Sanae's Recovery from Cancer

For: Sanae Suzuki
Organizer: Eric Lechasseur
Sanae's Recovery from Cancer (Sanae Suzuki)
$47,356
of $30,000 goal.
Raised by 251 donors
100% Complete

The Story

From Jessica Porter:

Dear friends of Sanae,

You'll notice that we have already reached our initial goal (WOOT, WOOT!!) but we are continuing this campaign... please read the update below (on this page, posted on June 25th) to find out more about that... 

Back to the story:

I decided to start this campaign (together with Eric and the amazing Amanda Plant) in order to help finance the chemotherapy Sanae is currently receiving. It’s never easy to ask for help, and Sanae is especially polite and humble when she needs assistance. So I thought I’d step in.

If you haven’t heard yet, Sanae has a rare cancer called Diffuse Large B-Cell Lymphoma (DLBCL). It’s a non-Hodgkin lymphoma, the diagnosis of which was a big surprise to all of us. As you know, Sanae eats and lives very naturally. She recovered from ovarian cancer over twenty-four years ago using the macrobiotic diet and a holistic lifestyle--forgoing radiation and chemo--and since then she has been spreading the word of natural healing in every direction: She has written books, opened restaurants, and counseled other individuals in healing crises… all the while raising dogs and cats, knitting sweaters and hats, making jewelry, teaching cooking classes, becoming a yoga instructor, making soap, growing organic gardens, studying Bach Flower remedies and aromatherapy. Even after her first chemo treatment, she knitted her own hat for her newly bald head (Eric shaved it), and says she is looking forward to sewing a dress when all of this is over. Phew!

So how did this happen?

In 2001, Sanae was in a very serious car accident, after which she was in a coma for three days. It was one of the many miracles of her life that she survived that accident, and doubly amazing that she can walk, not to mention hike and teach yoga.

However, during her recovery from the accident, she received a blood transfusion that contained Hepatitis C. She has been fine up until now, but especially after the age of sixty, Hepatitis C has a nasty way of setting the stage for other diseases, and Sanae’s form of lymphoma shows up at a disproportionate rate among people with the Hepatitis C virus. The tumor is in her liver, which points even more strongly to hepatitis being an underlying factor. Unfortunately, even though she and Eric did everything they could to shrink the tumor naturally, it was growing at a very rapid rate.

The good news is that the type of chemo she is receiving (Rituximab+EPOCH) has a 60-70% cure rate for this type of lymphoma, even when the tumor is in the liver. Those are fantastic odds!

The bad news is that she and Eric must pay $5,000 per round of chemotherapy, of which there are six rounds over the next five months. And that’s just a 20% co-pay after insurance has paid the bulk of the costs. That’s $30,000, altogether. And it’s not as if they can just let the bills pile up and deal with them later. She will not get treatment every 21 days until the $5,000 co-pay is paid.


As you might expect, the money pressure is high, and Eric is still doing private cooking to pay their day-to-day expenses, while Sanae is obviously unable to bring in any income for the foreseeable future.

So, I am here to ask for your support. If you have been affected by Sanae at some point on your life’s journey… if you have been inspired by her, or learned from her, or eaten at Seed Kitchen… this is a wonderful time to return that good energy.   All we need is 300 friends to donate $100 each in order to reach the goal. Or 600 friends donating $50. No amount is too small, and every single donation will be met with deep gratitude. Of course, if you are in a position to afford a larger donation without being burdened financially yourself, bless you: This money is saving a life. Literally.

Let’s make the financial lifting easy so that wonderful Sanae can relax into getting the treatment she needs.

One final thing: I have seen Sanae many times in the last few months. When I first found out she was sick, I came to visit and her energy was pretty low. Over the next few weeks, it got worse, and worse. I became very afraid for her. Soon she was in terrible pain, as the tumor took over more and more of her liver. Amanda and I were with Sanae and Eric last month when she met her second oncologist--a female doctor straight out of Grey’s Anatomy--who told us that Sanae had only weeks to live unless she got aggressive treatment, and that this type of chemo could be effective. Within an hour, we were checking her into the hospital.

I visited a few times, but five days into her admission, when she was still receiving the medicine, I had a shock: She was strong, happy, and energized. The pain was gone.

But that’s not all.

Because she’s Sanae, she was taking 30-minute walks throughout the hospital twice a day. She was doing a hot body scrub every morning and night. She practiced yoga in her room, did self-massage between visitors, ate Eric’s healing macrobiotic food, and meditated like a champ. None of it felt compulsive or intense; she just had (and has) a profound love of life and an unflagging determination to live it. The nurses on the ward were saying she needed to come back and teach them cooking classes and yoga, which I’m sure she will do.

I will never forget sitting across from her, just absorbing her energy. I was profoundly moved and inspired. This is a warrior, I thought to myself. And she is. She is a living example of how strong natural foods can make us, and how they can nourish us deeply through the big challenges of life. If anyone is going to kick cancer to the curb (this time, with medical assistance) it is Sanae Suzuki. Will you please help her kick the medical bills to the curb, too?

Thank you so much for your time and attention. If you’ve read this far, I really appreciate it, and I know Sanae does too.

Xoxo

Jessica

P.S. Please share this with anyone you know who might be interested.

You can also support Sanae by purchasing her and Eric’s beautiful books. Every dollar you spend on books (minus shipping) will go directly into the chemo fund.

If you’d like personalized signed copies from Sanae and/or Eric, buy them here. Consider getting a few and giving them as gifts!

Unsigned copies of all Sanae’s books are also available on Amazon. As is Eric’s delicious dessert book.

