George spoke about out challenge of cancer at Sun. worship service as “Walking on Water” reading from Mathew 14:22-33. It would be scary if you look at the storm, but instead, focus on and believe in Jesus, who is faithful to us, and even if we sink, he will save us if we call for his help.
After the sermon, so many people came up to me saying, “I had breast cancer, too.” “My daughter has breast cancer, but she is survived.“ And “We will think about you and pray for you.”
Peggy is a cancer survivor, who was told she had 6 months to live because of melanoma – 25 years ago. She asked me what I wanted to do when I beat cancer. I said, “if…” then she corrected me saying, “NO. Not ‘if’, but ‘when’…” When I beat cancer, I want to go to Japan to see my family first, and then have a big party inviting all people who support me to celebrate God’s faithfulness!
George received a phone call regarding the appt with the oncologist, which would be 6/4. “Isn’t it late?” he asked, but was told that the surgeon said it would be still acceptable. If I have to wait for meeting the oncologist until 6/4, then the treatment or surgery will be further away from then. I may have metastasis though, is it really OK to wait so long? I am worried. Knowing my worry, Dina keeps sending me e-mails: DO NOT FEAR! TRUST THE LORD, WHO LOVES YOU SO MUCH! I AM PRAYING FOR YOU EVERY DAY!
As no phone call has come for CT and Bone scans, I call the hospital, and then was told I need to make an appt. by myself.
For biopsies the hospital made appts for me. I wish I had known I needed to make appts by myself so that I wouldn’t have wasted two days. More surprisingly, I was told I needed to make an appt. for blood test a week prior to CT scan. CT will be hard on kidneys so I have to check if my kidneys are healthy enough but it will take a week to get back a result.
What?! That means my appointment for a CT will be in two weeks. After I hung up, I called back to ask further questions, and then I was told I need to go to Panorama City for the bone scan, that probably takes 90 mins from our house. Now I was totally confused, but I called the number I received following the instruction.
The operator explains the reason why I need to go to Panorama Kaiser; because of nationwide shortage of nuclear medicine, the dye, the local Kaiser has canceled bone scans already for three weeks and doesn’t know when to reopen. The good news is now I am told hat I need to wait for a blood test result only for three days instead of one week. I called Panorama Kaiser to make an appointment, and left a message, but no call back today.
Soon after the frustration, I got a delivery from Amazon, which I had no idea. Inside the box I found a Snoopy! It was from Peggy, who knows I like him. How sweet she is! I haven’t done anything for her though. This is another grace and eased my frustration.
I stopped at Torrance Kaiser Clinic on the way to work for blood test. Although I was told to receive the result in three days, surprisingly I found the result on line in the afternoon.
This is quick and thankfully everything is clear so I can take a CT!
When I got home from work, however, I found the voice mail telling me to call Panorama Kaiser. It was before 4pm though, I was told it was too late to retrieve the message regarding the bone scan appointment. I have to wait for tomorrow, again. It has been three days since trying to make just an appointment for a bone scan.
At night Junko, an ex-GOW volunteer and now a resident of Orange Children Hospital, called me. She contacted an oncologist, who went to Africa as medical missionary with her several times together, asking about breast cancer for me. He said to Junko that Herceptin was great . Regarding neochemo, according to him, the result is about the same as starting from a surgery. Then I am more interested in neochemo in order to shrink cancer cells so that surgery will be minimized.
Since last Sunday, when George announced about my cancer at church, many phone calls, e-mails, and cards have arrived every day. “I will shop for you.” “ I will drive for you.” “I will do anything for you.” “You are in our prayers!” and more. Being overwhelmed by their kindness and generosity, George and I couldn’t help crying.
Karen gave me a bag and a folder for my doctor visits. Her husband has been battling against a brain cancer for more than a year. Although Her life must be so difficult and stressful, she is thinking about me, also. How generous she is! The folder already has labels with writing utensils that make it ready to go. The bag has lots of inner useful pockets with even my initial “K” ! I like it very much! She probably learned those by taking care of her cancer husband, but I am so touched with her skill, sense, and caring heart.
I have to stop eating and drinking two hours prior to CT scan.
At the image center l I was first told to drink 1/2 gal. of barium splitting into two times every 30 minutes. Comparing with 20 years ago, when I had it for my stomach X-ray exam, it is still a lot but much better taste. After then dreadlocked black nurse, like a reggae musician, put an IV needle in my median cubital vein asking if I had any allergy with shell fish. As I answer “No,” he said then I didn’t need to worry about reactions of the dye.
