2007-05-20 To Florida & one year anniversary of this blog
It was on 5/17 last year that I was diagnosed with esophageal cancer, and I started writing this Blog on 5/20.
Even though it was a very bumpy and challenging year, it was one of the best years of my life. In addition that my treatments worked well and I am feeling quite strong these days, I learned that I am surrounded by lots of love, people who care about me, and I gained a newfound appreciation for nature, music, and the arts.
While sitting on the back porch of my house, looking at the birds and fresh greens, what I discovered last summer was that I am a part of this beautiful earth. This feeling is most beautifully expressed in the following poem titled “sen-no-kaze (a thousand winds),” which was given to me by my friend when I visited Japan this spring. This was originally an English poem which was translated into Japanese and became popular when a writer/musician put it to music.
Do not stand at my grave and weep,
I am not there, I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow;
I am the diamond glints on snow,
I am the sunlight on ripened grain;
I am the gentle autumn's rain.
When you awake in the morning hush,
Of quiet birds in circled flight.
I am the soft star that shines at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry.
I am not there; I did not die.
2007-05-14 再発、ま〜さか？？？？ Metathesis scare
“Hi, how are you? Has your weight increased a bit?” I answered that I lost all the weight I had gained in Japan because of the dumping syndrome I suffered 48 hours before my departure. “We would like you to take a MRI, because the CAT scan taken in April showed some shadow in your liver. Even though we think that it is the same one you had last year when the radiologist pointed it out, we decided to be extra careful and have you go through the test.”
Since I had totally eradicated from my mind the possibility of my cancer coming back, this phone call was a shock. After arranging the MRI appointment for 5/13, I called my oncologist even though his office was already closed by then. There were two immediate issues I wanted to address:
1) I did not want to tell Mark yet about this test. He was in Japan, and could not do anything but worry over possibly nothing.
2) I did not want bad news to be broken while working at the simultaneous interpretation assignment that would start on Tuesday the following week.
He agreed that I did not need to tell Mark the situation yet, and told me to come to the office after the MRI on Monday. He said that he would call the MRI reader of the day from his office to get the preliminary result, if I could be with him. According to him, he and my surgeon talked about the scan results about a week ago, and told me, “it will probably be nothing. If not, it is simply more challenging.”
While having made a decision not to tell Mark, I became quite anxious about the test over the weekend. So, I decided to talk to Dr. R at the church, who is a renowned hematologist/ oncologist, and who had been my oncologist’s teacher.
After explaining what I could expect as a treatment if this were the metathesis, he asked me what was worrying me most now. When I answered that I hoped that the news would not be broken during my simultaneous assignment, he laughed and said, “as long as you are worried about everyday life like that, you should be OK. Your immunity should be working very well.”
Fortunately, the preliminary results showed nothing cancerous, as everybody expected.
Even though it was scary, I was most appreciative of the BWH medical system and the collaborative efforts between the doctors. While being one of the best hospitals in the US regarding cancer treatments, the doctors are humble about their diagnostics and treatment. Multiple eyes look at one test or one film to avoid missing anything, and they try to avoid assumptions.
2007-05-12 Still suffering from jetlag （時差ぼけだ）
“Why am I sleeping?”
I woke up at 12:30. Come to think of it, I went out for a walk at about 6:00, talked to Mark on the phone, and…
I must have fallen asleep without eating dinner.
I woke up yesterday at 5:00, and started my busy day. During the morning, I negotiated with contractors, and then started training for an upcoming interpretation job. The agent sent me a link to a client’s website, and I started reading it (translating verbally as I read). It is a physical and exhausting activity, but I feel uneasy plunging into a job without proper preparation after taking such a long break.
My son in Scotland finally sent me an Email:
I got back to St. Andrews like an hour ago. Sorry I didn't send you a message, there wasn't really any place to get it. Croatia was amazing, you guys should consider going there, and maybe even look at property because it is really cheap right now. I'll talk to you later, its late here.
OK, our next trip is to Croatia, then!
It has been exactly one year since the GI endscopy discovered a tumor in my esophagus!
2007-05-01 cancer fear
Weather: cloudy, rainy in the evening
Breakfast & lunch@home, nothing particular
Dinner:Kamonegi, Mori@Sobadokoro Nakamura(?), Ikebukuro
I was awoken by a nightmare. In the dream my parents and relatives were busily preparing a table of food to celebrate my recovery. Suddenly Mark came into the scene, took me into a dark corridor outside the shoji sliding door, hugged me tightly and said, "I have cancer." It shouldn't be true, but anything can happen to our lives; life is, after all, unfair. My struggle to respond to him calmly woke me up.
I know why I had that dream. Mark has been complaining of stomach discomfort for the past few days. Coincidentally, it turned out that he was feeling particularly uncomfortable this morning. Also, he mentioned that he might have some internal bleeding, judging from the color of the stool.
Even though my cancer has become a sort of distant memory (it seems that to push a bad memory into oblivion is a self-defense mechanism to heal and survive), it left a deep fear and trauma in our minds. We learned that anything could happen in our lives. We called his grant office here for medical information and made an appointment at a clinic in Hiroo which frequently treats patients who are expatriates.
To our relief, Mark seems to be suffering from simple acid reflux or digestion problem. And the suspected bleeding (black stool) seems to have come from a pasta dish with a sauce made using dark squid ink that we had at a local restaurant a couple of days ago!!
2007-04-30 Quilt artist
Lunch: Lunch buffet @ Quilt show @ Akasaka Prince Hotel
Dinner @ friend’s home: cheese & olive paste, marinated fish (carp, tuna, etc) with vegetable, Tofu-egg quiche with eel, Inari roll, cheese cake, chocolate cake
Saw a friend from my Chicago days at Akasaka Prince Hotel for lunch. She is a professional quilt artist, and her work was featured at the exhibition. She and Mark worked in a Japanese Sushi restaurant in Chicago during the summer of 1980, Mark as a bartender, she as a waitress, and both were total misfits in the restaurant industry, and thus became good friends.
She was an interior designer before coming to Chicago to visit her friend, who used to be a missionary at Sofia University, and stayed in Hyde Park for about a year and a half, where the University of Chicago campus was located. She discovered quilting after that, and now her work is featured in a book tilted “Japanese quilt,” and the American Craft museum in N.Y. purchased her work.
Her work always utilizes old Japanese patterns and fabric. At this exhibition, which was themed as “Edo,” a lot of work was like a quilt version of cartoons or Ukiyoe, wood print. Her work, however, had a beautiful balance and the right level of abstraction. Mark and I are visiting her again at her home in a couple of days.
For dinner, we were invited by an American Korean specialist and his family in Saitama. We met them in Massachusetts while the husband was a fellow at Harvard. The wife is a wonderful cook and house-maker. I do not know how she maintains her home so neatly.
I borrowed quite a few books from her.