Entertainer Iwalani Tseu said her recent fundraiser at Chai’s Island Bistro at Aloha Tower made more people aware of what she is trying to accomplish for breast cancer treatment through the Iwalani Foundation.
“We were extremely successful,” said the Mililani resident and recent cancer survivor. “We wanted to be professional in our presentation. It was priceless. People know about our cause. People are calling me and asking ‘How can we help?’ That was worth everything.
“I really believe God has given me a second chance,” admitted Tseu. “I’ve got a big mouth, and I’m going to tell everybody my story.”
The longtime hula instructor was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2005. She established the nonprofit foundation in 2006 because she felt that women need more support when battling the disease. “We want to give out a lot of T.L.C.,” she explained. “If you were to see me you’d think I was the epitome of good health. I thought I was, too, until the doctor told me I had stage-3 breast cancer.”
Her family, friends, and students of Iwalani School of Dance all were supportive.
“I had to go to radiation daily for eight weeks. Every day at the hospital I saw people losing their hair and in wheelchairs. You start getting scared, and you think this could be you. Then the letters, cards, flowers, balloons, candy, and calls started slowing down. People have lives, you know.”
That’s when her ideas began to take hold. Tseu converted her family property into a Healing Garden where she invites women in to let them know they are not forgotten. Another project is to raise enough money to put out a calendar and a coffee table book featuring tasteful photos of topless recognized local women from all walks of life, many of whom have never had cancer. While nearly all the calendar subjects were uncomfortable removing their clothing, Tseu said they did it to support her quest for breast cancer awareness.
“When you believe in something, you just radiate,” she said of her calendar women. She also dreams of someday mounting posters of these ladies in doctors’ offices.
“It never stops when you have cancer, it’s ongoing,” Tseu added. “We need a sisterhood to continue to send a bouquet to these women. We want someone to lomilomi their feet. Anything that will say, ‘We are still thinking about you.’ My message is malama ke kina – take care of your body. We are only on this journey once.”
She also wants to provide a traveling mammogram service for rural areas.
But most importantly, she added, is that she’s thrilled to be alive each day and sharing her message. For more information or to offer help, call 699-1888 or 630-3795.