Ima wo Ikiru 〜Living in the Moment〜

Ima wo Ikiru 〜Living in the Moment〜

(Editor’s Note) We apologise that there was a misspelling in Ms. Minako Tomobe’s name in the printed article.

PiNK 2020 Spring Issue
PHOTO: Daniel Ross

In November 2019, we welcomed seven breast cancer survivors and a team of professionals for a photoshoot and interview session. They shared with us how they make the most of each day.

Ms. Kuniko Ide

Q: What reinvigorates you?

I like to walk my dogs. I wasn’t exercising as much as I used to after I was diagnosed with breast cancer, but last year we welcomed two dogs into our family. I started walking them for two hours every day on weekdays, and I go for runs with them on weekends. This has helped me to live a healthy lifestyle both physically and mentally. Nobody really talks to me if I walk by myself, but when I am with my dogs, people of all ages stop by to tell me how cute they are, and that feels nice.

Q: What do you like about yourself?

I’m proud of my positive mindset and how it enables me to find opportunities during hardships. For example, when my hair fell out because of chemotherapy, I decided that I wanted to feel more beautiful than ever, so I enjoyed dressing up in different wigs and hats.

Q: What would you like to do to challenge yourself?

Considering my experience of participating in two beauty contests and making it into the finals, I would like to plan a beauty contest for breast cancer survivors, and also act as the models’ walking coach.

Q: What made you want to participate in this project?

As a woman with Stage IV breast cancer, what helped me most to get back to health physically, mentally and emotionally were the encouragements and the smiles of my friends who had experienced the same illness. I will treasure these people for the rest of my life — and today I can even say that I am grateful for what I have gone through. I have received so much, and now I want to pass on that kindness and be there for people who are suffering from their illness. I hope that through this project I can share my experiences and spread happiness to people.

Ms. Ai Kitabayashi

Q: What reinvigorates you?

I like to exercise. I started yoga as part of my rehabilitation after first being diagnosed with breast cancer, and I’ve also taken up kickboxing. Exercising has been good for improving my circulation, and also helps my thought processes when I feel down, so I do my best to exercise regularly.

Q: What do you like about yourself?

I think that my illness taught me to have empathy for others, and it made me a kinder person. Through friendships with other survivors who have gone through tough experiences, I have come to understand people’s pain. I also had to come to terms with my own weaknesses and arrogance, and realizing how much I have been supported by the people around me made me more compassionate. In many ways, I think my sickness taught me a lot. No one is perfect, and that’s okay. I find myself learning to accept this with grace and I am growing from this experience.

Q: What would you like to do to challenge yourself?

I think that many people who have been touched by breast cancer will agree that the experience can take away your confidence as a woman. It can lead you to give up on love or marriage. I’ve experienced this myself, but this year marks the 10th year since my operation, and I am finally ending my probation period. I want to take this as an opportunity to give love and marriage another chance, and I am excited to see what this new chapter will bring.

Q: What made you want to participate in this project?

For the past 10 years, I have been plagued with the fear of relapsing, but now that I can say that I am cancer-free, I would like to challenge myself to live life to the fullest. I heard about this project right when I was coming to this realization. I decided to participate, both as a gift for myself and in the hope that this would help me take my first step into a new stage of life.

Ms. Mika Shimokawa

Q: Do you have any hobbies that you could do forever?

I love doing nail art. I have my own full gel nail set at home, and I enjoy painting my nails for hours at a time when I have the chance.

Q: What do you like about yourself?

In the past, even when there was something that I was interested in, I would give in to thoughts that I couldn’t do it, and that it was pointless to even try. But after being diagnosed with breast cancer and realizing that my time is limited, my attitude changed. I learned that it never hurts to try, and that’s how I live now. I think that’s something that I like about myself.

Q: What would you like to do to challenge yourself?

I believe that our daily lives are filled with new things that we can try. For instance, you can try something new at a restaurant, or take a different route on your way to work. Learning to find and enjoy little daily challenges will eventually lead to bigger opportunities. I would like to continue to enjoy finding little adventures every day.

Q: What made you want to participate in this project?

I have had some extremely tough times in my life, such as being diagnosed with breast cancer and going through a divorce, but I think that these experiences taught me that life is what you make of it, and that it is possible to find joy regardless of your circumstances. My hope is to encourage those who are in similar situations that they can too.

Ms. Jun Kuniyoshi

Q: Do you have any hobbies that you could do forever?

