After My Mother's Death

Hello. Thank you very much for taking a look at my Go Fund Me page. I truly appreciate your time.

 On May 11, 2017, I lost my mom, my best friend, a friend to many to cancer recurrence. She passed away in Japan, her home country, at the age of 52 after having fought very hard for three years. I am her only daughter and a full-time college student with one more year before finishing my undergraduate career. I have set this page up with the hopes of alleviating costs (expected and unexpected) that will be needed as I work on getting things notarized and rightfully in my possession. I am currently in Japan to pick up her belongings and important documents, to put her in her parents' grave, and to bring her to where she spent more than half of her life and where she truly considered home. I don't want to lose everything that my mom worked so hard to leave for me. I usually don't like to ask for help, but I really need help. Any donations, love, and support are truly appreciated. Please read below for the full story.  I tried to explain as much as I can and have divided our story into sections to make it easier to read.

 1) The Diagnosis:

My mom was diagnosed with Cervical Cancer Stage 2 in the summer of 2014. After a year of frequent visits to the doctor for chemotherapy, radiation, and a hysterectomy she had won the battle and was declared cancer free. However, in the summer of 2015 the same pains she had a year prior came back and she was diagnosed with cancer recurrence. She developed lung metastases. We were told by her doctor at that time that a PET scan was not required or necessary because of the negative effects of radiation exposure; therefore, we are unsure whether the newly discovered cancer cells were in fact new or if they were from her prior diagnosis. We were also told that she was at a higher risk for cancer recurrence with her first diagnosis and the doctor, therefore, categorized this second cancer as Cervical Cancer Stage 4.

 2) Cancer Recurrence and Treatment:

 For those who are not aware, chemotherapy is known for killing both cancer cells and healthy cells. As an effect, a year of intensive chemotherapy and radiation treatments made my mom very weak, especially because it weakened her immune system and damaged her healthy cells and organs. That is one of the reasons why when she was diagnosed for the second time we decided to look for alternatives. The other reason was that we faced challenges with our healthcare/medical provider from when her symptoms were beginning to show until when she was officially diagnosed. It took them months to diagnose her condition. These months mostly involved many periods of just waiting. When she had examinations done for the pains she was feeling they told us not to worry because her pap smear checks up were always clear and they, first, assumed it was just constipation and, then, assumed it was just fibrosis. No matter how persistent my mom and I were, they made it seem as though it wasn't urgent. While we were in Japan over the summer, we decided that we wanted to get a second opinion because the pains weren't going away. During that trip was when we found out that my mother had Cervical Cancer Stage 2. All it took was a quick examination, an MRI, and a couple days of waiting for them to diagnose her condition. We took the results back to our medical provider in the states and were told that they couldn't do anything about it until they verified it for themselves, which involved waiting even longer for them to actually get the biopsy done and even longer for them to process the results. They kept telling us that diagnosing cancer solely from an MRI was impossible; however, when they finally got around to taking her biopsy it turned out that she did indeed have Cervical Cancer Stage 2 and that the MRI was right…and so her treatment began. A year later, when she started experiencing similar pains again after becoming cancer free, our medical provider prioritized her check up and she was diagnosed with Cervical Cancer Stage 4. After her second diagnosis, we decided to go elsewhere. We wanted to avoid the traditional disease-centered focus and shift to a more patient-centered approach. This involved one trip to a Medical Health Institute in Mexico and, finally, led her back home to Japan where she spent her remaining days in the care and support of great doctors, nurses, specialized care and her family.

 3) Who Am I?

 As stated earlier, I am her only child and a full-time college student. I am currently 21 years old. The first time she was diagnosed with cancer was the start of the summer before my first-year of college. The university I attend is a four-year, liberal arts university in California with a residential campus. To attend this university was both my mom's dream and my own. It was a difficult decision for me to leave my mother on her own, especially since I was going to be moving into a dorm at the university; however, my mom always encouraged me to do my best in school and to enjoy it. She told me not to worry. Additionally, we were blessed with amazing friends and family who have showed unconditional love and support for both of us along the way, so I was able to do exactly what my mom wanted me to do—my best in school. Over the summer and during breaks was when I would go back home to spend time with her and do my best to care for her. When she started receiving treatment in Japan, other than messaging her and calling her as much as I could, I made frequent visits there over the breaks. Even while I was away in France, fulfilling my study abroad requirement, we kept up-to-date on each other's lives. Anyone who knew my mom and I knew that we were very close. We did everything together and knew everything about each other. Our lives were a two way street.

 4) Where Is Dad?

 My parents divorced when I was about five years old. I lived under a single mother household with visits from my dad. Ever since my mom's diagnosis and especially after her passing, my dad has been doing his best to support me; however, it is difficult for him to do so because he is a part-time worker, a college student, and he doesn't live with me. He is doing his very best, but we've already encountered situations where financially we need more help.

