Hepatitis C Medication Harvoni & Mercury Retrograde

My oncologist, Dr. Mead, said I am doing well after the chemotherapy, so she suggested that I meet with a liver specialist for hepatitis C, which was most likely the cause of the primary non-Hodgkin lymphoma of liver stage IV that I was diagnosed with last year.
Read more detail about it on my blog “Only Weeks to Live.”

 

The hepatitis C came from a blood transfusion when I had a near-fatal car crash in 2001 and was in a coma for three days. Since I had ovarian cancer in 1993, I have learned to live carefully and practice macrobiotics and exercise. Still, I got hepatitis C, and that led to lymphoma.

 

I was so shocked and disappointed when I was diagnosed. I really wanted to use holistic treatments and get better as I was able to do with ovarian cancer in 1993.
But this lymphoma got so big so fast and took over 90% of my liver. I knew I was dying if I did not do something quickly.

 

In order to save my life, I had no choice but to have chemotherapy this time.
I felt it was a long and painful experience, but I committed to taking care of my health one day at a time (many times, one moment at time) and continue a macrobiotic diet with the lifestyle and holistic modalities of moxibustion, reiki, acupuncture, shiatsu massage, meditation, aromatherapy, Bach Flower Remedy, etc.
I was able to complete chemotherapy without most of the side effects and am doing much better.

 

I have been off chemotherapy for 10 months, and I am even able to go hiking again.

Read my blog “Hiking With Dogs.

Hiking with dogs including my Lumi & Nalu!

 

I went to meet a liver specialist, Dr. Han. He explained how hepatitis C could lead to lymphoma, and he highly recommended taking hepatitis C medication, which has a 97% success rate.

 

Another medication in my body and soul?
I had to think…

Hepatitis C medications sound very intense.
Also, when I heard how expensive it was, I could not believe it.
A 90-day supply is about $95,000. Including tests and doctor visits, the cost would be $100,000—and Medicare would not cover it all. They said I have to apply for Part D (Prescription Drug Coverage), but there is no guarantee they would accept me for coverage.

 

I had to make so many phone calls to the Medicare office,
UCLA Hospital’s patient assistance office, Dr. Han’s office, and more.
I called and called and talked to many people so I could take care of this matter.

This was before *Mercury’s retrograde (July 26), but I really felt that it was in the middle of it.
I felt that nobody understood my accent or that my English was not good enough for anybody to understand.
Frustrated, I struggled and even cried over this Medicare system.

There is a site I checkd What To Do If You Can’t Afford Hep C Treatment?

 

Photo from https://www.findyourfate.com/planets/mercuryretrograde-july2018.html You can find about Mercury’s retrograde!

From Everything You Need to Know About Mercury Retrograde: Mercury retrograde periods would not be good times to do anything involving communications, such as launch a magazine, website, or an advertising or publicity campaign.

I checked hepatitis C medication costs all over the world.
They are so expensive everywhere—even Canada, Japan, and Mexico.

I made my own decision, and I told my husband Eric that I probably do not need this medication.

He said, “It’s up to you.” What a guy!
He knows I am a very optimistic person, so I was not going to worry over this medication.
I am so grateful that I did not get so attached to this issue and let go so I was not stressed out about it anymore.

 

A few days later, I got a phone call from a woman at UCLA hospital.
She told me there are pharmaceutical company programs to assist patients who can’t get the hepatitis C medication.
It usually takes three to six months to get an answer, but I can apply and find out if I am eligible or not.

 

Well, I believe in miracles, so I decided to apply; I had nothing to lose.
I requested an application form, which came in a few days.
I put together all my information and sent it to UCLA by email.
Two days later, someone from Gilead (the pharmaceutical company that produces hepatitis C medications Harvoni and Socaldi) called me and said, “Congratulations! You are approved to receive hepatitis C medication.”
I was so surprised that it was only two days after I’d applied.
What was going on?

 

She said I was going to receive Harvoni, which I’d heard was the most expensive.
She said, “It is prescribed by Dr. Han.” I asked why he chose it.
She replied, “Because of your DNA.”
What? What did she say?
My DNA?
When did they take a DNA test?
I could not believe what I’d heard.
She said, “You are lucky to get this free medication.”

