It was Saturday morning, March 26th, the next day the Catholic world would celebrate the resurrection of Christ and the chocolate industry and dentists would profit more from this phenomenon of nature, the only one on record. I left home early and the plan was to go to Daniel's house and fill the car with packages of T-shirts that had been ready the day before and go to the store that had been in need of something new for a long time. I was full of energy and curious to see how customers reacted to our first series of new prints of the year. I live in Alto de Pinheiros and Daniel lives in Vila Madalena. The path is short and fast, especially on a Saturday morning. As soon as I left I felt a pain in my abdomen and my initial suspicion was that it was a simple cramp. I arrived at Daniel's house who was waiting for me, I got out of the car complaining and squatted on the sidewalk for a few minutes, the only position that alleviated the pain a little. Daniel, who also went through his own gastrointestinal dramas and carries Buscopan in his bag, offered me some pills that I took right away and without thinking about it, despite being the type that doesn't like medication and avoids taking anything for anything as much as possible. It was Saturday morning and the street was quiet. In the middle of this scene, a Chinese appears with the face of someone who had been sleeping on the street a few days ago. He approached me, made the typical bow that Orientals do when greeting each other and asked for help. I looked into the animal's eyes, asked its name and asked it to explain to me what was going on. He was almost crying and using basic Portuguese that was difficult to understand, he told me the drama he was going through. He had arrived from Curitiba a week ago and had been robbed on the first day. Since then he had been trying to get money on the street to go back, alone and without food or shelter. Another Chinese person from the 25th of March had been the only person who had helped him during this period with 25 reais for food, but he kept the pet's passport as guarantee for the loan. I understood what I needed to understand from the situation. I asked Daniel to open the Toyota door and told the Chinese to come in that we were going downtown. And off we went. Me and Daniel in the front and the Chinese guy sitting on top of the T-shirt packs in the back. The colic didn't get better but the situation distracted my mind. I stopped the car in the parking lot and while Daniel took the goods to the store, I went with the Chinese man to an ATM. Once again I looked him in the eyes and told him to be smarter about things, that he was a man. I gave him the money for the ticket to Curitiba and the 25 for the passport and I wished him good luck. I found myself in his shoes for a few moments when I remembered my first days away from home on the other side of the world and I also thought it might change his impression of the city a little...it's hell, but if you pay attention you can see that people help each other too. He bowed to me this time, lowering his head even more and disappeared into the world again…final destination China. I arrived at the store complaining about the pain that I thought was getting worse and ended up going to a pharmacy in an attempt to find something stronger that could alleviate the situation. Nothing done.More Buscopan. I decided to stay at the store until the pain subsided and when I realized that wasn't going to happen I decided to take a risk and drove back thinking I would end up stopping the car in the middle of the street and taking a taxi. I called Júlia halfway through and asked her to fill the bathtub with hot water. I got home, took my shower and managed to sleep for 2 hours after that. I woke up with the same pain and at 6 pm I finally gave up and asked Julia to take me to the hospital. First thing there was an IV cocktail of the same drugs I had been taking throughout the day...more Buscopan in the system. This eased the pain for the first time since morning, and anyone in constant pain knows what a break like that means. I went through the routine procedure answering the doctor's questions with a single thought in my head: -The bill has arrived. I didn't know what was going on but I wasn't surprised by the situation. I know how much I abused my body these past two years and I knew it was a matter of time before it reacted to my teasing. The next step was a CT scan and at 9pm, after taking my dose of contrast in a vein and listening to the technician's instructions, I spent the next 25 minutes of my life "fitted" into a Japanese CT Scan machine that talked to me. When the images were ready and the doctor on duty, who was already another, called me, we had already been at the hospital for 3 hours. His manner irritated me at first and it was clear that there was no affinity for reasonable communication between us but he had time to suggest immediate hospitalization before anything else. We asked him to call the doctor recommended by Julia's parents when we were on our way to the hospital and give him the CT scan results. He came back after 15 or 20 minutes and said Dr. Fernando was on his way. It was 11 pm on Saturday night and at that time intuition gave way to reason and it became clear that it was better to be mentally prepared for what was to come. Dr.Fernando arrived and it was a relief to realize that it was him...if you know what I mean. And for the first time I understood what was happening. The images showed what he called “inflammation” at the time, which was causing the colon wall to thicken and obstruct the channel. That's what caused the pain. He was cautious in analyzing the image and in his dialogue with me, but today I know that he already knew what he was seeing on the screen. I just wanted to go home and see my kids. I couldn't think of anything else. I told him that I no longer felt pain and that now at least I knew what was going on and could control the situation through a liquid/pasty diet. He released me and from then on, hell really began. I spent Sunday "well" at home with my family and I didn't feel any pain. On Monday I had my first consultation with Dr. Dino for whom Dr.Fernando is actually an assistant surgeon. It was Monday morning and as it had happened when I shook hands with Dr. Fernando for the first time, I felt the same kind of relief and well-being with Dr. Dino. It was from his mouth that I heard the word cancer for the first time since everything began. A word that has been running through my head since Saturday. Everything indicated that it was a tumor, but this could only be confirmed after a colonoscopy that was scheduled for the following day. I just left the office and when I got to the street I literally didn't know what to do. I went left, I went back, I went right, I went back, I stood still for a while looking at nothing... My disorientation was total for a few moments and I walked aimlessly through Itaim and felt that the world around me was at one speed and I at another. Cancer? I looked at the anonymous people on the street that Monday morning and thought about my