Former Miss Aloha Hula survives cancer

Former Miss Aloha Hula survives cancer
Regina Igarashi
Regina Igarashi
Igarashi in 1978
Igarashi in 1978

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - To Regina Igarashi, hula's beauty stands on four building blocks.

"Discipline, dedication, the desire to learn, and determination to succeed," she said.

Regina started hula at age three. In 1978, she was named the Merrie Monarch Festival's Miss Aloha Hula. She dedicated that dance to her grandmother.

"I knew in my heart it wasn't about pleasing the audience, it was more to please her," she said.

Professionally, Regina performed with Jim Nabors and Carole Kai. She danced in Las Vegas. Then came a family, a career and a crossroads.

"I was at work. I lifted a heavy box that got delivered, and I hemorrhaged," she said.

In 2009, she was diagnosed with Stage 3 colon cancer.

"My heart dropped. The first thing that came to mind were my children," she said. "They were young. They still are young, and I'm an only child. I have no one else to fall back on."

Those hula values helped her face her fear.

"It's like going on stage and saying, 'The show must go on.' The show needed to go on," she said.

Remission followed surgeries and chemotherapy. She now shares her story about colon cancer and its warning signs.

"Talk to your doctor. Get it checked out right away. Don't wait," she said.

Only the best are named Miss Aloha Hula. Regina is forever in that fraternity.

"You see that one hula dancer that just has the 'it' factor," she said. "I volunteer my time to teach those interested in just dancing hula for exercise and enjoyment. But other than that, I always say I'm pretty much retired from dancing."

After surviving cancer, life is a command performance.

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