 

The next thing I was shocked to hear was that the medication would be delivered next week by UPS.
I said, “Hmm?
Am I receiving $30,000 worth of expensive medication by UPS?”
She said that since it is expensive, the hospital does not keep it in their pharmacy.

Wow. They do not trust a hospital, but they trust UPS.
I am really puzzled by this system.

 

She said someone would call me before they shipped the medication the following week.
I waited about three weeks, but nobody called, and nothing came.
I thought maybe I had dreamed it all.

 

Meanwhile, so many things happened from the end of June to the end of August.
Eric got injured and was in pain for about seven weeks, so I had to go through emails from 60 different people who were interested in moving into the unit next to us.
The unit used to be my cooking studio and the office of Seed Kitchen, so it was the first time in 10 years we’d rent it out to someone we did not know.
I showed the unit to at least 30 people.
I was exhausted and forgot all about the medication.

 

Finally, we found the right people to move into the unit, and all of sudden I remembered that nobody had called me about the Harvoni medication.
I made a phone call to Gilead and had to talk to two different people to find out what happened.
They said they had a wrong phone number, so they never sent the medication.
What?
Wait a minute—they were the ones who’d called to tell me I got approved.
What did they do with my phone number?

 

On top of what had happened, getting the Harvoni by UPS was crazy.
They said someone would have to sign for it because it is so expensive.
So, I was home all day and did not even going to the back of my house,
so I could hear when the delivery person came to the gate.
Many times, delivery people and postal workers do not come inside the gate because of the “Beware of Dog” sign we have.

 

I waited about seven hours, and it was almost 4 pm.
I was getting tired of waiting, so I called Gilead and got the tracking number to check the status online.

Guess what?

It showed it was delivered at 12:29 pm and signed by Kari.
What?
Who is Kari?
I went to the front gate I found that $30,000 worth of mediation was left on the ground by the gate.

 

Harvoni of Hepatitis C Med. was delivered at my front gate

I could not believe it.
But am I glad that I received it?
Yes!

 

It was one day before Mercury retrograde came, but it sure felt like it had come way ahead of time.

I concluded why I got this free medication so quickly:
because I was a perfect candidate, who’d had lymphoma cancer and was getting better, with an application that was all together.
I know since I was accepted for this medication that I am supposed to take it.
I have been taking it everyday.
There are no side effects that I’ve noticed, even though I was told the following might happen:

  • Fatigue
  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Insomnia
  • Weakness

Thanks to my healthy macrobiotic life with remedy drinks that I drink every morning to detox this medication, no side effects!
Brava!!! ( The female form of “bravo”)

I look forward to seeing the results in November and let you know.

 

Love, Sanae💖

Oro Came To My Life The Day My Mother Passed

12 years ago, on August 15, I got a phone call from my sister that my mother passed.
I was very shocked since it was sudden death from asthma attached and she could not breathe.

I just came back from Kushi Institute for my teacher training and found out that my mother called and left her voice message, but it was accidentally erased before I could listen to it so I never knew what she said on the message so I was going to call my mother when I came back home, but before I called her my sister called for sad news.

I scream as I heard this sad news and did not know what to feel, but hours later, on the same date, here in Santa Monica my first service, dog, Kin birthed healthy 7 puppies even she was almost 10 years old and Oro was the last one to born at my house.
She really did not want to leave the house because everytime someone came to choose or pick up a puppy she hid.
She played a ball as soon as her eyes opened.

Oro (orange) with her first ball!

 

I was grieving losing my mother, but Oro brought new life and gave me a purpose in my life once again.

She is a special dog daughter just like my beloved dog daughter Kula (if any of you remember that I wrote about her on my blogs two years ago).
Oro is Kula’s half-sister, and she is also a service dog, just like Kula and their mother, Kin, who was my first service dog.

Oro is going to North Fork with Kin, Kula, and Dore.

