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Yuki is hosting cooking classes in memory of Irene, who passed away from secondary breast cancer.
I had no direct connection to breast cancer until my close friend, Irene, was diagnosed a few years ago.
Irene was an amazingly strong and positive person. She was a joy to know, and I have learnt so much from her. She gave so much to other people, was infectiously positive, and was brilliant at putting things into perspective. Her attitude to life taught me to be grateful for each day. She was a true motivator.
Irene always believed in me and encouraged me to start my business, convincing me it would be a success. She loved going out to eat and talking about all things food, and I have many memories of meals we enjoyed together.
During the peak of her chemotherapy treatment, we arranged to meet up in central London for lunch.
She sent me a message to say, ‘I will wear "Geta" tomorrow, if you do not mind.’ Geta are a type of Japanese sandal worn normally with a kimono. She got me thinking: is she going to wear a kimono? Just to see me?
I was a bit confused. Irene spoke Japanese very well, but she used some funny vocabulary at times. Eventually she turned up wearing flip flops, as if ready for the beach. The reason that she was wearing them was that her toes were painful from chemotherapy and so she couldn’t wear normal shoes.
Not deterred in the slightest, she was wearing makeup and was dressed beautifully! She was keen to see her friends and go out to a fancy restaurant, even though she couldn’t taste much at that time.
Irene had a huge smile, even when explaining what she was going through. It was very painful to see her that day. She was an amazing lady and it was so special to enjoy those moments with her.
Just before she passed away, before going into the ICU in the hospital, she was still encouraging me on the phone, reassuring me about a recent cooking video. I couldn't believe her strength. At the end of our conversation, she said, ‘I won't be able to talk to you from now on.’ I could not stop crying. That was the last time we spoke.
Knowing Irene and everything she went through made me think more about people who are diagnosed, their experiences and how I might be able to help. So, I am planning a series of cooking events, starting with online classes, to raise the money for Breast Cancer Now in Irene's memory.
I believe that Japanese Cooking is one of the healthiest cuisines, my business is teaching people of all different skill levels to enjoy and learn how to cook it themselves. Japanese cooking tastes delicious, whilst helping people to eat healthily and nutritiously.
Knowing Irene motivated me to join the Pink Ribbon Ball committee, which she used to be part of.
The committee members and everyone involved are so friendly and motivating. It gives me more strength. I am self-employed and so it is great to join in with an important cause, beyond my day-to-day work with others, who have the same aim.
Although technology and research used for treatments are improving hugely, there are still many people who do not survive and families who are deeply affected. Fundraising is a chance to show personal support while directly helping to further the development of research and care.
To join Yuki’s next virtual cooking class on 3 June at 6.30pm and learn how to make beautiful healthy Japanese food at home whilst supporting the work of Breast Cancer Now please visit her website.
Tickets are by donation, from £10 for the 90-min class.
If you can't attend Yuki's classes but would still like to raise money for Breast Cancer Now, why not do your own fundraising?