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‘People call cancer the death sentence; I call it the blessing’: Entrepreneur Tonyan Schoefield shares story

SALISBURY – Tonyan Grace Schoefield believes in “showing people how to live a prosperous life.”

After being diagnosed with Stage 4 breast cancer in 2011 and given only a year to live, she is convinced that without the diagnosis, she wouldn’t be who she is today.

A motivational speaker and pastor, Schoefield also is the owner of Tonyan Grace Boutique in downtown Salisbury.

“People call cancer the death sentence; I call it the blessing,” she said. “Without cancer, I do not believe I would be living my dream. It is the real reason I am doing this.”

Having been adopted at the age of 11, Schoefield is the mother of 10 children. Five are her biological children, and the other five are nieces and a nephew whom she “adopted as her own.” Schoefield believes because of her “lack of family” she knows “the value of family.”

Family isn’t just those who are related to you biologically, but anyone who is willing to love you to the fullest capacity, said Schoefield.

She believes that her role in life is “to compel other people to find their purpose and destiny.”

Schoefield reminisced about her experience overcoming cancer in a recent interview.

“Technically, I am living with a death sentence. After given a year to live, I am on year No. 8,” she said. “I am going to make the best of these years.”

She said she refused to undergo chemotherapy.

“I had faith. I trusted and I believed,” Schoefield said. “For me, business is my passion. I believe that after having breast cancer, it was extremely important for me to live my dream. If we can get past what today looks like, than tomorrow can be a lot better.”

Schoefield said that raising a family and cooking are two of her “most greatest joys.”

She says she enjoys cooking meals for her children and husband, Antoine, in her spare time.

“I cook everything, and we love everything from soul food to Mexican food to Italian food. I love cooking. It’s peaceful for me, and it’s not a task,” she said. “I’ve been blessed to raise 10 babies named LaKeisha, Joshua, Jeremiah, Josiah and Johnathan, as well as my four nieces and one nephew, Jasmine, Angelee, Destiny, Jana and Angelo. I am proud of all of them.”

She said the most enjoyable part of raising children has been providing them with opportunities that she never had.

“I teach them things that I wish someone would have taught me so that they do not leave home making the same mistakes that I made,” she said.

Schoefield says she’s been in church all her life.

“My parents are pastors, so I grew up in a Christian home and I was instilled Christian values,” she said. “I was adopted at a very young age by some amazing people who have loved me as if I were their own. I guess that is why I am such an amazing mom.”

Schoefield said that before being in the ministry, she was a police officer and later principal of a charter school.

“I loved those kids. To this day, they keep up with me, I keep up with them,” she said.

Schoefield launched Tonyan Grace Boutique in Salisbury in October 2018.

“Tonyan is my birth name and Grace is my middle name. It is by grace that I am still here,” she said. “It’s important to me that people understand no matter what you go through in life, you are never alone, and that is how I looked at cancer, that’s how I look at business, that’s how I look at family. God is always with us no matter what is going on in life.”

Schoefield has pastored for 31 years and is currently pastor of Citadel of Life Community Church, located in Salisbury.

Tonyan Grace Boutique sells clothing for plus-size women.

“We’re in the process currently today to moving into categories so that we can be a one-stop shop for the curvy girl,” she said.

The boutique sells everything a woman needs to accessorize her outfits, said Schoefield.

“We carry gift items, sunglasses, we have a makeup studio, and we are very big into wellness. We believe in order to live a great life, you have to take care of your body,” she said. “I’ve recently redesigned the shop. I think we will be here for a while.”

Tonyan Grace Boutique is at 210 S. Main St. and can be reached at 704-431-6584.

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