In The Face Of Hardship

July 10th, 2007
Hailey Paquette

Sitting at a desk in a poorly lit class room, Toni Iyoha laughs and waves her hand with its shortened index finger. She lost most of the finger when she was seven.

"It's my little knubbity."

Toni tries to approach every difficulty with the idea that she will grow stronger from it.

In the quiet community of Los Feliz, California, the spunky high school senior and identicle twin has experienced enough hardship to fill a lifetime. She lost her mother to cancer in 2007.

During her 8th grade year, Toni’s mother, Crystal Chesley, was diagnosed with colon cancer. She was an entreprenuer who owned a clothing store. After going into Hospice care, Crystal became depressed when she couldn’t care for her store. It was eventually closed down. Toni was inspired by the fact that her mother never complained. “She was a go-getter. She never sat down.”

While her mother was in Hospice, Toni and her twin Christine had to become independent. They cooked their own food and became responsible for their education. Toni and Christine had to mature fast.
"It was like 'Hold on, wait, don't turn 13, turn 26.'"

Crystal passed away in 2007 after her long battle with cancer. Toni went through a period of denial after her mother's death. She eventually accepted it and realized that there was nothing she could do.

After all the hardship, Toni still has time for fun. The high school senior plays softball for her school team. She plays 3rd base and center field. When she’s not at the field, she enjoys going to amuesment parks with her friends.

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