Mitsuru Hayami – In Memoriam
After a five-year battle with GIST, Life Raft Group member Mitsuru Hayami died July 12 in Tokyo, Japan. Despite the global distances involved, two Life Rafters met Hayami— Carol Donnell of New Zealand and Rita Raj of New York City. Carol learned of Hayami’s death while in Melbourne, where she and Hayami had traveled to participate in the clinical trial of SU11248. Carol shared the sad news with the Life Raft, and Rita, who had met Hayami in Japan, responded with the following tribute:“ When I read Carol’s note about Hayami- san’s death, I immediately called his home. I had been meaning to get in touch with him and have been thinking a lot about him lately. I spoke to his wife, Mayumi, who informed me that Hayami-san died 12 July in Japan. He was on the phase III trial at Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre in Melbourne. …
He had written me in May this year hoping that he was on the real thing as his complexion was getting yellow….
“I started a long and close e-mail relationship with him in 2002. I met him, his wife and daughter, Eri, in Tokyo on Christmas Eve 2002. We had made an appointment to meet at a station near my sister’s home. A slim and smiling man rushed to me with a single rose. He said he recognized me from my Gleevec eyes! We had lunch together, sharing our Gleevec success and similar reactions and side effects. He brought many documents with him to our meeting. He was working in a pharmaceutical company, and with a science background, had done a lot of desk research on GIST. As my scientific and medical vocabulary and knowledge, especially in Japanese, is quite basic, he patiently explained many things to me. “It was an exhilarating time for both of us and also for his lovely wife and daughter. We promised to continue our friendship and keep in touch. He planned to visit New York with his family. “After this meeting, we wrote to each other often, called up each other at odd times due to our 13-hour difference. When I was diagnosed with a regrowth, he supported me and encouraged me to get on the Sugen trial. “Our constant greeting and farewell word was ‘ganbatte,’ which means ‘persevere, fight, do your best.’ He would call me, ‘Rita-san, ganbatte.’ He was always happy to hear about my good results. “Then he had a regrowth and liver problems and ascites as well. He was in a lot of pain. He wrote for information and advice on where he could go in the United States for the Sugen phase III trial. This was last December. Norman, Trish, Bernie and I all tried to get the information for him to come here. The cost of his coming to the United States for treatment was estimated to be at least $100,000. Hayami-san wrote to the Peter Mac- Callum Cancer Centre in Australia, a country he knew as he had spent about a year there before. He was accepted into the Sugen trial on May 7. … “I have lost a very good friend. He gave me so much hope and support.” Even when he was frantically looking for what to do for himself, he cared for his friends. He wrote to Tim in Hong Kong who was looking for alternatives for his mother. “For himself, he was so determined to live, but he was aware of the constraints. He discussed with me his three options, i.e., a) …, b).., and c) wait for death to come. “On Monday, Aug. 30, 49 days after his death, in the Japanese Buddhist practice, his ashes will be placed in his grave. Let’s light a candle for him. And to all of us.