At the peak of her popularity, voice actress Yuko Goto (The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya‘s Mikuru, Hidamari Sketch‘s Hiro) went on hiatus in 2012 due to autoimmune disease. After almost two years in hospital, she dialed back on voice acting considerably, and has only recently been taking on new roles. In an interview with the Bunshun tabloid last month, Goto told the story about her early history with the illness.
Goto first realized that she had systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), a type of autoimmune disease, when she was hospitalized in 2012. Even before then, however, she suffered from Immune thrombocytopenic purpura (ITP), a type of purpura that causes rashes and bleeding. She first experienced these symptoms in the summer of her third year of middle school. She described herself as fairly athletic as a student, but when playing volleyball she would experienced regular nose-bleeding that would not stop for hours.
Goto said that she did not initially realize the scope of her condition and was shocked when the doctor told her to stay in hospital instead of completing her third year of middle school. Her father was furious at her when she tried to sneak out of the hospital, telling her that she could have dropped dead. Fortunately, the doctors were able to supply her with medication that allowed her to return to school by October.
Nevertheless, Goto’s hardships persisted. During her hospitalization, she gained 20 kilograms in weight and had acne outbreaks on her face as a side effect of the medication, which made her feel self-conscious about her appearance. She became philosophical about her experience; out of a desire to be treated normally by her friends, she decided to make jokes about her weight. She also understood that because her life would be shorter than average, she should not hesitate about doing what she wanted to do in the time she had left. This led her to be more impulsive about partaking in the small pleasures in life.
Goto found comfort through a surprising source. Her clinic was located in the middle of the red light district, so she eventually became friends with the women who worked at the nearby Soapland (a kind of sexual massage business). After being treated with pity and kindness by so many people around her, Goto found the down-to-earth attitudes of the Soapland women refreshing.
“I’ve always wondered why patients of terminal illnesses can be such good and kind people. I absolutely could not be that way. Whenever I grumbled or complained, people would always comfort me. The more they did that, the more I came to think that I didn’t deserve to be indulged this much,” Goto remarked. “It was around then that I encountered the Soapland ladies, who would always complain about their illnesses with foul language, the same way I did. Some of them had severe conditions, and it was like we were all commiserating together. But for me, it was the first time I felt at ease. Those ladies saved me.”
“They didn’t go by their real names, and they’ve retired long ago, but thank you, Eve-san and Akari-san. I’m doing okay now.”
Image via Axl-One
Source: Bunshun Online (Ryūji Kayama)