Mao Kobayashi (1982 – 2017)
Last year, in November, the BBC created a list of 100 inspiring women: BBC 100 Women 2016
I remember looking through the list at the time, and I noticed that half way down the list was a Japanese woman with Stage 4 Breast Cancer, Mao Kobayashi. She was on the list because of something that she had done since hearing the diagnosis two years previously. She had started a blog Kokoro in which she went through her experiences with cancer. Through the blog, she shared her sorrow and happiness with those who were also struggling with the same disease. It was a revolutionary blog for the Japanese, who do not always want to talk about such things, but it was an inspiring thing for others. Even though I was nowhere near as sick as she was, from reading translations of what she was saying, I learned something about how to approach chronic ill health in a better way.
When she heard that she had made the 100 list, she wrote something for the BBC: Kokoro – the cancer blog gripping Japan.
The BBC has just announced that she has died from her illness at the age of 34.
When I heard the news, I felt very sad, not specifically for the reasons she gave at the end of her piece for the BBC, but because she had been an inspiration to me, and to so many others, in an important way. I do not expect others to want to post anything here; in a sense, it is a personal memoriam to a woman in the public eye who has passed away. Like me, you will not have heard of her before, maybe even now, you are reading about her for the first time. This is just a personal thank you.
The last words on her blog were:
“I hope all of you will have something to smile about today,”