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In Family Story

By Jenn

One Year Cancer-Free!

On 10, Jun 2013 | One Comment | In Family Story | By Jenn

Last year on June 7th, 2012 my mother Gayook went in for surgery to have 5″ malignant tumor that was sitting on her stomach removed. The technical term is GIST (Gastrointestinal Stromal Tumor).  I am relieved and happy to report she is one year cancer free today, gaining weight and getting stronger!

In 2010 Mom upped and moved to Bali for 6 months where she lived in a small farming village. After visiting her cousin in Singapore she decided to move there.  I was fortunate enough to visit her September 2010 for a few weeks. Man it was hot! It took me 2 weeks to get acclimated but I would totally go back for the food! Anyway, I remember she was looking very thin and she figured it was because she had just gotten over a stomach virus a couple weeks before.

We talked about her plans for the holidays. She was coming back early December and staying for about a month through the New Year and then returning to Singapore. The day before she was supposed to get on a plane home she emailed us that she was in the emergency room with a painful lump on her stomach. The hospital wanted to keep her for observations and tests but she said that all she wanted were pain killers because she had a 20+ hour flight back to America the next day.

She got home on Saturday, December 4th and we had an appointment at Kaiser for that Monday. She was admitted for tests and I stayed with her for about 16 hours until she was admitted to a room for the night. She stayed for 3 days until we got the diagnosis.  She was put on a medication that shrunk the 7″ tumor down to 5″ to remove it 7 months later. It was a very surreal and emotional holiday season.

During all this I had just begun to research Gong gong’s (Liu Jipiao’s) work. Since my schedule was more flexible than my brother’s I took the time off to take care of her during the day. This gave me more time to research. I kept Mom updated on all the new discoveries. She was able to share with me her memories of her childhood. She was also well enough to take part in all the meetings we held with curators, librarians and other experts in the field.  I have to admit that the research gave me something else to focus on other than her illness.  And while I struggled with issues of mortality and the possible loss of my mother, I was also motivated to find out as much as I could for her and from her in whatever time we might have left.

Thankfully the surgery went well, Mom is recovering and our research continues full steam ahead! She was healthy enough to travel to Paris with us this past February and witness the presentation of Liu Jipiao’s work in a country that had shaped his life so long ago. You can read about her thoughts and reactions in earlier blogs. And by the time you read this, she will be enjoying a cruise to Alaska with some of our new found friends!

I am ever grateful for all that has been given to us as a family (even the cancer has brought us closer together.)  I feel that this research work being done is my way of giving back to my Mom and my ancestors by somehow carrying on their legacy.




Jenn Wong


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