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A New Mother Battles Breast Cancer

“Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass…It’s about learning to dance in the rain.”

Few things are more terrifying that receiving a diagnosis of Stage II invasive breast cancer. To also be a new parent and forced to move halfway around the world upon hearing this diagnosis is unthinkable. For Kanoko, that’s exactly what happened. She learned she had breast cancer less than one year after becoming a mother. It forced her to make the very difficult decision to move back to Japan from the U.S. and be apart from her beloved husband. Her dear friends Lebi, Tomoko and Megumi created a GiveForward page so Kanoko’s community could come together to provide support.

We asked Kanoko to share her experience for others and the following is an interview we conducted with her via email:

mother breast cancer with son

Can you tell us about what you felt when you received the diagnosis? – I received the diagnosis by phone. I had just parked in the parking lot at a local grocery store with my 11 month old son when the phone rang. When I was told the news, my first thought was, “What’s going to happen to me?” Then I began to wonder whether or not I will live long enough for my son to remember me and I could not stop crying.

What have been some of the greatest hardships for you throughout this battle? – For the past few years, we have lived in the United States for my husband’s job. After being diagnosed with breast cancer I made the difficult decision to immediately return to Japan to receive treatment, bringing with me my 11 month old son. The greatest hardship has been having to go through treatment without my beloved husband by my side. The fact that I am no longer physically there to help take care of the household for my husband and that I am no longer able to play with my son like I used to has also been hard on me, even more so than the loneliness I sometimes feel.

mother breast cancer and family

Kanoko and her family before she moved back to Japan.

What is the greatest comfort or support for you during this battle? – I have been receiving words of encouragement, prayers, and support from many family and friends. Knowing that I am loved by so many has been my greatest comfort and support.

Do you have advice or an inspirational quote from someone that you think
of when you are down? – I have two: The first is from a breast cancer survivor and her husband whom I met at a restaurant called Chez Panisse just before leaving to Japan for treatment: “Every morning, give thanks to what you find wonderful in your life; to your husband, your beautiful children, your family and friends. If you do this everyday, you will never be unhappy.”

The second is, “Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass…It’s about learning to dance in the rain.” This quote helps remind me that I can make the best of everyday while battling my cancer, especially during the toughest and trying times.

Is there any little story or something you would say to someone going
through a similar battle that would help brighten their day? – I would say, “Have you heard the words ‘Cancer gift’?” It is said that only those and their families who are affected by cancer can understand its true meaning. Since the first day of my diagnosis, we as a family have been continuing to receive this “gift.” For example, I feel as if I am now able to grasp the true meaning of happiness, compared to before my diagnosis. Even when my hair fell out or when I am troubled by nausea, I don’t feel unfortunate because I am able to see the everyday joys I didn’t notice before and because I am surrounded by the kindness of so many people. I think that there is a special gift like this waiting for you too.

What is the best/nicest thing anyone has done for you to help during a
hard time? – Everyone asked us if there was anything they could do to help us. So many people tried to cheer us up and support us in so many thoughtful ways. This has been the nicest and best thing during this time.

To read more about Kanoko you can visit her GiveForward page here.


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