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Friday, Aug. 24, 2012

Hot springs resorts band together in support of breast cancer survivors


Spa resort facilities supporting people with breast cancer formed an organization this summer in the hope of helping them to travel.

The group's aim is to create an environment more friendly to breast cancer survivors at hot springs facilities and inform them of such facilities.

Noriyuki Ikeyama, 54, who led work to establish the group, said, "I don't want women with breast cancer to give up enjoying the pleasures of travel."

He runs a firm that makes mammary prostheses.

Ikeyama began producing the prostheses after his younger sister, a breast cancer survivor, told him of the discomfort she feels when having to bare her scars at hot springs.

According to the National Cancer Center, more than 50,000 women in Japan are diagnosed with breast cancer annually. But only 10 percent of those who undergo mastectomies have mammary prostheses or reconstructive surgery because of the cost, which can be as high as ¥3 million, according to Ikeyama.

Survivors tend to give up going to hot springs because they are reluctant to be seen without clothes, Ikeyama said, adding many feel guilty as their families are forced to stop going as well.

Ikeyama established the organization after often being asked for advice, such as whether there are any spas with partitions.

The group has published a brochure, distributed mainly through medical institutions, on hot springs friendly to breast cancer survivors. It also holds seminars for innkeepers to help improve their facilities.

At the Yuya spa resort in Aichi Prefecture, all nine hotels have installed partitions in washing areas in their spa facilities.

Chikako Kato, 62, proprietress of the Hazuki inn, said she wants breast cancer survivors to know their stay will be comfortable.

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