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.'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:

Take care!

I got a bad feeling when I saw the URL I was loading! But I'm so glad that it's treatable. I know it won't be fun, but you seem to be pretty tough at your core, so I expect you'll stick to the treatments and hang in there. And I'm pleased to hear that you might be letting loose on the blogs a bit. I'll be looking forward to it.

By the way, I got a bunch of delighted comments from sharing your Vermont Curry post on Google+ (and two of the commenters were writers, too). I've been wondering about that myself since my first encounter with it in Taiwan. Nice work! You are unique among a sea of food writers and a huge number of Japan food and culture bloggers. As long as you keep on doing your own thing (whenever you feel like it!) I think you'll have appreciative readers. :)

Take care, please!

Rest and Strengthen Yourself

I am a big fan of yours. I am a sansei who didn't know much about Japanese other than what I learned from my grandmother when I was very small.
I started watching Japanese doramas one night and the episode was about a little boy not eating his stepmother's bento. I was fascinated about the interpretation and later went online and found your website, and all the wonderful recipes that reminded me of my grandmother. Thank you so much for sharing.
Now you must give yourself time to rest and replenish. All your fans who have feasted on your talents will send you there energy and love and prayers. Take care of yourself - you have many 'children' you have nurtured and nourished all over the world loving you.

I'm sending you lots of luck

I'm sending you lots of luck and good health vibes! Although I did not have cancer, I had a very similar experience earlier this year; it turned out I had massive benign tumors and ended up having a total abdominal hysterectomy. (No kids for me, either-I am 40.) The surgery went well, and now I am SO glad I did it. I realize now that I was exhausted all the time, and didn't know why. I know your treatment will go very well (in sha'allah) and you will be relieved when all of this is over. Take care of yourself and you have a great attitude! :)

Hang in there girl!

Not news anyone, you or us, wants to hear.
Telling the cancer and the world to stuff it. You are half way there to beating it.

Sincerest best wishes for you in your fight, your mom and my mom both beat it (Japanese and English doctors; which suggests 'they' know how to take care of it) Just thank your lucky stars you don't live here in America.

Take care and best of luck.


Oh! quit lazing around in bed and start writing some more stuff :-))))

Wishing you all the best...

Hello Ms. Ito,
I am so relieved to hear your health is being properly monitored and managed. I've been following your JustBento & JustHungry sites for about a year now and I never took the opportunity to thank you for the information you provide as well as just pure entertainment and inspiration to create a "small gift" to my loved one and myself on a daily basis at lunchtime (and my loved one would probably thank you a million times in person if he could!). It has made me healthier and give more thought into not only what I eat but what those around also eat.
Please stay strong and know there are people our there who care about your well being and are sending you good, healthy thoughts.
Congratulations on all your successes to this point and I wish you so much more in the future.
Lady in NY

hope you get well soon!

hope you get well soon! you've got tons of food to write about and natural disasters to report on! we are counting on you!

The cancer bit is not good,

The cancer bit is not good, but I'm glad that it was caught. Looking forward to your getting better and perhaps upping the snark a bit in your posts. :)

Rooting for you

I really enjoy your book and blogs, thank you. :)

All the best for a prompt recovery!

Thank you so much for sharing your experience. I've been following your Bento blog for at least two years and was very sorry to see your recent absence.

It looks like your doctors are exceptionally well-trained and have the situation very well under control.

My grandmother of 91 years has recently experienced a similar bleeding, and my parents have been visiting her in Italy over the past two months, essentially keeping an eye on her and making sure her doctors are taking good care of her.

I wish you a very pain-free and quick recovery. My very bestest wishes and most positive energy to you.

Look forward to hearing many more bento recipes from you in a very near future! :)

Hi, fan of your Just Hungry

Hi, fan of your Just Hungry and Just Bento blogs here. I just wanted to stop by and wish you the best. Take care.


You have inspired me in so many many ways and I thank you. I only hope to become as strong as you. GAMBATTE KUDASAI ^_^

I followed this over from

I followed this over from JustBento, and I really hope that you don't feel pressured to continue it for the sake of the readers at the risk of your health. When people ask 'what happened to JustBento', I'm sure they'll understand after reading this!
All this to say, JB is a wonderful site and I know I'm going to reference it frequently - but take care of yourself, relax, don't eat your favourite foods if you're nauseous, etc.
And I hope you recover soon. That too, definitely.

Dear Makiko, I am a big fan

Dear Makiko,
I am a big fan of yours! You helped me at a difficult time in my life about two years ago. I discovered Just Bento and Just Hungry and started making healthful and delicious Japanese food for myself and my family which really lifted our spirits. Sometimes I'd make a bento lunch for myself in the morning, even though I wasn't going anywhere, and at lunch time there it was, waiting for me!
You've always given so much of yourself in your blogs that I feel that you are a friend. I worried about you during your last hospitalization and celebrated the success of your book.
I'll be thinking about you and wishing you a very speedy recovery, and wil be looking forward to your future posts and recipes!
Be well!

great news that you won't be as "nice" anymore

Dear Maki,
I have loved your site and I hope that you recover, because you seem like such a badass cook and in general. you have been such a great teacher too!(ok, well you know how great you are). but please, get better soon, and rest, and when you're up to it, I hope to see more posts assailing jessica alba's acting skills, discussing snarky top chef or master chef comments, recipes and celebrate the return of you not fearing being insulting.

Glad to hear an update from

Glad to hear an update from you; hope to hear positive development soon

Get Well Soon!

Maki, I found Just Bento and Just Hungry when I was healing after my own hysterectomy, a few years back. While the reason for my hysterectomy was not cancer, I was still very sick before the surgery. Your recipes were an important part of my recovery, and my continued good health. I am sorry to hear that you are not feeling well, and I wish you all the best in your fight against cancer. I look forward to your future posts with a "new attitude"! ^_^ Take good care of yourself! My thoughts are with you. Thank you for Being!

Sending lots of positive vibes your way!!

Hi, I have been ur reader on and off but ON again recently because I started to prepare bento lunch for hubs!

Cancer is not all bad news, down the road you will get to see alot more clearer and live life alot more free-er; the way you always wanted it to be. And looking at how talented you are, it will push you to even greater horizons!

I say this because when i am diagnosed at 26 with non-hodgkin lymphoma I hv only a 40% chance of surviving. But now after 8+years with chemo, stem-cell transplant and radiotherapy, I am still around enjoying life as it should be; the way I always wanted it to be :) ...

My only regret might be that I didn't hv any children, but I will always have my dog TOto :)

GOod luck to you :)
Sending lots of positive vibes your way!!

Good for you!

I am a brand new follower (I discovered your blog literally two days ago) but I am very drawn to your writing style and of course cooking skills. This post is an amazing testament to your personality and I would like to thank you for being so transparent. I wish you a speedy recovery and send a big "GOOD FOR YOU!" on just being yourself as you write. While a blog's informational content is what alerts me to it's presence, the personality of the host is what keeps my attention - and you, my dear, definitely have my attention. Keep being you!

I just wanted to wish you

I just wanted to wish you well, you have the right attitude to get through this! I enjoy your writing a lot, and look forward to more when you are feeling better.

Prayers and best wishes

Maki, get well and healthy.

Best wishes. I always enjoy

Best wishes. I always enjoy reading your blogs, even if I never comment ^-^;; So glad you're keeping a positive attitude, and I look forward to the straitjacket coming off!


Bon rétablissement

It's nice to read some news of someone I like to read. I hope you will get soon much better.

I just wanted to explain you that in french, the meaning of "petite" is only "small" or "short" and has nothing to do with being thin or anything, and not the same as the one I was suprised to learn while travelling in Australia. It is a "false friend", like "large" that only means "wide" in french.

So, get well soon Petite Madame ^^

I am so sorry. Your health is

I am so sorry. Your health is what is most important. Take care of yourself I wish you the best and want to tell you that I am a big fan of your blog/book.

Take care!

Have the utmost confidence that you will come out of this like your mother.

Thinking of you in this part

Thinking of you in this part of your treatment and recovery - I have enjoyed your book and your blogs so much, I'm glad you're moving forward with such a true to yourself approach!

get well

I'm a big fan of your sites, well mostly justbento. I've always been fond of your multi-cultural exposure while maintaining your Japanese root (in food) fascinating (I'm a Taiwanese living oversea). I know it's cliche but do get well soon. And whatever you decide to do with the site i'm 100% supportive with your decision.

When I first heard you were

When I first heard you were hospitalized,I was hoping it was just a fleeting infection. Sorry to hear it is something much more serious. Please keep your spirits up, it will probably be a tough road ahead. That's why it is important to write/say what is true to you. Very glad to hear the survival/recovery rate is very good. Can't wait to see the tweet/blog note when you have conquered it.


Your post is inspirational, your voice is so strong that I read it and though I feel saddened by it, I am glad you are taking something positive from this. You give me hope to be a stronger person. I wish you nothing but the best going forward. Hugs.

I know you're not looking for

I know you're not looking for sympathy or anything like that, but i've been following your blogs for quite some time and picked up a lot of things here and there from them, especially culinary, opening my "kitchen-eyes" for new things all the time, so for some reason it just did not feel right not leaving a quick note wishing you a fast recovery. You certainly have the right mind set to be strong and barrel through it and come out even stronger at the other end! Here's to a speedy recovery!!!


Get well soon!

Wow my blood ran cold in para 2. Jesus. But if your Mum came through the same thing, that's a heck of a good sign.

Love love love your writing, whatever the subject matter. You really have a unique perspective and there's a strong sense of your personality coming through. More daring, uncensored stuff from you sounds absolutely fab.

Please get well soon!

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