LIHU‘E — In March, Wellness Empowerment Coach Katie Rampen of Katie Rampen’s Healthy Families of Poipu, was diagnosed with breast cancer again despite having had a double mastectomy eight years ago.
“October or ‘Pinktober’ as it is often referred to as ‘Breast Cancer Awareness,’ month but the sad reality is there is little emphasis on what women need to know about breast cancer, how to know if you are ‘at risk’ and that how you live your life can directly affect if you will get the disease,” Rampen said.
When Rampen was first diagnosed with breast cancer in June 2012 she was given two options, a double mastectomy that remove both breasts, or a lumpectomy on one side and treatments of chemotherapy and radiation.
“My breasts would not match,” Rampen added. “While at first, you don’t care what you will look like, I realized I was still very young and would have a lifetime of looking at my body so I opted for a double mastectomy with reconstruction. I also had to go on medication for several years.”
“ (I) could not believe it was happening to me,” Rampen said. “I thought I lived a very healthy lifestyle and did ‘everything right,’ including breastfeeding my two children. But spent the next eight years researching and came across a lot of eye-opening information.”
After doing her own intensive research on it, she decided to spread awareness by becoming a Wellness Empowerment Coach & Speaker so she could share her story and empower other women like her.
“Bottom line, we need to empower ourselves to take care of our health and that’s what I’m all about,” Rampen said. “(In) January I decided to focus on empowering moms and women to prevent breast cancer and breast cancer recurrence. Little did I know at the time I would be diagnosed with another breast cancer in March.
“So now I have a support group to also help women on their healing journey. I like to say I teach what I needed to learn and that is still true,” said Rampen.
Rampen said a cancer diagnosis never goes away.
“I will be on this healing journey for the rest of my life,” Rampen said. “I am on two anti-estrogen medications but knowing what I know decided not to do chemotherapy and radiation and instead am using my ‘7 Simple Steps’ to heal myself. Having a healing environment like the one on Kaua‘i is key-nature and beauty is so important.”
“My parents and I have been coming to Kaua‘i for over 40 years, my father since 1955,” Rampen said. “They loved it so much they bought a house here in 1980.”
The cancer returns
Rampen, who had been living in Los Angeles, was diagnosed with new breast cancer, in March, despite having had a double mastectomy, eight years ago.
“After my surgery (which was delayed due to COVID-19 until May), I came to Kaua‘i to heal and to take care of my frail parents,” Rampen said. “I believe this island has healing properties and indeed my father was on dialysis before we came here and now miraculous he no longer needs it.”
Rampen faces some obstacles on Kaua‘i as a caregiver and as a patient.
“It is really important that everyone has access to the healthcare they need on Kaua’i,” Rampen said. “My own experience is that it is exceedingly difficult since there are so few specialists and so many patients. My father was denied care as was I since the specialists are overrun with patients but the good news is there are general practitioners.
“And I was finally able to get my injection last week and the ultrasound I need I will get next week,” said Rampen.
According to the National Breast Cancer Foundation (NBCF), no one knows the exact causes of breast cancer. Doctors seldom know why one woman develops breast cancer and another doesn’t, and most women who have breast cancer will never be able to pinpoint an exact cause.
Rampen understands this point and has volunteered her time, over a decade in the “Making Strides of Los Angeles,” a program operated through the (ACS) American Cancer Society, which advocates the importance of early detection.
“I do it because I am trying to raise awareness for everyone,” Rampen said. “Because men can get breast cancer too, it’s rare but it is a top killer for women.”
Silvia Constanza, senior community development manager of ACS said Katie is a treasure to her community.
“Katie is definitely always looking to help support, it’s a cause near and dear to her heart,” Constanza said. “She understands the importance of early detection and the fact that COVID-19 is delaying preventative care and screening. Unfortunately, people are delaying their medical care because of COVID.
“They are scared to go out to their doctor’s appointment, which increases the likelihood of increased diagnosis when the cancer state is at a later stage rather than early detection,” said Constanza.
Constanza is passionate about early detection herself because she lost her mom five years ago to stage four breast cancer.
“When we didn’t know what was going on, she skipped two years of mammogram examinations,” Constanza said. “In those two years, her cancer spread to her bones.”
Constanza said by the time the doctors found it was stage four, her mother’s doctor told her at the end of her mom’s life stand, that when he got her case, he thought she would only live up to a year.
“But she lived up to seven years because we had intensive research which gave her options to prolong her life,” Constanza said.
Support and empowerment
Although it may seem daunting for Wellness Empowerment Coach and cancer survivor/fighter Katie Rampen to sort her health schedule out while taking care of her parents, she said she has a big support team that helps her get through it all.
“I have a health coach, therapist, doctors, friends, family, colleagues, and fellow survivors that are all critical to my well-being and I love them all,” Rampen said. “I wouldn’t be here without them.”
For more info on Katie Rampen’s services at https://bit.ly/3jClEI9.