Sketch diary: At a low point

Following up on the last entry from my sketch diary:

Just one more week to go with the radiation therapy, and it's really tough. I was in a lot more physical pain just after surgery (or before surgery last year when I had a bad infection), but mentally, I am struggling.

I do have a lot of pain. From the constant diarrhea mainly, and its side effects. And other things. And then there is the debilitating fatigue, which makes me incredibly cranky and hard to live with.


I love food, probably way more than most people. Why else would I write about food? At the moment though, my relationship with food is not a love affair, it's adversarial. The food that is the healthiest - most fruits, and just about all fresh vegetables - trigger the diarrhea. The food that I can eat without making my intestines feel so tortured are the ones that are high in carbohydrates - which make my blood sugar rise. (I should note that I had my blood sugar comfortably under control before all this with a combination of healthy eating, moderate exercise and medication.) Because I don't know what I can eat right now anymore, I haven't been eating much at all.


Mainly, this is how I feel. Mainly about cancer.


One more week of radiation therapy to go. Hopefully things will get better after that, and I can feel better about writing about food again. (If you're interested though, I have been answering a lot of questions on Quora recently, some about food. I think this indicates I need to finally start the Japanese-things blog that I have been threatening for so long, but right now I dont have the energy to set up a new blog, so Quora has to do.)

Thank you for your patience.

Filed under:  personal sketch diary

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Dear Maki,

So sorry to hear what you are going through now. For someone who loves food as much as you do it must be hard. Things will only get better and when you recover you will possibly have a newfound relationship/understanding for food that you never had. I wish you the speediest of recoveries and I look forward to more of your articles. Even your sketch diaries are amazing!

Dear Maki; Hang in there; you are so tough and I feel for you. My most healing vibes sent to you!

I can't imagine what you are going through, but you are in my thoughts and prayers. I hope that before you know it, you are able to enjoy food again!

GO MAKI!! You can make it! You're almost there!!! Rah! Rah! <-from your fan cheering squad - which is pretty much all of us! [Sometimes there are periods in life where simply persisting to exist is winning.]

Oh Maki,
I am so sorry :-(
I am not good with words at all, and in fcat this is my first comment here even though I have been reading for two years. But I just wanted to let you know that you have people supporting you and thinking of you and hoping you get well soon.


I know it may not feel like it now, but it will get better - you will be stronger - and you will be able to eat again.

I will be keeping you in my thoughts and prayers. I can only imagine how frustrating it is to feel like your body is in a battle against you. The feeling of being out of control must be upsetting to put it mildly. I'm discovering the aches and pains that come with age and try to multiple that by a million but I'm sure I am still not even close to imagining. Please be patient with your body but FIGHT. Fight HARD! There is alot of life out there waiting for you to taste it!

We're here for you Maki. We can wait for food posts. The important thing is that you get through this and feel better! Hugs to you!

Maki: I think I've only commented here once or twice, ever, but I read your blogs all the time.

Recipes can wait. Posts can wait. Whatever you need to do to get through this.

And know that people are pulling for you! :)


I have been a frequent reader of your blog ever since your post on onigiri helped me make amazingly successful chili-tuna onigiri on my first try.

I have always been a silent reader, lurking on your blog and twitter (>.<) but I wanted to let you know that you have my heartfelt sympathy and that you've been in my thoughts ever since your sickness took such a serious turn.

You have always been cheerful, kind and full of humour, whether on your posts themselves or in your responses to comments. Your patience never fails to astound me when I read your ever-polite and helpful responses to what are sometimes silly, repetitive, or even rude comments by readers!

May you now find the patience to overcome these bodily reminders of your sickness and be able to find joy in food once more.

I wish you all the best and look forward to reading of your slow but steady recovery :)


I can't imagine. It sounds so difficult. I'm hoping in one week you start to feel better. (Can I hope this week goes very fast for you?)

I have been slowly getting my husband used to the idea of Bento's for lunch, and he is now eating one vegetarian Bento a day. AND he likes it.
I've been using recipes from your other website, Just Bento, and bit by bit he's accepting the idea of more lunches like these.

What I'm trying to say is, the work you've done in the past is still working good things. Get well for now. When the time comes you have strength and energy and your body accepts once again your love for food, we'll still be here. I'll be here.

Thank you for keeping up who wonder updated.

I agree with avlor. I'm praying for you, and I hope things get better quickly.

Sending you lots of strength and best of luck with the treatment!

Hang in there Maki, things will get better. Sending you all the positiveness I can find.


I wish I could give you a hug. Ganbatte!!! One more week, and you will begin to feel like your old self again.

Sending positive thoughts to you as I await your wonderful food posts.

Take as long as you need to get better. We're all rooting for you! Looking forward to your posts, will head over to quora and check it out.

Hang in there, buddy! Sending positive vibes your way!

I'm really sorry things are so tough for you at the moment, I so feel for you. I have a long-term genetic medical condition that brings me lots of fatigue and pain. I so know the feeling of impotent rage that you describe. I also know what it's like to be in a catch 22-type health situation, like the food one you describe, where nothing you do works.

I've been reading your blogs and using your recipes for a while now. You've taught me most of what I know about Japanese food. I've just started making bentos, and when I'm well enough to put them together they're becoming a treat when illness and consequent curtailed opportunities grind me down. I really hope that your symptoms improve soon and you're able to treat yourself with all the things you loved doing before you were ill.

Best of luck, thanks for all your blogging, drawings and great recipes.

Hey! don't forget the Cancer Society for America and other groups have GREAT resources for your diet plans. They have specific hand outs on what foods help with diarrhea and they can help if you have diabetes and what not! Don't be afraid to reach out and get help from the people who are there specifically to help you! You WILL find something that works for you. Don't give in to defeat.

Maki, gambate ne! I love your blog! I hope you get well soon, and I know you will! I'm a nurse :)
Pray to God and He'll answer our prayers.

I know exactly how you feel about food right now. The last UC flare I had made me so afraid of food (and many liquids for that matter). Not being able to eat fresh fruits and vegetables because of their fiber content was and still is brutal. I was on a liquid diet for nearly 2 months solid, drinking mostly liquid jello, tea (thank goodness for my local tea store), and chicken broth. If my kids forced food, it was poached fish or soft boiled eggs. Those were the only things that did not give me instant runs.

Just know that we, your readers, are here for you and continue to think about you.

- knab

So sorry you have to go through this. May the last week of radiation go smoothly and feel better soon!

Oh Maki. You sketches may be too good. I can **almost** feel your pain just by looking at them. I hope you feel better very soon. Until then, take care of you.

It sounds really awful. Impotent rage is absolutely understandable. I'll be thinking of you.

I also have been a reader, but have never posted, but wanted to lend my support. Please take care of your self and don't worry about blogging if you don't feel like it :)

Hope you get to feeling better soon!

Oh Maki. So sorry you are going through this. I can't imagine what it's like. Hang in there - we are all rooting for you!

I know it's not the same in so many important ways, but the symptoms are just ridiculously similar: when I got pregnant, I experienced four months of vomiting, diarrhea, fatigue, and food aversions. It was truly terrible, especially the inabililty to eat most foods, and the knowledge that my poor eating could affect my unborn child and my future health was really hard on my nutrion-conscious mind. So, I've been where you are, even if for a different reason.

The thing is, I can't even tell you much about what you can try, because honestly, nothing worked for very long in my case. Find some things that work for you--anything. Even things you wouldn't normally consider. Jello, applesauce, salami with cream cheese, peanut butter on a spoon. Realize that even if you make terrible choices right now, your life will not always be this way. This is going to pass. And you can make it there. I'll say from experience that it's okay to cry and talk about how it's so much harder than you thought it would be. Just believe that you can do it Maki!

We're all rooting for you, and hoping that this will pass soon. You're going to make it. =) I'm glad that you shared your feelings with us.

Just wanted you to know that I have been following your blogs for a while now and have found them inspirational and educational. I have learned recipes from your blogs that have become part of my repertoire and I am grateful. I am so sorry that you are not feeling well. You are in my thoughts. Best wishes always!

Maki, I just wanted to let you know that you are in my prayers, and my thoughts - every single day when I open my bento. I wish strength for you when you least feel like being strong (but we can't all be supermen, either), courage for you when you feel like being brave (and it's okay to have a good cry :( !) and peace and calm for your innards most of all, because keeping up your strength is important.
Finding a copy of Just Bento was a complete revelation for me. I don't think I'll ever go back to sandwiches. Thank you for your inspiration.
Hang in there...

Dear Maki,
Thank you for always sharing your recipes and knowledge on Japan. I don't know what I can do for you, except to send reiki and prayers for your healing. Please get well soon.

Wish I could mail you a puppy. Not sure what kind of bubble wrap to use.

So sending love, a fan.

I was another person who when they became pregnant had strong nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. My father went through the same thing with his radiation treatments for prostate cancer with the same symptoms. The only thing I found that helped me get through my nausea was the medication and cinnamon. Weirdly enough Cinnamon helped me the most and restored my appetite.

Hi Maki,

Just Hungry and Just Bento remain the two blogs I check first on my feed reader, and it is good to hear from you, even when the news is not good. (Tho I admit I hope you keep sketching even after you feel better ...!)

I just wanted to add my voice to those who are rooting for you! :)


I feel for you Maki. We're all thinking of you. Praying for extra strength for you in your last challenging week.

Oh, Maki! I feel for you, and I am sending the best comforting,and healing vibes to you! Even throughout all you are going through, you are still so sweet and inspiring. We love you, Maki! <3 xoxo from Greenwich Village, NYC

FEEL BETTER! I have faith you will conquer your stomach obstacles and cancer; I'll pray for you.

i am feeling is painful ,frustrating and exhausting.
The love of food is waiting for you once you are done with your chemo.It is your season of trials...this, too, shall pass.

Oh Maki, I feel for you and your situation. Your sketches are magnificent. In a couple of strokes I can fully visualize your situation. I have tended several family members with cancer and each one was different so I can't give you any one piece of advice for your condition. I suffer similar symptoms from diabetes and gall bladder surgery. Recently Metamucil actually helped me. I thought it would make things worse but it helped a little. As one reader said, keep experimenting.
I bought your Just Bento book some time ago. I have read your blogs and get your email messages. You are a sweetheart and have an angelic army of loving followers.
God bless you in your time of need and tell "the Guy" to hang in there too. We are all praying for you... B)

You can beat this, Maki! Hang in there. The night only gets brighter after all stars are gone.

You are amazing. Sending you good energies and I hope you will feel much much better soon. And your sketches show that you didn't loose your sense of homer, and that is so important. Keep updating us and know that you have so much support and people that think about and wishing for you to get well.

Aaahh, Maki darling
Just breathe, try to let go, just roll with it, and remember all of us out here who love you for your wonderful generosity in sharing yourself and your love of life and food.

You WILL get better, you WILL be happy again and you WILL get through this awful black period and life will seem all the sweeter for having done so.

I'm so sorry that you are having to deal with all these horrible problems - I'm sending much affection and prayers, and a big gentle cyberspace hug your way.

Dear Maki
Though I've been a silent lurker on your blog thus far, I wanted to know that I'm sending good thoughts your way.
I helped nurse my father when he had cancer, and the doctors always emphasised how important it was to keep on eating so that the body has fuel to fight the cancer.
Be strong!
Hoping the positivity from all your readers here will bring a smile to your face today.

Dear Maki I hope you feel much better very soon. I love reading your blog but more importantly I want you to beat the cancer. Many wishes for good health from Montana


Keep on ganbaru-ing!

I could say, "Ganbatte ne!", but I occasionally prefer the fun & mouth-feel of the other.

Thank you for working thru your exhaustion & difficulties to keep your blog current. My prayers are with you.


I hope you know that when you are feeling bad, friends all over the world are gently holding your hand.