In the exam room, I lay on a exam bed, which moves through a big doughnut ring. “You will feel warm when I inject dye, but if you feel difficulty breathing or ichty, let me know. I am here,” said th black nurse kindly. It took about half an hour and I could pass the first CT exam without any problems.
At night I noticed the region of my cancer got pink and even the size got bigger like an egg. I was shocked, and am scared but I have to wait one more week to meet the oncologist.
As my cough is persistent and getting deep, I visit clinic.
Dr. says my lungs are clear. He also gives me the result of CT which was NEGATIVE!!
At least cancer hasn’t spread other organs yet!
I went to church to participate in our “Happiness Hour”-studying about happiness. It pleased me to see that everyone was happy to see me!
We have been studying Dennis Prager’s book “ Happiness is a Serious Problem” at church as “Happy Hour” and today we learn “Happiness” involves pain. So why do we avoid pain? It is true for me, who am going through cancer. It’s a terrible experience, but at the same time I am experiencing happiness also! I need to focus on the happy side and beat the terrible side. Instead of avoiding pain or struggle by detaching from them, we need to find hope in struggle and go through it, and because God is always so faithful, with Him we can always find hope even in” the shadow of death”.
Finally I could meet the oncologist! She listened my concern, examined, and answered my questions. I was convinced that a surgery should come first although neochemo is possible as well as that lymph nodes dissection is also must whichever, chemo or surgery comes first. Because changing color of the breast is a concern, the oncologist immediately had a phone conference with the surgeon, but the surgeon told her the next available date for the surgery in July, which is too far away. So she schedule me for heart scan to prepare for the case of neochemo.
Since Taka is interested in Web-designing, I took my son,Soh, who is a web designer, for volunteering and introduced him to Taka. At night Taka skypes me, and we chatted about for half an hour. He says Soh was inspiring for him to persue a web designer, and he is learning that everything is destiny because if he hadn’t gotten injured, he wouldn’t have come to the U.S. and met Soh. I say God changes everything into good. Taka has to give up his first dream of a free style skier due to the accident, but from his disability now he found a new dream. I was diagnosed with cancer, but my relationships with my family, friends, and God are getting intimate. I now have a clear purpose to live though I lost it for last two years and had depressed. The life is never the same after ordeals, but there are new dreams and new purposes that are born from the afflictions. So we should never give up hope. I was so pleased that my son, who has ADHD and used to be worrisome, now could inspire the disabled young man. Our Load is so good!
After the church Lee and I had lunch. She told me a story of an experiment of water and positive thinking. One set of water has positive labels such as love or gratitude, and another water has negative labels such as hate or evil. When two sets of water are compared after they are frozen, one with positive labels shows beautiful crystals while the other turns ugly. Lee said 70% of our body is composed by water. So how important the positive thinking is! She encouraged me to picture positive image when I get tortured by anxiety at night. I remember Peggy said the same thing. Lee, who used to be a nurse, also offered me to take care of me after surgery. If I am not loved, what am I? I am so blessed to have so many kind-hearted people.
First, although discoloration of my cancer region is really a concern, she cannot operate me until 6/21。Second, a radiologist ordered one more bilateral breast ultrasound due to the suspicious density in the right lymph nodes. Third, if bone scan scheduled on this Th turns out positive, my cancer stage will be IV. These are so tough to hear and my anxiety level goes up higher than ever. I try to eat and sleep, but I can’t. I need power to charge. I walked Pepper, and then called Noriko to have dinner together tomorrow. I played gospel songs by Piano, and prayed all night.
Without knowing when to start the treatment, I am trying everything to reduce my anxiety. At night remembering the water story from Lee, I write “Jesus Heals Me” on a dressing tape and place it on my lump. I visualize Jesus touch his hand on my lump to heal me.
At least I could sleep soundly.
Herseptin is a new medicine to cut down reoccurring rate of HER2 positive, which I have, into half, and I need to take it for a year. Yet as this medicine may cause a side effect on a heart, I have to check if my heart is strong enough to accept Herseptin.
First a technician withdrew my blood, mixed with dye, and put it back to my blood vessel. I lied on an exam bed about half an hour to take two pictures of my heart. No pain or discomfort.
At night I noticed another new lump next to the original lump. I can’t wait for the surgery until the 21st. I need something right away. I asked George to push the hospital.
