Sanae's Recovery from Cancer

For: Sanae Suzuki
Organizer: Eric Lechasseur
Sanae's Recovery from Cancer (Sanae Suzuki)
of $30,000 goal.
Raised by 229 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.



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 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 

Posted on July 16, 2017

Posted on July 16, 2017

Hi all,

Well, it's been a little while since I have given you an update.  The last time I wrote, Sanae had finished her second round of chemo/Neulasta, which was followed by a PT scan (the results of which we get in a couple of weeks) and a blood transfusion.  Although the new blood gave her a rash all over her face for a while, everything worked out fine.  This past week, she went through week THREE of chemo (we are halfway done!), and is just now getting the Neulasta, from a time-release patch on her arm.  It's quite high-tech.  

I was with her and Eric today, and the Neulasta bone and muscle aches will probably start in the next 24 hours, but today she was well, all things considered.  We talked, and laughed, and ate some FANTASTIC tempeh tacos, brown rice, and lemon-kuzu pudding, courtesy of Eric.  Because her palette has changed with the chemo, it's been tricky at times to find food that she likes, but there's nothing like being married to one of the best vegan/macro chefs in the world to fix that problem.  

Although originally we were under the impression that the chemo treatments would have 21 days between them, they are actually scheduled every 21 days, including the chemo days.  This means the whole schedule of treatment is tighter than we anticipated and there is less recovery time between them.  But I must tell you, Sanae is amazing.  She showed me a tunic she had knitted for herself, with buttons on the shoulders so it can be opened to access the picc line on her arm.  And it matches a hat she's recently knitted (at least her second), to cover her shaved head.  She's gardening every day, and keeping to a schedule of meditating, body scrub, and yoga when she has the energy to do it. And obviously, she's eating amazing, healing food.  Sleep has been difficult because the chemo regimen includes a steroid, and she's having to pee quite a few times in the night, but I was amazed by her good mood today.  We discussed this campaign and her immense gratitude for all of you supporting her in so many ways.  Considering the Neulasta will have its way with her over the next few days, I'm so glad to have caught her in this sweet spot.  

I will be seeing her again next week and will give another update then.  Thank you all for your time, attention, prayers, good thoughts and material support.  IT'S WORKING!

oxoxo Jess

Posted on June 29, 2017

Posted on June 29, 2017

Hi everyone,

I saw Sanae last night and she has made it through the worst of the Neulasta pain.  This time, it showed up in different parts of her body (ribs as opposed to spine, etc.), but the experience was a doozy, nonetheless.  She said to me "The chemo is not easy, but the Neulasta is a whole other ballgame".  So thankfully, it's almost over.  

It's not unusual for chemo to bring down hemoglobin levels, and hers are very low, so Sanae will be getting a blood transfusion today. She had real reservations about it when the doctor brought it up because it was a blood transfusion in 2001 that gave her Hepatitis C. But she and I did some hypnosis to help move some of the trauma from that accident, and come to a place of receiving this transfusion in a more relaxed way. So please send loving thoughts today... I know you have, and you will.  Thank you. 

Speaking of thanking you, Sanae repeated her gratitude to me yesterday for all of the donors. Not only do the numbers continue to go up on this site, she has sold books, received checks, and even an envelope of cash from the daughter of a friend (Thanks, Ruby!). She is quite overwhelmed by it all, and it's a bit of a challenge sometimes to wrestle with all the chemicals in her system, and still connect with the loving bubble you have all created around her.  Some days she feels such immense positivity and other days she's grumpy, and then feels guilty that she doesn't feel more gratitude.  I reminded her that her whole system is basically toxic right now and that she doesn't have to perform for me, or Eric, or any of you.  That we know she's grateful... that is her nature.  And that she is 33% of her way through the chemo process, having finished the second round.  

This too shall pass.

Thank you for being with her and Eric through it all.  You are the best medicine. 

xoxo Jess

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