Q1) Tell us a little about yourself!

My name is Yoshi, 43 year old and mother of 2 boys. I grew up in Japan, came to Australia for postgraduate study in 2000, fell in love with this beautiful country so I got a teaching job and residency to stay here. Then I’ve moved to marketing role in education, traveled a lot internationally for work. I’ve gone back to teaching after having 2 boys.  

In January this year, I went for the annual check up, it was overdue by 1 month. I will never forget the moment they took out the ruler during the scan. I have been diagnosed breast cancer and the treatments started off from surgery then went on chemotherapy, radiotherapy and I am currently on hormone therapy. 

Q2) Tell us about what you do, and why you do it

I ended up taking whole year off from teaching at primary school this year (I could gone back to work sooner if there isn’t covid though). 

I call myself a lifelong learner, I love learning constantly. This year I took the opportunities to study in various short courses online - many courses became available online broadly worldwide because of covid too. 

During chemotherapy at home I studied some courses for work such as children’s behaviour/ parenting and ICT. This was actually suggested by a psychologist who I was seeing, to learn something new and visualise the achievements such as a certificate or a project piece. The learning something new was not only valuable but also helped me a lot mentally too as my chemo treatments was at the same time as covid peak in Australia. I needed to focus something rather than my illness as I was self isolate most of the time in my room alone. 

After the radiotherapy I did a styling course for my post treatments look. As a result of chemotherapy, I lost my hair which is finally starting to grow back super curly with grey hair and I got loads of freckles and wrinkles now. My treated area is slightly dark and for my axilla the clothes will have to be really comfortable. I’ve lost weight so a lot of clothes are not fitted properly anymore. All those body changes are quite common with breast cancer patients and expected but I’ve lost self-esteem badly and this styling course and the coach helped me so much! 

Recently I am learning about nutritions/ gut health, as well as participating mindfulness and pause classes regularly. I am so fortunate to find the great courses run by mindful coaches. 

I also am a qualified organiser (like Konmari!) now which I always wanted to learn but didn’t have time when I was working full time and raising 2 boys. My home is still a mess but slowly getting the ideas. 

I truly believe in learning, it enriches my life and makes me stronger as a person. I am so grateful that my husband and sons allow me to learn continuously. I am hoping my sons see that the adults also enjoy learning. 

Q3) What makes you feel courageous? 

I am actually an anxious person in nature, worry about little things like tiny pain or affected mentally by the information I saw on social media, probably more than ever after diagnosis. I am still learning how to deal with my emotions. 

What makes me feel courageous though is that I am able to admit those feelings. When things are uncontrollable I am not hiding in the shell, instead I reach out to get help and most importantly I accept the the support from others. This may sounds easy but it actually takes a lot of courage to let go of what other people may think about you or judge you. 

I am not afraid to share my cancer experiences and knowledge that I gained for those who may need, just like my precious friends share their experiences and help me out all the times. I’ve decided to be courageous in the sense, not worrying about how it may look or what other people may think and follow my heart. 

Q4) What is one thing you wish you could tell your 16-year-old self?

Focus on what matters the most today. Focus on present and don’t worry about the future all the time just because adults said so. Life is not about going to a good university for better future like adults said so. The happiness and success are so versatile that you just can’t measure by getting A on the report card. Keep learning what you love the most even if things/ people are in a way. 

Q5) What is one piece of advice you can give a fellow lady who might be lacking courage?

The first step may look little scary, but please do remember you are not alone. You are allowed to be worried and scared, you are allowed to acknowledge your feelings and not to fight with them. Don’t let your fear take control of you, simply acknowledge instead because YOU are in charge of your life, each day everyday. I am learning this too. 

Reach me at @jjsensei or courageous ladies if you really need to talk to someone - remember YOU ARE NOT ALONE. 

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