 

Oro was very connected to her mother, Kin.
She lost her eye pigmentation a little by little when she was two years old, shortly after her mother Kin passed.
We took her to eye specialist doctors, but they could not find a cause.
She has mysterious white marble like eyes which to me are so special.
She sees when there is no light, but in the daylight, she can’t see well, the way we need sunglasses in bright daylight.
We bought two different sunglasses for her, but she did not like any of them.

Oro with beautiful white marble eyes.

 

Wherever we take her out, everyone loves and all other dogs love her too.

She is very polite and kind.

When we became a foster family for Leo from Golden Retriever rescue, he fell in love with Oro so we had to adopt him.

They really care for each other and Leo even shares his food with Oro.

Oro is a very smart dog so I took her to K9 Nose Work training when she turned 9 years old so she can use her brain.
Although she was not quick to find an object, she was methodical so she won’t miss anything so the trainer was amazed by Oro’s ability even she can’t see well daylight.

 

She did not know how to swim, so Eric had to teach her.
She mastered it pretty quickly and came to love swimming.
When we go to Manzanita lake in North Fork she never wants to leave until she is the last one by herself, and then she would realize that she has to leave.

Oro, her boyfriend, Leo and her daughter, Lumi (right to left) at Manzanita Lake in North Fork, CA.

 

She also loves to go hiking.
This year she joined one of the small dogs’ groups because she is so kind and nurturing to small dogs and she really had a great senior life.

Oro hiking on July 30, 2018

 

About one month and a half ago (July 12th), when I was cutting her nails (I cut my dogs’ nails once a month) and checked her body and was shocked to find a lump on her abdomen.
She had had a blood test a month ago and everything was good so I was surprised, but I know that a blood test goes not show everything.

Because of what I went through with Kula two years ago, who had spleen cancer (hemangiosarcoma) my mind blacked out, and I went to a place I did not want to go in that moment.

 

Typical hemangiosarcoma signs are lethargy, fever, weight loss, fatigue, petechial hemorrhage (small bleeding points on the gums or skin), anemia, diarrhea, increased urination, frequent infections, easy bleeding, pain or fullness in the left upper abdomen that may spread to the left shoulder or leg, and feeling full without eating or after eating only a small amount from the enlarged spleen pressing on the stomach. It is a rapid growth of the tumor and may make the spleen rupture spontaneously, with acute collapse and breathing difficulty that is life-threatening.

 

Oro has good energy and doesn’t tire easily, and she has not lost her weight.  Fortunately, she has no fever or diarrhea, no abnormal urination, no anemia, etc. Kula, on the other hand, had lost weight, was tired, had a fever, and could not walk much because the tumor got big and pushed her hips.

 

What I found out about hemangiosarcoma in dogs from experience with Kula.

Hemangiosarcomas are fed by the blood vessels and fill with blood. Because of this, the tumor can rupture, leading to sudden and severe hemorrhage, collapse, and rapid death. Often, owners do not realize their dog is affected by the sudden hemorrhage or collapse.

 

It is very scary since it can happen so suddenly.
But I told myself that Oro has so far not shown the symptoms associated with spleen cancer so she will be okay.

 

The next day I brought her to the beach, which she loves the most.
Watching her enjoy the beach so much, I prayed that she is okay.

 

Oro at CVG before she was diagnosed with spleen cancer.

The following week, Eric and I took her to see a veterinarian, who said it looks and feels like spleen cancer (hemangiosarcoma) so Oro needed to have an x-ray and ultrasound.
She recommended me to take Oro to Veterinarian Cancer Group (VCG).

“No!  Please, not Oro.
She looks so healthy and energetic,” my inner voice cried out.

But I found out that some dogs do not have any symptoms of hemangiosarcomas.

We were able to get a VCG appointment next day on Sunday, and while we were waiting for the results of the x-ray and ultrasound, I knew that no matter what, I am committed and ready to help her the way I  helped Kula every step of the way until she took her last breath.

The VCG doctor confirmed that Oro has hemangiosarcoma which had already spread to the liver, so there was nothing they could do.

It will be lying if I said I have been there so I am not in a panic, but I feel I am all right and will continue to take care of myself, one day at a time, and sometimes one moment at a time, so that I can have the power and strength to take care of Oro.

