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9 Sep 2011

A, B...and C

filed under: journal  :: modern life  :: personal

I've been debating with myself for a while whether I should make this public knowledge, but I've decided to go ahead...because you might see something is up anyway. It's hard to write about food, when food is such a part of your health and body. Besides...it's not like a dirty secret. It's part of what I am, in early September 2011.

So, here goes. Last Sunday, I was hospitalized due to heavy bleeding, which had gone on for more than a week. I thought it was just a very very heavy period and tried to tough it out, hoping the bleeding would lessen - bad mistake. I became so weak and dizzy that I could barely move, and my heart was pounding so fast everytime I just stood up, that I thought I it would jump out of my chest. After several tests and scans and exploratory surgery and so on, the prognosis was, as you might surmise by now, cancer. I believe it's called uteran cancer or endometrial cancer in English, though the cancer has spread a bit to the cervix as well. (This was explained to Max and me by the gynecologist, who is French of course, with an illustration of the woman parts that he scribbled on a notepad as he talked. By the way, French doctors have just as horrible handwriting as American or Japanese doctors. What's up with that?)

Now before you start feeling really bad for me, the type of cancer I have has a very good recovery rate, and they did catch it fairly early (though I really should have gone to the hospital quite a bit earlier...I've been feeling pretty lousy for at least 3 months now, not to mention bleeding A Lot). It certainly isn't terminal just yet. (Coincidentally, my mother had cervical cancer and a hysterectomy when she was the same age I am now. She's still with us 20 plus years later, as bossy and mom-like as ever. Do I believe that cancer is a bit hereditary? You bet.) And thankfully, I live in a country where affordable, top class healthcare is regarded as a basic right, not a privilege.

I'll be getting radiation therapy first for about 6 weeks, followed most probably by a full hysterectomy. After a meeting between specialists (gynecologist, oncologist, etc) to discuss my case, it was determined that the best course of treatment would be to have a full hysterectomy followed by a course of radiation therapy (the cancer has metasized a bit). (Such meetings are standard procedure in France, by the way.) Since I was certainly not planning to have kids at my age, I'm quite fine with that. Well OK, the finality of it did cause me to have a small pang. I should have tried harder to have a child some time back, but that's the way it goes. If you are thinking of having children and you think you might regret it if you suddenly couldn't, do it Now. You never know what's going to happen.

During my initial hospitalization, they pumped about 2 liters of blood into me, stopped the bleeding, brought up my iron levels and so on. (And, this hospital ward had no Madame Méchante! (And nope I'm having no luck with my health since moving to France. Boo.) Everyone was super nice. Though the more elderly nurses and aides kept calling me pauvre petite dame...not being exactly petite (short yes, petite definitely not) this struck me as being hilarious.) I can walk around slowly without feeling like I'm going to die. (I was feeling really weak and lousy for a few weeks, to be honest, accounting partly for my very slow pace of posting on my blogs.)

I do have to say that while I'm feeling 100% better than before I went to hospital, I'm still not quite hale and hearty. I get tired very easily. This state of things may continue for a while yet as my body tries to get rid of those pesky cancer bits. So please bear with me if I goof off again. Hey, tweeting takes a whole lot less effort, so follow me there if you want to check up on me. ^_^;

Another thing is, I've done a lot of thinking about both Just Hungry and Just Bento while lying in the hospital bed. While the main reason I was posting so infrequently on both sites was my lack of energy and general malaise, I was also feeling very stymied and uninspired. There are various reasons for that, but one of the big ones is that I think I've been a bit too timid and Nice for some time...and that is just not me. When your blogs and writing become a serious source of your income, you start to get worried about stuff like upsetting people and advertisers or straying too far 'off topic' and losing readers and whatnot. Somewhere along the way I put myself in a straitjacket because 'business sense' told me that I needed to focus on specific topics. Well, let's just say, from now on - fuck that. Yay! If I end up living another 20, 30 years it may all come back to bite me in the ass...but who cares? I bet I'll be a whole lot happier in the end.

I also have so many other project ideas floating around in my head. I'm just hoping my energy levels will keep up.

I'm not looking for your condolences or sympathy here, just letting you know what's going on. Am I afraid, or angry, or sad? Nope. Of course I cried a bit when I first got the prognosis, but now I feel quite calm, and pretty good. I admit to having periods of feeling depressed and even suicidal in the past, though I've never acted upon it. (Don't we all?) But now, when I'm in a state where inaction most likely means The End? I feel like I'm in control, again. The rest of my life commences now, and I think I'm going to try to spend it the way I want to.

ETA: I'm overwhelmed by your kind words. Thank you. ^_^

Comments on this post:

Oh, dear...be well. Really, I

Oh, dear...be well. Really, I hope you do.
You know, your sites have been a lot of help to me during my own health problems? I have so much trouble eating, that at times even the thought of food makes me feel like I'm going to be ill. But, your pictures are so lovely, and the way you write about food, with such fondness, and so many wonderful stories on the side, somehow puts me in the "mood" to eat. Your book, too! Your recipes are so practical and low-fuss, that even without much energy, I can make them.
So, thank you. I know how beyond not fun that can be, and yeah...wow. I'm awful with words. But, keep your amazing outlook, and being the amazing person that you are!

