Through Sickness And Health

Ron Nagasawa
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Wednesday - May 20, 2009
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Hopefully you’ll immediately notice that I am back from leave and this is a new column. Contrary to popular belief, I was not on vacation for eight weeks. Why readers think I’m always on a fun vacation whenever they see my old columns here is beyond me. I must exude “casual.”

No, what I am is a cancer survivor. Nine weeks ago I was diagnosed with renal cell carcinoma, more commonly known as kidney cancer. It was a near miracle that it was caught - my regular doctor, Michael Mihara, literally saved my life through a bit of luck and a lot of great instinct.


From there I went under the care of another great doctor and surgeon, Eugene Tanabe. While he left me with a beautiful scar, he removed my left kidney with the skill of an artist and no negative incident. That I’m already back at work testifies to that, and it’s great to be back with my “other” family.

I also have to give props to the doctors, nurses and staff who took care of me at Kapiolani Medical Center at Pali Momi. I honestly felt like I was at a five-star hotel thanks to the efforts of their nurse educator, who also happens to be the big sister of one of my best friends, Lance Miyahara. Her name is Doreen Akamine, and while I’d like to think my care seemed exclusive, I saw that all the patients received nothing but the absolute best level of care. Within seven days of this major surgery, I was discharged and on my way home.

The first three weeks were spent mostly in bed, where my wife insisted that I do absolutely nothing but recuperate. She could tell I was legitimately out of it, using the rule of opposites. If I did the opposite of anything I normally do, then I must be sick. For instance, she would ask if I wanted to eat anything and I said “no.” Clearly, that’s a big indicator. I was always cold and asked her to turn off the air conditioner. I would wake up at a ridiculously early hour in the morning when I could sleep in all day. I didn’t want to watch TV.

She joked, “What did you do with my husband?” as though I was a pod-person from Invasion of the Body Snatchers. Still, thanks to the nursing attentiveness of my wife and 11-year-old daughter, my mom, brother, sister and in-laws, I pulled through just fine. And my son, away at college, volunteered to come home and give me one of his kidneys.

I especially thank my wife, Sharon, without whom I wouldn’t be writing this column today.

Ron’s WEBSITE of the week

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