 

This summer is almost over…we really did not do much.
Eric got injured and was not able to do much for 7 weeks.
My new medication for Hepatitis C issue was ups and down since my insurance did not cover and it cost over $90,000 for three months, next door is under construction so I feel there is no peaceful moment at home, more and Oro’s cancer.

 

It has been over one month since I found her lump on Oro’s abdomen.
She had a blood leakage episode five times in the last three weeks.
It’s scary each time.
I am learning to live today might be the last day for Oro and be grateful and have gratitude each day! It is not easy, but I am doing my best.

I did it for myself last summer when I was getting Lymphoma treatment.

But Oro is a fighter!
Like Mother, Like Daughter!!!

Last weekend on Sat. it took 9 hours for Oro to regain herself and yesterday Monday, it took 20 hours for her to regain her mobility.

Oro is trying to rest after Reiki and Moxibustion in an aromatherapy diffuser room.

Today, she is a little weak, but happy again and eating a full meal.

I have been giving her Yunnan Baiyao Chinese medicine and other herbal blend medicine prescribed for Oro by Holistic veterinarian Dr. Lane. When an acute moment came I used Yunnan Baiyao emergency small pills to stop the bleeding. I did not know how to use it when I started to use it for Kula so I have learned some since then so I am grateful that Oro has overcome five times so far.

 

When she had a bleeding episode two days before her 12 years birthday,
I told her that her birthday was coming.
She said “Mommy, I know that. I am not ready to leave yet so help me like you did Kula!”
We went to celebrate her birthday on the beach for sunset.
She met many people and dogs and greeted everyone so I told them it was her birthday.
She was so happy everytime somebody said to her “Happy Birthday!”

Birthday special sunset beach to celebrate Oro’s birthday and my mother’s 12 years memorial!

 

Eric and Oro for Oro’s birthday beach walk!

I want to help her as much as she wants to live so I am spending my time with precious Oro by talking (I have been learning Animal communication with Lydia Hiby), making special healing food, giving her Reiki, Moxibustion, gentle shiatsu massage (Healthy Happy Pooch book shows dog meridian points), also I made her personally Bach flower remedy so she does not have to worry so much.

She loves Reiki and Moxibustion so much and she is waiting for me right now so I got to go…

 

I am so grateful to be Oro’s human mommy!
I thank Oro so much that she came to my life!

 

Hiking with Oro!

 

Love,

Sanae

 

The Letter

I wrote this blog last September.
It took time for me to be ready to share.
Now I am ready to post.
You will know why it took time for me to be ready after you read.

 

Before I announced that I was diagnosed with Primary Liver Non-Hodgkin of Diffuse Large B-Cell Lymphoma (DLBCL) I was concerned what other people would think of me.

When I was really sick from ovarian cancer 25 years ago and started macrobiotic and holistic approaches and nobody really wanted to talk to me about how I was trying to get better.

At that time macrobiotics and holistic healing were not so well known to most people, so my decision to not to have chemotherapy and follow only the holistic way was frightening to many people around me.

But after a year or so when I started to heal myself and look healthier, people started to ask me how I did it. I did not realize how much I was able to help other people with my story and I learned a lot about sharing it too. I did not plan to be a macrobiotic counselor, cooking teacher or educator, but it just came to me as I shared my story. Of course, I decided to go to school to learn more macrobiotic, natural healing and alternative medicine and went on to receive certificates and to practice everyday and it became my life.
Through practicing macrobiotics and living a natural life, it became my career naturally.

My first cooking class was at Erewhon natural foods market in 1995.
I was so happy to share what I had learned through ovarian cancer through my first teacher Cecile Levin and then Michio and Aveline Kushi. I realized that being a macrobiotic teacher required knowledge and commitment, and more importantly teaching by example. I continued to share my story and macrobiotic life with my husband and furry family.

I realized that there was a reputation connected to being a macrobiotic teacher.
I felt that reputation matched my good health and happy lifestyle with my family (Eric, dogs, and cats).

I received a letter from a macrobiotic acquaintance who has been active in the community for a long time. It was painful to read her judgments and misunderstandings about my condition.
She questioned my relationship with macrobiotics and clearly hadn’t read the details on my blog.

