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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:

Hope you feel better soon Makiko

Hiya,

Wow, I just came across your sites whilst researching ideas for homemade furikake - 'just bento' and 'just hungry' they are brilliant! Well done! You have inspired me to do something productive this lazy Sunday afternoon.

Love the yuzu miso container picture as well - we're going to Kyoto in January next year and I shall certainly make a point to looking up Yaosan, thank you for these ideas!

Absolutely devastated then to read your personal update; I wish you the best for the future and will be crossing my fingers that you recover totally and end up being even bossier than your mum!

Forza Makiko!

Charlie.

I am pulling for you!

My mother is cancer-free four years after her diagnosis. I wish you all good things and am looking forward to many more years of your excellent blog. Hang in there!

Greetings from California

HI Maki

I stumbled upon your blog looking for udon soup recipe this
morning.After reading and taking notes for 3 hours I finally
took a break.I'm hooked!Thanks for your helpful and interesting blog.

Thanks also for sharing your health concerns.I'm a Cancer
survivor.Like you, I had the same symptoms and diagnosis
at the age of 38.I'm 61 now and starting to learn how to
cook with bonito flakes,kumbo,etc. to please my 2 grandsons
who like nori.

I underwent Total Hysterectomy and had 28 radiation treatments.Oh,yes I had periods of anxiety then because at that time I was raising 3 young children.

My formula in my recovery and healing:
> Faith in God
> Support from families and friends
> Will to live
> Laughter,laughter,laughter

I will include you in my prayers and will be visiting this blog frequently

Take Care and God Bless!
Emy

Thank you and Get well soon!

I just purchased your book the other day after going to a health and wellness program on my insurance to loose weight. My father recently (august) passed away from Colon cancer, and I decided its time to start taking charge of my own health now. I just popped on to your website today, and clicked the link to your blog - Thank you very much for your great website and book. I look forward to making some great bentos. Sending some positive thoughts for a speedy recovery :)

I just purchased your book

I just purchased your book the other day after going to a health and wellness program on my insurance to loose weight. My father recently (august) passed away from Colon cancer, and I decided its time to start taking charge of my own health now. I just popped on to your website today, and clicked the link to your blog - Thank you very much for your great website and book. I look forward to making some great bentos. Sending some positive thoughts for a speedy recovery :)

Hi Maki, I have been

Hi Maki,
I have been following your blogs almost from the beginning and they have always been an inspiration to me- I first started making bento for myself and my husband because of them and I still do years later. I was shocked and saddened to hear the news about your health but I know you'll beat it! And about all those readers/advertisers you used to feel the need to be nice to, I agree with your sentiment- fuck that!! ;) I'll be looking forward to seeing you take them all on. Here's to making yourself happy!

You'll be just fime :-)

And I look forward to trying your latest recipes for years to come!

Best wishes!

I only discovered the Hungry for Words blog this very evening, but felt I could not just click this away. I wish you all the best in the undoubtedly difficult time ahead. Best wishes, and take care!

お大事に。

Fight like a Samurai

I wish you strength during your treatment. Be strong for yourself during this challenging time. Focus on the future and not the past.

All the best!

Best Wishes From Bou Shin

Best wishes for a fast recovery, Maki! I know the feeling about feeling overstressed and uninspired - it happens to the best of us. Sometimes you have to relax and concentrate on yourself before anything comes into the picture.

ear Maki, I literally just

ear Maki, I literally just discovered your site and am very sorry to hear that you are dealing with these serious health issues. However, the fact that you are dealing with them, being honest, moving forward and not being paralyzed is incredible and you should give yourself a tremendous amount of credit for it - it is so easy to be stopped by the fear.

Please be as kind to yourself as possible, and try to put yourself and your needs first and foremost on this journey. A very dear friend of mine was diagnosed with ovarian cancer/borderline stage 3 - so very scary - over two years ago. She was very rigorous about going through the traditional medical regimen, tough chemo etc., and she also had a hysterectomy, which is of course very important to do ASAP.

But she also supplemented all of that with juicing, yoga, reflexology and lots of rest - and when I tell you my friend is not a touchy-feely yoga type, ya gotta believe me. She was a zaftig, very rigid 49 year old, and now - thank God - she is a zaftig, slightly more mellow 52 year-old, cancer free for over two years. She too had a family history of cancer. But she thought of it all as chicken soup - maybe it helped, maybe it didn't, but it couldn't hurt - and it gave her a sense of agency and control, when so much of her body and life was outside of her control. I am so glad you have access to such good healthcare, and good familial support - it makes such a difference. Wishing you all the best.

Dear Maki, I literally just

Dear Maki, I literally just discovered your site and am very sorry to hear that you are dealing with these serious health issues. However, the fact that you are dealing with them, being honest, moving forward and not being paralyzed is incredible and you should give yourself a tremendous amount of credit for it - it is so easy to be stopped by the fear.

Please be as kind to yourself as possible, and try to put yourself and your needs first and foremost on this journey. A very dear friend of mine was diagnosed with ovarian cancer/borderline stage 3 - so very scary - over two years ago. She was very rigorous about going through the traditional medical regimen, tough chemo etc., and she also had a hysterectomy, which is of course very important to do ASAP.

