Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Akiko Kurose Interview I
Narrator: Akiko Kurose
Interviewer: Matt Emery
Location: Seattle, Washington
Date: July 17, 1997
Densho ID: denshovh-kakiko-01-0029

<Begin Segment 29>

ME: You, you've mentioned in speaking earlier about your fight and your successful battle with cancer. When did that first start?

AK: Okay, and... in 1970, in early '70s, I... the doctor discovered a big tumor in my ovaries. And so I had the ovarian cancer. Then I... maybe five years after that, I had the breast cancer in the left side, and I discovered that myself. And then, five years later, maybe... yeah, thereabouts, I discovered a lump in my right breast, which was quite advanced. And I had gone to the doctor's and they did a magnification, and the doctor had said, "No, there's nothing there." But a few months later, the growth had increased so much, I went to the general practitioner, and said... and he says, "Oh, I'm sure you have cancer, let me see a surgeon." And it had, it was cancer and they had made a mistake on the reading of the magnification, because I went back and looked at the x-ray and they said it was there. But it had been... so with that time I had another mastectomy, then it had already infected my lymph nodes. And so, at, the first time I had radiation, then this last time I had chemotherapy. And so then I recovered and I went back to school, as I had told you previously, my chemotherapy was once a month. So I was able to do that and go to school, and not take time off. With my first, well, cancer of the breast, left breast, I had radiation. So I would schedule my radiation after school hours every day, because that was a daily treatment. So I'd go at 5 o'clock, get zapped, come home, crash, go to school the next morning, then teach all day, go to the hospital, get zapped, crash... and repeat, I repeated that for several months. And it wasn't as devastating, but the, and the second chemo, bout with cancer with the chemo was once a month, so that wasn't so bad, where I could continue working.

This last batch was a different kind of chemotherapy; where it was a twenty-eight-day regimen but there's four treatments during that twenty-eight days. And it was very intense. And so I had to get a substitute, and finally it was... I decided, I need to -- and also this was a lady that was my former intern, an excellent teacher, and I thought, "Well, this is a good opportunity for her to get her full certification and her full contract." And so with that agreement, I said to the district, "If you'll give her a full-time contract, I'll leave." And so, that's what happened. But I've continued volunteering because I really enjoy it. And I do miss teaching, and having my own class.

ME: But the status with the cancer is you've...

AK: Oh, yeah. Uh-huh. And they said there would be recurrence, but I'm fine. And so, I think a lot of it's just luck of the draw, I guess, or something. I've just been real fortunate. And I must say that my whole life has been a real positive kind of life. I've been very fortunate. Lots of good friends, and lots of fun teaching, and, and people have honored me way beyond what I should be honored for. It's just... but I think it's the nature of the community that I worked in, because to be realistic, if I worked in a very poor area, they wouldn't know how to nominate me for these awards. They wouldn't, you know, the resources wouldn't be there. They're many, many teachers as equally as good, if not even better, that have not been honored because of where they're working. Because they don't have the same kind of resources. But I must say Laurelhurst parents are very resourceful, that Peace Garden is overwhelming. Now come on, in a poor area, they couldn't do that. It's just...

ME: Well, that's very nice of you, and very, very modest of you.

AK: [Laughs]

<End Segment 29> - Copyright © 1997 Densho. All Rights Reserved.