LONDON – Japanese TV celebrity Mao Kobayashi, who has been fighting breast cancer for about two years, has been named in the 2016 edition of the BBC’s 100 Women list.
Kobayashi, 34, who has been married to kabuki star Ichikawa Ebizo since 2010, was chosen because she broke her silence and has been blogging about her struggle with the disease that she says has spread to her bones and lungs.
In a commentary published on the BBC’s website on Wednesday, Kobayashi said she decided to start her blog called Kokoro (Heart) in September after hiding the disease for a long time. As it turned out, she said, many readers empathized with and prayed for her.
“If I died now, what would people think? ‘Poor thing, she was only 34’? ‘What a pity, leaving two young children’? I don’t want people to think of me like that, because my illness isn’t what defines my life,” she said.
“My life has been rich and colorful — I’ve achieved dreams, sometimes clawed my way through, and I met the love of my life,” said Kobayashi. “I’ve been blessed with two precious children. My family has loved me and I’ve loved them.
“So I’ve decided not to allow the time I’ve been given to be overshadowed entirely by disease. I will be who I want to be.”
Kobayashi also said on her blog that she thanks her readers for their moral support. “Everyone gave me a supportive push,” she said.
BBC 100 Women selects “influential and inspirational women around the world” for the annual list. Kobayashi is the only Japanese among the 19 women chosen from Asia this year.