Tuesday, November 20, 2012

I'm still here!

Yes, we are still here.  We've been having a great time, taking Rachel around to see the sights.  We went (and worked) the Hokkaido International School Fall Festival, went to a dessert buffet, saw an art exhibition, ate Chinese food with my work colleagues, played an intense game of jenga, and learned some Japanese culture along the way.  It's been awesome to share all these things with my sister.  I don't think I've laughed this much in a long time!

And did I mention we had our first snow?

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

A post about boobs

I know that the title of this post alone will probably get me lots of views, but I had my first mammogram today and I thought it might be worthy of a blog post.

When I found out my mom had stage 5 breast cancer this past June, it threw us all for a loop.  My mom has hardly ever been sick, and cancer doesn't even run in her family.  It was such a shock that it was happening.  Her doctors recommended that Rachel and I should start getting mammograms yearly, since my mother and aunt have both had breast cancer.  In America and the Japan, it's suggested that women over 40 should have mammograms, but I figured it's better to be safe than sorry, especially since it's not unheard of for women younger than 40 to get breast cancer.

Every year as an employee of the city of Sapporo, we are required to have a health checkup.  Just your regular stuff - weight, blood pressure, eye test, etc.  But I decided to add a mammogram to the list this year. Today, I was a little nervous going into the examination room.  I had heard that mammograms are painful, and I have to admit, they are.  I'll just leave it at that.  But what a relief it was afterward, when the doctor looked at my breast x-rays and told me that there are no tumors.  That I'm perfectly healthy.

I'm aware that this could all change in just a matter of months, but now I fully understand the importance of being proactive about cancer prevention.  When my dad was diagnosed with prostate cancer (yes, my dad has also had cancer), he wasn't even at the doctor's office for a prostate check.  He was there because he'd hurt his back, and the doctor suggested he get a check.  You know, just in case. And thank goodness he did, because they caught the cancer so early that all he needed was an operation. That's why I think it's so important for women to keep up with their checkups - including monthly self-checks and doctor's visits.  Pay attention to any changes in your body, and let your doctor know.  My mom's cancer didn't show up as the usual lump, but as a rash.  She had no idea it was any kind of cancer, must less one that spreads more quickly than other types.

October was Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and although I didn't post anything about it during that time, it feels to me now that every month is breast cancer awareness month.  Yet, even though breast cancer is now a part of our lives, it doesn't mean that it controls our outlook on life.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Fun times and sick times

Last week, I was hit with a pretty nasty cold, which seems to be spreading around Sapporo.  But I had a lot of things planned with Rachel, so I loaded up on water and mikan (little oranges), and hoped I would feel better by the weekend.  On Halloween night, we carved a pumpkin and listened to Halloween-themed music.  Rachel even put on her frog hood she bought at the 100 yen store.  This must have put her in the holiday mood, as she proceeded to dance around our kitchen to Ghostbusters.

Other highlights of the week (when I wasn't coughing my lungs out): Taking Rachel to see my friend Nikki's live paint along with a DJ show, seeing the Hiragishi Tenjin yosakoi team perform, and finally have Rachel meet Nini and see Wakaba play.  Listening to Nini and Rachel bond over punk bands was a truly heart-warming experience!  It's no surprise that she's fitting right in to our little community here!!