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Late TV presenter Mao Kobayashi confronted cancer and inspired others through blog

Kabuki star Ichikawa Ebizo and freelance TV presenter Mao Kobayashi hold a press conference announcing their engagement at a hotel in Tokyo on Jan. 29, 2010. (Mainichi)

Though TV presenter Mao Kobayashi passed away on June 22 at the young age of 34 after a battle with cancer, she left behind many heartwarming episodes, honest moments of doubt, and heartfelt advice for those with similar illnesses and their families in the form of a blog she began a year ago.

On Sept. 1, 2016, several months after her husband, kabuki actor Ichikawa Ebizo, announced that she was battling breast cancer, Kobayashi, a mother of two young children, started her blog "Kokoro." (Heart.) to discuss her family, her disease, and how she was dealing with it from day to day.

The title of her first blog post was "Becoming who I want to be." She wrote about being inspired by her doctor's advice not to hide in her cancer's shadow, and how that had motivated her to "decide to say goodbye to the me who was hiding behind cancer by writing a blog."

Kobayashi revealed in her blog that the cancer that had started in her breast had spread to her bones and lungs. In a May 29 blog post titled "Being released from the hospital," she said that she was switching to home medical care. "Home is the best place on Earth," she wrote. "The children are apparently returning from the park soon. I can't wait to see them."

On June 9, the first anniversary of the press conference in which Ebizo announced that his wife had "serious" breast cancer, Kobayashi published a blog post in which she looked back on how overwhelmed and scared she felt when it first became public that she had the disease. "Someone else took the wheel, so I hid and hid and it became completely dark. So I decided to take back control of the wheel in the form of this blog."

Kobayashi's blog was updated for the last time on June 20. Referring to the fresh orange juice that her mother squeezed for her every morning, Kobayashi wrote, "It gives me a smile first thing in the morning. Here's to hoping everyone has something to smile about today."

Kobayashi's blog drew a large following as a result of her frank admissions of regret and fear, and the courage with which she faced her illness. As of June 23, her blog had 2.58 million registered followers.

Meanwhile, Kobayashi's husband, Ebizo, posted on his blog on the morning of June 23, "It was the day I cried more than I ever have in my entire life."

In November of last year, the BBC's online edition selected Kobayashi as one of its "100 Women 2016," a list of inspirational and influential women from that year.

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