Be stronge, your have lots of support from allover the world, and above all be lucky

I am so sorry to hear that you're going through such a hard time. I love food and sometimes have certain health problems that leave me with a very restricted diet, it is torture really. This is probably not very helpful since I'm sure you already knew them, but I can only think of millet, konjac and quinoa as low sugar substitutes that won't upset your tummy. Good luck with the last treatment and I wish you a speedy recovery.

I think it takes a lot of courage to share with us when you are at your lowest point. So thank you. We're all pulling for you. <3

Dear Maki, I also cannot imagine the pain you are going through. Please stay strong and recover soon! I hope you can still do something fun or enjoyable while waiting for your body to heal.

I love this quote:

"When the Japanese mend broken objects, they aggrandize the damage by filling the cracks with gold. They believe that when something's suffered damage and has a history it becomes more beautiful." ~Barbara Bloom

I am so very sorry, Maki.....hang in there. I am upholding you in my prayers.

I am so touched by this post. I am not sure that is good. I feel you, I feel me.

Gosh, I can't even imagine how difficult that would be... :( Hang in there... though I'm sure it's not easy at all. I hope things improve once your radiation therapy is over in a week, if not sooner!

Hang in there. Try to focus on it ending soon. I hope that it all brings healing for you. I wish there was an easier way.

For what it's worth, coming from a total stranger (who loves reading your blogs): I wish you all the strength you need to get through this tough time. Looking forward to lots and lots more great posts and recipes.

:( sounds horrible. At least you are able to express your emotions in drawings.

I follow another blog where the author has been dealing with cancer and writing a series of 'cancer cronicles'. Not sure if you have the time to read through but they are interesting ---

but particularly because you spoke of food, (altho she seemed to have the opposite problem and couldnt poop during chemo) she's posted about what foods have helped her during cancer

wishing you the best x

One day all this will pass. This year has been an ordeal for you, we know. Moreover, it is horrible to be afraid of something that you love and that is so embedded in your life. But food will still be here in a month's time: a plate of pasta alla carbonara (guess, where am I from?)can't go away from you (keep the ingredients locked in your cupboard and you will see...). Sursum corda!

I don't really know what to write that could possibly make you feel any better. But please know that I am praying for your speedy recovery.

Try cooking congee (jook) with maybe a few pieces of yam or daikon in the mix, it is good for GI ailments and comforting food too. Get well soon!

Hang in there! How about juicing fruits and vegetables? At least you will get your nutrients! I recently started juicing.. I like it so far.

Dearest friend,
how wonderful to share your life with us, since we are one!
On that note I tell you try to get your picture to John of God for distant healing. Thare is one God and he heals all through variety of ways and Mediums like John of God in Brazil. Even Oprah went there. Go to his website, read and with whatever faith you have just try.
God tells me you will benefit in whatever way you need to.

Dear Maki,

My thoughts go out to you during this time, and I hope you don't let it get you down.
I fell in love with bento's because of your blog, and I have loved each post and it has made me reconsider healthy fun ways to eat.

I think if anything can be learned from bentos and our health - is that if you can apply your mind to a task that is quite hard for many - cooking and creating interesting meals, and being happy, creative and stimulated in the process - it is a reward that you can carry across to all other areas of life that are difficult to overcome - then you will continue to feel good, because you have made a effort to achieve more. Stay positive and i'm sure you will be back before you know it.

Hi Maki, I can only send you my very best wishes. To state the obvious, you are going through a very tough time, don't be hard on yourself. You are handling everything as best you can and you can't do more than that.

Maki-san: your week is closer to being finished - gambatte... hopefully your recovery will be quick once it's over. I am also going through cancer treatments that are not as bad as yours, but they have turned me into a foodie who just doesn't know how to eat anymore! I feel like I'm re-establishing a completely different relationship with food - some of it good, some of it bad. Be careful about getting dehydrated and losing too much weight. We're all here for you - big hug!

I'm so sorry to hear about you being so sick. I hope you feel better quickly. Sending you lots of prayers and healing energy. Fighting!!

J'ai reçu 45 traitements de radiothérapie dans la région de la gorge et effectivement ma relation avec la nourriture a été difficile. En effet la dernière semaine de traitements m'a semblée interminable mais j'y suis arrivé. C'était en 2000. J'ai graduellement apprivoisé une nouvelle façon de manger. Le temps fait bien les choses et on découvre que Notre corps est une merveilleuse machine. Bon courage et merci pour tout !
Johanne xxx

Much love and support for you... one more week, then I hope you will start to feel much much better!

Hi Maki --

You are very courageous! I hope you feel better putting your feelings in writing and drawing the pictures. I've learned in therapy how important it is to talk about the things that are bothering me; I may cry a lot, but I feel so much better later.

Keep fighting!!! =)

So sorry to hear about your situation. My prayers and thoughts on your recovery. Now is the time to just focus on getting better other things will just have to wait. Thank you again for your generosity in sharing your talents.

My heart goes out to you, and I am wishing you better days ahead. I have had two close friends who have gone through chemo and radiation both and had a similar reaction to food. One of them ended up eating a lot of peanuts for the protein and because they caused her few intestinal problems. The good news is that this was several years ago for both of them, and today they are doing great, have their old energy back, and are savoring everything about their lives, including food. Sending you healing hugs.

Hang in there Maki!
This will pass, you will be stronger with a new appreciation for what you can not enjoy right now.
You will beat this!

Thank you for continuing to share your journey - you are amazing, and we are richer for you and your words and artistry!

Wishing you a prompt recovery, Maki! We are all thinking of you and sending you love!

I'm sorry that life is so challenging right now. Nothing is permanent in this world and this too will not be forever. Though, I am sure it doesn't seem that way at present. I hope that you can find some moments of peace during this difficult time.

My thoughts are with you and thank you for your wonderful blog and for sharing yourself so freely and openly. You are very inspiring Maki.