George and I drove to Panorama City from Torrance to have a bone scan.
At 11am a technician withdrew my blood and asked me to come back at 2pm. While we were waiting, George made phone calls and sent e-mails to doctors to call attention for my urgency. They responded. Oncologists met and in consensus recommend chemo first instead of waiting for the surgery another several weeks. The surgeon also agreed with this plan. So 3 rounds chemo starting the 14th of June then surgery, then another 3 rounds of chemo. I was so pleased with this answer. I guess my hart scan turned out clear also because I could start chemo.
Bone scan took about half an hour without any pain or discomfort. If any cancer cell is found, my cancer stage will be 4a. I pray for the good result for this again.
After Sun. service, I visit Taka with Yuko. Liz, Taka’s caregiver, asks me if I am nervous about chemo. If I say no, it’s not true, but I feel much happy rather than nervous because I can finally start something. She gives me big hug including Taka’s portion.
At night George tells me I should have a good sleep in order to get ready for tomorrow. So I go to bed earlier than usual but I can’t sleep.
I tried to sleep last night, but I couldn’t sleep at all. I was told that one of premeds was steroid that kept me away from sleeping. At 10 am while a nurse was getting ready for chemo through IV, a social worker went over all side effects of chemo: Chemo will not only knock down cancer but also my healthy blood cells. In the result as my immune system goes down, I have to be vulnerable for any infections. For a while I have to stay away from crowds, sick people, children, animals, plants, and even Sushi! The nurse,who also experienced breast cancer long time ago, encouraged me saying, “ You will be OK. Chemo will knock down your cancer.” The chemo took four hours without any reaction or discomfort. During chemo the oncologist came over just to check how I was, and gave me the result of bone scan. IT WAS NEGATIVE!! Thank God!!
As I got home Peggy was waiting for me to deliver trunkful of gifts from Neighborhood church women’s fellowship. I feel like it were Christmas! She said I should open one gift each day because those gifts are to comfort my blue days on chemo. I am truly loved and now I am confident that I can beat this cancer because of our LORD!
Gifts from church
First a couple days were OK after Chemo, but I started feeling stomach ache, nauseous, sore in the mouth, and mostly zero energy for a few days. Today I feel a little better. From Temecula my parents in law come over with an aunt from Arizona to celebrate one day early Father’s Day. Boys and their girls cook BBQ. Today I honor five men in my life: My father in Japan, father in the US, George, Roy & Soh.
I learned from my 87 yr old father who is at the hospital in Japan how to be positive without giving up and adapt in a new environment without whining. I am so thankful for my father in the US who always cares, worries me as if himself and loves me with lots of humors and laughter. I am so thankful for Roy and Soh, who grew up as kind as much as strong men who know how to reach their hands to people in needs. And at last I am sooooo thankful for my husband, George, who loves me so deeply, guides me, and support me constantly day and night. Makiko, a friend in Japan, says I may be the happiest person in the world right now. I have no objection. I am happier ever in the midst of the battle on cancer.
1.”Happiness is a Serious Problem” by Dennis Prager
2. “Letters from the Land of Cancer” by Walter Wangerin
3. “Praying through Cancer; Set Your Heart Free From Fear ” by Susan Sorensen & Laura Geist
4. There’s No Place Like Hope by Vickie Girard
5. Why Me God? A Doctor Looks at the Book of Job by Dr. Diane Komp
I thought I was doing fine running with Pepper, our dog, and singing in piano lesson until Tuesday (the 22nd) night.
Then I started having sore throat and next day I ran fever. Following the instruction from the hospital, Thursday(the 24th) morning I went to ER with George, where I was told to be admitted to the hospital.
My white blood cell count was too low and I was infected. For four days I was on IV getting several antibiotics and potassium and finally on Sunday (the 27th) I was discharged with normal WBCC.
At night Grain of Wheat former-voluntter Erica cooked Japanese dinner for me, who was tired of the hospital food. Gratitude!
Then this week my hair fell out. Monday (the 28th) I went to a small wig store referred by Jane, who recently completed her chemo. The lady at the store knows everything about wigs and picked several for me. It was fun to wear different styles sitting in front of a big mirror as if a model! Following her advice I chose a short straight hair. From Japan my sister, who found a cute hat site, sent me a hat with partial wig, also. I am having fun changing the wig to the hat and the hat to the wig.