Monday in Tokyo

April 30, 2008 at 1:14 am 3 comments

I’m writing from Trivandrum, India. We arrived late last night after more than 20 hours of traveling. Sheesh! We flew from Tokyo to Singapore, had a several hour layover, and then took a second flight into Trivandrum. We’re staying at an amazing bed and breakfast –  Graceful Homestay. I’ll post photos of our current home later. We’ll be doing some interviews here during our stay. Our last day in Tokyo was a good one. We interviewed two cancer survivors in the morning – Mr. and Mrs. Endo (prostate cancer) and Mrs. Saito (kidney cancer). They both had amazing stories.

When Mr. Endo found out that he had cancer, he didn’t tell anyone (not even his wife). He just did a lot of research so he could learn more about the disease. He didn’t want to have surgery so he found several institutes in the US that offered proton therapy. He booked two tickets to the states and told his wife when they arrived why they were actually there. He told us that more people in Japan are just starting to share their cancer story with others. Wilson filmed Mr. Endo and several other cancer survivors in a Prostate Cancer Support Group earlier in the morning. Mr. Endo said they had a newcomer who was very anxious to learn what everyone else had done regarding treatment. At the end of the interview he said, “Unity is strength, knowledge is power, and attitude is everything.”

When Mrs. Saito was diagnosed, she told her family and thought that her husband would be able to support her emotionally but it was too much for him (though he supported her financially). While she did get support from her friends and children, she decided that she had the strength to get through this by herself. (We’ve heard a lot about inner strength in Japan). Since her diagnosis, she started to appreciate every moment in life – whether it was good or bad. She had an amazing attitude.

After those interviews, we went to a yoga session for cancer survivors (one of the Wellness Community’s programs). Wilson shot the session. In the middle of the session, the instructor turned up the heat in the room. Needless to say, it was toasty in there and Wilson came out glistening. It’s possible he lost a pound or two. When the class was over, we asked each of the women a couple of questions about their cancer experience as well as perception of cancer in Japan. In total, we spoke to 35 people in Japan about cancer. 

We went back to the Wellness community to interview Kenichi (their program director) and got some footage of him running a support group through an Internet chat program they sponsor. It’s similar to Second Life. Each person can design their own character. The online support group took place in an outside setting with each person sitting on a bench in a circle. Kenichi said that the program had been very successful for them and that people are much more open about their experience since it’s all anonymous. Here are some photos from the day. 



Entry filed under: Japan.

Sunday in Tokyo Our Last Night in Tokyo: A Traditional Japanese Meal

3 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Beth  |  April 30, 2008 at 8:07 am

    Amazing stories! Thanks for sharing all of this Anne. (I know you must be tired.)

  • 2. Andy  |  April 30, 2008 at 4:33 pm

    Can you imagine? “Honey, we are going on a fabulous vacation!” and when you arrive, “Surprise, I really have cancer and we are here because I am starting treatment.” Simply amazing what people have to go through just because a disease carries such social stigma.

  • 3. devon  |  April 30, 2008 at 8:01 pm

    35 interviews! That’s amazing!


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