The entire swimming community was rocked by Japanese star Rikako Ikee‘s announcement last February that she is battling leukemia, a diagnosis she revealed just months after winning the first-ever female MVP award at the 2018 Asian Games.
Since her announcement, Ikee offered a few social media posts displaying her incredible spirit through this ordeal, while the teen also vows to keep an eye on Tokyo 2020. Ikee also entered Nihon University’s College of Sports Sciences this past April, adding school to her demanding treatment schedule.
Now the 18-year-old has launched an official website, with the site serving as a vehicle for the fly and free sprint specialist to communicate updates publicly, while also engaging with fans. In a handwritten letter posted on the site, Ikee states she is “very appreciative of all the encouraging messages and letters I have received.”
“Honestly speaking, I sometimes become discouraged. However, I feel a surge of gratitude as a result of all the encouraging words I have received, and I promise myself I will not be defeated and will endure until I am able to overcome my illness.”
She says her “medical treatment is proceeding smoothly” and that, she is still able to “enjoy things that I was not able to do when I was swimming, such as enjoying coloring books and puzzles, and watching movies.”
Ikee also says, “I would like to believe that I now understand, although maybe not fully, how athletes and those with the same illness or condition as myself feel,” Ikee wrote. “I will always keep in mind that I am not alone, and I would like you to do the same. We will persevere together.”
You can visit Ikee’s official website and offer notes of encouragement here.