March, 2016

Phone Call At Midnight

It was about 1am. Finishing the bookkeeping, I was about to take a shower and go to bed. All of sudden, the phone rang loudly in the soundless house.

Is it from Japan? Something happened to Mom? Getting nervous, I looked at the caller ID of the phone. There was a phone number with an unfamiliar area code instead of a name. I get such a phone call almost everyday. Usually I don’t answer them but let the voice mail take the messages, and most of the time they don’t leave any messages. Yet, it was a midnight. I decided to answer the phone. ” Hello..Hello..” I said several times, but no response. I hung up, and then right away the same person called again.

“This is Long Beach Police. Are you Kazuyo? Did you lose the passports?”

Police? How come the ID didn’t say the police? He wants to talk about the passports at such a late hour?—really?

Being suspicious, I woke George up and gave the receiver. The caller said he was a detective, and as he found our stolen passports, he wants to come shortly to bring them back to us. He asked our address.

George asked, “How can I identify you are the police?”
The detective gave George his name and the phone number to confirm. George did call the number, and then a woman answered and confirmed his name. Yet, the robbers who broke into our house a week ago included a young woman. They could be pretending like the police officers.

George called Torrance Police this time and asked for the verification giving the detective’s name. Torrance police said the name was verified, and we could go to Long Beach Police to pick up the passports instead of letting him deliver them. George followed the advice, but the name could be used and still everything could be the deception. A group of the robbers may be coming to our house in a minute! I hid the cash, checkbooks, jewelry, etc, again. George held a car key, which had an alarm button for the case of emergency, and told me, who wanted to take a shower, to lock the door of the shower room, and leave the phone receiver close to me so that I could call 911 (the police emergency line) any time.

Taking a shower, I prayed for our safety.

The night passed without any danger and the morning came peacefully just as usual. I felt like I was in a drama. Perhaps we are paranoid. The robbers already know we don’t have many to steal. When I go to the police department, I’d like to ask where he found the passports and why it was so urgent to come to our house in the late night. I will find out soon.

A Robber Was Caught

Yesterday, a Torrance detective informed us that the police caught one of four, who broke into our house last Tuesday.
The detective said the guy still had the safe box.
George and I haven’t picked up the passports, which were recovered by the Long Beach detective since we haven’t been able to contacted him, but The reason why he called us at 1am two days ago, was maybe he found the robber and needed a verification that the passports were ours, so that he could move to arrest the guy.
As the robber still had a safe box, it is hopeful to recover all the things he stole from us. The other three are under surveillance, too, according to the Torrance detective.
It was just a week from the robbery. I was so impressed with the ability of Torrance and Long Beach police, and deeply thankful for them!
Now we can sleep peacefully.
GOD IS GOOD ALL THE TIME!

Rejoice In Suffering

In the Bible there are numerous scriptures regarding sufferings, and among them St. Paul, who was a disciple of Jesus, said, “We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. “(Roman 5:3-4)

Recently I watched a documentary of Fumio Demura, a prominent Karate master, who did a stunt of the Japanese Karate teacher in a movie “Karate Kid”. Watching the documentary, I was convinced that suffering indeed strengthens our characters.

Fumio was born in Japan in 1938. Despite of growing up in poverty because he lost his father in his young age, he became a Karate champion in Japan. After then, he desired to come to the U.S., and with a help of an American Karate pioneer, who was looking for his Karate instructor, Fumio did come to CA. yet, with no money, no English, and no family or friends, he struggled: He would sleep in a garage and cry missing Japan. While his outstanding Karate skill gradually drew attentions in the U.S., the legalistic Japanese Karate world criticized him harshly, and eventually expelled him.

Yet, he didn’t give in or give up. Actually each time he faced his trials, he developed his endurance, creativity, humility, gratitude, compassion, earnest, royalty to others, and love for Karate. He established his fame as a Karate master not only in the U.S. but in the world as well, and even won the respect from his master in Japan, who once criticized him.

This is a side note, but it was touching to hear Fumio’s memory of his mother: When her precious little profit was stolen from her small grocery store, she said that whoever had stolen the money, he must have been in need, so now her money was blessing him.

Her statement immediately made me think of the robbers who broke into our house recently. I don’t think they were needy. Even if so, they were perhaps looking for some money not for food but for drugs or whatever indulges them. Yet it is possible that they didn’t grow up in a good happy family. Then I can have compassion to them, pray for them, and forgive them.

Fumio is one of the many who achieved the American dreams, and from the Bible point of view, his trials molded his characters and led him to the hope of the American Dream.

I have my own trials and sufferings to go through. If I think those are opportunities God allowed for me to grow, and if I imagine how I will be when I see God face to face after all, I get strength, hope, and indeed find the joy.

