I don’t have many photos to document Chapter 2 of CLIMB,* which chronicles my cancer diagnosis, surgery, and early treatment.
(In fairness, I suspect I’m not alone in the fact that my first reaction to learning I had cancer wasn’t “SOMEONE GRAB THE CAMERA”)
I also have no photographs of my beloved grandmother, Peggy, whose cancer story I also share in Chapter 2. For those details, you’ll have to read the book…
However . . . although this is the shortest chapter in the photo companion, it’s not entirely without pictures:
Four weeks after my double mastectomy, I flew to Tokyo with my son. Not to sign my visa application, as originally planned, but since we had the tickets before my diagnosis, I used the trip as a last opportunity to enjoy myself before starting chemotherapy.
I visited a number of Japan’s famous “Bavarian Christmas Markets” which serve European treats like Bavarian sausages, mulled wine, and . . . curry fries. (For the record, curry fries are actually delicious.)
Japanese people love Christmas, even though the overwhelming majority of the population (in excess of 95%) does not identify as Christian (Buddhism, Shinto, and “no religion” are the overwhelming majority here, although the country is also tolerant of personal faith and beliefs). Christmas is celebrated as a secular holiday, through the sharing of food, gifts, decorations, and joy.
This snowman cake didn’t make it into CLIMB (this kind of tragedy happens when you’re limited to 100,000 words..) but it remains among my all-time favorite desserts (in Japan and elsewhere). That “snowy” white chocolate ganache covers several layers of vanilla-bean cake, vanilla mousse, and tart raspberry coulis. (There’s even a raspberry layer in his head, which made eating him both delicious and slightly reminiscent of a murder scene.)
After I revealed my cancer diagnosis on my Facebook page, I received an overwhelming show of love and support–sometimes, in unexpected ways. This lovely piece of art arrived at my house, by mail, from an anonymous artist. It encouraged me so much that I kept it beside my bed throughout my cancer treatment (and brought it with me to Japan).
For more photos of that time (including the famous “baby bird head” picture), and shots from my trip to Japan during chemotherapy, continue to Chapter 3: Cherry Blossoms & Liver Spots.
* This page is part of the photo companion to CLIMB: Leaving Safe & Finding Strength on 100 Summits in Japan. You can find the story behind these pictures (in hardback and ebook formats, and either in person or online) at your favorite local bookstore or at Amazon or Barnes & Noble (both in the U.S. and internationally).