Posted on Aug. 12, 2014 (
"I fear we will never see a cure in my lifetime. Early detection may be the best chance we have at slaying the beast."
That’s what cancer survivor turned fundraiser Tami Kapule says when she talks about her annual event, Mountains for Mammaries.
Hiking two miles to the top of Rattlesnake Ridge in tutus.
That’s how Kapule and her husband, Ren, raise money and awareness for the MultiCare Women Get It program.
Women Get It helps pay for breast cancer testing procedures, including mammograms, for those who can’t afford them.
It was a mammogram at MultiCare Covington Medical Center in May 2012 that detected an abnormality in Kapule’s breast. She returned six months later for another mammogram and biopsy.
"The mammogram found very early stages of cancer," Kapule said. "Early detection gave me a voice at the table. I decided to have a double mastectomy."
Kapule’s out-of-pocket costs were relatively low because she had double insurance. She knew not all women were so fortunate.
Kapule was driving through North Bend with her husband after her diagnosis. Looking at Mount Si from the freeway, the couple decided they would climb it.
"I said, 'What if we invite our friends and family and raise money for something,'" Kapule said. "We didn’t know what we would raise money for so I started at the beginning."
For Kapule, the beginning was with her nurse navigator at MultiCare Covington Medical Center. The nurse navigator told her about the Women Get It program. Kapule knew she had found her fundraising cause.
"I firmly believe early detection gave me options. I want to empower women to be their own best advocates, get early detection, and have the best chance at survival," Kapule said.
The second annual Mountains for Mammaries event started early on an overcast July morning. A Native American drum beat as 125 hikers wearing tutus stood in a circle holding hands. Some were friends, some were families — some were in the midst of breast cancer treatment themselves.
Kapule shared her reason for climbing.
"Remember why we hike: Remember those who have lost the fight and the families and friends they leave behind; embrace and encourage those who are currently in the fight; say a prayer and vow to be the village for those who are not yet diagnosed. This is why we climb."
Brushing tears away, the group walked to the trailhead to climb to the top of Rattlesnake Ridge.
When the hike was over, Mountains for Mammaries had raised more than $11,000.
"I think it means we're on to something really great. I could not be more proud of what we started. It feels good," Kapule said.
Jen Rittenhouse is the social media manager for MultiCare and Mary Bridge Children's Hospital. She writes stories that connect people with hospitals, health care and each other. You can reach her at [email protected]
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