Friday, April 30, 2010

Wormies and Worries

Last night, my mommy ate a bowl of very expensive wormy plants because my aunties say that they cure cancer. Where's the evidence for these folk remedies and what if they interfere with the chemo drugs? So many friends and family members are calling in saying "I heard ________ cured my sister in law's friend's husband of _________ cancer," and my momma has limited her diet to organic chicken, vegetables, and strange plants and bugs. Not enough nutrition, no no no! Silly mother won't listen to me or the knowledgable doctors but she will listen to the chatty old ladies she walks in the park with. Please pray for good judgment and appropriate nutrition choices.

The appointment with the radiologist went well, I think. Dr. Grounsaville, a very nice man, decided that my mother will not be undergoing radiation for now because she is in such good health at this point. He explained that radiation to her hips and especially her lungs may cause more harm than help because some it can leave scar tissues and further decrease lung function. It makes sense, but I wish we could do more. I really wish I could do more for her. Praise the Lord for keeping momma healthy and for friendly, reassuring doctors.

I know that I should be at peace knowing that mommy's life is in God's hands, but I'm having trouble giving it up to God. Lately, as things have begun to finally settle down, I'm relying less on God and more on myself. The initial fear and desperation is fading and now I'm loosening my grasp on Him. ): It's getting much easier to skip our prayers and bible studies, and my dad no longer prays because I stopped forcing him to join us. So, please pray for us to draw nearer to God and rely fully on Him even though things are more settle. (God, please don't give us anymore bad news to make us scared again.)

My mom's coughing worsened a bit today. I wish there was an explanation for her fluctuating health and I wish we had a personal PET scan machine so we could check on her tumor sizes and location all the time. sigh. Please pray for a PET scan machine for the Tam fam. just kidding. Please pray that He will give us peace that surpasses all understanding so that we don't need to see and know everything to be reassured.

On a brighter note, we are all so, so excited for ricky! His senior prom is tomorrow and he is wearing baby pink(hahahahaha!). But before that, I need to drive my momma to a cancer support group meeting in Chinatown and I'm scared for my life. I really don't like driving in san francisco! so, please pray for my driving!

Thank you for listening! I miss you guys! Go team tam!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Merci Beaucoup!

It's been a wonderful week thus far! Most of the past two days were spent preparing for my two aunts' arrival from Hong Kong. I spent a few hours in Berkeley on Tuesday updating Professors and GSIs on my mom's situation and discussing finals and grades. My professor were extremely understanding and compassionate, and I ended up talking to my anatomy professor for about an hour. I've been looking for someone older to comfort and guide me and Professor Kaufer did just that, sharing her experiences of being a caretaker and even suggesting some books to read. God, thank you for sending Prof. Kaufer.

My aunties arrived yesterday night, which brought so much joy and comfort to my family, especially my mom. Mommy Tam is so much happier with her sisters cooking(cooking skills!) and caring for her, and now we've added two more people to our nightly prayer group. Our new living arrangements, with my bro and dad downstairs and us four women upstairs is the best because I get to sleep in a new queen sized bed with my momma.

Momma Tam has coughed less these last couple of days. Thank you, God! Tomorrow afternoon, we have an appointment with the radiologist. I hope we will can agree on an aggressive, effective treatment plan.

Hmm. We are all exhausted from a full day of napping and grocery shopping, so we go sleep now. night night! Please continue praying for physical and spiritual healing! Thanks a bunches!

Saturday, April 24, 2010


Hello all! The past few days have been quite busy.. I don't even know where to start. I barted over to Berkeley on Wednesday to do a presentation and speak to professors but ended up skipping all but one of my class. Instead, I spoke to a counselor at the Tang Center(should've gone to class) and prayed with the most amazing community ever.

We had another appointment with Dr. Knopf Thursday. Alimta will be replaced with taxotere as the first line, a bone strengthening drug will be added for mommy's bone mets, and there are some other options if our first line is ineffective. I'm a little discouraged by the probability of effectiveness for our first line- 33% chance of shrinking tumors and 77% of keeping them stable- but relieved that there are other drugs available, including a clinical trial called IGF-1. One problem I have is that after the doctor explains something to me, I immediately research that treatment and find information that makes me question the doctor's decision. I need to learn to trust the doctor, but I want to make sure that my mom receives the best treatment possible.