I understand her position; whenever a macrobiotic teacher experiences illness, it can send a wave of fear through the community.
It is human to experience that fear (of death, or of one’s own potential suffering), but it’s equally human to not want to feel it, so we throw it back on the person who is sick.
Judgment and projections fly.
Of course, most people don’t respond like this, and I have been met with an extraordinary amount of compassion on this recent journey, but being faced with judgment and a questioning my practice was one of my biggest fears when revealing my condition to the healing community.

For the record, I have never veered from my macrobiotic practice.
If I had, ovarian cancer would not have stayed in remission for 24 years.
I am not strict like I had to be to recover the first time, but I also don’t “play” widely. Eric and I cook almost every single one of the meals that we eat.
We even cook for our dogs!

So it’s not about macrobiotics or forgetting to practice the principles
It’s about life.

I contracted Hepatitis C sixteen years ago from a blood transfusion I needed in order to survive a catastrophic car accident.
I was powerless over that–I received the transfusion while I was in a coma.
We can’t control everything.
Hepatitis C can flip into large B-cell lymphoma in the liver.
The lymphoma in the liver was growing so fast, and the diet and other holistic approaches were not saving my life fast enough.
Receiving the diagnosis to live only weeks.
Stuff happens.

I am grateful to be alive, even to receive difficult letters.
And the lovely food I have the privilege of eating—the whole grains, the vegetables, the beans—give me the energy to send love to my macrobiotic acquaintance.
I wish her well.

The person who wrote me might have disapproved and been disappointed that I did not just do macrobiotics.
But I am living for me, not for this person.
I also know a quite few macrobiotic people and teachers who actually lost their lives because they did not seek and/or believe in western medicine.

As I wrote on my blog “My First Chemotherapy

I had a conversation with the chemo medicine “I know you can help me, but I am feeling very heavy and dark right now since I do not know you yet. Please help me to heal, but do not destroy my good cells. I know you can do it.”

I learned to believe chemo medicine is there to help me and I wanted to make sure the chemo medicine could hear me so I had to communicate with it.

I know chemotherapy could destroy my healthy tissue and organs, but I am a macrobiotic person so I will not let chemo destroy me and if my healthy tissue and organs get weak or damaged in order for cancer to leave my body I will heal my tissue and organs and overcome it no matter what!

I was upset first when I read this person’s letter, but you know what…
it actually has helped me to thrive and motivated me to move forward to prove that the macrobiotics I have been practicing will work for me and will help many many more people in the future in the way that’s best, and everybody’s best is different.

I have been judgmental too, in the past, but I am learning to let go of it.
By going through the chemo, and all the feelings it kicks up, and having to be dependent on the kindness of others, my judgment has lessened and my compassion has grown. And so has my gratitude.

I am ready to go to the third cycle of chemotherapy to save my life.

Thank you,

Love,
Sanae 💖

 

P.S. After this letter, I found out some of my students don’t want to talk to me because I took chemotherapy to heal myself.
I was sad…

I have been teaching macrobiotics and holistic modality since 1995 and offering my macrobiotic nutrition counseling, but I never told anyone to not get conventional treatments, including chemotherapy.
Macrobiotics and holistic approach work usually for chronic conditions, not for acute conditions, and I believe meeting in the middle to use both benefits, if necessary.

What did I do?
I have learned when I started to live in the U.S. “What other people think of me is none of my business” so I Prayed for them.

Growing Healthy, Beautiful Hair After Chemotherapy

I post my blog “Shaving My Hair After Chemotherapy” on July 28th, 2017 after I shaved my hair.

I’d heard that one of the side effects of chemotherapy was that my hair was going to fall out after three weeks. My hair was falling out almost two weeks after the first chemotherapy.

There is a saying in Japan, “Hair is women’s lives,” and I loved my mother’s long hair, so I really enjoyed growing my hair most of my life.
I was sad in the beginning to lose my hair.
I could not bear seeing the pillow covered with it when I got up in the morning.
I decided to shave my head so I would not have to see my hair fall out everyday.
I asked Eric to shave my head.
I felt at ease and refreshed, and I did not feel sad.