But she also supplemented all of that with juicing, yoga, reflexology and lots of rest - and when I tell you my friend is not a touchy-feely yoga type, ya gotta believe me. She was a zaftig, very rigid 49 year old, and now - thank God - she is a zaftig, slightly more mellow 52 year-old, cancer free for over two years. She too had a family history of cancer. But she thought of it all as chicken soup - maybe it helped, maybe it didn't, but it couldn't hurt - and it gave her a sense of agency and control, when so much of her body and life was outside of her control. I am so glad you have access to such good healthcare, and good familial support - it makes such a difference. Wishing you all the best.

you've got the fighter in you!

hello maki,

i stumbled upon your blog just bento today when searching for a lotus root kinpira recipe, which then led me to your personal site.

your fighter spirit will carry you through this experience. as someone who has gone through cancer and beat it (amen!), i cannot attest enough to the power of the fighter spirit, and you have got plenty of it.

so stay strong, eat well, and carry on.

with peace, love and light,

jasmin

So much love and mojo!

So much love and mojo!

hope and good wishes

Hi Maki - I stop in very infrequently and never post. I stumbled on your blog looooong ago - early 2000's, during a really bad time in my life. Being a traveler, and a food fanatic since the 70's, I loved your blog and your attitude. Your cheer and wit got me through some dark days, and for that I thank you! I too have had many issues with my girl parts - I so sympathize with your current situation. You'll now have one more person sending you good wishes, good luck and good health.

Maki -- sending you lots of

Maki -- sending you lots of love from the USA!

Best Wishes

Hi Maki, very sorry to read of your ill health. I'm glad you have got access to good health care and that they caught it early.

I just popped on to your site to say I recently bought your Just Bento book and really love it! I have a 21month old and we go to Playcentre together (this is an NZ thing, although recently in Japan too, it's a bit like daycare/ kindy, but parent run) and I pack us bentos for that. We also do process cooking and have recently been doing a lot of stuff with bread dough (using the same dough recipe each time in various wasy) and your Everyone loves a Pie bento inspired us to do calzone/pie type ones. The parents loved it too and many talked about doing similar at home.

I'm looking forward to making a lot more of the recipes and suspect I may have to buy a few more copies of the book to give as gifts (I've already lent it out to one friend and shown it to a couple of others). I really enjoy your website too, please don't worry about offending people by being yourself, that's why you got offered money in the first place!

Hope your health improves and you make as good a recovery as your mother.

Sending good vibes from London

Hi Maki-san, I've been following your blogs for some time now and was saddened to read this, but inspired by your matter-of-fact attitude and desire to just get on with getting better.

Be strong, be safe and know there's plenty of us around the world thinking of you - most probably when we're in the kitchen, referring back to one of your many wonderful posts.

お大事に~

All the best, you are a very

All the best, you are a very brave courageous lady x x X

Hugs

Hugs to you dear Maki,

Get well soon!

Maki, I have enjoyed reading

Maki, I have enjoyed reading your justbento and justhungry blogs for some time and am sad to hear you going through this difficult period. My mother also had endometrial cancer, but was operated on quickly, continued on a treatment of tamoxifen for a few years and has been healthy since. As you say, it's not an insurmountable challenge. All my best to you, and keep your spirits up with attention to small beautiful details in everyday life, which is after all, the spirit of bento-making :) ~Lily

Maki, I hadn't been on my

Maki,
I hadn't been on my computer for a while and come back to read this. Oh damn. Sounds like you are in good hands and your attitude and mental strength will carry you through. Sending best wishes. You are in my prayers.

Feel Better!

Feel Better, Maki! You're definitely in my thoughts!

Wishing you all the best!

So sorry to read of your health problems, Makiko-San! I hope you are soon better, and also hope that you can draw strength from the support & love of your readers! Looking forward to many, many, many more years of lovely & enjoyable posts from you.

With love~

Get well soon!

Dear Maki,

I read your cooking blog with lots of anthusiasm. I spread the words to my friends who (after tasting my experiments of your recipes), asked me to cook some more... ^_+

I think you are inspiring & positive thinking kind of woman. Please survive, kick the ass of that cancer out of your life, and continue to cheer up ladies who happens to have cooking as a hobby (and also a must do responsibility).

Get well soon!!!

Thanks for the update and wishing you well

Hi Maki

I've not sent you a message before but love justbento.com and the recipe book. Thanks for letting us know what was going on and just wanted to wish you all the best.

My Mum had a similar reaction to you when she was recovering from cancer quite a few years ago now, in that she wanted to be 'authentic'. I think it's great and you do what you gotta do to get well and get happy. You have lots of genuine support on your blogs.

Thanks for all you've taught me about bento and your enthusiasm, and I wish you well with your health.

Very best
Anna

So happy to hear that you're

So happy to hear that you're recovering, Maki!

Your blogs have been truly life-changing for me. It seems like a small thing, but simple, filling, healthy lunch options really raise one's quality of life. And I love learning to make all my favorite dishes at home!

Another thing--I don't know what it is about Japanese food--maybe it's all the soy, or the nutrients and iron in rice--but since I started eating a lot of Japanese food (one meal a day at least), my menstrual symptoms have really calmed down. This used to be a huge problem for me and I'm really grateful to have it under control.

Whatever projects you do in the future, thank you so much for all you have done for us already!

Get well soon!!

Hi Maki san, I don't have much time to read blogs, but yours take the cake. I like the way that you can describe situations or other people like it is. You don't hold back like many Japanese. Thanks for sharing your recipes too~!

ごじあいをいのりますね~

アマンダより。

Best wishes and good luck in

Best wishes and good luck in your recovery, Maki. As always, a fine piece of writing.

Sending peace and wellness

Maki,
I am so sad to hear of your illness, have been wondering how you are!

You are such an inspiration already and have introduced me and my wife to so much bento joy!

I send you all good wishes for peace and speedy recovery!

<3

Astraanne

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