Mama Tam's coughing is getting worse and there's not much we can do to relieve her pain. It's really easy for us to lose hope when we hear unfavorable statistics and when we see my mommy's health deteriorating. With each doctor's visit, I feel myself falling further into sadness and hopelessness, which is why I NEED to be in Berkeley. I NEED to be reminded of God's perfect love, I NEED to be pumped full of hope and encouragement. I NEED you guys so much. YOU(and Jesus) are good for my soul.

Team Tam, I am continually inspired by your faith!

Prayers for this week?
-There are other families going through similar situations, so please pray for them.
-Mommy found some new friends at church. Pray that she will find good community, as wonderful as mine!
-Physical health- mommy's cough is more severe and her breathing more labored. The chemo doesn't seem to be working...
-Plans for next year- I don't know if I should stay in school.
-Peace and Hope- I'm so tired and bitter sometimes, terrible things to be when you're a caregiver.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Mommy Tam is funnay

Yesterday, the fam escaped to Half Moon Bay for the afternoon. During our hour long walk along the coast, I realized where I got my ditziness from. We passed by a baby sitting in her stroller with her legs sticking straight out in front of her and I told my mom I thought that was cute. Silly mommy responded very matter-of-factly, "that's because babies aren't born with knees. Their knees develop when they fall." Ten minutes later, I asked how dirty seagulls keep their feathers so clean and she said, "it's because the water is not actually dirty, it's really clean." Just wanted to share that with you guys. (:

On a more serious note, my mom and I cried together for the first time last night. The four of us have learned to put on our happy masks when we're in front of each other, and it was the first time that we were completely honest with one another. We really need more of these moments.

Some prayer requests...
- please pray that we will continue to have silly conversations as well as serious, honest conversations.
- please pray for God to take away all of my mommy's guilt, worries, and sadness.
- my mommy's cough gets progressively worse each day so please continue to pray for physical healing and comfort.
- we're all getting really bored of my cooking so please pray for better cooking skills. (:
- we're also starting nightly devotionals so please pray that God will speak through Ricky and I as we lead the Bible studies.

Lastly, I feel really selfish asking you to pray for us all the time. I'd love to know how you guys are doing and how we can pray for you as a family. Please leave us prayer requests!

Thank you Team Tam!!

Sunday, April 18, 2010


Becky came up with the brilliant idea to post health updates on this blog. For those of you who don't know about my mommy, she was diagnosed with stage four lung cancer in the middle of March. In the span of two weeks, she has had one CT scan, 2 broncoscopies, 2 biopsies, and 1 PET scan and each report gave us a different diagnosis, from pancreatic cancer to respiratory infection. Last tuesday, we received the "final" diagnosis, stage four squamous cell carcinoma lung cancer. On the phone, the doctor gave me a heartbreaking prognosis and my mom's life expectancy was shortened from years to months. I have not told my parents the whole truth yet, not until we see how she responds to chemotherapy.

Mommy had her first chemo session on Monday. Unfortunately, this was pre-"final" diagnosis so the regimen prescribed for my mom is only half effective. Carbo works, but alimta does not(I've done A LOT of research). She is doing amazingly well for someone who has had toxic substances pumped through her veins.

We are so physically and emotionally exhausted though, and it's been a difficult month, to say the least.

Anyhoo, this blog was created because:
1) i want to keep you guys updated on my mom's health and it would take forever to tell everyone
2) people have been asking for specific ways to pray for us
3) i want to share the ways that God has been working in my family
4) it's another way to stay connected to my amazing community
There are more reasons that I cannot think of right now.

Prayer requests for this week:
- Physical healing- please pray that chemo drugs effectively shrink tumor masses and keep the cancer from spreading.
- Spiritual healing- mommy tam is beginning to seek God, so please pray that He will hold her close and speak clearly to her.
- Peace- please pray that God will give us peace and comfort in these dark times.
- Strength- please pray that we will draw from God's love and strength.

Thank you so much for your prayers and encouragement! We are amazed and uplifted by your kindness and your love!