Tumor Caught By X-Ray

I had the rough last week: First a blood test I had on last Monday showed that the PTT, which is a time for the blood to make a clot, was in critical range. So I was told to redo the test next day. This time the blood was withdrawn from the vein of my arm instead of a port under the chest skin, and the number was in the normal range. But the oncologist said to reduce the dosage of Afinitor from that night instead of finishing the pills I had on hand and then reduce the dosage.

Once I cut back the dosage, immediately the restless bleeding from my nose stopped, but I ran a fever on Thursday, two days after the chemo infusion, and at the same time the cough was getting worse.

As I told so to the oncologist, she told me to see a general doctor. So I did and had a chest X-ray taken yesterday.

The doctor said that it’s not pneumonia, but could be a virus or the nasal mucus dripping down to the throat. Then she showed me the x-ray picture. “It looks clean, but here is a cancer.”
At the right upper lung, I saw a white small round shadow. She also showed me another image of the x-ray, which I took last September. “Here is also.” At the same spot, there was the same white round shadow.
“Is it getting bigger?” asked I, who was concerned the cough was a sign of the progression.

“It’s a little bigger, but the last x-ray was September. You had a CT last December. You have to compare the CT to the CT (which is scheduled in April). It could be stable.

I know. Yet, I was disappointed. Maybe 50% of Afinitor is not good enough. I should search a new drug in case I have to change the regimen again.

My heart got heavy, but tonight younger son and his wife arrived from S.F.. God is continually encouraging me, so I should take a break from cancer and enjoy the family time this weekend!

—————–

After I wrote this post, as I was giving a daily prayer in the bed, all of the sudden the light bulb turned on: It’s not a cancer but the port! I inserted a port for the chemo infusion on my light upper chest near the collar bone in 2012, and the doctor, who didn’t know it, mistook it as a cancer—I’m pretty sure. It was such a relief and I could sleep well. 🙂

Inspiration At Aquarium

Saturday, the rain and the strong wind stopped and the warm sun came out. After convincing myself that the white shadow was not a cancer but the port, (that doesn’t mean real cancer is stable though,) I was ready to have a good family day to celebrate one month belated birthday of the second son, who flew in from San Francisco.

We drove to the aquarium in Long Beach. It was not so big like Sea World in San Diego, but I fully enjoyed watching especially colorful tropical fish swimming around beautiful corals and sea-flower-like anemones, Long Beach Aqualium
 
 
 
exotic jellyfish, Jelly Fish

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
sea dragons, which were like imaginal creatures in a fairy tale, etc.

leafy Sea Dragon

A leafy sea dragon.

Reading unique and sometimes funny names of the sea creatures, I imagined how Adam, the first human being, named plants and animals God gave him, and was in awe being moved by God’s incredible creativity. Everything was adorable, cleverly-made, and beautiful. Yet probably what I saw was nothing compared with Heaven. God’s Kingdom must be filled of much more beauty and everything must be reachable without paying an admission fee! 🙂

Scary Medical Interaction

Bruce Lee is a legendary figure in action movies. The other day while I was talking with the family about Fumio Demura, a karate master, who taught even Bruce Lee a technique of nunchaku, the topic moved to Bruce Lee, who died at only age 32.

Being curious, I googled why he died so young. There had been lots of rumors circulated because he had died all of sudden in Hong Kong, but the truth is: He died of a medical interaction. He, who had a chronic back pain, was on a pain medication, but on the day he died, he had a bad headache, so he took some kind of aspirin pain medicine, also. Shortly after he went into coma, and by the time he was curried to the hospital, he was already dead.

I, who have been on several strong drugs, felt some cold air.

About a year ago, George, who just had had a vocal cord operation, also experienced a close call. He took a Norco before we went to a restaurant,in addition to blood pressure and Parkinson’s meds and he drank a glass of beer at the restaurant. Then all of sudden his blood pressure plunged and he passed out. Fortunately he woke up soon once he was lied down on a floor, but it was a frightening moment.

If I tell people that I am a cancer patient, I am recommended a variety of supplements, herbs, or nutrient foods. Even I myself have searched such things. One time as I learned a grapefruit was cleansing the liver, I started eating a lot of grapefruits everyday, and later I got freaked out being told that it would worsen the side effects of TDM1, a chemo drug I was taking that time.

Lee’s story reminded me that it is important to read a drug description thoroughly, and to make sure the supplements, herbs, etc are safe to add by asking a doctor.

Eulorogy For Dear Brother In Christ

The long term chairman of TRIO (Transplant Recipient International Organization) JAPAN, Mr. Yoshio Aranami (73) passed away with colon cancer on March 3rd.

I got to know him about 18 years ago, when I started involvment in an international organ transplant ministry.
Since then he, who sent the patients to UCLA, and I, who welcomed them, have exchanged countless emails.

In the first Christmas greeting on the first year of the ministry, as I told him that I met God through the organ transplant support, and accepted Jesus as my savior, he replied saying he was also Christian. Learning we were equally yoked centering on Christ, I was so encouraged and excited.