Fundraiser Updates

Posted on October 4, 2017

Posted on October 4, 2017

Dear Friends,

I am so, so happy to report that Sanae has finished her sixth, and last, round of chemotherapy!!!  CAN WE GET AN 'AMEN' FOR THAT?? It finished this past Friday and then she received her final shot of Neulasta, that drug that causes pretty bad pain.  I saw her on Sunday, and she was in bad shape, just resting and dealing with all the discomfort.  We did some hypnosis together to help her relax, and I taught Eric and our good friend Mayumi how to stroke Sanae's hand while in hypnosis to help distract her and encourage some endorphin release.

But she won't need that for long.  She will be bouncing back from the Neulasta soon, and the good news that this time she won't have to gird herself for a new round of chemo.  YAAAAAYYYYY!!!!  Given how I've seen her recover between every-21-day chemotherapy treatments, it will be lovely to see her go from strength to strength now that it's all over.  

And let's pray it's really over.  Sanae will be getting a PET scan in six weeks to determine how her liver is doing.  I would ask you all to envision it as normal, strong and healthy.  It's where the lymphoma was, so we need to see it cleared of that visitor... Normal, strong and healthy.  Normal, strong and healthy.  

It has been a real privilege to be a part of this experience with Eric and Sanae.  Not only was I let in closer to their lives, but I was able to experience the blast of love that came from all of you.  That has been nothing short of miraculous. It was a healing for not only Sanae, but everyone around her.  I hope it has been for you, too.  We are stronger as a team, and putting our minds, hearts and even our wallets together can make all the difference.  In a very real way, you've helped to save a life.  

As Sanae gets stronger, she and I will be writing individual thank you notes to everyone we haven't gotten to yet.  Every single of you is important to her, and to me, even if we've never met.  Please celebrate yourself, your contributions, and life today.  It's a precious gift.  

For more updates directly from Sanae, please check out her blog posts

Thank you
Thank you
Thank you

xoxo Jess

Posted on September 11, 2017

Posted on September 11, 2017

Hi everyone,

Well, we are in the thick of things now.  Sanae had to delay her fifth round of chemo for one week due to chemo-induced pneumonia, which was neither fun, nor pretty.  But she made it through and has completed her second-to-last course of chemo and her second-to-last shot of f*#king Neulasta.  So, first things first: YAAAYYYYYY!!!!! SHE IS ALMOST DONE!!!!!

However, she's weaker than I've ever seen her.  And of course, that is normal at this point in the protocol, but Sanae is so used to being able to steer her own ship, she's having a hard time surrendering to the process in terms of just letting herself feel awful.  She feels she needs to maintain a positive attitude at all times and I keep telling her "Just let yourself be carried.  Just let this suck.  You don't need to be in control, or a good girl, or the perfect patient".  She relaxes a little when she hears that.  

Meanwhile, her doctor is amazed that it's taken so long for Sanae to get to this point.  She jokes with her "You're too healthy!" And as much as that's a weird thing for a doctor to say, Sanae knows Dr. Mead well at this point and understands that she's giving her a compliment. 

But for right now, she might need another blood transfusion, she is annoyed that her drawers are messy, she only has about thirty minutes of energy to devote to any task, and she feels extremely weak, even depressed. Not to mention that she's in pain quite a bit.  I remind her that all of you guys are out there, pulling for her, and that we all know--really KNOW--her spirit's inherent strength.  We know that between her spirit, and good food, she will be back to her normal self after all this is done.  It might take a little while, but it will happen. 

So thank you everyone, for all that you have done for Sanae.  Now is the time for good energy, prayers, patience, and love.  Sanae doesn't have the energy to respond to any actual texts or emails but know that she reads and appreciates them.  

Be well,
xox Jess

Posted on August 12, 2017

Posted on August 12, 2017

Hi everyone,

I hope this finds you well, enjoying the summer, your loved ones, and all the pleasures of life.  I have one more thing to add to your gratitude list: YOUR DOLLARS ARE WORKING!  Sanae recently had a PT scan and met with her oncologist to get the results.  The tumor has shrunk.  A lot.  I will leave it Sanae to blog or share about the specifics, but we have all been very relieved to discover that everything is moving in the right direction.  I have been away in Canada for the last couple of weeks, but I met with Sanae right before I left and she was doing quite well.  She has had side effects like numbness in her hands, changes in taste, and sleeplessness from the chemo as well as considerable pain from the post-chemo Neulasta, but she is eating healing food, doing her yoga, body scrubs, and has even started doing moxabustion for the pain.  If there was ever an advertisement for macrobiotics, it is Sanae.  Her strength continues to amaze me.  And her chi is also expressed in the little details: that day, she was wearing a pink hat and cover for her picc line, both of which she'd knit herself, at the same time donning pink glasses and using a computer with a pink case.  These little choices, and attention to detail, are what show me she is not being felled by her treatments.  I said to her: "It's not a good day for me, fashion-wise, when the person in the room getting chemo looks ten times better than I do!".  

Of course, some days are harder than others.  She doesn't have much excess energy for visitors, so to any of you who have reached out to me about that, she says "Thank you for thinking of me and I look forward to seeing you when all of this is over!" Currently, she has just finished the 4th round of chemo and her blood counts are so low she may need a blood transfusion.  But please know that Sanae is so grateful to you all for all your love, prayers, messages and financial support.  She literally couldn't do this without you.  

Finally, we have extended the length of this campaign to keep it circulating for a while.  Although you have all generously covered the chemo co-pay costs (and then some), we live in a country where every extra Band-Aid gets added up and a heart-stopping bill gets sent to one's door.  Visits with the doctor, blood transfusions, PT scans, and other medical incidentals all require co-pays as well, which Amanda and I didn't figure into the campaign when we started it.  Please consider re-posting it so others can have the chance to donate or buy some of Eric and Sanae's books.  To all of you have donated, thanks again... you are true angels.  
xox Jess 

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