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:

Wishing you well

Hi Maki

First of all I wish you the strength to fight this.

I started to make some of your recipes after returning from my first trip to Japan in May 2009. In August of 2005 I began to write to a Japanese guy I met on the internet & by May 2009 I decided I finally needed to meet this guy. To cut a long story short we are now in a long distance relationship which is extremely hard. I returned to Japan again in May of this year & he is coming to England in December.

I realized I knew very little about you so I read your info page & I was very surprised to read that you lived in Wokingham, Berkshire when you were a young child. It's my home town. I wonder how much you remember about it?

Stay strong & be positive. I'm sure you can fight this.

Best wishes to you

You're in our thoughts

Thank you for the update Maki, the last couple of years seem to have been a challenge for you health-wise, but your attitude has always been very positive. Me and Mine will be keeping you in our thoughts throughout your treatments.

All of our blessings

Feel better Maki!

I've been following your blogs for a while, and it's what inspired me to start doing bento in the first place. I love your writing style! So I wanted to add to the well wishes and let you know that you're in my thoughts too, and hope for a good and speedy recovery! Feel better soon!!

get well

just got the just bento cookbook. i love it. i let my niece pick out what she wants for lunch and is super excited to eat! any way just wanted to tell you get well. my bff had a full hysterectomy at 25. she had her ovaries out about a year ago. now at the age of 27 she is doing fantastic. get better soon!

Dear maki, wishing u speedy

Dear maki, wishing u speedy recovery and hope u will be back on track with your life soon.

thank you for the update

that is worrisome, but thank goodness you are in a place with good health care. in japan, i learned, there are no oncologist. my friend, having the misfortune of learning he had cancer there. he sent his medical records to the US, and relayed the information back to his drs in japan. 10 years later, he has no sign of that cancer.

one thing he did say was that his appetite would go up and down. but when he was hungry, he never wanted to waste his appetite on a mediocre meal. he would eat bentos, preferably children's ones. more creative and entertaining.

good luck on this chapter.

There certainly are

There certainly are oncologists in Japan, at least today. But I can understand and sympathize with your friend wanting to get information to and from his own English speaking doctor. Being ill and not quite understanding everything said to you is really tough.

Thank you for Sharing, Maki

Thank you for Sharing, Maki san. We all hope to see you completely fine soon, with all your energy back. Regards from Spain! If you ever need any ingredient from here let me know!


It is your honesty and

It is your honesty and personal integrity that have earned you a following from many parts of the world. Your most recent blog post and the tremendous reader response confirm it. We'll be cheering you on.

praying for you :) ganbatte

praying for you :) ganbatte kudasai!

great person that you are!

Hello, I'm new to just bento, a couple of weeks now, so as soon as i came across your blog i was enjoying all the pics and recipes and couldnt get enough. the food looked greatso i ordered the book and tried a recipe, it was awesome even my husband liked it! hes a very picky eater. so now ive ordered a bento box and a couple other things. so you have inspired me so much! Im so thankful that your a blogger and have a wonderful cookbook! so i hope that your feeling better and getting all the rest and medical attention you need. your a great inspiration to me! I hope to enjoy many more blogs and cant wait to see whats next! thank you very much!

Ganbatte & Get well soon!!

Hi Maki,

I've been a silent reader of your blog and I've learnt a great deal of Japanese culture, history and recipes from you!! Thank you so much!! I wish you in the best of recovery and I will be looking forward to seeing your new blog posts & projects!! q(^o^)p All my best wishes - Serene

Be Strong

I was shocked to read your post! I've been a reader since I got interested in bento boxes a couple years ago, and I love many aspects of Japanese culture-ceramics and other arts particularly. I have an Etsy shop called Wabi Sabi Bole. It has been a lot of fun to read your posts about bentos and Japanese food. I had been missing your posts, but had attributed it to being in France and having your kitchen torn up! Hope your treatment goes well and you will be back to blogging soon. And don't worry too much about what you blog, dear. Have you seen what's out there? Part of why I'm reading food blogs and not political ones! Be Happy.



Get well soon!

Hi Maki,

Sorry to hear about your health issues, but also good for you for being diagnosed fairly early. Although it must be difficult dealing with it, I'm glad the prognosis is positive.
I hope you'll be feeling better soon.

Take your time getting better. And as you can see from all the comments to this post, there will be a large audience ready for you once you're back on track. ;-)

(Just Bento-fan)

Best Wishes for a Speedy Recovery

Thank you for letting us know what has been going on with you. There are many people who appreciate and care about you. I hope you feel better soon, and have a complete recovery.
I bought your cook book for most of my family members. They all like it, and I told my sister, who doesn't cook, that the recipes are easy to make. They are for people who don't cook! She is actually using it.
I like your attitude! You're going to be much happier this way.

