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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:

Get Well

Hello Maki!

Life has a way of beating on us, but we can persevere. I had a heart attack and my husband was recently diagnosed with bladder cancer. We are both doing fine and would like to send our well wishes on to you, you can do this.

I am just grateful to get to know Bento through your eyes and wisdom. arigato, maki-san!

Hooray Maki!

Fuck that! is just the attitude you should have. I love it! Live long and conquer.

this time a book for you

Thank you for years of inspiring recipes. May I now suggest reading to you. A book called taking charge of your fertility helped me with endometrial issues (and eventually getting pregnant too actually). The book helps you track signs of your menstrual cycle to know when hormones are rising and falling for ovulation. The author sites a few studies where taking this timing into consideration greatly improved surgical outcomes for breast and uterine cancer patients. Based on this book I also gave up soy to lower my phyto estrogen intake and personally saw big changes in my cycle. American docs don't seem to up on this timing knowledge but its well documented in pub med. Read also about kegel exercise for post surgery healing. Let me know if you'd like me to send you a used copy of the book as thanks for all the reading you've sent to my inbox over the years. Best, erica

Wishing you well Maki!

I want to commend your courage and generosity in sharing your news with us, and to say that I am so sorry that you are going to have to go through all of the treatments. I have a dear friend who went through this same cancer several years ago and today she is fine, absolutely fine, and my hopes are that you will be too. I am am avid reader of your Just Bento discussions, and you literally opened up a whole new way of eating for me and an appreciation of the "art" of food prep. Take good care of yourself.

Stay strong Maki! You are

Stay strong Maki! You are going to beat this and be back better than ever. You are a strong, sassy bunny! Lots of love and positive healing thoughts going your way!

You will heal

Dear Maki,

I've been quietly following your blog for a few years now. Thank you for sharing what's going on with you personally ~ I think you're right that you should share what you really think. Blogs that are politically correct are dry and boring. Blogs are cathartic. Get the bad feelings out. And share the nice ones, too. Blogs are much better than diaries. They are public diaries. Look at all the people all around the world who are thinking of you now and sending you good thoughts - we are doing it because you have educated and informed and communicated with us for years. We really do enjoy you and we really do wish you well.
Get well soon,
Saskia

Best Wishes

I've enjoyed your Just Hungry blog for a long time, and look forward to a time when you may have the energy and interest in continuing.

Hope you have a speedy and easy recovery!

Your fan,
Leslie

頑張って下さい。

Dear Maki,

I really love both of your blogs and your writing style.
My 3 year old daughter was diagnosed with leukemia
last March. I discovered your blogs sometime during
our initial stay in the hospital, in the wee hours of the
morning I believe. I hope that you find comfort & strength
from your blog fans, sending you well wishes.

Love and Best Wishes

Sorry to hear you are under the weather, all my love and best wishes are with you during your recovery xxxxx

=)

Take your time-

and know that you have many, many people who've never met you but have come to love and appreciate you through your excellent writing. Be well soon!

Hi Maki, I haven't been aware

Hi Maki, I haven't been aware of your wonderfully inspirational sites for long but when I stumbled upon first just bento then just hungry i ended up spending a few days reading through them and am still checking in every few days or so. Its simple to feel the love you have for japanese and food of all the world it seems as well. Good on you to break out of the rut and follow your hart, that's what living is all about.
My mother had iritis cancer as well and have a hystoctomi a fair few years back and is now feeling all great, It great that you are talking openly about this, I for one have been reminded to keep an eye on things. Great to hear you feeling better. Wish you all the best.

Also, I am Swedish, who lived many years in the UK and am now living in Australia and Every single doctor I have ever had writing me a prescription has been unreadable for me in some strange alien ink swirls.. It's extremely strange.

Happy thoughts.

Hi Maki, I haven't been aware

Hi Maki, I haven't been aware of your wonderfully inspirational sites for long but when I stumbled upon first just bento then just hungry i ended up spending a few days reading through them and am still checking in every few days or so. Its simple to feel the love you have for japanese and food of all the world it seems as well. Good on you to break out of the rut and follow your hart, that's what living is all about.
My mother had iritis cancer as well and have a hystoctomi a fair few years back and is now feeling all great, It great that you are talking openly about this, I for one have been reminded to keep an eye on things. Great to hear you feeling better. Wish you all the best.

Also, I am Swedish, who lived many years in the UK and am now living in Australia and Every single doctor I have ever had writing me a prescription has been unreadable for me in some strange alien ink swirls.. It's extremely strange.

Happy thoughts.

Gute Besserung! Get well soon!

Take good care of you - here's to you wishing that you're better soon. I'm looking very much forward to read an "uncensored" version of your blogs. My whole japanese-cooking and bento-making is heavily influenced by your site and your wonderful cookbook, so I'm sure whatever will come now will be just slpendid. But get better first, yes? Gute Besserung from Germany!

Best wishes

Hi,
I am not much of a cook myself, but I love reading your blogs, especially your pretty photos. Hope you get well soon!

I knew it!!

I knew there was way more going on than your way polite (yet awesome) bento posts - thank you for the brave unveil. You just widened your support network and I'm sure your blog is going to take you places you never imagined. Here's to resiliency!

Best of Luck

Dear Maki, thanks so much for sharing. I was worried about you. I can add you to a prayer chain. It seems like you are in a good space to go through some powerful transformations and emerge as a new, improved Maki. Of course only you can discover what that is. Japanese food can be very healing. Burdock is very good for detoxing the body from radiation and cancer cells, for example. So eat healthy foods.

