Phones ring off the hook in the office of VOL-NEXT, a Tokyo-based company that offers various goods and services for women battling breast cancer. Chiharu Soga, the demure 42-year-old who runs the three-year-old company, has just fielded a phone call made in desperation by the sister of a recently diagnosed patient.

The sister called because the patient is too panic-stricken to talk to anyone, Soga said one recent morning after putting the phone down, noting that the patient's mother is mentally unstable because the illness has brought back memories of her husband's death from cancer.

VOL-NEXT's nifty, nicely-decorated office in the trendy Aoyama district could almost double as one of those foot-massage salons found all over Tokyo, with mellow instrumental music playing in the background.