For one week in Japan

Adriaan and I are going for one week to Japan.

I am done with all the examinations. The second biopsy of a different mass, which they discovered in the same breast on the MRI, was negative: a fibroadenoma. But they discovered something one my bones. So, I had a bone scan. First, they inject you with some radioactive particles which circulate for 3 hours and are selectively picked up by the bones, before they scan. I was glowing all the time 🙂 :). Luckily, they also were all negative. They had seen my former fracture of my  right arm. So, no bone cancer.  My surgery will be May the 11th. They will of course examine all the tissue and cancer and know if and how many lymph nodes are involved. This will direct my treatment. They also test the cancer for molecular markers to determine the prognosis and if my cancer will respond to a certain treatment. My cancer is Her2 positive. This means it is treatable with medication, but it is an aggressive cancer. Before I left for Japan (yesterday) I did all my preoperative exams like X-ray and blood work.

It is strange. It feels like it is happening to somebody else. Of course, I feel it when they draw my blood, but somehow it doesn’t hit me yet. Only it dawned more when I heard that I also need chemo therapy. At the moment, I still feel really good and happy and positive. We always bicycled down the hill for ¾ of an hour to go to Stanford Hospital and the way back home for about an hour up the hill gave a good work-out and building up my physical condition. The weather was also beautiful and not too hot, and the hills with nice young green leaves, grass and lots of wildflowers, smelled so fresh. Then I feel so lucky that I also live here and that I am being treated in one of the best hospitals. I have confidence and faith that everything will be alright.

Now I arrived in Japan. It is somewhat cloudy, but sunny and somewhat humid. Inside the train it is warm, because they don’t turn on the air conditioner yet. People are very welcoming and are glad to see you.

We will of course meet lots of friends. I will bring my “Kamakura-Red” booklet to the stores in Kamakura, the Kogeikan Museum and the Ginnosuzu Gallery. I advertise them in my booklet and they are going to sell it.

Then on Monday we will go to Mashiko with Steve Tootell and meet with Ken Matsuzaki, Tomoo Hamada, Euan Craig and some more people to see how the situation is in Mashiko and to see how we can help. Of course, I also will go to the Toko Gallery and we will sleep in the minshuku for one night at the Togei Arts Center of Furuki-san. There will be the yearly Tokiichi Pottery Fair in Mashiko of about 400 tents and 50 stores and it is Golden Week in Japan. The Golden Week is a collection of 4 national holidays within 7 days. So, many people will be on vacation or have some days of from work.

My own little quake

On March 8 I flew to the US to be there for 2 weeks to see my sons and do the taxes, and some work and meet with some friends. Our original plan was that Adriaan would join me in the US and we would return to Japan on the 22nd of March.Then on the 11th the terrible disasters happened and lots of my friends were affected.  My first reaction was of how I could help or go back as soon as possible or start a fund raising.

Most of the thoughts I still have, because I had my own little quake.

I am not a person who would tell the whole world, but I remember a friend who blogged about her illness. You help yourself with writing and getting it out. Also, so many people ask you about it, so it is also good they can read about it and then you don’t have to repeat yourself all the time. I have many friends around the world, so, when they go on my website, they are interested in me. And also this is part of life, and happening to a lot of people. I am not ashamed and want to be open and share also the bad news with my friends.

Normally, I have every year a mammogram in March, but because I had a breast infection in August and I had been to the doctor a few times, I thought everything was alright. Then I started to cough terribly and after 2 weeks I visited my doctor. He gave me some antibiotics and cough medicine, but also told me to have a mammogram anyway. Well, a good thing I did, because they called me back for more mammograms, ultrasounds and biopsy. And last week, they told me I have early stage breast cancer. In the meantime, I had an MRI and another ultrasound and another biopsy is scheduled for next week. It is like entering a roller coaster, what is not about to stop yet. I am quite a realistic person and for myself it is the best to do everything and all the exams possible right away to deal with this. Adriaan supports me with every step, and is wonderful.

Next week, I would like to go to Japan for a week before the operation to settle some pressing issues, visit some of my close friends and go to Mashiko and still see how I can help. Hopefully, then I can relax and concentrate to get healthy.

I left thinking to be gone for 2 weeks, but then it all changed. I canceled my exhibition, but try now to reschedule it as a combined show with my Japanese potter friends from Mashiko. I canceled my horsehair workshop for the 14th of May and I planned to help 2 publicists/writers from a Dutch clay magazine with interviewing ceramic artists from Mashiko in Mashiko. I think it is now even more important that the visit and interviews happen. They show the world the beautiful pottery and culture of Mashiko and Japanese people. It also demonstrates that people still could and should visit Mashiko. Hopefully the publicity and exhibition will be helpful as a small step in helping rebuilding Mashiko.

My good friend, Euan Craig, will still help with the interviews, despite what has happened to him in the earthquake (his blog: My husband Adriaan will be with Euan instead of me. I feel very fortunate.

Concerning me, it is incredible all the help, understanding and support I get from my husband, children and family and so many friends. Thank you all very much.

I started exercising again and it feels good. I turn on the music which just flows through me and which makes my body move. With that I just think that all the bad energy flows away and the sunny, light energy flows in. I like Cascada and such, for rhythm and especially when they are singing: it will be alright or it is going to be better, I sing along out loud!