Dear Maki,

Your entry stirred up a lot of strong feelings for me. I am a foodie as well who suffered a lot as well during my treatment for breast cancer (I was 28 at the time). The constant nausea and feelings of disgust for food are extremely difficult to deal with. Have you tried any of the suggestions in The Cancer-Fighting Kitchen by Rebecca Katz? She gives a lot of good approaches to dealing with the side-effects of chemo treatment and how to think about food during this period. Some of her teas were as effective as anti-nausea medicine for me so you might give it a try. Also try your best to be kind to yourself during this period. Imagine your grandmother's cooling hand on your cheek when you get angry. I always try to remember this poem -- maybe it will help you :

The Guest House

This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they're a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.

Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.

- Rumi


I have been a silent lurker for a long time, and it has been heartbreaking to learn of your condition. I wonder the same thing about cancer. Your situation sounds very similar to my father's, who has been battling cancer (and very similar side effects) for over a year now as we try chemo after chemo after chemo.

I wish you all the best in getting better and hope your recovery is soon. Focus on yourself and know that you have many supporters out there wishing you the same.

がんばれ! It seems there are lots of people cheering for you. Nobody minds the waiting. We just want you to get better. I wish I could speed it along, but the end of it sounds near now. Please treat yourself in whatever way you can and thank you for teaching me so much. You are very appreciated.

I dont usually comment on peoples posts because (like here) its probably all been said by the time I read it! But I felt the need to say something this time. Ive been reading the emails you send and look forward to them! They always make me smile. :) When you first found out you had cancer I worried for you. I know how these things can completely flip your world upside down. I know because I was an MA in a cancer clinic and saw it everyday for a few years. Ive seen some sad things and ive seen truely amazing ones. Now, my part in the clinic was rather small from the outside. I just brought people back to the treatment area and made them as comfy as could... I think they changed my life more than i ever influenced theirs. In seeing all that, I learned one very important thing: its all in the faith! by faith i mean attitude really. Attitude is a hard thing to hold onto... its hard to stay in a good frame of mind when your cells are being mauled and every one of them is screaming at you. Pain and fear on a cellular level is impossible to ignore. i know. The key is to KNOW this will pass. it sounds like you know this already and anyone can see you have fans up the wazoo who care greatly for you. I dont know alot of details about your condition... and I cant offer much advice. But! I can offer hope! You can do this! I know it! I know it because ive read your emails for a year now and ive never once found you to be negative. even with all youve been through. You are a strong woman and you are almost throught this fight! have hope! have faith! You will love food again soon. and maybe even have a new appreciation for it! this will have changed you but youll win! and i know im not alone in that thought! :) now go kick cancers butt! ;) (and for heavens sake STAY HYDRATED! dehydration=misery and hospital visits. even if you just chew ice all day and sip water off an on... its important.)
ill keep reading and praying!

Dear Maki,

I'm sad that I waited for such a difficult time for you to tell you how much you inspire me through your blogs. Thank you so much for sharing your strength, your hard times and your amazing passion and knowledge of food and Japan.
Hold on until you get better!

Courage Maki,


We all think you are really wonderful, and worth the wait!

Thank you also for the illustrations,they are wonderful and sad, and I think have a sort of power. Someone out there may be feeling the same things, and seeing someone else communicate them like that could really be a comfort.

I wish I could offer you more, but I send my love.


Hang in there Maki-san! Things will get better :) Try keeping your mind as busy as possible; you could even take up activities such as knitting, painting etc which won't make you over-exert yourself. Hope you feel better asap! xxx

Maki, I wish you All the best, you are in my thoughts and prayers and I'm looking forward to reading anything you want to tell us.
All the best from our family.

Dear Maki, Please keep strong. Love,Nancy

Maki-san, do know that we are sending our love and good vibes! My little baby boy (who does not yet read the blog but have been reaping the benefit from his mama) and I have been a fan of your blog. Big hugs to you from both of us, you can do it!!

Dear Maki,

Just hang on tight for I know you will get through this. Don't worry about your posts, we are all just waiting and praying for your full recovery.

Take care,

Feel better soon...remember your important to take care what makes u happy. Mariana

Just wanted to add my well-wishes for you Maki. You have been and continue to be an inspiration, I truly hope you will be well again soon. Sending you my prayers :)

I have no words, just <3. So many prayers sent your way.

Stay strong - it's nearly complete and down this winding road you will see what this offers to time. Like so many others, your emotions, thoughts and illustrations have brought out my own feelings - to myself and to share with you and everyone. I have found inspiration and warm feelings while reading what others have written.
Thank you.

Hope you're feeling better soon!
Take care,


Maki-san, I am really sorry that you are going through all of this... Please know what we are here for you, and, although many of us do not know you in person, who are very, very loved. I hope you feel better very soon! <3

<3 <3 <3

In 1-2-3... years you will look back on this period as if its a bad dream, I promise. It will feel like someone else went through this hell and you are just telling the story. Meditate and visualize your healthy cells multiplying and destroying the bad ones. One more week, Maki...

Oh Gosh, Maki..... What a moving post.... As always, you are so talented, your drawings are powerful and convey so well what you must be feeling like..... Very tricky situation food wise, but hang in there, things WILL GET BETTER!!!!! Gambatte!!!

I literally just stumbled across your blog and was quite touched by the idea of pouring out your pain/confusion/anger/sadness through sketches. I wish you happiness and the best of health.

Ganbatte dear Maki.. hope you'll feel better soon


I am truly sorry for your situation. I can and will pray for you to regain your strength and look forward to hearing that you are feeling better. Inorimasho. Ganbatte ne.

I'm very sad to hear this, and I do have hopes that your recovery comes quickly!

I had discovered your site prior to a having a heart attack a few years ago, and my wife and I had been meaning to try a lot of your recipes. A change in what had been so-so eating habits had been needed, and the recipes you posted have been some of my favorites. A few of them have even become my comfort foods if you will, things that I make when I'm either in a bad mood or just not feeling right. They help considerably. My kids enjoy it immensely when I make their lunches, as I tend to either outright steal or adapt your recipes to what I make for them. We've all enjoyed what you've provided to the world at large, and I sincerely hope that you can continue to do so.

