One year after moving to Japan, my husband started waking up in the middle of the night with a terrible pain in his back. He would get up and pace back and forth for hours until the pain subsided enough for him to go back to sleep. Initially what we thought was just a herniated disc, turned out to be a rare spinal cord tumor. Full of fear and dread, I got to work contacting my neurosurgeon colleagues back in the U.S., asking where the best place to take him for treatment would be. To my great surprise, they all told me this - to stay put. Japan has the best in neurosurgery and ahead of the curve even compared to the U.S.!
Navigating the medical system was something else though, and things seemed to move terribly slowly - from scheduling MRIs to the date of the surgery, the strangeness of having to bring everything with you to the hospital including towels and PJs and gauze bandages. Not to mention, my husband didn't speak a word of Japanese. In the end though, the experience was a good one and fortunately everything worked out well for us. (Picture below of when our daughter was finally able to visit during recovery).
This experience got me thinking - how isolating it is for expats in Japan to go through the fear of a cancer diagnosis while also navigating a foreign medical system. How very few opportunities people have of community and support in their own language. And how is one to know that perhaps the best treatments and opportunities lie right here where we are?
Becuase of this, my experience as a physician coaching individuals in lifestyle medicine, and as director of the Tokyo Cancer Clinic, I wanted to create this space and help as many individuals whose lives are touched by cancer as I possibly can.
The WHY: We don't have to live in fear. Sometimes it takes a cancer diagnosis to realize that we have but one life to live, and there are many things within our control. We still have choices, and we don't have to fall victim to improve our chances and the quality of our lives. "In the end, it's not the years in your life, but the life in your years that count." (quote attributed to Abraham Lincoln)
The WHAT: In this space you can hear about the latest evidence-based information that you need to live your best life to improve your odds against cancer. These lifestyle medicine interventions including Nutrition, Sleep, Exercise, and Stress (including social connections) are simple, actionable things that anyone can do. There is no downside to following these recommendations. You can find your people, your community here that understand what you are going through.
The HOW: Being armed with knowledge is often not enough. Knowing and doing are two very different things. Being supported through this process and working on your mindset is what gets you from point A to point B - to actually transform your life, to love yourself as you are, be the best you that you can be, and thrive and not just survive with cancer.
Join me to equip yourself with the knowledge and tools to take agency over your own future, and to live your best life. You are strong and fierce and have it within you to face whatever comes your way.