 5) Unexpected Events

 Currently, we are experiencing a big, unexpected financial obstacle. My dad's car was towed (at the end of May) followed by my mom's car (on the first of June). My mom was having me take care of and use her car until she came back from Japan, which we had expected to be in the near future at that time. In the midst of the grieving and the going back and forth between countries, I had forgotten that we needed a parking permit to park where I live. A parking permit is required for both the tenants and their visitors that stay overnight. My dad doesn't live with me, but he stayed overnight that weekend (after picking me up from my university) because he was helping me make preparations to get me to Japan after my mom's passing. This was a mistake on our part, but the series of events were unexpected. We got my dad's car back, but currently we are in the process of trying to get my mom's car back. This process has been very difficult because of the fact that she is still the owner of the car. So far we have been told that they will hold onto the car until I return without charging me the $60 daily fees; however, that I will need to pay $1000.50, which is where the fees were at before we called them. I bought round trip tickets for Japan when I purchased them, but I had to reschedule my flight back home—costing me an additional $300. I was planning on returning to the US on July 5th, after getting her death certificate and picking up the belongings that she has, here, in Japan. I had to reschedule my flight to speed up that process because the towing company informed me that if I don't go back by the end of the month (June) they will start charging me the $60 fees again and will put my mom's car out for lease by the 15th of July. Another financial obstacle, I am encountering is the monthly mortgage payment of our condominium. My mom has paid off half of the mortgage on our house. I have been doing my best to make payments on it because I don't want to lose it; however, I only work part-time on campus during the school year, so I won't have enough money to pay the monthly fees once I run out of what is in my bank and if I don't get official ownership of my mom's account soon. Even though she had given me all of the important passwords that I need to know to access her account…I don't know if, when, how long they will freeze her account while they process her death certificate. My mom wanted to live; therefore, she didn't write a will, so I only have an unofficial will that I made for her that she and two witnesses (her doctor and one of her nurses) signed on my last visit to see her. As mentioned earlier, I don't like to ask for help…especially when it comes to money, but I don't know when I will officially be able to get a hold of everything that my mom worked so hard to leave for me. My dad is helping me as much as he can while I am away, and we plan on getting everything else finalized this summer once I get back.

6) Closing

 There are no words adequate enough to express how it feels—anticipatory grief, the feelings of denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance—to lose someone you love so much and to need to move on. It's been a little over one month since she passed, but I still feel as though she is somewhere out there in the world. It sucks not being able to see, hear the voice of, and hug that person that you're so used to seeing almost every day. Fortunately, the faculty and staff of my university were very understanding and they let me take a leave of absence when my mom's condition drastically changed despite it having been the busiest time of the academic year. She passed about a week after I had visited her. Thankfully, I was able to speak to her through video chat the day before her passing. Her doctor told us that she wouldn't live to see the cherry blossoms blooming in March, but my strong mom lived until May. She was always smiling and encouraging me until the very end. I couldn't attend her funeral because I promised her that after my leave of absence I would finish the academic year strong and come back to pick her up. Currently, I am in Japan after having completed the semester to fulfill my promise and to bring her back home. She was cremated and will be placed in her parents' grave in Japan, but I will have the opportunity to put her bones in the grave on the 24th of June. With this story, I don't intend to blame anyone—healthcare, medical provider, towing company etc. My mom and I learned a lot through this experience. As much as we hated the cancer that was killing my mom, we always talked about how much we appreciated it because it has allowed us to learn new things about health, meet new people, visit new places, and spend more time with our loved ones. Our motto was "Let's beat that shit (cancer)!" and "Smile! Smile!" She didn't exactly "beat that shit" the way we had planned, but she was always smiling through it all until the very end and lived a victorious life. Of course I am very sad and I wish she was still physically here with me to celebrate, enjoy, and overcome together all of life's ups and downs, but I am very happy that she is now liberated—no longer suffering with pain—and resting in peace. On my last visit, I also promised her that I would do my best to continue to make her proud and be the best me that I can be and she responded with "You're telling me something I already know." My dreams have changed over the course of the years, but one of my current dreams is to pursue my academic life by going to graduate school with the ultimate goal of becoming a teacher. My mom always supported any and all of my dreams as her own and my dad continues to do the same. I don't want to give that dream up and I know that even still my mom is cheering me on and will be supporting me along the way.

She blessed me with 21 years of love to last a lifetime and I would like to continue to carry her spirit with me and celebrate her life without being defeated. I truly appreciate each and every penny. This is only a fraction of our story, but thank you very much for taking the time to read a part of our story and for your contribution.

Japanese version:
Translated by (amazing friend/sister) Masako Fukutani 

こんにちは。この度は私のGo Fund Meページをご覧いただきありがとうございます。







既に少しお話した通り、私は母の一人っ子でフルタイムの大学生です。21歳です。母がはじめてガンと診断されたのは、私が大学に上がる直前の夏のはじめでした。私の通う大学はカリフォルニアにある4年制のリベラルアーツ(一般教養)で全寮制です。この大学に通うことは、私と母の夢でした。寮に住むために母を家にひとり残すことは辛い決断でしたが、母はいつも学校でベストを尽くし、学校生活を楽しみなさいと言ってくれました。心配いらないとも言ってくれました。また、私たち親子は無条件の愛で支え続けてくれる素晴らしい友人や家族・親戚に恵まれていました。そのため、私は「学校でベストを尽くす」という、 母が私に望んでいることを約束しようと決めました。夏の間や学校が休みのたびに家に帰り、母と時間を過ごし、私が母のためにできるすべてのことをしたいと思いました。母が日本で治療を受け始めてからは、出来る限りのメールや電話はもちろん、長期休暇の時は頻繁に日本を訪れました。必修の留学でフランスにいたときも、常にお互いの生活について共有していました。私たち親子を知っている人は皆、私たちがいかに友達のように仲がよかったかを知っています。すべてを共有し、お互いのすべてを知っていました。お互いがお互いにとってなくてはならない存在でした。







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