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:

Keep up the fight

I'm a fan of your blogs, and am a cancer-blogger (link above) - sending you my best wishes for recovery. Hope my blog can cheer you through a bit!

Good wishes

I hope everything goes as planned.

Sending you and your peeps good wishes from Massachusetts USA


Best wishes

I've followed your sites for many years and they've provided quite a bit of direction for my life that revolves around food. I'm so happy to hear that the cancer inspired a "fuck it" attitude to allow for more honest irreverence in blogging, which I think is quite the healthy attitude for living. Best, Maki.

You've been such an

You've been such an inspiration to me! I want to thank you over and over for your blogs and recipes, you've really inspired me to do more cooking. I hope and pray that you make a quick recovery. My thoughts are with you!

Hopes up

It is great to see that you are so optimistic and ready to take on "the job".

All the very best of luck.

All the very best of luck.

You can do this ...

... With the same chutzpah and humor that you've done everything else in your life.

Ironically, bento, and specifically your websites, helped me and my mom when she was going through cancer. When I visited her I would prepare bento-like meals. Small amounts of different foods, colorful and full of texture was easier for her to eat when she had little appetite. She was a Nisei (second generation Japanese-American) and from your websites I was able to practice dishes that she hadn't seen since childhood. While she was unsure about the molded eggs, I think she enjoyed critiquing my haijiki mixed onigiri.

Remember: chutzpah and humour.

Get well soon.

best wishes for a speedy recovery.

You're stronger than you thought, Maki.

Dear Maki,
first..i wanna say thank you for your bento inspiration. You've helped me to keep healthy by your tasty recipe. Your blogs are awesome..:)
Maki, you're stronger than you thought. I'll pray for your speedy recovery. Please eat well and get well soon.. Though we never met, but i care for you like i care to my friends.
Maki, ganbatte ne!! ^__^

Mais Quelle Dame!

Hi Maki
I wanted to add my best wishes too. You're output is so vast - I keep discovering things I hadn't seen before. Usually I'll think "how do I make that?", google it and end up back on one of your sites. Take it easy and stay positive.
Best regards from Geneva.

Thinking positive thoughts

Dear Makiko-sama,
Although I am just a random person on the internet to you, I have had a lot of fun making the bentos from both your book and website. So I'm thinking of you and I know that if anyone has the tenacity to get through this, you do! Sending lots of positive energy your way, and hope to still see you around for a long time to come!

You are so great!

Makiko, I have been lurking for several months now and love you and your book and your attitudes and your feistiness! I wish you lived in Napa and we could be pals and I could bring you tea!

You clearly have so much to give and I am so looking forward to sharing more bento and more of your insights as the years roll on. Heal and we'll all be here for you!!!


Thank you for sharing this with us, and for teaching us one more thing: Sometimes ordeals in life make you re-focus and see what's really important. I love the positive way in which you end up this post and you're so right, your life is starting now :-)
Get well soon and do not worry about any blog or website now!
As long as we, your followers, will wait for you, your investors will too!
All the best Makiko-sensei! Gambatte!!!!

get well soon!

love your website for quirky articles and your insight. please get well soon!

Looking forward to your new projects

Maki, I've been a fan of your sites for so long. I know you're going to be just fine. (^_^) Excited to see the new stuff you'll share with your readers in the future! Sending you lots of love and positive thoughts, and wishing you a speedy recovery!

Looking forward to your new projects

Maki, I've been a fan of your sites for so long. I know you're going to be just fine. (^_^) Excited to see the new stuff you'll share with your readers in the future! Sending you lots of love and positive thoughts, and wishing you a speedy recovery!

Thank you

I just wanted to say that I really love your websites and I've really had a lot of fun making recipes that I read about on your pages. I only just started getting into cooking a little while ago, and was so happy to find your pages! I'm Japanese and Japanese food is my all time favorite but I wasn't able to find many recipes online until I found your sites!

Thank you for sharing all your recipes with me and everyone else. At first I was just looking for a Japanese food recipe website, but I found myself really enjoying everything you would write about! So I do hope you pursue whatever projects you choose to do because life is too short! I know that I would enjoy reading anything you write about! Or even if its not writing I still wish you good luck. I really appreciate all the hard work you've done putting up all your recipes and writing about interesting things and sharing your personal life with us. I think we all appreciate you and we would all be happy just knowing that you're happy too!

