On September 4th, 2011 at the young age of 33, my world was shattered into pieces. I had been diagnosed with Her2 positive breast cancer that would require having both of my breasts removed - a bilateral full mastectomy. It was a long path of treatments: 10 months of chemotherapy, followed by 28 radiation treatments and a year of Herceptin treatments due to the specific strain I was diagnosed with.
The hardest part was explaining this all to my children who were 9, 7, 5 at the time. Being a young mum was one of the hardest things to do. My oldest son, Dylan, asked me if I was going to die? I answered him back and said, " God rang me last night and said I was going to live to 88." He said, "Mum, are you sure?" I said, "Now that you said that he's going to add 2 more years and let me live to 90!" It was very important my children didn't stress or worry about me through this ordeal.
After the treatments, I was asked to do a 10 year span of tamoxifen as my body was producing too much estrogen and I needed a hormonal drug to keep it balanced. I had only been taking it for a few months when I fell ill while attending a wedding. My initial thought was my cancer had then returned. To my surprise, I was blessed and pregnant with twin boys. On August 30th, 2013 I gave birth to Robert & Wade. I remember halfway through my chemo I was ready to give up, I asked the man above to give me 2 wings of strength to somehow get me through this. I think this is how he repaid me for believing in him so much - they are my angel wings.
Basically, I lost 2 boobies and gained 2 babies, I feel very blessed!!! Having no breasts eliminated breastfeeding as an option so I hunted high & low and found a solution. A website called, "human milk for human babies." I was very fortunate that I had 11 beautiful new mums to help me breastfeed my babies for 16 months. It was very important to me that they got the best start to life.
I now volunteer as a guest speaker and breast cancer advocate in New Zealand. I love sharing my story to give woman hope, strength and still feel beautiful about themselves even with having partial or full mastectomies. I dedicate myself annually to a cause that is so dear to my heart in every way. I am not afraid to share my scars, as they reflect me being a survivor. It also tells my story in a powerful form to what breast cancer looks like. It is my 10th anniversary this year since I was diagnosed and I feel very blessed to still be around and share my story around the world. I have remained positive since day one, and ladies I have one thing to say to you all, "Protect your bumps & check for lumps!!!" Stay strong, keep your pink gloves up & keep fighting like a girl!!! Sending love, strength & blessings from Auckland New Zealand
Just before Christmas 2020 I was highly honored & met the beautiful, amazing Luba Sasowski thanks to a friend of mine, Morag Currin through a zoom meeting. I was asked if I was interested in being a model for the new project, Courage. I jumped at the opportunity as I always wanted to be somewhere that made me feel proud about my body and give me a sense of belonging. It was a very emotional zoom meeting as Luba and I shared so much including tears and happiness. I feel honored to be apart of this new adventure with Bryght, Thank you Luba for choosing me, even being a kiwi girl on this side of the world. On January 14th, I had the awesome Anupam (photographer) come out to my home to do the photoshoot. It was an amazing experience to work behind the camera and expose my powerful form of survival. It's amazing how certain people come into your life and make you feel like a superstar. I don't have much as an individual, but I have life. What more could I possibly ask for right now.
See Tomai's images on products "Strength" and "Courage" https://shop.bryghtenup.com/collections/cancer-compassionate
Listen to our podcast episode with Tomai: https://www.buzzsprout.com/802067/9458789
Watch the video version on Youtube: