Research and Support Groups

At the moment, I read quite a lot about breast cancer. They have quite some support groups at Stanford Hospital and also in the Bay Area. It is just wonderful to see how much support there is.

Last Wednesday, I went to the Breast Awareness group guided by the nurse of my surgeon. Of course, we all had our own stories and by sharing and listening and asking you help and learn from each other.
The next day, I went to a Chemotherapy class. I read already a lot about it, but again it is very revealing and you feel not alone. The nurse showed me the infusion center and that was quite a shock for me. You see all the people sitting in a big room with a nice open view to the outside in their own space/chair with curtain which they can close and personal tv and space for your caregiver. I was glad I saw it now and not the day of.
On Friday, I went to the Breast Cancer Connections group in Palo Alto and they had so much information and some wigs!!!! and I received a wonderful big comfort tote with all kinds of gifts made by girl scouts and a book about nutrition etc. And today, there was another group session with some great help.

Everyday I go on my bicycle to Stanford and Palo Alto first on a path through the forest and then a road through part of a forest and then I arrive at the campus. The weather is a little dark and sometimes a little rain, but it wonderful to feel the wind in your face and it gives good exercise. Today, I picked some wildflowers and listened to the wind!
But now I have to absorb everything, do some financing and go into my workshop in the garage. I have to touch the clay again before the 2nd operation! Wish me luck!

The pathology report


I met with the oncologist, the 2nd opinion doctor, and the surgeon and the great news is that my lymph nodes are free form cancer!!! This is wonderful!!:) 🙂  The surgeon removed the cancerous mass, but in the margin around are still pre-cancerous cells DCIS, so, that means that he has to go in again. Now, the wound needs to heal a little, so, my next operation will be on June the 8th. Everything goes very well and I can move my arm in all directions, but I have to watch out for too heavy lifting (25 pnd of clay!)(lymphedema).

This is part of our yard here in the US with once in a while deer passing through and rabbits hopping all over the place (I miss my cats).

Then, if the surgeon is able to get everything out, the chemo therapy will start on June the 20st and for 3 months and after that radiation for 6 weeks. So, still a ways to go, but we had a great start and my underarm is without stitches!!

In the meantime, Adriaan returned to Japan and met with Yna van der Meulen and Mels Boom. They went to Mashiko together and with the help of Euan Craig were able to have their interviews for the Dutch “Klei” magazine and expositions in Europe. Adriaan gave a presentation to a selected group of master potters of Mashiko and the mayor and curator of the Ceramic Art Museum and explained his idea how to help Mashiko. They formed a committee and the process started and is on its way.

My son Arjan stayed with me and took care of me for some days and it was  wonderful to be together for a while. Tomorrow, I bring him to the airport at 4 am for his return to Chicago. He will have a big exam in 2 weeks and he is studying hard!

And it is wonderful that so many friends help me and bring food. This is incredible! Thank you all so very much!


Two days ago at around this time 3pm I came out of surgery: a lumpectomy. The first thing I did was moving my arm to feel if it was bandaged and it was not! I am so happy about this and thankful, because this means that the cancer hasn’t spread to other lymph nodes. The day before the surgery they had injected my breast with a radioactive fluid which moved into my lymph nodes. In the morning they had inserted a wire in my breast under ultrasound guidance to find the mass, because it was not a lump. So, all kinds
The Zaimokuza beach of Kamakura, Japan.

of methods to help the surgeon with the removal of the mass. During the operation they checked some lymph nodes and would they have seen cancer cells, then they would have taken out more. Next Monday and Thursday they will have the results and we will know more about the treatment. I stayed one night in the hospital. My heart rate was quite low. Now, I’m at home and Adriaan takes great care of me! 🙂

Saying goodbye to Japan for awhile

I am in the train again on my way to Narita airport to return to the US.
Today is a beautiful day and the sun woke me up this morning. We had a wonderful walk on the beach, where so many surfers had already entered the water. There was just enough wind to have some nice waves.  We continued on to our favorite neighborhood temple, the Komiyoji, where they built a new wooden walkway towards the pond which is just gorgeous. It is so beautifully designed and precise and the wood smells so good.