I'm so sorry to hear about

I'm so sorry to hear about your diagnosis, but it sounds like it was caught very early! Taking care of yourself should be priority, even if it means taking some time off from blogging. We'll still be here when you return!

My thoughts are with you, Maki. Sending lots of positive energy your way!

(And hooray for writing how you want!)

A votre sante

I wish you the best of health from here on out!!! Thanks for sharing your story. And, I say write on, write on for I will surely read. -L

I was so sorry to hear about

I was so sorry to hear about the cancer. My family and I will be praying for you.

I've really appreciated your website and your book.
Blessings, Wendy

Just adding another supportive comment for you

Maki, you are such an inspiration. You are just so damned honest and please write whatever the hell you want on any of your blogs! I'm positive people will continue to follow you and love reading your entries. I'm sorry to hear about your health problems and diagnosis and really hope the treatments go smoothly and you get better soon.

Lots of good thoughts for you!

Take it slow!

I hope it will not exhaust you too much to read all the good wishes from people like myself who have been reading your site for a while but have not commented before. Maybe you can just read a few each day as you go through your treatment and recovery, to remind yourself how many people who have never even met you care about you, appreciate your blog, and wish you many years of good health ahead.

Get well soon

I know that there is nothing that can express how hard it can be to deal with something like this. My father in law had throat cancer almost five years ago and they told him he had a very small chance he was going to make it. I mean small, we almost had to come home on emergency leave from Japan his chance was so small. Thankfully he made it, he has been cancer free for almost 5 years. His quality of life as far as eating goes? Not so great. He misses being able to taste food but he can eat.

This is a double edged sword for me reading your post because I'm pregnant with my first child and you almost made me cry. Because I'm happy that we decided now was the best time to have a baby (We are due this November). I am sad for you but I know that you will make the best of it and I really hope that whatever comes your way you will take it and move on and heal very quickly...

get well soon

Maki, I wish you all the best.

There's no question cancer can be hereditary.

My grandmother and mother both had breast cancer. My grandmother lived to 92, my mother is hale and hearty at 81.

So, at least in my family, it seems like the predisposition for cancer is inherited, but so is the tough disposition that causes long-term survival. Your mother is a survivor, I bet you will be too. Best of luck to you --

Get well soon and ganbatte

Thank you Maki for sharing this difficult news with us. You have many many admirers and loyal readers (*waves hand*) who love what you do and want you to keep doing what makes you happy for many many years to come. Be true to yourself and we will follow. We're all pulling for you and sending you healing thoughts and positive energy! xoxo

I know youre not looking for sympathy

But my thoughts are with you. You're a courageous woman, and I admire that. Just don't push yourself too hard! Take care & blessings.

Here's to the future

Thank you for being so courageous and sharing your news with us. My mother also was diagnosed with cancer and is a suvivor, here's to your being numbered with such great women in our lives. :)

Whatever direction you take the new blogs, I have much appreciated the chance to get to know a little about Japan through it's food and your insights into it's culture. My husband lived there, and it makes me feel good to know what he means when he describes Natto as smelling like gym socks and I can picture what natto is from your posts. Rest, get better, take your time, and like a river we'll go with the flow when you get back!

Wish you good luck from the trenches

As someone else who's had endometrial cancer, I am so happy they caught it fairly early! It has a good success rate.

I don't know how active you are on Yahoo Groups, but there is an excellent support group there for gynecological cancers called Gyn-Gals. We support people throughout the world through their struggle with the illness and the trials and tribulations...and then we celebrate heartily when they make it through!

Hang in there, and good luck! It's good you have a great family to support you, just like I had.

Kick ass, girl (Part 2, as you already have with the site/book!)

Great decision; yes- it is the rest of your life, or your new life! You did so much- the book, the sites, guiding us through the earthquake, etc. and changing our lives with the cooking and culture window.

Be frank, write, cook, start over (after resting!). We welcome it, and if people don't like it, let them start their own site!

And I'm thanking Max on trust for taking care of you.

Love from someone you haven't met, Lily Winter

best of the worst

is the way i was told i had endometrial cancer. even though the doctor was reassuring, i was alone and very scared. that was 22 years ago.
i had surgery first, then radiation.

you have every good thought imaginable. will be reading your blog for a long long time

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