Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Run/Walk in Honor of Mama Tam

This Sunday at 4pm, I will be participating in a 5k(3.1 miles) run/walk to benefit Bonnie J. Addario Lung Cancer foundation, an organization dedicated to raising much-needed funds and awareness for lung cancer. I will be running in loving memory of my mommy, and I would like to invite you all to join me. If you are unable to make it but would like to donate to the cause, you can make a donation to Team Tam at:

Date: Sunday, September 18th
Location: Golden Gate Park
Time: Registration at 2pm, race starts at 4pm
Cost: $25
Registration Website:
Team to join: Team Tam
Deadline: as soon as possible!

Please let me know if you have any questions or are planning to join the team. My e-mail is and my number is 415-713-5372.

Thanks for your support! I hope to see you out there!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Sunday, August 21, 2011

The saddest and happiest day

Mommy passed away early this morning.

I woke up at 1am last night to give mommy her pain meds. Then, at 3:30am, I was awoken by the sound of mommy's labored breathing and phlegmy noises. We gave her everything on the list of medicines, but nothing seemed very effective, so at 5:30am, I gave her one last dose of morphine, hoping that her breathing would steady by the time I was scheduled to give her next dose of meds at 7:30am. I gave her a kiss, said "even if you can't hear me, I am going to say I love you", and fell asleep on my own bed right next to hers. My alarm sounded at 7:25am, and I looked over at mommy's neck to see if her muscles were still straining to take in oxygen, but she was completely, peacefully still.

Every moment following that last moment has merged into a blur of calls, signatures, condolences, disbelief, and numb heartbreak. There's joy and hope, because we know that mommy will soon be dancing on the golden streets of heaven, free from pain, suffering, and sadness, but more than anything, we are so, so incredibly, indescribably sad. For 22 years, my mommy lit up my world with hugs, kisses, laughter, and the warmest love, and now that my bright light has gone, everything feels so dark and hopeless.

I will get to see her again in heaven, but for now,
I miss her so much.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Mommy is ready to go to heaven

The nurse says mommy will probably only suffer for 24-48 more hours. Even with the sedating pain meds, now a combination of three different types, mommy wakes up every few hours in pain, begging us to let her go. But soon she will be free from suffering, and she will get to see Jesus. It's probably taking this long because they're up there putting extra time into preparing a special place for her in Heaven. It'll be wonderful, awesome, glorious, and I'm so, so excited for my baby.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Two weeks and one day ago, mommy was discharged from UCSF for the last time. Though we were initially instructed by our oncologist to go to the ER for CTs and MRIs to locate new cancer spots, the team of doctors at UCSF decided that there would be no use. They did not want to subject her to more tests knowing that no amount of radiation or chemo would halt the progression of the disease. Mommy was sent home with a prognosis of "weeks to months." We began in-home hospice immediately, which means that our house is full of hospital equiptment, hospice nurses come in almost everyday to check on her, and mommy is taking a large amount of sleep-inducing pain meds.

In the past two weeks and one day, our family has experienced so many emotions. My dad is already mourning, we feel hopeless, lost, and fearful of the impending loss of our mommy. But we've also experienced much joy, because my mommy is such a joy to be around. She seems to be at peace with the situation, and with all of her church friends visiting, the house and its inhabitants have been very busy and cheerful. Mommy is very carefree and child-like, and everyone is taking care of her now.

This past Thursday night was very special because our mommy tam was baptized. In front of friends and family, she declared her love for Jesus and her desire to be apart of God's family.

It was the most wonderful, most joyous celebration.

Unfortunately, her health has worsened in the past couple of days. The cancer moves fast and is taking more from her everyday. Two nights ago, she coughed up blood clots as big as her fist, and yesterday, we noticed that she has lost a lot of her neurological function and mental acuity. Now, she is constantly in a confused state, has trouble holding her head up, cannot make decisions, and is often agitated at us for not being able to help her out of her confusion and tiredness. This is the most difficult change, because we've lost such a significant part of her. She's always been the sharpest, most decisive person in the family with the best memory, but now she can barely remember the date or what she did an hour ago. Her eyes tell me that she's trapped in a body she has no control over, and she really wants to break free and be her old self again. We want to help her, but there's nothing we can do.

I'm afraid of the next minute, hour, day, because I don't want to see the lung cancer take more of her from us. Our family is now facing the most difficult part of this whole disease process. Please pray for our mommy and for the rest of our family.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Appointment with Dr. Jahan Tomorrow

Mommy's condition has worsened still in just one week. She has very little control over her legs, and is unable to walk any distance at a normal pace. This is possibly due to the cancer invading nerves in her spine. Along with her immobility, she is also experiencing pain in her left arm and can barely move it. I think she has developed tolerance to the pain medicine, since the current dosage offers very little relief and becomes ineffective in just a couple of hours.