Hi Maki, best of luck with

Hi Maki, best of luck with your treatment and take care!

Good wishes

Dear Maki, I have loved your site for years, cooked many of your recipes, read your articles in the Japan Times, and have your book in my shelf. I was sad to hear about your diagnosis, but grateful that it was caught early. I pray that you will get better soon, and keep up your spirits. The world needs a writer/blogger/cook like you. You should write and say whatever you want. You've always shown good sense with your opinions before, and besides, that's why I read your blog -- for your point of view.

Best,

Natalie

maki-san, odaiji ni <3

Hi Maki. First, thank you! I've been reading both Just Hungry and Just Bento for years. Your recipes are wonderful, and I so appreciate that you go into detail about specific ingredients and Japanese culture/history. From you I've learned much more than just how to be a smarter, more efficient cook. Second, as others have said, if you want to sass up your writing, definitely go for it! (In fact, I bet that'll up your readership. Let out your awesomeness!)

I admire your fortitude and wish you a speedy recovery. I've noticed that many women tend to put themselves last, behind work, behind their loved ones' health, behind all the many errands and obligations that might not seem like a big deal to one's husband (or one's children), but are the things that make a family's day-to-day run smoothly. And women who don't have children don't necessarily get to relax, either. Do you work late into the night because you have too much on your plate? (I do!) And people think that if you work from home, your job is easy. No way. It takes tons of discipline and organization, and when there's no commute to distance yourself from your work, you're basically always at work!

Well, this is getting too long. But I want you to know that I and all of your readers really appreciate you. And seriously: you deserve a vacation.

So glad you're OK!

I'm so glad you're OK! Hope you have a speedy recovery! I've loved reading your site for years Post whatever makes you happy- your real fans will love you no matter what.

Just wanted to send you my

Just wanted to send you my wishes of a full and fast (as possible) recovery. We will never meet but I really enjoy reading your post, I wish you well, and hope that you cope well with the times ahead and keep your wellbeing and appetite for life, for food, up!
All the best!

Best wishes and heartfelt thanks!

Maki,

I sincerely wish you all the best and a speedy recovery. I lived in Japan for ten years, being back in the States for six now, where I work in Altanta as an interpreter translator. While I adored Japanese food of all kinds (except Uni) while in Japan, I was too busy doing other things and my apartment was too small (or so I told myself) and conbini bentos were so good...that I did not spend much time learning how to cook the food I loved. Since finding your site about two years ago, I have enjoyed both sucess and failure at trying to recreate the fatastic dished I came to love there.

I just ordered your book on bento's, and am goign to try that. Although I am single, live alone and thus my personality and patience may not get me very far. (My homestay mother my first year in Japan was hard-core...but again I was too busy learning language and mahjong to pay attention to cooking.)

I am very sorry for the circumstances but love the fact that you had a 「ファック ザット!」moment.

ガンとの勝負マキさんなら負けない!

今後の記載、楽しみにしております。

Thanks again.

"Tommy the Train" (That was the nickname I got playing mahjong...since if I am moving smoke is coming out...(Marlboro.)

Hello Maki I was so sorry to

Hello Maki

I was so sorry to read your post - like many, many people I have been following Just Hungry/Bento for some time and have been really inspired by your recipes and writing. I just want to say I'm thinking of you and hope you get well soon.

Odaijini.

H in London.

my thoughts are with you!

Best wishes to you and your family on your well being and recovery!! <3

The comment about doctors'

The comment about doctors' handwriting - i know eh! even the doctors in Australia have bad handwriting...maybe it's a doctor thing... :P

I'm actually new to JustHungry and instantly fell in love with your recipes! Like some, i stumbled across your health note and already, I can see you have many supporters.

I wish you a smooth and speedy recovery! And when you feel up for it, why don't you come down to the other side of the world and visit Australia! While we may not have as amazing 'traditional' food/cuisine here, there's a huge variety and the air is also nice :)

All the best,
Ashley (from Sydney)

When I first happened upon

When I first happened upon Just Hungry, a couple of years ago, I was totally inspired by the recipes, the attention to detail, the great writing. Now there's another inspiration: your embrace of life. I wish you a speedy recovery and all the best!

I've always enjoyed trying

I've always enjoyed trying out your recipes on justhungry.com.

My mother went through the same experience not too long ago. She had gone through menopause and then started bleeding again. She just assumed that her menopause was a misdiagnosis and left it at that. This continued for almost a year until she decided to get a second opinion. Although she did have to have a full hysterectomy, she never had to undergo chemotherapy. She's been healthy and cancer-free for almost 3 years now.

Good for you on doing things the way you want to do them from now on! Good luck. I wish you a full and speedy recovery.

Get well soon from Peru!

Dear Maki, today I opened Justbento looking for inspiration and new ways to get back to Bento, and found your health note.

Hugs, love, prayers, girl. You're inspiring me much more now. So good you have insurance and pros and loving ones to support you.

