Sarah Beard, Maggie's Business Development Director, reflects on the landmark opening of Maggie's Tokyo:
Omedetou gozaimasu Maggie’s Tokyo! Congratulations Maggie’s Tokyo!
On Monday 10 October, our founder Maggie’s Keswick Jencks' birthday – and Health and Sports Day in Japan (Taiiku no Hi), a national holiday aimed to promote a healthy mind and body – we opened Japan’s first Maggie’s Centre.
A momentous day, not least because of the 1,000 people who joined in the celebrations at the Maggie’s Tokyo first day festival, but because of all that Maggie’s Tokyo has achieved so far and undoubtedly will do in the future.
At the opening ceremony, Yasuhisa Shiozaki, Minister for Health, Labour and Welfare pledged that he was open to Maggie’s Tokyo re-writing cancer care in Japan – establishing a new way of caring and supporting people that would positively influence cancer care across the nation.
Maggie’s Tokyo has been made possible due to the tenacity and determination of two people. Firstly Masako Akiyama, a Professor of Nursing at St Luke's College of Nursing, a specialist in End of Life care, and former community nurse. Masako first got introduced to the work of Maggie’s eight years ago, and since then has worked tirelessly to bring Maggie’s unique care and support to Japan.
Three years ago, Masako was joined by Miho Suzuki, a young talented journalist who was diagnosed with breast cancer at the tender age of 24. Miho, like Maggie, struggled with the challenges of living with cancer, and soon became motivated to improve the experiences for others.
Maggie’s Tokyo is pioneering; not only is Maggie’s cancer support like no other in Japan, but the idea of creating, funding and sustaining an organisation through voluntary contributions is unheard of.
Makaso and Miho are as forward thinking, resourceful and ambitious as Maggie Keswick Jencks was back in the early 1990s when she first had the idea to create a ‘new kind’ of cancer care.
Despite the non-existence of charitable giving in Japan, Masako and Miho, with a small but very effective team of volunteers, have successfully raised ¥70million (Yen) to create Maggie’s Tokyo. Through crowd-funding, corporate support and individual donations, the Maggie’s Tokyo team are re-writing the rules of how cancer care can be delivered and how organisations can be created and sustained.
The local population were initially sceptical; how could sufficient funds be raised and how would a British-founded cancer support centre work in Japan? But the scepticism faded as the team began to succeed. The Maggie’s Tokyo team are proving that Japan can become an effective fundraising nation and the Japanese need the love and support that only the likes of Maggie’s can provide.
With the help of architect Tsutomu Abe, the most exquisite Centre has been created – one that is most certainly at home within Maggie’s network of inspiring and uplifting cancer caring centres. And the professional team, headed up by Masako Akiyama, supported by clinical psychologist Yukie Kurihara are as talented and caring as the teams in all of our Centres.
What has Maggie’s Tokyo started? A new approach to cancer care, the first of many charitable organisations providing a new way of supporting and caring for people and more confirmation that Maggie’s is going global!