HONOLULU (KHON2) — From 2007 to 2014, she graced your TV screens at KHON2 as a reporter and anchor.
Olena Heu is still a staple in the community. As a journalist, emcee, and social media influencer.
But for the past year, she’s kept a life-changing decision private…until now.
Olena Heu lives a public life.
A former wake up 2day anchor and Miss Hawaii, Heu shares snapshots of her world with thousands of online followers.
But behind the scenes…
“When my mom passed away last year, everything kind of fell apart. Being an only child to a single parent,” Heu said.
“But you know how they say, when it rains, it pours?”
Heu’s mother passed from metastatic breast cancer in April 2018.
One month later, she got a call.
“I was hiking Kaena Point with some friends, and I said, ‘why is Kaiser calling? They would never call.”
Doctors found a lump in her breast. It turned out benign.
“They said okay, you’ve had cancer in your family history. Let’s do genetic testing.”
She tested positive for the RAD50 gene, making her susceptible to breast and ovarian cancer. Heu turned to her husband.
“Going through all the steps of my mom passing away, them finding a lump in my breast, to testing positive for the genetic mutation, I told him: ‘I think I should have my breasts removed.’ and I said, ‘I want them out. I want to go flat.’ he said, ‘okay. I agree.”
She stayed out of the spotlight, focusing on her health.
Nearly one year to the day her mother died, Heu underwent a double mastectomy.
“It was my decision to do both. I had felt the lump in my left breast when they found it. My mom, her origin was in her left breast. I thought the best way to reduce the risk by over 90 percent is to have both breasts removed.”
Determined, yes. Scared? Also yes.
“I had never broken a bone. Never been in a hospital. I never even had the chickenpox. I was most fearful of being put to sleep and not knowing exactly what was going to happen.”
She had no doubts about the procedure. Heu was prepared for everything but this post-operation moment.
“When we took off the binder and the pads, I looked in the mirror, I cried.”
“It’s just a shock, you know? To see a part of you you’ve had your whole life gone.”
“My husband looked at me, and he said, you’re so beautiful. And I haven’t really cried since, except for now.”
Heu is healed now, and ready to share that moment with the world.
It isn’t glamorous, it’s necessary.
“I don’t ever have to have a mammogram again. I don’t even have to wear a bra, again. I’m not saying women should run out and have mastectomies. But we need to be proactive and do what we can to prevent breast cancer. If it means knowing your body, doing monthly checkups, eating right, being healthy and exercising and just being aware, I think that’s the greatest way to being proactive for your health and happiness.”
And she chose not to get reconstructive surgery.
“Breasts don’t define you. They don’t say who you are as a person, who you are on the inside. And for me, I didn’t know how I was going to handle it. But when I went out in public and emceed events? Nobody noticed. I went from very full D-cups to nothing. Nobody saw a change.”
“Realize how important it is to have your intentions and what your legacy is you want to leave. And for me, I want to be a strong woman that did everything she could to live a long life.”