I also do this professionally, but gardening is my favorite thing to do. I enjoy the calming feeling of touching the soil. The word “horticulture” includes the word is “culture” and when I am tending to my gardens, I feel like I am also culturing my soul.

Q: What do you like about yourself?

My positivity: I’m always having fun! That’s probably what I like most about myself. When I face difficulties, I always think positively, find a solution, and act on it. Even if I fail, I really enjoy trying things out.

Q: What would you like to do to challenge yourself?

In our society, 60 years old is often considered to be a big year of change, but it will be 61 for me: the 10-year anniversary of my breast cancer diagnosis. Until then, I want to work hard at my job and look forward to doing the things I enjoy afterwards. I’ve never been to Italy, and I would love to go. I would like to visit Amalfi and see its lemons. There are so many places I want to travel. I would also like to try studying again. If I can, I would like to go back to university. My first degree was in education, but this time, I would like to try nursing or therapy.

Q: What made you want to participate in this project?

I believe that fashion and beauty play an important role for women. When we are diagnosed with breast cancer, we lose our breasts, we lose our hair… we lose so many things. For us to continue living positively, I believe that sharing this collective experience of wearing beautiful kimonos and getting glammed up with other women and appreciating ourselves and each other is so valuable. In a way, this kind of experience is a special privilege for women. I am very grateful to have been given the opportunity to participate in such a wonderful project.

Ms. Ayako Mizoguchi

Q: Do you have any hobbies that you could do forever?

It’s funny, but what I love doing is housework. I’m single so I have been living with my parents. I’m currently taking care of my mother at home, and I’m in charge of the household chores. Chores can be quite fun, and I can get really into them. When I’m done it’s satisfying to see my house clean and and my family happy.

Q: What do you like about yourself?

I like that I am always open to change, and the fact that I am mindful about staying positive.

Q: What would you like to do to challenge yourself?

There are a lot of challenges that I would like to take on, but looking after my parents is both the most challenging and the most rewarding thing in my life right now. My mother is now under my care and I love to see her happy and smiling. I hope I can continue to help her daily so that she can live a longer, happier, and more enjoyable life.

Q: What made you want to participate in this project?

I love trying new things — that’s what really gets me excited. I love it when my heart races and I have butterflies in my stomach. I run a women’s support group, and our mission is to live life beautifully and never be afraid of trying new things. When I learned about this project, I felt that the concept reflected our values. I also know what it feels like to discover a different part of yourself through the help of professionals. I’m very grateful to have been given this opportunity, and I wanted to make the most of it.

Ms. Minako Tomobe

Q: What reinvigorates you?

I like to run. I have undergone surgeries almost every other year for the past several years, and it was hard to exercise during that time, so I started gaining weight. Now that I can, I’ve started running near my house. I forget about all difficulties when I work up a sweat.

Q: What do you like about yourself?

I like to run. I have undergone surgeries almost every other year for the past several years, and it was hard to exercise during that time, so I started gaining weight. Now that I can, I’ve started running near my house. I forget about all difficulties when I work up a sweat.

Q: What would you like to do to challenge yourself?

I’m currently trying many different things, and I think I’ve been reaching goals that I have set for myself. I have been ill almost every two years, but since I started running again I would love to run and finish a race.

Q: What made you want to participate in this project?

I am the kind of person who is unafraid to follow my interests. I heard about this project from a friend, thought, “Wow, I would like to try that out!”, and I signed myself up right away. It was instinctive. I would like to thank the beauty team for pampering me and making me feel beautiful.

Ms. Kaori Tsukuda

Q: What reinvigorates you?

There is a type of dance called heel jazz. I like to take classes to re-energize myself. It’s based on jazz dancing, but you wear heels to make it sexier and more feminine. It’s really cool.

Q: What do you like about yourself?

Before I was diagnosed, I was not very conscious of my body. That has totally changed, and I am amazed at what it has been able to overcome. I am very thankful that my body has been able endure the difficulties of undergoing chemo treatment. I love my body and I am very grateful for it.

Q: What would you like to do to challenge yourself?

I want to get better at heel jazz. I’m still not as good as I want to be — I still get cold sweats when I dance — but it makes me want to practice even more and improve.

Q: What made you want to participate in this project?

My experience has taught me the beauty of being alive and being unapologetically me. I do not want to hide behind my illness: I want to show people that being sick does not change who I am. That is why I wanted to participate in this project.



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