Life is tough and then, sometimes, it gets tougher.
But according to author Kim K. Forstater, these things shouldn’t get you down or make you depressed.
“I believe God only gives you what He thinks you can handle,” she said. “In my case, He apparently thinks I can handle a lot.”
In her memoir, Rings and Shackles, Forstater talks about a life that started with abuse as a child, tragic deaths of siblings when she was young, an abusive marriage, and then breast cancer. In between, she also experienced events that many people would consider high points of their lives, such as her winning a $4.3 million jackpot in Atlantic City in 2004, only to be diagnosed with breast cancer a year later.
A resident of Staten Island, Forstater worked at as an accountant and bookkeeper in Jersey City and elsewhere for decades, while trying to make a life for herself and her family despite all the ups and downs has decided to document.
She originally self-published the book under the title Picking Up The Pieces, but revamped the book adding material including more dialogue when it was picked up by Tate Publishing and rereleased as Rings and Shackles, which talks about the ups and downs of life, and how she had to struggle to rebuild her life after abuse as a child, abuse in her first marriage, divorce, then cancer and melanoma.
“I grew up in Brooklyn and Staten Island,” she said. “But I lived most of my adult life in New Jersey. For a while, I did direct marketing in Jersey City and I have my own business now with clients in Jersey City and other places.”
Still fresh from her Atlantic City win, Forstater got the call on Feb. 14, 2005, telling her that the lump tested in her breast was malignant. She then went through a lumpectomy and partial mastectomy, radiation and a regimen of tamoxifen. Still a year later, tests showed abnormal cell growth in both breasts, requiring more radiation, surgery and follow-up tests. By 2010, the test still showed abnormal growth.
“I believe God only gives you what He thinks you can handle.” – Kim K. Forstater
“I’m still dealing with it,” she said during a telephone interview in early January 2013, but the idea to talk about life and its struggles in a book came to her in 2005, and she started writing the book in 2006, dropping it for a time to deal with medical issues before picking it up again in 2010.
“I wanted to show how I got through this,” she said, “and to let other people know that they are not alone. No matter what happens, they should keep fighting. Good things do come out of it.”
This has been a lesson she learned early on, suffering through a parents’ alcoholism and the associated abuse, through the early death of two brothers, and through her bouts with cancer and divorce.
“I learned to handle everything that came down the line,” she said. “There were so many extremes, a lot of bad things, a lot of good things. One of m greatest achievements in life are my two children. At one point I thought I might not be able to have kids.”
While not a regular churchgoer, she said she’s always believed in God, and a higher power, and that there was a reason for everything.
“But I learned that good things happen as well as bad and that people should not give up,” she said.
In some ways, the book served as therapy for her, a way of putting some of it behind her, and finding hope in the middle of all of it. By sharing the story, she was able to look at her life and realize how strong she really was, and with the hope that other people suffering through their own problems might be able to overcome similar obstacles.
Rings and Shackles is available in bookstores and from Tate Publishing at tatepublishing.com/bookstore, at barnesandnoble.com, and at amazon.com.