November, 2010

Restarting Herceptin

The result of the FISH test came back that my cancer was surely HER2 positive.  I am still waiting for the TOPO test that will tell if Adriamycin is effective for my cancer or not. I asked my oncologist to keep using Navelbine, regardless of the TOPO test result, since I haven’t had any major side effects with Navelbine so far. The oncologist was holding off on Herceptin because Adriamycin has a toxic affect on a heart, which could also have a side effect on the heart if I would have had Adriamycin. Yet today, I restarted Herceptin after three months. The combination of Herceptin and Navelbine is effective on HER2 positive cancer according to many web sites.   Though even this miracle medicine, Herceptin, doesn’t  promise 100 % of effectiveness with all HER2 positive, I felt relieved receiving it again.  May this time be successful!

Extra Virgin Olive Oil for HER2+ Breast Cancer

While I was searching for good food to  fight against the cancer since now I can eat anything without taste change, I learned olive oil, particularly Extra Virgin Olive Oil (E.V.O.O.) is good for HER2+Breast Cancer.

According to researchers in Spain, 50ml or 10 teaspoons of E.V.O.O can reduce risks of breast cancer, HER2 positive, and slow down the growth of cancer cells. E.V.O.O. is unrefined, first-pressed through a cold press process, resulting in oil with less than 1% acidity.

Though I can find E.V.O.O. everywhere, most of them have only names, without the quality, and it seems very difficult to find the real one.  Olive oil is olive juice, according to a site, so it gets easily oxidized by temperature, light, and air. It is recommended to buy a small size.

Besides E.V.O.O, I have intentionally increased intakes of Acai berry juice that is getting popular as a high antioxidant supplement in the U.S., cranberry juice, pomegranates, green tea, shitake mushrooms, beans, and brown rice, in addition to reduce sugar, salt, and flower products.  Hopefully this diet will help battling cancer working with the new chemo.

Baking Cookies W/ Pinky

I was going to stay away from sweets for my health though, yesterday was an exception. I baked cookies with my daughter-in-law, Pinky.

She, who was born and grew up in the Philippines, has been married to Soh, my second son, for three years.  She quit her job this week, and it seems like she is deciding to spend time together with me until she finds a new job.

Holding heavy bags in her both hands, she came with a recipe of chocolate chip cookies.  I haven’t done baking for many years and for Pinky it was the first time to bake.  In spite of our poor experiences, the recipe was easy enough for us to make more than 20 big, handful size cookies in about a half hour. As we were excited in front of the warm, good-looking collaboration, George came home and enjoyed the sweet fragrance that filled with our house from the kitchen.

After baking cookies, we cooked chicken gratin.  The recipe was handed down from me to this young wife, Pinky.

At night she e-mailed me saying Soh enjoyed the gratin and cookies very much.  Imagining two of them smiling at each other at the dinner table, I was also content very much.   Next goal is baking Christmas’ cookies with Ma, George’s mom, who is an expert in baking cookies, and Pinky altogether.  Although staying away from sweets is important for my health, spending a good time with my family is as important as my health.  I am looking forward to the next time of baking with them!

From Bruno’s Mom

In the dusk an old lady was standing in our backyard.  Who is it? Maybe she has Alzheimer’s and is lost?  That’s what George thought first.  As he opened the glass door, it was Bruno’s Mom!

I don’t remember her real name though I have asked her (I am really bad at remembering people’s names.) I call her Bruno’s (her dog’s name) mom and she also calls me Pepper’s (our beagle) mom. We are neighbors and see each other often as we have a walk with our dogs.  I had told her I had breast cancer, and she came to our house to bring me a shawl from her church that has a shawl ministry.

The shawl ministry started in 1977 and they have sent hand-knitted shawls, with their prayers, to people in need.

She tried the front door but because she couldn’t open the gate, she came to the back door with a beautifully wrapped warm shawl.

She, who lives in a senior residence with her husband and Bruno, always walks with a cane. It was so touching to receive a gift from someone whose name I don’t even know – except as “Bruno’s Mom”.   I am so blessed and so thankful!

with a shawl from Bruno’s mom

Missing My Father

The clock ticking my father’s life ceased.  Today at age 87 my father passed away.

I visited my family in Japan this January and that was the last time I saw him.  Usually my trip to Japan is about a week, but my mistake that  I didn’t notice my passport was expired and  had to renew it in Japan allowed me to stay with my father for three weeks.  During this unexpected long stay, I could help him dress/undress and push his wheelchair, for which I am now very thankful.