He launched the organization because he lost his daughter, who was born with biliary atresia, in Australia, where he flew with her wishing for a liver transplant. Without compensation, he and his wife contributed their lives to support not only the patients, but also to promote organ transplants in Japan, where brain death was not recognized until 1997, and still has a few donors even now. He has saved so many lives sending the patients abroad.

One time when he was involved into a gossip, which was a totally false accusation, he bore harsh criticism and bashing, saying that the truth would come out eventually, and kept focusing on his ministry without fighting back his enemies.

In 2013, three years after my diagnosis of breast cancer, he received a diagnosis of advanced colon cancer. Unexpectedly, we became cancer friends, as well.

” Which would you like to try, a clinical trial chemo or conventional chemo?”
When he was asked by his doctor, he chose the clinical trial chemo without hesitation because he wanted to contribute his data for future patients–he told me.
While I seek clinical trials to save myself, he demonstrated one of the most important teachings in the Bible ; Love your neighbors as yourself. I knew he was a good man, but I renewed my respect more than ever.

With numerous hospitalizations and operations, there was a time that he was doing well, but after all cancer came back and around last Christmas, I received an email, which said he had no more options, but he wanted to continue his support for the organ transplant patients until the last day and so he did.

Christians believe the death is not the end. Actually it is the beginning of eternal life. In the Kingdom, where we meet our Creator, we receive a new body, which never gets sick or dies; there is no pain or sorrow; everything is perfect, much more beautiful than the earth, and we can live happily forever!

Learning Mr. Aranami is gone,I can’t help being down, but because of God promise, Mr. Aranami defeated death, entered into the Kingdom, and was healed from cancer. He must be full of joy. Looking at the sky, I want to say to him, “Congratulations! You did it!”

Keep Smiling

During an evaluation of Autism with a psychologist, a one-and-a-half year old boy made his eyes thin and showed his teeth widening his mouth to the sides as his mom said, ” Smile.” His expression was so cute that I, who was interpreting, couldn’t help smiling back at him.

On Skype the 88 year-old Mom who was full of wrinkles, showed a nice smile, and then I was smiling at her, too.

A smile is contagious just like tears or a grouchy face. Regardless of the age, ethnicity, or gender, if someone smiles at me, that prompts me to smile, too.

Dennis Prager, who is a radio talk show host, columnist, and author of many books, said that happiness is an obligation to make others happy, giving an example like if a waitress was grouchy or sobbing, the customers can’t enjoy the food.

That sounds so true. When I go to the clinic, most of staff including nurses, receptionists, and doctors give me nice smiles. If they didn’t, going to clinic would be more strenuous.

Even if our hearts are troubled or down, if we turn our eyes from ourselves to others, perhaps we can make a smile.

If we count our blessings and focus on the hope beyond death, perhaps we can keep smiling.

In the last picture of Lauren Hill, who died at 19 last year with brain cancer, posted on her Facebook just a few days before her death, she was smiling waving her hand in bed.

Not to mention about cancer but whenever death gets close, I know we face enormous fear and pain, but like Lauren, with the help of God, I wish to keep smiling until the end, too!

Reason Not To Give Up

Probability and expectation are in a relative relationship. If positive probability is high, we want to bet on it, and negative probability is high we want to avoid it or get depressed. Yet the world is so complicated that there are lots of things we can’t explain with probability only.

Two thousand years ago, when Jesus was crucified, the hope of His disciples, who had believed Him as the Son of God, was also shattered. Although Jesus told them he would come back after his death, everything seemed over.

Camilla (26), my best friend’s daughter, who has been a missionary to help Gypsy orphans in Rumania, where the poverty is a major issue, told at a church that Gypsy girls get pregnant at age 12-13, and by the time when they become Camilla’s age, they have 6-7 kids who have different fathers. Without education and the income, they abandon their kids, and the kids, who can’t find the hope run for drugs, drop out school, and repeat the same cycle.

Listening to her story, I thought that in the world perhaps there are more people who are struggling with the poverty than the people, whose financial needs are met like us, and we may never be able to solve the poverty even if we keep sending the donations. I was overwhelmed.

We have been anticipating for the last day of cancer to come, but it has been a long time since we started talking about such a day.
A lady who participated in a clinical trial of a immunotherapy, the newest hot treatment, in which T cell, one of white blood cells is transformed to recognize cancer cells and attack them, said her new robust T cells could identified only two out of three hundred genetic mutations.
Only two?
Cancer, which affects even to our core of DNA, is so brutal that I feel like I will never see the day to bury cancer.

Yet, Jesus resurrected three days after the crucification.

Although the poverty seems endless, Camilla is determined to continually help the orphans by cutting the vicious cycle.

Although the enforced T-cell recognized only two mutations, the woman’s cancer has been shrinking, and she regained the hope to sustain her life.

There is a reason not to give up even if the probability of hope looks so dim: God wants us to keep moving forward and He helps us.
Being touched by His amazing plan, sacrifice, and love on Easter, my disappointments were also changed to hopes.