Mao Kobayashi’s story and blog – The courage to be imperfect
Recently I read about the life and death of a Japanese presenter. She was 34 and died of cancer. In Japan, cancer patients are stigmatized and feared. She thus kept it a secret (despite being a highly mediated person) during her long treatment. Prompted by her doctor who encouraged her to share her fight, Kobayashi broke her silence by starting a blog about her battle. On her blog, called Kokoro (Heart), Kobayashi openly talked about the disease and her daily life until the very end.
She wrote, ‘I was scared about being associated with illness or showing people my weaknesses. I would try to avoid being seen on the way to hospital appointments and I stopped communicating with people so as not to be found out.
But while wanting to go back to who I was before, I was actually moving more and more towards the shadows, becoming far removed from the person I wanted to be. After living like that for 20 months, my palliative treatment doctor said something that changed my mind.
“Don’t hide behind cancer,” she said, and I realised what had happened. I was using it as an excuse not to live any more.’
When I was forced to let go of this obsession to be the perfect mother – which used to torture me, body and soul – I realised it had not been worth all the sacrifice I had made.
My family – even though I couldn’t cook for them or drop them off and pick them up at the kindergarten – still accepted me, believed in me and loved me, just like they always had done, as a wife and a mother.
So I decided to step out into the sunlight and write a blog, called Kokoro, about my battle with cancer, and when I did that, many people empathized with me and prayed for me.
And they told me, through their comments, of their life experiences, how they faced and overcame their own hardships. It turned out that the world I was so scared of was full of warmth and love and I am now connected with more than one million readers.’
Kobayashi was included in the 2016 edition of the BBC’s 100 Women list and was credited for inspiring cancer patients and many others with her blog.
She shared her courage to be imperfect and her need to feel connected.