FUKUOKA--Tears spilled from Chie Yasutake’s eyes when she was taken to a hospital, unable to stop her convulsions or end the relentless pain.
"Help me," she pleaded to her husband, Shingo, who later thought he heard her screaming. The line was flat on the ECG monitor. The sobs of the couple’s daughter, Hana, filled the room.
Chie died on July 11, 2008, at the age of 33. Now, the surviving family members have compiled a book containing a collection of blog entries Chie wrote about her battle against cancer as well as her messages to her daughter.
"Hana-chan no Miso Shiru" (Hana's miso soup) is published by Bungeishunju.
Fourteen years ago, Shingo, 48, who works at a newspaper, met Chie. She learned soon afterward that she had breast cancer.
Following their wedding and the birth of Hana, the cancer spread.
"Whether I have cancer or not, I'm supposed to die first. It can't be the other way around. This is why I have to die without any regrets," Chie wrote on her blog in February 2008 before Hana’s fifth birthday. By that time, the cancer had spread to her liver and lungs.
In May 2008, she developed jaundice, and her body became gaunt. Her liver swelled and her belly expanded. In June, the doctor gave her about three weeks to live. Praying for a miracle, Chie began receiving 24-hour care at home.
She would open her eyes and let out a sudden shriek. Her brain was wasting away and she started blacking out.
After his wife’s death, Shingo spent every day in a stupor. One morning, Hana stood in the kitchen with a knife in her hand and began making miso soup. Her technique was the same as her mother’s and the soup had a familiar flavor. That was not all that Shingo noticed about his daughter.
The way Hana folded the laundry, washed the bathtub and prepared for day care were all handed down by her mother.
"I want to make my daughter able to do as much as she can by herself,” another entry from Chie’s blog said. “I just want to help her so that one day, when she becomes independent, she can take care of herself."
Shingo’s mood brightened with his daughter's support. After the second anniversary of Chie's death, he came up with the idea of publishing something to inform his daughter about her mother's thoughts.
Through her cancer treatment, Chie came to believe that "eating is living." Paying attention to her health and surroundings, she wrote in her blog.
After the breast cancer went into remission, she learned she was pregnant. She was told the cancer could return after she gave birth, but Chie had no regrets. Instead, she thought, "I was born to meet my daughter."
Akiko Watanabe, 39, the book's editor at Bungeishunju, said: "I have a daughter, too. She's 2. The focus of the book is a question: 'What can you leave behind for your children?' It's not just a record of a special person's battle with a disease. It's a story that strikes a chord with all parents."
The end of the book contains a message from Shingo to Chie: "What I have to be most grateful for is you giving birth to Hana. You risked your life to do it. If Hana wasn't here, I don't know what would have happened to me now.
"We will tell people what you wanted to say. I want to keep doing that until my life is spent."
As Shingo watches Hana grow and continue to make miso soup, he believes she can feel her mother's presence in the steam and the aroma.
“Mama was kind and funny," says Hana, now 9, who wrote a letter titled “To Mama” in the book.
"I want to tell you something. I can make a whole bento now. Aren't you surprised? I don't cry anymore. I'm doing my best," the girl wrote.
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