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Ando has always been up for a challenge. Recently he is tackling some of his biggest obstacles yet. He’s had several major surgeries for cancer. But he’s not letting this slow him down.
We accompanied the architect on a recent trip to northern Japan. He made the journey to view a tunnel he designed for a Buddha statue. “This will last 100 or 200 years!” he said proudly. It was his first trip to the site since he underwent a major operation last summer. Ando was diagnosed with cancer, and first had his gallbladder and duodenum removed. Then, more cancer turned up, and his pancreas and spleen were taken out. He still goes for regular checkups, and takes medication.
He draws inspiration from his fight against illness. “I asked my doctor if anyone has ever maintained his strength after losing his pancreas and spleen,” he says. “The doctor said, patients have stayed alive, but no one’s kept the same strength he had before. So he told me to become a model of recovery.”
We asked him how he felt, when deciding to have the surgery, about knowing he may not recover. He said, “People live as long as they’re meant to. So, we might as well make every effort we can, until we die.”
One of Ando’s pet projects is on the island of Naoshima in Japan’s inland sea. He has been working on it for almost 30 years. He designed a museum there. Recently, he is focused on preserving the island’s heritage. […]