He was born on July 17th , 1923 as the 3rd child out of five in North Korea where was under Japanese rule at that time.  As he lost his father at his young age, the family came back to Japan.  During WWll, he, who was stationed in Hiroshima at age 21, survived an atomic bomb, but suffered from leukemia for a year after the war.  His two brothers were killed during the war and as an only surviving son, he inherited an electric construction business from his grandfather and led the business until he retired four years ago.

As the fist child, I have precious memories of him such as bedside story times, taking a bath together, and going to the barbershop together; these are special memories which my sisters don’t have. He, who would come home with exciting gifts from his business trips, was like a Santa Claus for me who was little.

Since I became a Christian, I always have prayed for my family’s salvation, but about two years ago, after a miraculous recovery from pneumonia, my father finally  made a decision to accept Christ as his Lord.  I, who could visit my father during that time, suggested for him a home baptism and witnessed his best day!  He received his baptismal name “Lucio” meaning “light” through the Catholic baptism.

This New Year I took my father, pushing his wheal chair to church, with my mother.  It was a snowy cold Sunday, but after we got home, he said, “ I am so glad I could go.” –I will never forget this with his smile.

As soon as I left Japan, he was no more able to get up from bed by himself and moved to a nursing home and then to a senior hospital. I wonder how discouraging and depressing it was to give up the abilities of seeing, hearing, walking and even eating.  Yet, he barely complained ,accepting every new change.  I deeply respect him who was always positive.

The only regret is that I could not see him this summer because of my cancer.  I wish I had been with him one more time.  I can’t  even go to  his funeral, either.

However, I know exactly where he is now.  He is with our Lord.  He got into His kingdom where he is happier than anywhere else and I can see him again there!

I am thankful for everything my father has done for us, my family, and for our Lord who took my father to His home.

God is good all the time!

Jan. 1st , 2009, after baptism

♱ Come Quickly Lord

I am losing all hope;
I am paralyzed with fear.
I remember the days of old.
I ponder all your great works
and think about what you have done.
I lift my hands to you in prayer.
I thirst for you as parched land thirsts for rain.
Come quickly, Lord, and answer me,

for my depression deepens.

Don’t turn away from me,
or I will die.
Let me hear of your unfailing love each morning,
for I am trusting you.
Show me where to walk,
for I give myself to you.
Rescue me from my enemies, Lord;
I run to you to hide me.
Teach me to do your will,
for you are my God.
May your gracious Spirit lead me forward
on a firm footing.

(New Living Translation Psalm 143:4-10)

New Pain in the Chest

Since the mastectomy, I have had some discomfort like muscles were stretched or a brick was pressing on my chest.  Yet about two weeks ago, I started experiencing some shooting pains and throbbing pains around my incision frequently and I even started feeling the same kinds of pains around my right breast and right armpit.  When I told this concern to my oncologist, she ordered a chest CT scan, which I haven’t had since May.

My first thought、 as the pain became intense, was “ Is this cancer?”.  Cancer that does not respond to the first chemo tends not to respond to any other chemo—I read it on line.  If that is true, maybe Navelbine is not working and cancer cells are growing.  I got scared.  Yet, fear does not change the CT result. My choice is to let the fear rule my present or to leave my fear to Jesus and not think about it.

The Bible says, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” (Philippians 4:6) And “ Don’t worry about tomorrow” (Mathew 6:34)

I pray that this pain has nothing to do with cancer, I will trust the Lord who will never abandon me, and I will bake cookies with Pinky and Ma ( George’s mom ) today.  We’ll celebrate Thanksgiving as a family on Thursday and go to Big Bear Lake with George from the following day.  May Cancer not steal this good time of week!

Pony with Prosthesis

This is a real story-very encouraging!


She’s a grey speckled pony who was abandoned by her owners when Hurricane Katrina hit southern Louisiana .

She spent weeks on her own before finally being rescued and taken to a farm where abandoned animals were stockpiled.

While there, she was attacked by a pit bull terrier and almost died. Her gnawed right front leg became infected, and her vet went to LSU for help, but LSU was overwhelmed, and this pony was a welfare case. You know how that goes.

But after surgeon Rustin Moore met Molly, he changed his mind. He saw how the pony was careful to lie down on different sides so she didn’t seem to get sores, and how she allowed people to handle her.