I came to revisit a recipe of yours and was devastated to here how much pain you are going through. I wish and pray that you will be quickly past this space and time. Thank you for the effort in keeping us informed. I feel like you are family. Warmest regards!

I only just signed to your newsletter- partly because i was looking for ways to prepare medicinal mushrooms. i got a famously tasty one to try the other day called "hen of the woods" maitake - do you know it? If not thought you might find this encouraging
"Maitake enables the body to withstand, to some extent, the rigors of chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery that patients may undergo"

Hi Maki
please never give up. The only advice i can tell you is your body needs now many vitamins. So if you dont can eat, so look for Orthomol it is a vitamin product for people who have cancer. It helps my dad very good as he had it too.
ps: sorry for my english i know it is bad^^
Best wishes

Poor, poor Maki. Your sketches almost brought me to tears :'(
I really hope you feel much better soon. Not long now before the radiation is over.

Hi Maki, I hope you feel better soon, I'm rooting for you.

Oh noes! I know you can get through this, I am sending you my best quality healing vibes! My mother, who went through breast cancer (twice!), is a brand new fan of yours--she purchased a copy of Just Bento after she fell in love with your recipe ideas from my copy.

Feel better, surely you have no where left to go at this point but up and out!

Hang in there, hopefully you'll feel better after the last treatment! Try Pegs' advice, positive thinking can be very powerful.

I can't imagine what you're going through right now, but your sketches brought tears to my eyes. Hang in there, girl! *hug*

Soon you'll be telling us about how your health and appetite are improving. I look forward to those! In the meantime, take care of yourself, and remember that you have a lot of fans that are rooting for you.


Dear Maki,

Such a gruelling experience and yet you have the energy to write, draw and keep in touch with your readers! This is inspirational. Are you counting down the hours till you finish your treatment yet? Think of your readers as supporters cheering you to the finish line - keep on going just a bit longer -

All good wishes to you and your husband for your recovery period -

you can do it Maki! WOOO!!!!!

Hi Maki,

There is a lady at work I gave one of my knitted hats to when she was going to lose her hair to her chemo. She told me at one point that she didn't think she would have had the strength to face all the pain (for which she subsequently received better meds and it eased) if it weren't for her two daughters she wanted to still be around for.

Now she is through the operation, the chemo and the radiation, and I just saw her picture the other day, standing in back of a heartwalk group (my company is big into that charity) her real hair growing out, curly right now, and smiling.

Ginger is good for tummies usually. Potatoes with skins count as a whole grain in my book and usually don't affect the blood sugar so dramatically as white rice--a small (not tiny, just small) red potato takes just two and a half minutes in the microwave to cook. (they say to poke them with forks to be sure they don't explode, but I think only one I cooked ever exploded at all, so I wouldn't worry.)

Fat slows down the digestion of carbs, and so does protein, so try adding cheese to things, if lactose digestion isn't a problem, or hey why not, sour cream. If lactose is a problem, maybe experiment with coconut.

Cream sauces over things could work, macaroni and cheese, creamed (well cooked) carrots or celery or cauliflower.

You'll be back to your old self soon. For now there is exploring to do--different paths to follow. You're blazing trails girl--and slaying the demons.

I hope everything will get better and that you will soon rebuild your relation with food. Keep being strong!


I have never walked the path you are on right now, but having walked my own dark path, I can assure you that things will get better. Remember to do a small thing just for you each day - anything at all.

You are so amazing for sharing all of this - your journey, your heritage, your passion for food.

Sending you warm thoughts,

Dear Maki,
My thoughts are with you as you are so near the end of your course of radiation therapy. The pain you are feeling is so clear in your drawings - I only wish I could help you feel a little better. Please know that we are all pulling for you and that you are supported from friends from all over. Sending you much love and a (gentle) hug, sandy

Hello, I've been reading your blog for years and I've learned a lot from your reading your posts. I decided to revisit some of your recipes today and I was sad to know what you are going through. I wish you good health and I hope you feel better soon.

Still with you thru your times of suffering!!! Waiting for your speedy recovery - I hope you feel better - we all suffer a little when a friend isn't doing up to par..

Love your blog


I have always been a silent fan of both yr Blogs, JustBento & JustHungry and browsing thru both sites now & then. I'm not a person who's good with words but I agree with Rebecca W of the comment "YOU CAN DO IT". It's the faith and the attitude you take towards it.

Cancer can be more than a bear to live with But it CAN BE OVERCOMED. The key is the FAITH that you THINK of the DAY u OVERCOME it & WIN for yrself & yr loved ones.

Think of the day that after yr check-up, the doctor says there is 0 cancer cells maintaining, you can answer yr friends & family in the family gathering on that weekend with a dignified smile when they ask about yr health, "Oh, the doctor says I have no more cancer cells & I should be fine."

My cousin who lives a block away was diagnosed with stage 4 lymphoma last year (cancer of the lymph node). And, she was pregnant & about to give birth to her daughter also.

We were shocked when we received the news as she is only 32 yrs old & have been very healthy. As lumps grew on her body & the side effects set in, she grew dejected & frightened that she will die.

At this point of time, her health also took a turn for the worst & her chemotherapy did not prove responsive. & it did not help that she has diet restrictions in her choice of foods & my aunt (her mother) is not a good cook.

She gave up eating & refused food for 4 days & passed out on her bed at home. My aunt called my family for help & cried over the phone saying that my cousin does not want to live & have passed out. My mother & i rushed over & gave her some glucose water.

When she woke up, she exclaimed that due to cancer & the food restrictions it placed on her, she has many foods she cannot eat & my aunt only thought of cooking wholemeal noodles mash with organic vegetable mash as the safest option, this has made her feel dejected & thought if she were to live like this, she would rather leave this world earlier.

My mother gave her a serious lecture, telling her she is young & should have a lot going for her in life, not to give up a fight for her right to live. Furthermore, she still has loved ones including her newborn daughter hoping & waiting for her.

So, Maki, when you feel dejected, remember, your RIGHT TO LIVE, you have a lot going on in your life for you as I can see from yr blogs. You should FIGHT for it & Claimed it back from the hands of the sickness.

