Author: Deepika Shrestha
Editors: Moe Hirohara, Yuki Senoo
On the morning on Thursday 30 November 2017, I visited The New Otani Hotel, a traditional hotel in Japan, and the Kanagawa Cancer Center in Yokohama City later in the afternoon. Besides all of the above, I also saw the sea for the first time in my life that evening. Thus, this rainy Thursday, as I approached my 28th birthday, became a memorable day for me.
At The New Otani Hotel
At 7:30 a.m., Ms. Asaka Higuchi, a researcher at the Medical Governance Research Institute in Tokyo, and I attended a seminar held at The New Otani Hotel regarding “Politics and Economy,” presented by Mr. Hiroshige Sekou, the minister of economy, trade and industry. Ms. Higuchi was attending this seminar on behalf of her boss, and I was able to accompany her, courtesy of her boss. I could not understand what the speaker was saying, as the seminar was held in Japanese. Ms. Higuchi, however, helped me by translating a few words and explaining some of the discussion points in whispers during the conference. Thanks to her help, I came to know they were discussing Japan’s economic development compared to that of the United States. There was a picture of an angry Donald Trump displayed on the screen. After attending the program, we took a walk in the hotel’s courtyard. There, I got to take a picture with a woman in Japanese traditional dress, a “Kimono,” who had come to celebrate her 20th birthday.
Visiting Kanagawa Cancer Center in Yokohama City
From the hotel, we went to the Kanagawa Cancer Center, which was established in 1986.
This hospital is the regional core facility for cancer diagnosis in Kanagawa prefecture with a capacity of 415 beds. Ms. Mika Higuchi, the head nurse of the Kanagawa Cancer Center, attended our visit inside the hospital.
The main services provided by the hospital
Gastroenterological Oncology and Surgery Department
Thoracic Oncology and Surgery Department
Ductal Carcinoma and Surgery Department
Gynecology (Gynecological Oncology) Department
Urology (Genitourinary Oncology) Department
Orthopedic Oncology Department
Head and Neck Oncology Department
Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery Department
Research departments and projects
Institute of Molecular Pathobiology of Cancer
Institute of Biology of Cancer
Institute of Therapeutics of Cancer
Institute of Prophylaxis and Information Science of Cancer
Molecular Diagnostics Project
Hypoxia Biology Research Project
Due to our limited time, we decided to visit a few departments we were most interested in. First, we went to the palliative ward. Nutritionists are assigned to work exclusively in this department. We had a chance to inspect how the nutritionists provide food to the cancer patients. The patients often experience reduced appetites or oral functions. Therefore, the nutritionists consult with the patients to determine suitable meals for them. The patient whose consultation we inspected had prostate cancer. As he did not have an appetite and claimed he didn’t want to eat, the nutritionist provided him something easy to eat, such as fruit jelly. After this, we inspected the facility equipment in the palliative ward. The patient bathrooms were well equipped with the latest technology. There was a device to give patients a bath in a recumbent position. Additionally, the department had many counselling rooms, a kitchen, and a dining room for the patients and their families. The dining room was equipped for the patients to enjoy eating the hospital meals with their families as much as possible. This arrangement was new to me because most of the hospitals in Nepal lack such facilities.
Rehabilitation rooms were equipped for postoperative care and for other activities such as speech therapy and physiotherapy. Dr. Kazuya Mizuochi, the head of the Rehabilitation Department and a specialist in rehabilitation, welcomed us there. The ward had two speech therapists, two occupational therapists and five physiotherapists, but it did not have any full-time nursing staff. He proposed that I work there as a rehabilitative nurse, which turned out to be a joke. I considered Dr. Mizuochi a splendid doctor with a charming sense of humor.
Kanagawa Cancer Center provides a call center service for patients and people in the local area who see their information regarding cancer and its related topics. Ms. Naomi Shimizu, a nurse at the call center, showed us around this facility. This department fields a range of inquiries from questions related to cosmetics, including artificial hair, to questions about skin cream and hand and body lotion to protect from the side effects of chemotherapy. Then we visited the pharmacy where chemotherapy is prepared. Most of the process in this department is automated, and the department’s staff members are protected from exposure to the medications during preparation. Then we went to the radiation room.
Since December 2015, the Kanagawa Cancer Center has administered an ion-beam Radiation Oncology Center in Kanagawa ( i-ROCK), which is Japan’s latest heavy ion radiotherapy facility. It was Japan’s fifth and the world’s 10th heavy ion radiotherapy facility. The facility staff explained how this newest medical device suppresses interactions with the normal tissue around a cancer lesion to minimal levels while damaging the targeted tumor tissues more than previous devices have. The Radiotherapy Department has four Linac (Linear accelerator) units, including the latest unit, and X-rays are applied in high-precision radiotherapy (SRT, IMRT, etc.). This department provides radiotherapies (X-ray therapy and heavy ion radiotherapy) suitable for each patient.
During my visit, I was accompanied by two Higuchi ladies, Ms. Mika Higuchi and Ms. Asaka Higuchi, who cared for me a lot. Ms. Mika Higuchi accompanied me on my visit to the hospital and guided me around the facilities, and Ms. Asaka Higuchi led me from that morning, and during the visitation, she translated Japanese to English. The two beautiful Higuchi ladies made my day more memorable, and from the bottom of my heart, I would like to say, “Arigato,” which means being thankful in Japanese. Our visit to the cancer hospital ended with a delicious cup of Japanese peach tea with Ms. Junko Tange, the head nurse, and Mr. Morihito Takita, MD PhD chief of the clinical trial management office.
Dr. Morihito Takita is also a researcher at the Medical Governance Research Institute, where Asaka Higuchi also works. In the evening, they planned a surprise dinner for me. It was a great party with a welcoming atmosphere. After the dinner, they took me to Yokohama bay, which was a 30-minute drive away. Christmas lights in the park and hotel added beauty to the city. I saw the sea for the first time, and I was speechless, as I was amazed by the view. My country does not have a sea, and people from my town would be envious of how lucky I was. The view from the car window on the way back to Tokyo made my heart flutter with joy. I would like to thank everyone who supported me and made my day memorable.