After I shave my head 650 CR

Photo: I felt refreshed after Eric shaved my head!

 

But I was so weak and so much pain after the third cycle of chemotherapy.
I lost even eyebrows and had no strength to get up most of the time.

650 Sanae no hair

Photo: After the third cycle of chemotherapy – lost even eyebrow.

 

I got used to not having hair and eyebrows eventually, but my head was feeling the wind and feeling cooler and I could not find something I like to wear so I decided to hand-knitted a hat to wear.

Linen pink linen to make hat 650

Photo: A pretty pink color linen yarn that I started to knit for my chemo hat last summer.

 

 

Sanae with linen hat 1 650

Photo: Here is my linen hat and me.

As the weather changed to winter, my head got very cold, so I made the hat with thick cotton and later with cashmere and wool hat and sometimes I even slept in my hat.

After I completed six rounds of chemotherapy, I noticed my hair is starting to grow slowly.
I wanted to help my hair grow to be healthy and beautiful again, so I thought about making an essential oil blend for my hair.

There are many different blends you can make for growing healthy, beautiful hair.
My choice is blending with helichrysum, rosemary and lavender with Bach Flower Rescue Remedy (this blend is not only for people who lost hair because of chemotherapy. It helps anybody to promote healthy beautiful hair, but good for men who are bald because massage your scalp helps to enhance blood circulation in your head and neck area to loosen tight areas. Also, scalp massages can support to calm your spirit and relax your body which aid to promote good sleep).

Helichrysum essential oil is regenerative to all body tissues. Its regenerative qualities support healthy scalp tissue and sebum production, and it helps improve blood circulation to the scalp.
This encourages blood and nutrient flow to the hair follicles, which improves their growth rate.
I used helichrysum oil to repair the skin on my legs after I had a life-threatening car crash; it helped me avoid needing a skin graft.

Rosemary is packed with antioxidants, which can prevent thinning and even graying hair.
It’s another essential oil that promotes blood circulation, so it’s perfect for stimulating hair follicles and growth.

Lavender essential oil improves blood circulation when massaged into the scalp, can prevent hair loss, and promotes hair growth. Furthermore, it is a powerful moisturizer, antimicrobial and antiseptic. It balances sebum production and is ideal for those who suffer from dandruff.

Bach Flower Rescue Remedy mix was created by Dr. Bach to deal with emergencies and crises – It can be used to help us get through any stressful situations, from driving LA traffic jam, last-minute exam or interview nerves, to the aftermath of an accident or bad news or cancer.

Essential Oil Blend for Growing Healthy, Beautiful Hair

  • 4 drops helichrysum essential oil
  • 4 drops rosemary essential oil
  • 5 drops lavender essential oil
  • 2 oz (4 tablespoons) rosehip, castor or jojoba oil
  • 4 drops of Bach Flower Rescue Remedy

Mix ingredients in a 2-oz bottle.
Massage the blend into the scalp. Leave in for 1–2 hours, or overnight, and then shampoo out.

Precautions to Take When Using Essential Oils for Hair Growth

  • If you are not sure how to properly use essential oils for hair growth, ask the advice of your doctor, a licensed natural health practitioner, or an aroma therapist.
  • If you are pregnant, suffer from hypertension, or have epilepsy, you should avoid rosemary essential oil. Again, ask your doctor, a licensed natural health practitioner, or an aroma therapist.
  • Although reactions are rare with proper use, always perform a skin patch test before using a new essential oil to ensure you will not have an allergic reaction to it.

Source

 

I started massaging my head with my blend everyday after chemotherapy.
Can you see how much my hair has grown by this photo which is after ten weeks since the last chemotherapy, and that my eyebrows are growing too, right?

Sanae Hair 01-2018 Fixed 650

 

It will take a long time for me to grow long hair again, but I am enjoying massaging my head and supporting my hair to grow beautifully again.

Now it has been about 16 weeks since the last chemotherapy, can you see my hair has grown so much!

Sanae hair 03-04-18 fixed 650

 

Another thing what helps to grow healthy, beautiful hair is eating sea vegetables.
I eat kombu (using kombu to cook whole grains and making a miso soup everyday), wakame, nori (I make condiment with wakame or nori) everyday.