After that lecture, she ate the meal my mother & I prepared for her and to prevent her from feeling dejected, we prepared her meals for her 3 times every week until she finished the first course of her chemotherapy.

From that incident on, she also kept herself happy by listening to her favorite radio stations & seeing her newborn daughter at her nanny's place via msn, taking time to rest & sleep - a luxury she wasn't able to enjoy when she's working.

My cousin made it a point to feel happy at least once in her day, be it the faces her baby daughter made via msn live, the radio playing her favorite song or her favorite food prepared by my mother (though we made sure to ask her doctor before cooking it).

Keeping Happy is very IMPORTANT. It boosts morale & lessen the suffering, not by all of it but at least by a little.

It's been a year on since, my cousin had recovered since this year's Chinese New Year. She recently went for her check-up & her doctor said there's no cancer cells, though he tell her to maintain her diet & watch out for a relapse in 5 yrs.

So Gunbate~ Maki! It's not impossible to OVERCOME cancer. It's POSSIBLE. Take back yr RIGHT to LIVE yr Life.


Your sketches are so vivid and communicate the pain and frustration of your current situation. I know they have touched many hearts, as they've touched mine. Not far to go now, you say, just one more round of treatment. Hang in there, gal! You can do it.

<(^_^)> <(^_^<) (>^_^)> <(^_^<)


A little happy dance and a big hug to help you through

*love form Tennessee,Usa*

I am sending my love and energy to you - you have brought so many loving and delicious meals to my home. And I will be fervently wishing and willing you a speedy recovery so that you can once again enjoy food and be without pain.

Hi Maki,

I wish you could pass through this last week without pain.
I know you will recover very soon and continue your passion. Waiting for you. 'Jia Yiu"....

I'm so sorry you're dealing with all this.
I hope you feel better soon!

Just wanted to recommend good belly for the digestive issues. They sell a very sweet juice version and also a less sweet concentrated version. It's a non-dairy probiotic drink that I swear for to help with my terrible digestive issues .(whole foods carries it.) This and ginger take away my nausea and help me get through the day!

hi maki,
just an occasional reader but dropped in cos i remembered you were writing about renovating your home. I'm doing the same myself now and thought i could find inspiration/motivation in this long drawn-out and bewildering process.but i see you have even more on your plate to deal with. don't worry about the blog for now; just concentrate on yourself. Be cranky if you need to. HANG IN THERE!! Gambatte!

I am so sorry to hear about your struggle with the radiation therapy. I have seen a dear friend of mine struggle terribly with Chemo and I do not wish that pain on anyone.

Food is so important to me, too. I am out of commission due to an ankle fusion surgery in March. I cannot bear weight on one leg at all for a while and it is impossible for me to cook. I am lucky to have healthy appetite, but there is no one in my family who can cook what I want to eat. I froze lots of cooked dishes before the surgery, but somehow, they do not taste as good as I thought would be.

I try to be positive because after all, this surgery was meant to take debilitating pain off my left ankle (Rheumatoid arthritis destroyed my left ankle joint) and when I recover, I should be in much better condition than before. Still, there are days when I feel pretty low. Of course, I cannot even compare my suffering with yours, because of the big C-word that you have to deal with.

I don't probably make sense so much (I am taking lots of pain killers that make me feel pretty spacey!) but Maki-san, our best wishes are with you and I do pray that after the last radiation session, you will regain your appetite and your enthusiasm about food. 心からお祈りしています!

Sending good vibes your way.

You go, girl. Keep up the fight for we need your voice!

May the many gods send their holy and healing spirits to you and give you comfort in your time of distress.

Get better soon! I know it's a journey, not a 'wake up one day and be better' thing. But we're all here for you!

All my love and hope to you Mak-san. I am so sorry that you are hurting! We will be happy with your archives and will keep your love of food alive by making your recipes and making the best bentos and japanese food that we possibly can. Love and strength to your family, too! Take the time you need - we'll all be here with open arms and hearts the whole time!

Dear Maki,

I'm sorry to hear that the therapy is giving you so much grief.
My grandmother is going through the same process at the moment, and I hate to see her suffering like this.
But as I'm writing this, I guess your therapy is nearing its end.

I wish you a quick recovery, and a lot of moral support.
Not only from your fans, but also from the people around you.
I've been following your blog several years, with much appetite and enjoyment. And I'd love to see you back in perfect health, writing about food and other matters with the spirit and inspiration from back then.

Much healing hugs from the Netherlands,


I visit your website once in a while to see if there are new bento recipes to try.
I'm sad to hear of your struggle with cancer. I hope the therapy works for you and that you recover soon.
Do rest well!

Another silent fan here. Just wanted to say がんばってね. Go Maki!

I pray wholeheartedly for you. Don't stop believing that you will feel better, and start enjoying food again.

Gambatte! Sending you lots of love and good thoughts.

T_T Just finished reading through your (incredible) archives and only now read about this. I really hope you get better soon and shall be praying for your good health and happiness.

Dear Maki,

I just found out about your situation via the Just Bento post linking to this - I am so sorry that this has happened. You have been a huge source of inspiration to me over the years in learning how to bento and cook more Japanese food, and I credit you with getting me started making bento boxes for people on the side (I am now on my second venture in this vein, and hopefully on the path to embarking on a career in food...). Bento has really enriched my life and fueled my creative spirit, and I thank you for that!

I will be thinking of you and hoping for increased strength, a return of your appetite, and a speedy recovery!


Hi Maki,
I've been reading your blog for a couple of months now, but this is my first time to comment. Reading justbento inspired me to wake up early daily to pack lunches for my family, and we are learning to cook and eat ever new things because of you. It may seem like a small chore, but cooking and packing bento just really brightens up my mornings, and we have you to thank for that. I'm so sad to hear that you've been having such a rough time. You're in our thoughts. Hope you feel better really soon.

