As a retired Lieutenant Colonel who gave over 26 years to the U.S. Air Force (active duty, guard and reserves), Tracey Jo Saiki is a woman of many strengths. She worked as the Military Liaison for Programs and Events at the Chamber of Commerce of Hawaii and also finished her Master's in Organization Change at Hawaii Pacific University in just two years. In fact, Tracey was on active duty during her first year in the Master's program and had to travel to Mongolia and Nepal with her laptop, so she wouldn't miss any assignments. This is a true testament to the drive and determination that Tracey uses in all aspects of her life.
Then on December 31, 2013, just two weeks after she completed her Master's degree, Tracey suffered a stroke. Her speech and the use of her right arm and leg were taken away. Tracey has been continuously challenged by the effects of her stroke for the last few years.
Tracey suffers from Moyamoya disease, a rare progressive cerebrovascular disorder caused by blocked arteries at the base of the brain. Not many survive this disease, but Tracey's determination and persistence has been able to help her fight it. Before coming to REHAB, Tracey could only say two words. She has come a long way since then. Some of the challenges she faced include learning to use her left hand (she's prominantly right-handed) and working through her aphasia (difficulty finding words to express her thoughts - she knows what she wants to say but has a hard time verbalizing it).
Tracey wouldn't have been able to overcome these obstacles without the help of her support team — her family and care team. The faith that her family and REHAB have given her is never ending and gives her the strength to endure the unexpected. Her fighting spirit has allowed her to become a new Tracey Jo Saiki that she has learned to love and understand. This new self love allows her to relearn and rebuild the road to her success.
"The REHAB Creative Arts Program is an outlet for me as I continue to learn and rebuild my life," she says.