Beautiful Survivor: Vicky Holt Takamine
For generations hula has been called "the heartbeat of the Hawaiian people," but for Kumu Vicky Holt Takamine-- especially now -- it's much more than that.
For generations hula has been called "the heartbeat of the Hawaiian people," but for Kumu Vicky Holt Takamine--especially now-- it's much more than that.
With every “Uwehe," every “Ami” she proudly wears the smile of a survivor, as she "slides" into the next phase of her life just months after facing one of her biggest battles.
"You are never prepared for it. You are never prepared for.. you have breast cancer," Takamine said.
In 2016, during a self breast-exam, Takamine felt a lump, but says a mammogram didn't detect anything until she went back for her annual exam, nearly a year later.
"I'm going back for my mammogram and the lump has not gone away and they were like, 'Well maybe we've got to take a look on this side.. well maybe we've got to do an ultrasound.. okay you've got to come back for a biopsy.' At that point I was like okay this is serious," Takamine said.
"She did have a palpable mass.. and we did a biopsy that showed she has cancer in that specimen," Dr. Briana Lau-Amii, surgical oncologist at Pali Momi Medical Center added.
It was a week before the Kumu Hula was awarded the United States Artist fellowship for her work in Native Hawaiian Arts and Culture, and just right before her father's funeral services that she found out she had Stage 1 breast cancer.
"It's really emotional.. (pauses) I mean you never want to hear that.. and so I'm having a moment like I'm having a moment now.. and then I was like okay what are my options," Takamine said.
A well-known leader in the local community, Takamine took charge of her own health when she decided to undergo a double mastectomy. Thinking of her mother, who had breast cancer and opted for a lumpectomy, she is reminded of how chemo and radiation took a toll on her.
"I don't want to have to be worried about it all the time.. I want to be able to trust that it's not going to come back and move on," she added. "The decision was mine and I wanted to be as aggressive with this as cancer can be."
Putting herself and her health first, Kumu Takamine says she decided put her "lovely hula hands" to rest and took a break from her busy lifestyle.
"I just said i'm going to do this I have to do this .. I have to take care of this and I have to take care of myself and when I'm done I will be back," Takamine added.
But she wasn't away for long, just six weeks after her surgery Takamine was back in the spotlight encouraging women to get a mammogram at this years MaMo Wearable Art Show. It also wasn't too long after that also returned to her halau, her students, and her passion.
"Hula is really for me a spiritual.. and just an uplifting experience," she said.
Her next step is reconstructive surgery, but until then this survivor is raising awareness and giving back to others by offering free classes at her halau.
"If your recovering from a mastectomy from breast cancer.. just come and show up and we'll do hula together," Takamine said. "Now that I've taken care of myself I can help the rest of my community."