Dear Maki,

Its been awhile since i've visited your blog, and a longer while its been since i've commented.
I'm sorry to hear that you're going through a tough stage in life. Cancer is something that happens to some of us- my cousin is still suffering from the drawbacks of of it. But many other things in life makes her feel better, hopes of getting better.

I recommend pumpkin and green pepper, only because i've heard that they help the body against cancer. i hope the therapies are helping, and i wish you all the best, love, and please fight on!

Dear Maki,
Hang in there...behind the clouds the sunny skies are waiting. You are a very tough woman, incredibly talented and a inspiration to a lot of us. This illness cant't beat you, you are and will emerge stronger than it. Just go with the flow...and let your energy come back to you. We will all be with you.
lots of love

Oh dear... sketch-you looks so sad! I hope there is someone there to give you a great big hug whenever you want one.

Here's hoping that, once the radiation is all done with, you begin to feel much more healthy - and that food becomes friendly and enjoyable again!

Dear Maki,

I am sooooo sorry. You are having a terrible 2012 so far! I just want to say you have brightened so many of my days with wonderful life and food and lunch (like over at just bento)ideas. I am so thinking positive thoughts for you. I like your drawings. When you feel better, maybe you can add more drawings to your food blogs ; )

*hugs from Canada*

I really wish and hope that your therapy goes well, and that you can start to eat with comfort soon. I also hope you know how much we're rooting for you, and don't feel like we're rushing you. Please take the time you need, though we're very thankful to hear how things are going.

With love,

Maki, I've been reading and following your journey for a while and never commented, but I wanted to let you know that I'm out here cheering for you! It is so hard to even write about this stuff I think, and to put all your feelings into words and drawings is so amazing. Lots and lots of love and support coming to you from America.


Maki -

I love your blogs so much and I am sorry that I have never commented before now. I also love food, and your writing makes me so happy and nostalgic for my time in Japan.

Your sketches brought a tear to my eye - I am so sorry for all that you are going through. Ganbatte! I know that will fight through these hard times. Please know that we are all praying for you!

Someday soon you will be able to eat all the delicious foods you love and not have to worry about stupid cancer!


Hi, Maki,
I just discovered your wonderful blog/website and wanted to send you a message of hope and good feelings. Your recipes inspire me to cook more Japanese food. (Didn't think I needed any inspiring, being Japanese myself, but I guess I did, LOL!) Please be well and take care.

Good luck, that's so tough. I just read some of your blogs and know what a wonderful person you are.

So good luck and may this be the last of this and only get better. Cancer sucks.

Hello, Maki-

I know you don't know me, but you got me started on my journey into food, bentos and loving life again. I'm so sorry that this has happened to you, and I sincerely hope things get better for you. Although we are complete strangers, you have brought a lot of joy to my life and you are in my thoughts. I hope things get better for you, but I know cancer is a difficult and exhausting road- Hang in there.

Best wishes and most sincere appreciation,

I am generally unable to eat most fruit and vegetables because they cause me varying stomach issues. One thing that seems to help is taking Beano, a fruit/vegetable enzyme supplement, to aid in breaking down the food correctly. Pepto Bismol can help, but it might be hard to not overdose. you would need to be careful not to overdose.
Another thing is seeing if a doctor will prescribe an anti-cramping medicine, usually of the muscle relaxant type. It would stop the diarrhea at least, as it is used in my case.

I love your blog! You give so much to us readers. I think that your sketch diary is a great idea and will get easier for you as you go along. Although. I think that any diary will be good for you. Words come very easily for you, so if that is a better way to get your emotions out, then I would recommend doing that.

Keeping you in my thoughts.


I love your blog! You give so much to us readers. I think that your sketch diary is a great idea and will get easier for you as you go along. Although. I think that any diary will be good for you. Words come very easily for you, so if that is a better way to get your emotions out, then I would recommend doing that.

Keeping you in my thoughts.


It's terrible when what should console you makes the situation worse.
I hope that you can turn your wonderful curiosity about food to an experiment - find out what can help balance your stomach. It might also help you feel a little more in control?
Psyllium husks are supposed to help, and they don't affect your blood sugar.

I'm so sorry this has happened to you and hope you feel better soon.

I'm very sorry to see how badly you feel. Please get to feeling better soon. Love your blog.

I can only imagine what you're going through right now. It's is a terrible and frightening thing when your body disobeys you. And radiation treatment is almost as bad as the cancer from the stories I hear.

But, I know you can do it. You can pull through. Radiation is almost over and you'll be back to your normal self in no time!

I hope your check up following the radiation gives you a passing score with flying colors. Hopefully someone close to you will make you a wonderful dish/meal that you can enjoy.

Warmest Wishes and Prayers


I hope everything gets better soon! My baby brother went through his last chemo session last week, so reading your sketchblog reminds me tht there's others in the same boat. I love your website, and he's been reading it recently to pass the time - he's already planning on making some of your recipes once he gets better :) Maybe take some pictures while at it too, haha. My best wishes a nd hopes to you!




Just wanted to say that I hope you are feeling better and to thank you for all the thoughtful information, delicious recipes, charming stories and many smiles and chuckles you've given me and the rest of your legion of fans. I usually find myself with a smile and growling stomach while reading your blog. Needless to say you've definitely made an impact. Sending positive thoughts :)

Maki, I sometimes lurk, often come across your recipes when I do a search for something and followed you on Twitter last March while I watched from afar in my part of Japan while you kept everyone up to date. In other words, you've given me so much useful information, and I love you and your blog. I am so sorry about all that is going on with your health and think it's heartbreaking that such a source of joy, yummy foods, has become the opposite. I don't really know what words would be of comfort to you because I have never been in your shoes and can't imagine what it's like, but I want you to know that I am cheering for you here in this corner and hoping that you are back to good and feeling hungry and able to eat all the good stuff really soon. Feel better soon!! :)

Do not lose hope and the will to fight.
I love your blog and wait for whatever it takes to complete your return and recovery.

