katie Ichiho’s aunt Sue Ichiho Hokama believes. 

A fundraiser for Katie Ichiho and her family will be at 6 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 10 at the Sacramento Buddhist Church, 2401 Riverside Blvd. Funds raised will help pay for medical premiums, travel and living expenses during treatment.

“For the community to come together and support Katie like this, it makes me cry,” said her aunt, Sue Ichiho Hokama. “I am just so grateful.” 


The Natomas teen was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia in February. Four months later, in July, doctors discovered Ichiho also had a secondary form of the disease – myeloid leukemia.

“She’s doing really really good,” said Jill Ichiho, the teen’s mom. “Her attitude is amazing.”

Ichiho’s lymphoblastic leukemia is currently in remission, but she must undergo a bone marrow transplant to fight the second cancer. The National Bone Marrow Registry located two donor matches and Ichiho is set to start treatment at the University of California San Francisco Medical Center after the fundraiser next month.

Finding a bone marrow match can be challenging for people with mixed ethnic backgrounds like Ichiho’s, who is Caucasian and Japanese,
said Ichiho Hokama. The transplant and treatment is expected to take six to eight weeks.

Prior to her diagnosis, Katie Ichiho was a freshman at Inderkum High School, played soccer and ran cross country.
Since her diagnosis, she has been able to do some home schooling between cancer treatments. Ichiho has been able to have friends over on occasion.

I was really scared first when I found out I had cancer, but with all of the love and support from family and friends, I know I can get through this,” Ichiho wrote in a letter to supporters earlier this year. “I know I am strong enough and I can defeat this disease. I just have to believe I can.”



Jill Ichiho and her husband, Stan, have been in and out of work in order to care for their daughter. Notes and quick visits from people in the community and fellow students help keep the teenager’s “spirits up,” her aunt said.

Several of Katie Ichiho’s friends and members of her soccer team plan to help at the fundraiser. Due to her medical condition, she likely will not be able to attend the event herself, but the hope is to Skype with her during the festivities.

“People will be able to say ‘hi’ to her,” said Ichiho Hokama.

The Nov. 10 fundraiser will feature a spaghetti dinner donated by Perry Luigi of Espanol of Sacramento. There will be raffle prizes and a silent auction which include a white-water rafting trip for two, a Napa Valley Marriot hotel night stay with free wine tasting, as well as a Kindle Fire, gift cards to area businesses and more.

“It’s just amazing the people who bought tickets or people who don’t know us and have given money,” said Jill Ichiho. “It’s almost overwhelming … the way that people have been so giving.”

BloodSource will also be on-hand holding a bone marrow drive to register potential donors for the National Bone Marrow Registry.

“Katie was very lucky to have found several people who are a match but there are other people who are out there who are looking for matches,” said Ichiho Hokama.
I can’t express the gratitude … to those four unknown people who would step up and save Katie’s life and there are more people out there looking for ethnic matches.”

Fundraiser tickets are still available but running out soon. They are $25 and can be purchased in advance by contacting Kristen Stoll, (916) 257-2621 or [email protected], and Ichiho Hokama, (916) 813-1334 or [email protected].

Donations for the raffle and silent auction are also welcome.

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