650 Main Coast Wakame

I would like to share my recipes of Wakame and Nori condiment in the near future.
I post Red Radish & Wakame Pressed Pickle Salad recipe about one year ago so you can check it right now. Wakame is springtime sea vegetable!

Wakame red radish ume pressed salad CR 650

 

Eating sea vegetables also helps to make a blood alkaline, clear your skin and supports to build strong bones.

Also, eating green leafy vegetables (kale, collard green, mustard green, daikon and red radish top green etc.) cooking water sautéed or steam is the best. Using oil for cooking too often clog up the scalp.

Kale

 

As I wrote on my blog, “Shaving My Hair After Chemotherapy” when I shaved my head, I had an image of the famous Sinéad O’Connor’s shaved head and told myself it would maybe grow into a short Annie Lennox hairstyle after chemotherapy. They are beautiful women, so here I am. I feel beautiful without long hair. Don’t you think so?

 

Love,

Sanae 💖

 

 

 

Stronger Than I’ve Ever Been

I wanted to write a newsletter for December, but I was not able to write.
I started to write New Year newsletter in January, but I was not able to finish.
I felt I needed to rest and focus on my recovery.
So, here I just finished writing the newsletter in English and will send it this morning.

 

My newest PET scan (which I had on February 1, 2018) results were not bad,
but not as good as I wanted them to be.
It got 1.00 mm smaller than before, but the SUV brightness went up 0.48 (I explained what is SUV on my blog on November 21).
My oncologist, Dr. Mead, said I do not have to worry so much, because the biopsy I received on December 14, 2017, showed that this SUV is not active. But I was sad when I heard the results.

 

I have been taking care of myself everyday with macrobiotic healing foods and other holistic modalities.
I started feeling more strength around mid-January so I believed cancer had left my liver, but I have a high-grade lymphoma (Dr. Mead explained that lymphoma has different grades, which I did not know; high-grade is a more aggressive and critical cancer) and a very rare cancer.
I have learned that the cancer is still in my liver. I have to take another PET scan in two months, but I do not have to have more chemotherapy “RICE”, which is a blessing.

However, I wanted my SUV result to be lower than before so much.
I was sad and suddenly felt very tired all over. I know in my heart that my body needs more time to heal and I must support my body and mind, but I did not know how to continue.
I just felt I needed to rest from the full-time work of recovery.
I did not know where I could get the strength to keep going.

Then I heard this song, “Stronger Than I’ve Ever Been” by Kaleena Zanders.

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It was introduced to me by the Toyota Super Bowl 2018 commercial “Good Odds.”
The odds of winning a Paralympic gold medal are almost 1 billion to one. This film follows the journey of Lauren Woolstencroft, who beat the odds to win eight Paralympic gold medals. Some of you probably saw it. My body shivered when I watched it, and this song connected with me very deeply.

I am not a Paralympic gold medalist, but I am a gold-medal survivor of two cancers and a near-death car accident, and these lyrics gave me a similar feeling of all the challenges I have faced in my life:

If you knock me down

I get up again, I get up again

Born unstoppable

I get up again

Now I’m stronger than I’ve ever been

 

<My version>

If cancer knocks me down,
I get up again.
If chemotherapy knocks me down,
I get up again.
If neuropathy knocks me down,
I get up again.
Born unstoppable,
I get up again.
Now I’m stronger than I’ve ever been.

 

This song was in my head all night, even while I was sleeping, so I decided to write about it here.
I am grateful for this song.
When I got up this morning, even my legs had been giving me much pain from neuropathy. (Both my legs are seriously injured from my 2001 car crash, and I have been living with neuropathy pain. The chemotherapy I received last year added more neuropathy, so I have more pain everyday, and it is hard to get up.)
I am ready to start the morning with my recovery routine, singing this song and feeling stronger than I’ve ever been.

Thank Kaleena Zanders and Toyota!

 

Love with my strength of the recovery,
Sanae 💖

Happy Valentine’s Day 2018!

