Friday, October 7, 2011

Love Stories: Silver Lining

Where do I begin....?

10 years ago, I became a statistic... one out of eight.  I had a story to tell back then about what I was going through and it was devastating.  But ten years have gone by and somehow I healed and I can actually say the word 'cancer' without bawling.

Here is what I wrote a year ago

You would think that having gone through a life threatening disease,  that I would have an entirely different outlook on life.  And I did for a  while… everything seemed more clear and I was enlightened.  But I felt  odd too, like I was lost and unsure about myself.  And my normal sure  didn’t look the way it used either.  For starters, I was physically  lopsided and I felt so ashamed.  I can’t explain the shame part… it’s  not my fault I got sick.  I still feel self conscious a lot, but I’m so  glad that I got through the worst part.  I know I’m fortunate to be  here.  Cancer had me down on my knees, stripped of myself and I was  completely vulnerable and exposed.  Mostly I was in so much pain both  inside and out. But I still smiled.  Everyone thought I was super cool  with that bald head and bandana, and I did fit in… after all, I live in  LA. 

But I hated the way I looked.  I hated the way I felt about the way I  looked.  I just plain hated. How sad, right? 

So 9 years later, life is  not without its ups and downs but I am glad to say that I don’t feel all  that shame and hatred… I am too busy spending time with my creative  outlet through my photography, and caring for my twin boys who truly are  a gift from heaven.  A gift so immense that something horrible needed  to happen to me first in order for me to be deserving.  Everything  happens for a reason, right?

And a year before that:

Many of you, my loyal blog readers, know that I am a breast cancer  survivor of 8 years.  I fought it and survived…. with the help of so  many wonderful doctors, nurses, friends and family.  The experience is  still vivid in my mind and will always remain a part of me, but the  details are just a blur now…  It was a frightening time in my life and  I’m so glad it’s well behind me. Having gone through this, I feel much  empathy and compassion towards the women and their families who are  going through this now.  I needed to find a way to help and maybe bring a  little lightness during this trying time and so it gives me great pride  and honor to announce my partnership with Think Pink Photography.  Think Pink Photography was founded in October 2007 to support  individuals and their families who have been touched by breast cancer.  They are a charitable organization that serves two main purposes –  celebrating life and supporting the cause. 

But this year, I did not have a chance to reflect on cancer as I have been slightly preoccupied... My husband, the same man who stood by me while I was going through cancer, decided to have an extra-marital affair after nine years of marriage. I've spent the most part of 2011 in turmoil, enveloped by feelings of betrayal, anger, sadness, fear and depression. Despite this latest circumstance, I am quite certain that there is a reason for everything in life and that this catastrophic event has forced me to get moving towards whatever it is that I am supposed to do... so I made a lot of changes and I'm currently focusing on building a safe and peaceful haven for myself and for our children. I had no idea 10 years ago that going through cancer would become secondary in my life because back then, it felt like cancer took over my whole life.  Now, as an older and wiser woman (haha) and going through the ups and downs of life, I can truly see the silver lining in those clouds. I am beyond blessed, this I know for sure. My beautiful boys have the sweetest souls and I am so thankful and grateful and so very proud to be Chase and Tristan's mommy. And can you believe that my little guys, at the tender age of 7, tell me on a daily basis that they feel lucky that I'm their Mom and that they want to marry me? 

Thanks for letting me share,


In honor of Steph and Isaac and Breast Cancer Awareness Month, we invite you all to share your own stories of cancer battle, loss, love and recovery. You may also see the previous Love Stories here. If you would like to submit your story, please send an e-mail to You may attach up to 5 photos. Please try to keep your stories to a 1200 word limit. You will receive an e-mail when your story is selected.


Upward Thinking said...

Such an inspiring story! Toki you have such a beautiful soul, thank you for sharing your story.

Lisa Graham said...

Dear Toki,
you have survived cancer and you will survive 2011. So sorry for your losses and so happy you see gains. If you need a good book, try Torn Asunder by Dave Carder. Lots of good insights there.

Thanks for sharing your story! You will and I am sure already have helped many along the way.