I will pray for you to get well soon.

a hug

I just wanted to drop a line and let you know: it DOES get better! I know it feels horrible now. I can only speak as a caretaker (my mom had stage 4 appendicial cancer and had to get part of her colon removed. She is in full remission and doing great!) For nearly a month she couldn't eat and was just on IVs, she had painful diarrhea, and food was simply unappetizing. Foods she used to love were suddenly abhorrent! BUT, and this but is the big thing, she is done with her treatments and doing great! She loves everything she used to love and is basically 99% active (minor nerve problems in her feet sometimes can make walking a bit uncomfortable. That's the 1%). She loves all the foods again and in fact we took a mother-daughter trip to france which involved a lot of great restaurants to enjoy the amazing cuisine! So, know that I'm speaking from experience and take heart in this: there is absolutely a light at the end of the tunnel. It's hard to see now, but it IS there. Keep strong!

Thank you, Maki. You are in my thoughts. I am checking back each day, making a new recipe. Hoping to send you well being by making the food you love. Blessings

Please contact Fundacion Alicia in Spain. They can help you !

Maki, I have been a long time lurker on your wonderful blog and your insights on Japanese food are so inspiring. Sending you lots of strong wishes that you'll get through this quickly and recover. You have fans all over the world wishing for your good health again.

:( I'm so sorry, dear Maki...
Please don't give up, I know it's hard, but keep strong like you've always been. I hope things get better, and I'm always rooting for you to gain more and more strenght.

hi maki,
stay strong and hang in there.
i had brain surgery a few months ago to remove tumors and still have some remaining tumors in another area of my brain. i just want you to know you have to stay strong. things will get better.
take care :)big hug!

I didn't know you were sick. I am so sorry.
I immensely enjoy your blog on Japanese cooking and there's so much to read even if you can't post regularly!
It's hard, chemio it's horrible (a childhood friend of mine, mother of four, is fighting against marrow cancer) but some side effects can be fought with acupuncture.
Anyway, I am not amazed by all the messages of support you have received which I read.
You are much loved if this can be of any help.
Words fail me.
All the best,
Elena from Paris.

PS : love the humour of your drawings !

HANG IN THERE MAKI - YOU CAN DO IT! You were able to hang on this long and you're so close to the finish line. Stay strong! We are all rooting for you!
My hugs to you!

So sorry Maki. Have been thinking about you, praying for your healing. Have been a fan for a while. You are brave and stronger than you know.

I work in a Cancer Center and my office's goal is to help improve patients' quality of life by helping them manage their symptoms. We often prescribe Ritalin for fatigue (though if it is due to insomnia, there are other medications). Best of luck.

I'm so sorry to hear about your struggle. I've only recently discovered your blogs, and you appear so honest and brave. I wish you the best in getting through this!

Have you heard of the book "One bite at a time"? Its written for cancer survivors and their caretakers. All the recipes are extremely easy to digest, mouth watering and easy to make. Plus each recipe is fulled with healthy calories. You'll still get a nutritious meal if you eat two bites or twenty.

My friend had cancer 10 years ago. What she told me was,
that it was hard to eat but she ate even if she threw up or had to walk back to the restroom. All she was thinking was, it will take pain to get better so she must eat whatever she could even if it comes right up or right out.

A positive point is: watch only comedies which is good for the soul. She watched every Lucy show and funny movies.

Laughter heals the soul and your spirit. You will have your good days and bad day but your days will get better. You have many friends you never met but are here for you.
I hope these days will be your past and may you have happy times ahead of you soon.
a rice porridge with mushrooms and diced veggies, sweet potatoes or yams will be easy on your stomach.

Take care. I hope to read in May that you are out walking among Kyoto's flowers!
Ciao Bella.

A very big virtual hug. So, so sorry that you have to go through this right now.

I don't know if you would be interested, but there is a woman names Carla Ulbrich who made a series of songs about being ill, when she was also sick with something that made food not a friend and ended up in the bathroom a significant amount of time.

She made songs like 'On the commode again,' about all the bathroom troubles, and 'what if you're butt was gone,' which was about being so sick you lose too much weight. She put it together in an album that I believe is called The Singing Patient. They are silly, a little crude, but I figured sometimes, we're either going to cry, or laugh, or maybe do both.

She helped me laugh at some of the awful stuff going on when I was in a bad place, physically, so I pass on her name to you in case you might find her of use, too. There are a number of songs of hers on youtube that you can find with a quick search. :-)

Wishing you well.

Please please read the Body Ecology Diet with regard to food and cancer.
This will help you recover properly and be confident in the foods you should be eating while sick and while recovering. I wish I had seen this sketch last month. My best wishes to you and a speedy recovery.

We're sending you our most supportive thoughts.

-Fans from Canada

So much love to you. I can understand some of the pain you are going through as I'm getting MS pain at a fairly regular rate right now.

You're such a strong person, and we love you even when you're at your low points. You've helped so many of us out with something you love, and that sharing has changed lives and habits. I feel badly that it takes something like this to get me to write a Thank You note, but it's true - you've taught me a lot about food, cooking, culture, and about my body as well. I appreciate it.

Do the best you can, but don't beat yourself up when you are feeling weaker. <3

I just have to say thank you thank you thank you for all I have learned from you this past year. We actually turned to bento (via your blogs & cookbook--they are THE BEST resources out there!!) because of our many and varied restricted diets in our household due to various illnesses, allergies & wheat/gluten/gliadin intolerances. There are all in all over 70 foods we now need to avoid, and it definitely makes for days like you describe in your sketches. I had a good 2 weeks of tears trying to figure out how to feed my family. I wish I could help you through this hard transition as much as you have helped us. Hugs and prayers to you as you heal and recover. We love you and are so grateful for you!

Oh! I am so sorry!! Hang in there - I hope food will be your friend again soon.

I'm so very sorry you're going through this tough time. Sending you lots of warm & fuzzies and good vibes all around - you can beat this!!!

Dear Maki!
I really hope you get better soon! I'm so sorry to hear what you're going through. Take care and get well soon!

Dear Maki,
I am sorry I just found out what you were going through. Since I found your blog I always come back when I need tips or recipes for japanese food. Hang in there! We hope to see you soon!