My first Valentine’s Day memory was when I baked cookies the first time, I was sweet 16!
The cookies were for a man I admired, Richard Kermode, who played keyboard for Santana. I had met him when I went to see Santana’s concert. He was also in a band of my favorite American woman rock singer, Janis Joplin and played Woodstock concert (The Woodstock Music & Art Fair) in 1969.
Since my mother did not do any baking, we did not have an oven, so I asked to get a small toaster oven for our house. I had to wait to use the kitchen after we finished cleaning up dinner.
I think I started after 8 pm and finished after midnight.
February in my hometown of Nagoya, Japan, had no snow, but it was cold.

 

The cookies came out delicious, and I packed them to send to Richard in San Francisco.
I was so exited to go to the post office the next day, but I caught a cold, and a few days later, I got really sick with a fever. My mom thought it was because I’d stayed up so late making cookies. I got a high fever and ended up being in bed for one week.
But I got a phone call from Richard and was able to talk to him because I was sick and did not go to school. He really loved the cookies, so it made my cold go away.
When I was a teenager, I was fat (had a bulimia) and did not have a boyfriend, so this was a beautiful memory of Valentine’s Day.

 

Since I met Eric, he has been taking me out to Valentine’s Day dinner and giving me gifts. I usually make my own calligrahy card and a gift for him (a part of my Valentine card for Eric this year I put on the top of this blog – A heart wreath with many small hearts by water colors and Italic calligrahy).

This year, I told him I wanted to stay home, so he surprised me with a new ukulele and a card said,
“To my Valentine, Sanae…All my love on this special day and everyday! Love, Eric”.

How sweet Eric is and I really felt how much he loves me even I was diagnosed cancer twice (in 1993 & 2017), and became disabled because of the car accident I had in 2001. I am learning true love with Eric’s love. I am a lucky person to experience his love so I have a mission to get well.

Ukulele sounds were always so soothing and healing to me, ever since I went to Hawaii for the first time when I was 17 years old. Eric and I started practicing ukulele a few years ago and taking classes. Eric plays very well, but I am not so good yet. I just enjoy being with him and doing something together.

 

Because I was diagnosed lymphoma (Diffuse Large B-Cell Lymphoma -DLBCL Primary non-Hodgkin of Liver)  last year, I could not practice anymore, so we stopped going to class. When the new year came, I felt I had enough strength, so we decided to try going back to class just a couple times a month. But I found that my ukulele had cracked; I had a soft case, so it must have bumped into something. It was still okay for practice, so I have been using it, but I knew I had to get one sooner or later.

Cracked ukulele

Photo: You can see a crack just around Jake’s autograph.

 

Eric found a ukulele specialty store, U-Space in Little Tokyo (in Downtown L.A.), so I just wanted to see what they have there.

U-Space Eric Nalu and Jason

Photo: Eric with our Nalu (she was a little shy) with U-Space’s Jason.

 

Jason CD

Photo: Jason’s CD!

 

 

U-Space

Photo: With Jason and owner of U-Space, Patrice.

 

We met Jason (who is a ukulele teacher and has a CD) and the shop owner, Patrice; they were so kind and attentive. They has so many beatiful and great sounds ukulele. Of course, I loved some of the ukuleles there, so I thought I would save up money to buy one for my birthday in April. But Eric said, let’s get one with a hard case now for a Valentine’s Day gift.
I was surprised and so happy.
I promised myself I am going to practice everyday, even just 10 minutes, so I can play better with Eric.
I also think ukulele sounds help me to recover from Lymphoma smoothly.

Kohaleha ukulele

Photo: My new ukulele, Kohaleha!

 

Now our friends Masako and Michiyo have joined our ukulele class, and our friend Kyoko will join soon.
Would you like to join us?
Our teacher is Dan of Dan How Music on 17th Street in Santa Monica. He has no website or Facebook page, so you’ll need to contact him at Dan How <danwayn@gmail.com>.

Ukulele with Dan

Photo: With uur ukulele teacher, Dan.

 

Ukulele class

Photo: With Masako (right) and Michiyo (next to Masako).

 

We would like to have a ukulele recital potluck someday.
Hope you come!

Love,
Sanae 💖