I am glad you have a good medical system and are not living in the USA. Maybe have some astrology done to figure out why your fortunes changed on moving to France. Probably involves your ascendant. Might be things to do to shift the energy (short of moving again). Feng shui or something!!

Best of luck again,

Linda

Keep it up

Hi Maki I am a big fan of yours and love the book and the websites...it is a sharks world out there but please keep up the work and sod the people who get upset..better to be straight and yourself than regret it later... as you said life is too short and we have only one...Good luck with your treatment and I wish you all the best
Daniela

Love

I've been following your post for a while now, and I LOVE your point of view on food, traveling, and being an expat (I'm an expat myself). My thoughts are with you and I send you all my love and prayers. Get well soon, girl!!! :)

Sending you plenty of positive energy

Oh Maki, this is uncanny, my husband has just been diagnosed with cancer also. It also very treatable and after the initial shock we are a lot calmer. Like you my husband has a problem with the language and I accompany him whenever possible to translate and explain.
I understand your language frustration, it's a great oportunity to buy a nice French CD and learn some lingo, non? That way if you get a Madame Méchante you can tell her to "piss off" (allez vous faire voir), and if you get a Madame Gentille you can say "thanks very much".
I love reading your bento recipes on the justbento website, and in the cookbook too. You always put a little story around the recipes (see, you were already going off topic a bit!!) and I love that. Cooking and enjoying eating is never just about the recipes, it's about culture, personal references and preferences... if you are saying you will put even more of your soul in your posts, I say hurrah!!

Keep your chin and hopes up, you can beat this shitty thing!

And please post about how you are doing :0)

I send you lots of positive "énergie"
A.

wishing you all the best

I allways read your excellent postings on Just Hungry with gusto. Just wish you all the best in these hard times!

Best wishes!

I will be running in the National (US) Race to End Women's Cancer on November 6, and I definitely will be thinking of you. Thank you for sharing this with us. As a long time reader of Just Bento and Just Hungry, am sure I am speaking for most of when I say that I feel like I know you and definitely care for your health. I wish you all the best during this challenging time!

this is just a kind o

this is just a kind o weird... i wont feel bad for you, i wont gonna pray for you... because i know how this sounds pretty fake... nothing that could be said can change anything... i like your work very much so somehow is like i knew a little bit of you... excuse-me for my way and for my english (lol) ps: let me know if i could help in something
sometimes life is just sucks ^^

Take care

Dear Makiko-san,

Praying for your speedy recovery. The most important thing is that they caught it early. I was just dignosed with DCIS Breast Cancer Stage 0 and am starting radiation for 6 weeks. They will take good care of you. Take care, dear and we are rooting for you!

You Bet!

Thank you for letting us know. And you betcha, fight like hell, and then take this blog wherever you feel it needs to go. You got it here by being you. Keep on doing that. I found your blog not long ago. Nice to see the honesty. I'm looking forward to reading it for a long, long time to come.

Thank you for sharing your

Thank you for sharing your life and health information, I was worried. You are a huge help in my life with your information about Japanese food, traditions and seasonal information. During the period of the earthquake, you were an important news source since I live in Tokyo but don't speak Japanese. You have a world of friends who are here to help you in return. Be well and keep your creative energy up.

Get well soon Maki, and do whatever you want!

I've been one of those silent readers of your blog for a while now, and I'm usually reading your just hungry site as I just enjoy the whole food-plus-lifestyle-plus-personal-plus-cultural style of it.

I love reading about recipes, food, your life and home, and I personally feel you should just continue to write about whatever you want! I'm sure it'll be just as lovely to read, whatever it is ;)

Hoping you get well & feel better soon.

Maki, I just wanted to say

Maki, I just wanted to say that I think your blogs are awesome, I am always trying out your recipes and justhungry is the first place I go if I want to know how to cook something Japanese. Take care lady!

wishing you well

i love your blog and read it frequently and refer to it often as i follow your recipes, tips, etc. THANK YOU for helping me improve my cooking skills and the virtual encouragement - your blog makes me feel i can cook anything and everything with just a bit of inspiration, planning, and effort.

thank you for all that you do and i wish you well. i know you're a fighter -- stay strong! hugs, good thoughts and get well soon.

Thank you for the inspiration

I moved to Japan in April to be an English teacher, and have been following your blog ever since, having my own adventures in Japanese cooking in my Shizuoka apartment.

I myself am an aspiring writer and you have been a source of inspiration. After reading your post today, please accept all the good thoughts and wishes I will send your way every day - the mind is a powerful thing, no? You have brought tears to my eyes with your bravery and fantastic attitude. I don't have to meet you face to face to understand that you are an incredible woman.

So, がんばれ〜 and take care. Thank you for your words, and keep them coming!

Love,

Laura

From a silent old follower you inspired...Get Well Now!

Hi Maki,

I have been following your sites for some time, and enjoying every bit of it, even though I don't make bentos, and my food is rarely as pretty as anything you make! I stumbled upon your recipe how to cook dried soy beans after have bought some and had them in the cupboard for 6 months. You have inspired me to document my own family recipes and mom's tips and tricks.

You are a strong woman and you have so many people sending you well wishes and positive energy. All your fans in Egypt are rooting for you! Get Well Now, we demand it! :)

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