She protected her injured leg.  She constantly shifted her weight and didn’t overload her good leg.

She was a smart pony with a serious survival ethic.

Moore agreed to remove her leg below the knee, and a temporary artificial limb was built. Molly walked out of the clinic and her story really begins there.

‘This was the right horse and the right owner,’ Moore insists. Molly happened to be a one-in-a-million patient.

She’s tough as nails, but sweet, and she was willing to cope with pain.  She made it obvious she understood that she was in trouble. The other important factor, according to Moore , is having a truly committed and compliant owner who is dedicated to providing the daily care required over the lifetime of the horse.

Molly’s story turns into a parable for life in Post-Katrina Louisiana ..

The little pony gained weight, and her mane finally felt a comb.

A human prosthesis designer built her a leg.  The prosthetic has given Molly a whole new life, Allison Barca DVM, Molly’s regular vet, reports.  And she asks for it. She will put her little limb out, and come to you and let you know that she wants you to put it on. Sometimes she wants you to take it off too. And sometimes, Molly gets away from Barca. ‘It can be pretty bad when you can’t catch a three-legged horse,’ she laughs.

Most important of all, Molly has a job now. Kay, the rescue farm owner, started taking Molly to shelters, hospitals, nursing homes, and rehabilitation centers. Anywhere she thought that people needed hope. Wherever Molly went, she showed people her pluck. She inspired people, and she had a good time doing it.

>’It’s obvious to me that Molly had a bigger role to play in life, Moore said. She survived the hurricane, she survived a horrible injury,

and now she is giving hope to others.’

Barca concluded, ‘She’s not back to normal, But she’s going to be better. To me, she could be a symbol for New Orleans itself.’

the ground surface that she stands on, which has a smiley face embossed in it. Wherever Molly goes, she leaves a smiley hoof print behind

A week of Appreciation 200%

It was an awesome week!

Tuesday when I baked cookies with Pinky and Ma, George’s mom, Wednesday when I had a breakfast with Pat from our church, Thursday when I baked turkey for 5 hours, and this weekend when George and I went to snowy Big Bear Lake, the good times continued without even one second of interruption until we got home safely today.

When I learned I had to redo chemo, I thought Thanksgiving and Christmas would be taken away from me this year.  Last Monday when I had a chest CT scan taken, I was afraid that a fear of cancer coming back would ruin this Thanksgiving week.  Yet, God granted my prayers.  With 200 % of appreciation, this week was full of joy and satisfaction – more than the past.

Thanksgiving is the day that we give thanks to people and God.  For our family, it is a tradition to share thanks with a prayer at the dinner table.

This year my path has been tough with breast cancer and the loss of my father.  Yet that is not all: There are good, happy things also happening.

So here goes my 10 thanks list.

#1.  I could bake a turkey and sit together with my beloved family at the Thanksgiving table again.

#2. For George and my children who have been supportive, encouraging me, and praying for me more than ever.

#3. For my extended family/families-in-law who live in not only CA, but also on the east coast, GA, AZ, the Middle East, Australia, and Japan who are praying for me daily and sending me letters and e-mails.

#4. My middle school friends went to my father’s funeral on behalf of me.  My high school friends got together to encourage me and sent a donation for Grain of Wheat Inc.  Church members have been continually cheering, sending cards, sending food to us, and praying for me as well as friends at work and organ transplant families.

#5.  For my father, who passed away this year at age 87 – having survived the Hiroshima atomic bomb – providing financial security for us for a long time and good memories with him.

#6.  For my middle sister Yuka who came to help me at my surgery and the youngest sister Mayumi and her husband Kiyotaka, who have taken care of my parents instead of me as the first child.

#7. For many breast cancer patients in the U.S. and Japan who have fought bravely and provided me lots of information about breast cancer through their blogs.

#8. For my oncologist at Kaiser who takes enough time to listen to us and replies quickly even through e-mails as well as Dr. Graspy who recommended me Navelbine.

#9. For two trips to Big Bear Lake with golden autumn leaves and white snow.

#10.  For being able to dance with George and Pa, George’s father at Megan’s weeding.

In spite of pains, discomforts and fears, my thanks list is continued more because I am in God’s big arms.  I want to say boldly, “God is good all the time!”

CT was Clear

The result of CT I had last Monday – due to the concern of cancer coming back – was negative!  I am asking the oncologist what is next because my pain is still there, but I can cross out one big concern.  God is good all the time!