children. Cancer? Colonoscopy results came out on Thursday. Stage 3 malignant tumor on a scale of 1 to 4 was all that could be known at the time. Maximum interval window until the operation 2 weeks. The next day, which was Friday, the operation was scheduled for the next Monday, 04/04. I had already lost weight because of the soft food and that also had to be taken into account. I had the weekend to call some friends, something I hadn't done until then and that actually amplified the drama and I only realized that when I started crying talking to a friend in Japan asking him who is actually a brother to tell my situation to the other brothers and send me good vibes from this land so far from here but which I missed so much at that time. I cried talking to my younger brother Akira and my mother, something I don't remember when was the last time it happened. I decided that as important as the support of my friends and family was, it was also important to prepare myself for Monday, I made 2 or 3 more calls and from then on I wanted my mind to be empty, clean and as serene as possible, it wasn't time to think or talk. My strength needed to come from the inside out. I was about to undergo a colectomy, the subtotal removal of the large intestine, 8 hrs. of surgery. Impossible to describe the way my mind was reacting to the image of my little children playing at home the Sunday before the operation. Impossible to describe how I felt as I was being pushed on a stretcher through the hospital corridors towards the operating room. But I remember the relief I felt on Monday at 10 pm when I opened my eyes for the first time after the operation and realized that I was holding Julia's hands. Despite the pain and the morphine, I was happy to have woken up and that she was there. The week I spent recovering in the hospital was hell within hell. My notion of pain and discomfort changed during this period and what distressed me the most was admitting that it was not possible to do what I wanted most at that time...hold my children in my arms. I knew I had a lot to be grateful for up until that stage of things but pain is pain and it affects your ability to think and feel things. The nights were long and painful, even with all the medical attention, hospital facilities and the comfort of having a friend and a brother who changed my daily routine so they could keep me company while Júlia stayed home with the children. That was my wish. To give priority to the children and keep the house running. The following Sunday, after 7 days in the hospital, I returned home. I lay in my hammock and looking at the 30 cm scar that ran over the tattoos on my belly I realized that it was going to take me a while to assimilate what had happened in the last 2 weeks. In the middle of this first week at home I received a call from Dr. Dino who said, first of all, that he had good news. The result of the pathological examination could not have been more favorable and although I still had to consult an oncologist and continue with the treatment, everything indicated that the situation had been resolved. I cried because I was looking at the children while talking to him. Once again I looked at my stomach and thought that everything was happening too fast...the cut was still burning. The final test was now missing, the Pet Scan. And at that stage I was already living my first experience in an oncology center. Everything indicated that the exam would be a reflection of the results obtained so far, but obviously I was still apprehensive even knowing the low chances of a negative result. The Pet Scan confirmed that I was clean and in the category that I find myself in the tumor profile, I theoretically don't even need chemotherapy. But it will happen, in a more “smooth” way that as soon as it was explained to me, it made me imagine what it means to a person's body when applied at maximum power. And so on May 5th ended the drama that began on March 26th. It's like I spent 7 weeks watching a roulette wheel spin with all my chips bet on that single spin. I get better every day. The body recovers quickly and naturally without looking back and the head tries to keep up but cannot. During that time at home I did what makes me feel good, I worked. Part of the pieces I made for this season were conceived in the middle of this story while I coordinated the execution of the work from here with all the complicity and unconditional support of my team that made such a difference. Maybe a lot of people I know will find out about what happened through this post and I can't say anything about that...that's how things happened. This was one of the most intense and dramatic crossings of my life and what I can say now is that today I feel nothing about life that I didn't already feel. Of course, as a father I will never be able to explain through the written word the feeling of having received from nature a new chance to follow the original and natural plan of raising my children, and for that I can only be grateful in the fullest sense of the word, and even so, always aware of the fragility of life with or without illness. I didn't have moments of deep, complex and existentialist reflections about my mission here and in fact now that I've gone through it I believe that a moment of physical and mental fragility like this is the worst for this kind of thing. I was worried about work issues, deadlines and actions I had to postpone and other things related to my present reality. And I don't in any way mean to imply that I didn't learn from the experience but I didn't come away from it feeling like I had discovered what really matters in life and promising myself to change things for the better. And despite the long period of neglecting my body that resulted in a completely understandable and predictable response from nature, I felt that realizing through this experience that “I was more than less in line with myself” made a difference. If it weren't for that, I believe that everything would have been much worse because the crisis would have been physical and also mental...an existential hell..."everything". It wasn't the end of the world but I can't act like nothing happened either. Writing about it did me good and maybe it will help me move forward. I hope this story can also be of some use to other people. The way I've told it here has focused primarily on the time factor. Writing about deeper and more complex feelings related, for example, to my understanding of the permanent impact that this fluke of fate having placed me in the hands of Dr.Dino had on my life and on all the others that it touches and will touch would result in a book. And actually that was already done in a thank you letter I was finally able to write him last week. At the end of it all, the greatest of truths became even clearer, that what really defines the course of all things is the presence of harmony and balance. This has always been and continues to be my quest even when I seem to be moving in the opposite direction. Thank you very much. Jun Matsui Every Day Is A Good Day
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