Check this out! For cancer patients, this TED Talk has great contents! The three things Dr. Olivia Remes says help coping anxiety, I found help cancer patients who face a great deal of anxiety. (Photo during my cancer treatments) (日本語は後に）Three things are:
To feel that you have the control of your life
Find Purpose, feeling that you can contribute to someone
Without knowing all these academically or systematically, I eventually came to reach all three. It took me a while to get there. These are the three answers I reached as my conclusions on how to do and what to do.
1. I let fashion to help me gaining control in my situation.
2. I started to learn “let go.” I looked for answers on why I had to have this cancer, but there was no answer there. I could let go. It was OK. (just an example)
3. Since many of patients asked me how to do the turban styling, I started to take “fashion for cancer patients” my purpose. Changing the images of cancer patients has become my purpose.
Feeling anxiety during cancer treatment is ironically perfectly normal. Think of these three things while you are waiting for your turn, or laying in bed. The last one does not have to be big, listen to her examples, it could be something you can do.
Coming Soon! It is good to know that there are many cancer survivors out there! (日本語は英語の後に）
Recently, I joined a cancer survivorship book project that Marquina Iliev-Piselli has been working on. She had been collecting 40 women’s cancer survivorship stories, and (guess what!?) my story made it to the very last addition to the stories.
Marquina succeeded Kickstarter, raising over $20,000, and the book: ‘TOUGH: Women Who Survived Cancer’ is underway! Yay!
My cancer diagnosis made my world upside-down, and I felt the world left me behind. I was terrified and felt so alone in this whole world. Especially cancer hits you at a younger age when it is not as common. You don’t have friends who have been through terrifying experiences before you.
I did not know survivors before I become a cancer patient. Once I started to outspeak about my cancer, I started to see survivors, as if I suddenly acquired a new kind of eye-glasses. There are actually many more than you think, there are quite a lot. It is a personal decision whether to be open or not and for different reasons, you don’t discover:
keep it secret
keep cancer behind completely in the past, don’t want to talk about it
did not have a chance to bring a cancer topic up
not a party topic
too personal to talk to you
cancer did not define the survivor
I am sure many other reasons not to be open about it. Nonetheless, we don’t talk about it and we may not realize there are so many survivors out there. I know many of my colleagues, friends, and family members who are survivors. I discover them as I am open about this, people come forward.
The US community is a lot more open about it, relative to the Japanese one. I hope Japan will change it and society will be compassionate toward cancer patients and survivorship.
This book will give lights to women’s survivorship, with full of uplifting stories. It will come in a couple of months! Stay tuned!
Today, I marked 5-year since my breast cancer diagnosis! Amazing! (日本語は後に）
5 years ago: It started a weekend-long wait for a call to confirm the lump I had was benign. Instead, this call on Monday told me: “all the three tissue parts came out to be cancer. The next step for you is to find a breast surgeon.” My mind froze and my husband next to me went into tears.
The pathologist: “do you have any questions?”
Me: “How do I find the breast surgeon.” (Considering it was my first mammography at the age of 36, I had no regular visit to breast specialists)
… some explanations about it… then…
Me: “How bad is the cancer?”
The pathologist: “I am just a pathologist. You will have to discuss with your breast surgeon about that.”
This phone conversation left me spinning in a big black hole, I only thought of the worse case scenarios. The previously thought benign little lump, I felt suddenly gigantic and it was eating me alive inside. The google searches show “5-year survival rate.” What does that mean? Why only for 5 years? My son will be 13 years old, in middle school, maybe my son will be mom-less then. I cannot be there.
It was the dark, dark, darkest 5 days until I finally could talk to a breast surgeon to find out more about my diagnosis. It turned out Stage 1 and I started to pull my thoughts once again with the right information rather than being left in a wilderness without any light.
Today: I am so thankful to my family, friends, colleagues, specialists, and even strangers that I spoke about my cancer for encouragements and supports.
Through my hardship, I decided to be active in fashion for cancer patients. Because that area was kept as some sort of taboo and patients’ images existed were deemed. I kept teaching during very harsh chimo treatments in fashion. Some women keep their jobs for out of needs or keeping them going. This cancer pushed me to be even furthermore creative in styling.
I learned to enjoy the current moments, rather than spending time on constant scheduling for the future or being anxious about the future.
What a peaceful morning I had this morning. So thankful. I found my son and my dog are cuddling each other in their own ways. Messy floor with his soccer items, but seemingly this is just one of the ordinary days, but it was not a sure thing for me to have. I feel blessed. I love them both so much (and my husband who does not like to be in a picture online.)
My type of cancer, especially having hormone type, does not reduce the recurrence chance after 5 years, not like other cancers. So, I will be kept in the close watch by my breast surgeon and oncologist, every 6 months. I will keep taking a daily Tamoxifen medication.
I am on the face of the SHARE ovarian and breast cancer support group’s brochure for Winter (January – April program). I did not know how much it helped me to be able to talk to people who had been through breast cancer before me. I hope you will find a comfortable group to talk to. It is such a big relief to know that when I say a couple of words, there are people say “I know what you mean. YES, I have been there.”
Some programs offer online communications, in case you cannot make to the meetings phsically, there are ways to attend them. (Free)
(Sorry, only this event is in Japanese but) I will be speaking at an event at 6pm on June 11, 2018 at SHARE breast and ovarian cancer Japanese support group in NY. The program invites a medical researcher to discuss mechanism of hair loss during chemotherapy. I will be demonstrating turban wrapping.
I had to think twice before I answered, “I am healthy today,” 3 years after my breast cancer diagnosis. Have you thought about what it means to be “being healthy?” New definition is needed, let’s think about that. 日本語は英語の後にあるよ