Hope you get better soon

I've been reading your blogs for almost a couple of years now, I always found them interesting and inspiring (foodwise mostly). I hope you get better very soon, hugs from Italy

Hope you get better soon

I've been reading your blogs for almost a couple of years now, I always found them interesting and inspiring (foodwise mostly). I hope you get better very soon, hugs from Italy

Hear, hear!! Cheers to you

Hear, hear!!
Cheers to you and owning YOUR life. And please know that many support you in spirit.

Be strong Maki!

Don't worry about censoring yourself for the sake of being the superbusinessy person. I personally hate reading over commercialised blogs etc, so I will adore your new attitude.

Don't stress and overwork yourself. We'll be here. Just get your ass better woman!


Be brave Maki!!!!!! You are

Be brave Maki!!!!!! You are gonna make it, I'm sure of it!!! :D :D :D

Hi Maki, Just found your blog

Hi Maki,
Just found your blog a few months ago and have since bought your book and made a tentative start at making Bento boxes (very basic ones so far and for the kids but it's a start). Love both your blog and your book.
Very sad to hear about your endometrial cancer and just want to say best wishes for the next few months while fighting it. I know it will be hard going for a while but I'm glad you have a positive attitude towards it all - that will help.
I look forward to seeing your blog posts - less censored ;-)


hi you! i don't know you in personal but i really appreciate your blog and what you are doing!
reading your post makes me have tears in my eyes...i wish you all the best from far away anyhow you seem to be a very heartful and strong person! good luck and bigbigsweethug!
( : : )

sympathies to you

I fell in love with your just bento site over 2 years ago, but I have always been a lurker, and have never posted anything on any of your sites. but I had to this time.

I was diagnosed with uteran cancer 2 years ago. and got a complete hysterectomy, so far its been a complete recovery. it was a bit scary, but once I was diagnosed, everything was done so fast, that it never really sank in that I had actually had cancer. I had the same signs as you. bleeding so heavily, and so long that I ended up in the hospital. my situation sucked really bad because I was homeless at the time. luckily my mother payed for me to move from oregon to iowa. and my life has improved since then.

but being told you have cancer is a shock to the system. and for me it wasn't so much the cancer its self as the surgery that is needed to get rid of it. talk to your doctor about the side effects of the hysterectomy. there are some that are pretty vital that I wasn't told about when I had it done. and now I am having some issues. but nothing that cant be worked it. but Im the type of person who, if I can prevent some one else from going through the bad stuff I went through, I try to help out.

you have my hopes for a quick recovery from this and my support for going through something as rough as this.

Wishing you all the best

Hi Maki,

Thank you for sharing such a deeply personal experience & I wish you a full & speedy recovery.

I started to follow your blog just after my first trip to Japan in May 2009. At that time I travelled there to meet a Japanese guy I'd met over the internet. To cut a long story short we ended up forming a relationship. I was keen to learn how to cook Japanese food because we hope he can come & live here in England with me in the near future so long as his visa application is successful. I just have to say I'm kind of shocked to read that you lived in Wokingham, Berkshire for a part of your life. That is my home town & although I lived away from the town for a large part of my life I have now returned to live here again. If you have any questions on how Wokingham is now please feel free to email me.

Best wishes to you at this difficult time


Follow your heart Maki...

I found your website and blog shortly before your move to France and have been following it ever since. I love your recipes (with or without the digressions) and your mothers assistance! About 8 weeks ago I was in a position very similar to yours. So know that you are not alone in this. My best wishes for your speedy recovery and I look forward to reading your blogs which every direction they may go!


Be brave, Maki.

This week I was told I needed a hysterectomy as well. I too am dealing with similar emotions. I'm 40, so it is getting late to have kids, but I guess part of me is grieving the fact that my child-bearing years have passed. Please hang in there so it gives me and others like me hope.


I'd come give you a big hug and a jar of jam if I weren't in Colorado. (hugs because, um, hugs are awesome and jam because ever since I got laid off I've been canning A LOT)

I'm sorry to hear that you're not doing well, but glad to hear that you know what the problem is and have the sprit to follow through and tackle it.

Thank you for sharing, I know it must have been hard. Your readers are all here to support you when you need us.

Thank you for sharing.I wish

Thank you for sharing.I wish you the very best. I hope your treatments will go quickly and you are back enjoying life to your full potential. Stay strong! I will keep you in my prayers every day. Get well soon.

Keep your chin up!

I first began to love Japan after I read "Daughter of a Samurai" when I was about eleven. Many years passed before I got to japan, but after two trips and another planned for next year, my enthusiasm hasn't flagged. I discovered your blogs and read them religiously, and use your recipes which I find reliable and easy to follow. I wish you the quickest of recoveries and that you may continue your work for many more years!

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