“ No matter what your situation, don’t give up hope. We will all go someday. Do what makes what you did here worthwhile. Live it up. Live each moment as though THAT is what you came here for. Enjoy it.
Mike Kato is the First Featured mAss Kicker from Japan. He is very active in Japan for Livestrong and numerous other cancer advocacy movements in Japan. After growing up in California, he relocated to Japan and started a new adventure. We were very lucky to find some time with him to ask him a few questions.
mKF: Thanks for taking the time to hangout with us! How are you involved in the cancer advocacy movement in Japan?
MK: I’m not a “personal” survivor. I get check-ups annually, with some anxiety. My family has had a long history of cancer, heart disease, strokes, and other diseases among the men. Many of them had a major incident in their late 40s or early 50s. I’m 51 now, so I get my check-ups with anxiety and trepidation. But I haven’t been diagnosed as yet. My fingers are crossed.
mKF: These diseases can affect ANYONE in so many different ways! Why did you get involved with advocacy? What organizations are you affiliated with?
MK: I’ve worn a Livestrong wristband since 2004, the year they came out. They had no presence here back then, so I just handed them out to people who wanted them. For most, it was probably more of a fashion statement. But I was a cycling fan, then a Lance fan, and was supporting the cause.
Since joining the Japan for Livestrong cause in 2011, though, I’ve gotten a lot more active directly. In 2012 I became an official Livestrong Leader. I’ve also developed some close relations with CancerNet Japan, Children’s Cancer Association of Japan, and Cancer Support Community Japan.
mKF: Who are your heroes?
MK: This is very difficult. I have many, I think. I used to think of people like Martin Luther King, Gandhi, and Ralph Waldo Emerson. But now, I am starting to see everyday heroes everywhere. They are helping others with sometimes mundane, but really important matters, getting through the day and over obstacles.
I think most importantly, though, I thing of my best friend, Steve Nikaido. I named my eldest son after Steve. I never had a fight with him in the 17 years we lived as neighbors and classmates. We were so different in every respect, really. But something always made us close. We still are now, even though we are so far from each other. We rarely talk, yet when we do, it is like yesterday.
mKF: What motivates you?
MK: Everything, really. My kids, certainly. But I just want to leave this world eventually a little better than it was before I existed. I think many people are resigned to thinking the world is just getting worse in many ways. And they see this as irreversible and not their fault. I own responsibility for a part of this future and intend to make strides to making it a better place. For my kids and for generations of children.
mKF: What makes you laugh, cry, angry?
MK: My kids. Life, in general. Myself, in particular. I know that I am capable of the most stupid things. But I know that I am capable of heroic deeds, too.
I’ve often said that since we’re 70% water, we’re just a water recycling kit. There is one way we take it in and 3 ways out. 2 of them help us build character, while the third just shows that we’re alive. I want to work and sweat and cry tears of joy and despair every day of my life. Because the pain, pleasure, and desperate challenge of life makes me want to climb every mountain set in my path.
mKF: What would you say is the most interesting thing you’ve done?
MK: Witness the birth of both of my kids. Those combined 2 hours were more life than the rest of it combined.
mKF: Change of pace… What is your guilty pleasure?
mKF: HAHAHA! What are your top 3 movies of all time? Why?
mKF: What do you like to do in your spare time?
MK: Play with my kids – soccer, basketball, running, Frisbee, hiking, or games. I am also a Boy Scout leader.
mKF: What are you up to now?
MK: All kinds of work.
mKF: Any advice for people or loved ones that get daunting diagnoses?
MK: Get a 2nd opinion. Find others with the same diagnosis. Don’t give up – especially hope.
mKF: Tell us something about yourself that people probably didn’t know… anything.
MK: I really dislike most shallow pop music, but have a soft spot for the Bay City Rollers – S-A-T-U-R-D-A-Y Night!
mKF: Any parting words for all the mAss Kickers?
MK: No matter what your situation, don’t give up hope. We will all go someday. Do what makes what you did here worthwhile. Live it up. Live each moment as though THAT is what you came here for. Enjoy it.
Mike Kato… cheesecake junkie, Stars Wars expert, classical music connoisseur, Bay City Roller “Fanboy”, and strong cancer advocate in Japan. Thanks for letting us interview you. The world must unite to realize we are all fighting the same enemy! Check out Japan For LiveSTRONG: