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More than 110 people
gathered at Irvine Yamaha Music Center on June 11, 2019, to hear long-time
journalist Kazuyoshi Kitaoka speak about living with stage IV liver cancer. The
Japanese-language event, co-hosted by Orange County Japanese American
Association, Orange County Rinri Hojinkai, and Japanese Friendship Network, and
sponsored by Keiro, shed light on Kazuyoshi’s unique view on death and his
insight into what it means to live with cancer, as well as his experiences as a
journalist throughout the years. Participants also had the opportunity to hear
from Dr. Yuichi Edwin Yanami about benefits and opportunities in Keiro’s unique
Iyashi Care program.
Kazuyoshi began his
presentation by comparing cancer to people, sharing that the disease still
remains very mysterious. “Just as people have different faces, personalities,
likes and dislikes, cancer is just the same. It isn’t a straightforward answer
where if you do this or that, it will be cured.”
After beginning a
clinical trial at Kindai University in Osaka, Kazuyoshi eventually made the
decision to stop taking his medication for some period of time because of the
side effects. His doctor warned him about the risks of doing so, but to everyone’s
surprise, his cancer markers gradually decreased. While his case yielded an unsuspecting
yet favorable outcome, the same may not apply to others in a similar situation.
He noted that he is the only one of the 11 people still participating in this
clinical trial from its beginning. Some have passed away, while others left the
trial for other treatment options.
Well aware of the stigma
and stereotypes typically associated with cancer patients, Kazuyoshi decided
that he wanted to defy these preconceived notions. After being told by his
doctor in February 2017 that he had three to six months left to live with stage
IV cancer – a diagnosis that many might assume leads inevitably to death – he
continues to live on happily.
His view on death is more
unusual than most. He posed a question to the audience, “Don’t you think death
is wonderful?” He sees life and death as interconnected. “Living is not all of
life. Because there is death, there is life. Because there is life, there is
Kazuyoshi also alluded to
Steve Jobs’ view on death, positing, “no one wants to die, but there are many
people who want to go to heaven. If that’s the case, why won’t people jump
quickly to death? People don’t want to die to get there. And yet death is the
destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it. Death is very likely the
single best invention of life.” In his view, death is seen as a necessity for
the cycle of life that brings in a new generation of growth.
While his current
condition is stable, there is no telling if or when it will worsen. He ended his
presentation by telling the audience some stories from his days as a journalist,
recounting wars and the truly great terror humans can be capable of. He likened
these conflicts to his approach to cancer, saying, “Peace means to not fight.
It is the same with cancer – I won’t fight with the nuclei. In my opinion, that
is the only way to live life peacefully.”
Read about Dr. Yanami’s PresentationRead about Iyashi Care
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