[Day 0] Cancer

As an engineer, I like to start counting from 0. But today is day zero for my fight with lung cancer.

On September 9th, my best friend sent me to Emergency Room in VINMEC Hanoi as my back pain does not go away after more than 18 hours. They took an XRAY to find out what wrong with my shoulder bones, and found 1/3 of my left lung filled with fluid. I was still making fun of the doctors when they tried to tell me how dangerous it would be for me to get on the plane to fly back to Saigon.

After flying back to Saigon the next day, I got more testing done in Medicine University Hospital and Cho Ray Hospital. The pains got worse and worse. The doctors and nurses in Vietnam were helpful yet not very considerate. On Sep 26th, my cousin — who is a brain surgeon at Cho Ray Hospital — called me in an afternoon.

“Hey, I don’t know if you’re emotionally ready for this. But we confirmed that you have LUNG CANCER”

It’s not the first time I was suspected with some health issues. But, CANCER, really? Out of everyone, ME?!

I have a client meeting in about 1 hour after that. I tried to get more info, my my cousin said he is still waiting for more test results. I prepared the materials for my meeting, met my client, and had dinner with my team member.

- Are you worried?
- For what?
- Cancer? Does that scare you at all?
- I had my first surgery when I was 21. From that day on, I promised myself to live everyday like my last. So, short answer: NO!

I packed up my stuffs, my works, cancelled my fundraising. On Oct 5th, I met with my friend on the rooftop of Sheraton hotel for lunch, and took off to LAX few hours after that.

I’ve met with a doctor at USC Norris Cancer Center the next day and got diagnosed at Stage 4 — last stage. This time is shocking! I clearly didn’t prepare for this!

We quickly moved into genetic blood test, PET/CT scan. My EGFR mutation result from Vietnam come back faster than the blood test in US itself. Within a very short period of time, I self-taught myself all the knowledge about lung and lung cancer.

So, here it is, first day of the fight!

Rosemead, Oct 14th, 2016

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