I'll post some of my Justbento attempts on your FB: sure you will smile at them!

Guadalupe Parra

Be well

Another lurker coming out of the woodwork. I've been a fan of yours for several years. I hope to see your future posts have a renewed sense of vitality, energy and freedom. You'll always have loyal fans no matter what happens. All of the world's strength, compassion and healing for you!

Hi Maki, I have been an on

Hi Maki, I have been an on off reader for around two or so years, I always like how you take everything in your stride and can only assume that you are going to act exactly the same in regards to this. Get well, stay well Rhiannon.

Get well soon

Hi Maki,

Your blog is always my source of inspiration when I'm down, so now I want to repay that by sending you the force :)

Get well soon, and may the force be with you.

Coldcap Treatment

Hi Maki, I have been a long time reader and a huge fan.
You say you're going to be having radiation therapy, that comes with hairloss I believe.
A couple of months ago I was watching a Michelle Phan video on Youtube and she had a segment near the end that was about coldcap therapy that keeps you from losing the hair on your head. I'll include the link.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YqYLXNKO2z0

hope it helps.

Apparently, radiation therapy

Apparently, radiation therapy only causes hairloss to the area that is being treated, unlike chemotherapy which causes hairloss all over the body. In my case, radiotherapy is applied to my abdomen area...so the hair on my belly will be gone! yay! ^_^;;) Thanks for the concern though!

To a speedy recovery

Hello Maki,

Another silent reader here.

You really are a very brave and amazing woman! It's never *nice* to hear of a diagnosis of cancer. The last time I heard someone that I cared about was diagnosed with cancer (my grandma), I felt like I couldn't continue my medical training...like it was pointless if we couldn't STOP it from happening. I've had a think about it over the years (and she's still with us, and in the meantime she's actually had another different cancer and still doing fine) and I figure I need to become a good doctor to care for people in the meantime, until something can really be done about cancer.

I hope that your radiotherapy goes well and that you recover as quickly as possible!

Eagerly anticipating THE REAL YOU writing posts up!

Jian

(P.S. I actually have nice handwriting. Doctors on wardround often comment on how legible it is! But no, you're totally right, in England the majority of doctors also have horrible handwriting. The nurses joke that it must be a requirement at medical school!)

Positive Vibes

Dear Maki,

I am sending you lots of positive vibes. I wish you a speedy recovery and a bright future.

Warmest wishes,

Bill

Stay Strong!

Maki, I'm so glad that you're in a country where you can get the treatment you need without going under financially. Take care of yourself and get better that's definitely the #1 without worrying about your blog!

Stay strong we're rooting for you <3

Hugs!

you are a strong woman! Praying that you kick this sickness out of your system.

Best Wishes

I went through a similar situation some years ago. After the Big C was raised as a possibility, it was finally determined to be a benign fibroid.

I am happy to hear that, although your diagnosis was not so happy, you are expected to have a good outcome. Though only an infrequent visitor to your blogs, I do enjoy the content and look forward to many more years of being able to do so.

Take care of yourself, don't worry about us readers -- we'll be here when you are ready.

My very best wishes

I wish you the best of luck with your treatment and recovery, Makiko-san! I have your bento book and it's really inspired me to make more interesting (and healthy) lunches, so thank you. May you entertain us for many years yet!

You're amazing.

Dear Maki,

As I read your honest post, I think your words comforted me than I could have comforted you. I always looked forward to your posts on Just Hungry and am grateful there will many more years and posts to read in the future. When you mentioned you were moving to Provence, it brought back fond memories. My husband, mother-in-law, and I camped in Bedoin and in some small way, I am living vicariously through you in Provence even though I live in Canada.

Take care, and let your humour carry you forward.

Recovery

Hi Maki:
I was sorry to hear you were not feeling well recently..
I send you best wishes for a very successful recovery.
Take a rest and concentrate now on your health so you can come back to us strong and well.....
Love to you
Twanya

Maki,

Your blog changed my view of many things, made my love for japanese culture and mundane vegetables grow, and helped me put a smile on my loved one's faces after trying your recipes. While you may not feel inspired about this anymore, I'd like to remind you that we'll continue to carry your inspiration and love for cooking and food for years to come.

Thank you for all you've given me, and I wish I could give you more than just my wishes for your recovery, and don't be mistaken, I feel no compassion, only bigger admiration for the person you are (:

best wishes from Venezuela,
Dani.

me too

Rest, eat, live and love.

I'm still here, 40 years on from my "blip". I don't know how our two diagnoses might compare, but I chose not to have a hysterectomy. A lot of scraping, a huge chunk of my cervix removed some hormones for about six months, several years later, more D&Cs but still no hysterectomy. Now, I'm fine 40 years on from the first diagnosis. I'll be hoping for your full recovery, cooking, reading, looking for you.

Hi ,Maki

Good luck!!

get well and kick *ss

Hi Maki,

get well soon, and do whatever you feel inspired to do. We all evolve, and with us so do our ideas. I'm sure whatever you decide to do will kick *ss!

All the best from Ireland

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