Yesterday, I brought all my “Kamakura-Red” booklets to 3 Kamakura Bori Stores, the bookstore, a gallery and a museum  in Kamakura. Some friends are helping me with supplying the stores.

On my way back, I rode my bicycle on the grounds of the Hachimangu Shrine. There were so many tourists; unfortunately, almost all Japanese. I stopped at the pond where the overhang is blooming with the Wisteria flowers. A group of young women were eating their home made lunch bento boxes; so cute, small, beautiful and prepared with care! And they were happy to smile for me for the picture.

I didn’t have time to glaze and fire my kiln, but every day was filled.
I met some friends and I received some wonderful gifts: a beautiful kimono with about a thousand cranes on it and one thousand origami cranes folded into ten strings of 100 cranes. Incredible! The crane represents health, happiness and good luck. Lots of friends encouraged me and wished me well. Thank you all very much.

So, now this is what I have to do! Get better!

Meeting Matsuzaki-san and Hamada-san

Yesterday, Adriaan and I went to Mashiko with Steve Tootell (Head of the Creative and Performance Department from the International School of Sacred Heart), who was driving up with 2 students to make a movie about the aftermath of the earthquake in Mashiko. Koichiro Isaka-san from the St.Ives Gallery in Tokyo joined us. The MOVIE:

At the moment, there is also the Toki Ichi, the yearly May Pottery Festival in Mashiko from about 400 potters. We were amazed to see luckily so many tourists visiting this festival. But they were mainly all Japanese; no blue-eyed people around.

First, we arrived at the Togei Arts Center from Furuki-san. He made beautiful renovations at the Minshuku which had fully survived the earthquake, but the kilns were all damaged. Euan’s kiln was already repaired so people can start firing, and next will be Kusakabe-san’s kiln. His anagama was completely destroyed.

We had some lunch and met with Euan Craig who was manning his booth. He will help me still with the tour and interviews on May the 19 and the 20st of the Dutch journalist/magazine writers Yna and Mels and consequently, an exhibition in the Netherlands. But after the earthquake it takes on a whole different meaning and we are looking for other possibilities to make people aware of what happened in Mashiko and how to help them survive and continue the legacy of this incredible potters community.

Then we met with Ken Matsuzaki-san. I introduced Adriaan and he explained his idea how to help Mashiko and bring them out into the world. Luckily, Koi-san and one of the students helped with the translation.
After that, we went to Hamada Tomoo, the grandson of Hamada Shoji, and explained the same idea. They are very supportive but have to get used to the ideas.

A big shard pile at Matsuzaki-san’s place.

In the meantime, we saw the destruction of the kilns. Some were already cleaned up, but there was so much damage. Hamada Tomoo showed us the devastation of the Reference Museum of Hamada Shoji. Some potters were cleaning the bricks of the broken-down Noborigamas. So, much to do and the rebuilding of the treasure houses. The whole walls shifted. And so many of Hamada’s pots broken. But they had that all cleaned up and refreshed with other works from Hamada Shoji and Tomoo-san also had repaired some important plates from the collections.

Tomoo-san’s damaged salt kiln is already all cleaned up. Ready to build a new one.

Today, we met Fujiwara-san, Baba Yuchiko-san, the mayor Ohtsuka-san, and of course, Tsukamoto-san from the Toko Gallery and some other friends. So, we had quite a lovely day. We returned with the bus to Utsunomiya. We caught at 3:15pm the 2pm bus! Traffic was completely blocked in Mashiko.  It was that busy. The weather became cloudy and everybody of course started to leave at the same time. We got of the train in Tokyo to stay with my friend Lara and her wonderful family.