Tuesday, September 14, 2010

A Personal Post Today - September 14th, 2010

WARNING: The following is a very personal post and not my usual lighthearted material. I was reluctant to publish this but you know what? I just need to get these thoughts out of my head. And share. So please, if you are going to leave a comment, be nice... this is a very sensitive topic for me.

Here goes.....  so this is me, 9 years ago.  Working hard and playing hard too.  I was a bit sassy and I loved everything about my life.
Then in April of 2001, I had the shock of my life when the two lumps that I found on my breast turned out to be malignant. I was diagnosed with breast cancer and I went through hell.  I put up a damn good fight with the help of my doctors & nurses and mostly with the help of my family & friends. After months of undergoing all kinds of horrendous treatments and tests, 3 days after 9/11, 9 years ago today... I sat in the oncologist's office for my final chemotherapy treatment.  I sat stunned at what had just happened to our country and I cried big fat tears for myself, knowing what was coming from that injection.

This is how I looked and felt after my 3rd round of chemo.  Stripped down to nothing.  So alone.
Somehow I survived. 9 years have passed and it feels like a lifetime ago.  And yet every time I think about it, I still feel a lump in my throat which I have right now as I type this.

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.  See?  I'm smiling for the camera.
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?

I know now why I had to sit in that doctor's office 9 years ago today......
My babies were waiting for me....


  1. so touching, i love this story about you. it made you who you are. jason and your boys are very lucky to have such an amazing wife/life partner and mommy to be by their sides through this journey we call life.

    thanks for sharing,

  2. Thanks for sharing your story! I can't imagine how much pain you went through but I'm sure glad you got such a happy ending. Your boys are gorgeous!

  3. Thanks so much for sharing your heart and your life. So glad you are here..making the world a brighter place, Toki!

  4. This brought tears to my eyes. Thank you for sharing it with us all. What an amazing story you have ... what a journey! I am so happy for you that your treatment was successful and you have such a beautiful family!!

  5. Toki -- what an eloquent and inspiring journal entry. Thank you for sharing this. The strength you gained from your experience is evident in everything you do today. I'm so glad I've met you.

  6. Thank you for sharing this with the world! What an amazing journey to be on. Your boys are just beautiful!!! Very inspiring to read this. I lost a really close friend in Jan to breast cancer. It was a hellacious 7 years for her and for her friends and family to watch her go through. I am so glad you have come out of that journey so well!! Congratulations again, thank you for sharing this with us at CMs. :-)

  7. To everyone who left me such sweet notes, I attempted to email you back so that I can send a personal message to each of you but I have no idea if they went through or not... if you got a reply from me, yay! If you did not get an email from me, I'm sorry and let me know what your email is so I can send you my message. I appreciate your kindness more than words can ever express!!! -Toki

  8. Toki

    It takes a strong woman like yourself to lift the rest of us up.
    Everything in this world happens for a reason, right..? I'm so glad I met you <3
    M Sweet

  9. Toki,

    I just met you and never would have known such tragedy struck you. Your spirit is bright and welcoming. No doubt this has made you stronger person inside and out! Thank GOD, as he blessed you with those beautiful babies!!! Truly inspiring Toki!


  10. Oh Toki, I love your story. Alligator tears welling up in my eyes. It was really great to hear your personal story! This October while I celebrate my MOM making it through Breast Cancer hell, I will be thinking of you too! Sniff, sniff. Gonna go wipe and buck up cause I got to cook supper now.

  11. I've loved the things you've shared on the photography forum - insightful, inspiring. This post is AMAZING - truthful, raw, inspiring. You are an amazing woman - just couldn't read it without leaving a comment.

  12. what a great inspiring story and your beauty is evident in those photos even when you didn't feel it. and yes, those boys are a gift and you are truly deserving. stay strong and thanks for sharing