We have a follow-up appointment with Dr. Jahan tomorrow at 3:30pm, so we ask you to please pray extra hard for us tonight. During our last meeting, Dr. Jahan told us that he would decide whether or not we could try another treatment, but based on her worsened condition, I doubt that he will allow us to continue with chemo. We will be getting another CT scan to see if the cancer has progressed, but I don't know if it's even necessary to take a scan since she has gotten so noticeably sicker. Our hope is that with this new scan, they will be able to find and radiate the cancer spots that are causing her the most pain and discomfort, so please pray that the radiation oncologists will effectively treat her mets(cancer that has spread to other parts of her body). Please also pray that Dr. Jahan will be able to find new, effective therapies to fight mommy's cancer, or at the very least reduce her pain and give her back her energy and ability to move.

We will also discuss pain management methods with him tomorrow. For now, it would be helpful to get a walker or wheelchair so that I can take mommy outdoor. She hasn't been outside in five days, and I think she would benefit from breathing some fresh air and being in a different environment. We are also considering setting up at-home-care, so that mommy will have access to trained nurses and hospital equipment at anytime during the day. Please pray that we will be able to find a way to reduce her pain and keep her comfortable. What I really want is a cure for the cancer, but for now it seems that we can only give her palliative care.

I started a part-time job last week, so mommy does not have her secretary, cook, masseuse, house cleaner, jester, punching bag, hug and kiss dispenser, nurse, and annoying pest of a daughter one or two days a week. I worry when I am not with her, but the day or two away gives me purpose and escape, and thankfully, her church friends have graciously offered to check-in on her and even make dinner for us on those days. We are so, so thankful for the loving community He has blessed us with. Please pray that I will be able to trust God to take care of my precious darling, and please pray that I will be able to discern my mother's needs and find a way to balance and take care of the different parts of my life.

Lastly, please pray for transparency(IV term), comfort, and peace in our family. Ask God to give us ten thousand memorable moments of laughter, love, and joy, and please ask Him to hold us Tams in the biggest, warmest, tightest neverending hug. Thank you!

P.S. I am not going to spell or grammar check this, so please don't judge me.
P.P.S. Here is my favorite picture of her

Monday, July 18, 2011

It's getting increasingly difficult to update this blog

It's hard for me to explain everything, because that requires me to face our current situation and then share it, but we desperately need love, support, prayer, so here we go... Mommy's cancer is growing in different areas and causing her a lot of pain and fatigue. She spends the majority of her day sleeping and the rest of it grumpy from pain, yelling at me for doing things wrong, but we still have good moments. I am the mommy now, and I do everything for her including cooking, cleaning, towelling and dressing her. My favorite moment of the day is when I tuck her into bed, give her a kiss on the forehead, and tell her that I love her so, so much.

In terms of treatment, the doctor decided last month to stop treatment and re-evaluate on the 28th of this month whether we should stop altogether. It all depends on how much energy and strength she has, but by the looks of it, she won't be continuing. For now, I am harassing her radiation doctor via e-mail and phone messages to start treatment on other trouble spots like her supraclavicular lymph nodes, clavicle, and hips, but I am having trouble reaching him. We would really like to reduce her pain so that she will be able to travel and have a bit of fun. Hawaii and Hong Kong are at the top of Mommy's travel list.

My dad is difficult. He's constantly trying to explain every symptom and pain, always rationalizing everything. Family members are frequently calling with advice on nutrition, treatment options, etc.. I don't know how to tell them that there isn't much more we can do. It has been difficult to hold on to hope, i'd like to continue hoping, but the practical, realistic side of me feels like we need to accept what's coming soon. Dr. Jahan says she may be here for only a few more months. It(I can't even type it out) is inevitable and it is coming soon.

Thank you for remembering us and showering us with love, support, prayer, baked goods, flowers, and your company. Please keep praying for us, keep asking for a miracle, especially now when we are all losing hope.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Five Days

Five days ago, I learned that:
- The most painful thing to witness is your favorite person in the world doubled over in pain, whimpering and crying weakly.
- It is easy to ignore your own hunger and fatigue when your mommy is lying in a hospital bed hooked up to a respirator, heart rate monitor, and infusion pump.
- No matter how much time you spend researching medical procedures and learning the jargon, most everything the ER doctors tell you will be confusing and overwhelming.
- Mommy's cancer has spread to three regions of her spine and would have advanced to her spinal cord and paralyzed her if we waited any longer.
- Even if you are exhausted beyond belief, when your sick mommy calls, you'll jump up immediately to sooth her.

Four days ago, I learned that:
- Pain medicine works wonders but only for a few fleeting hours.
- Mommy is so fragile and so small. Her hair smells and feels just like a baby's.
- It's easy to care for someone as sweet and adorable as my little mommy.
- Mommy loves made-up, whimsical stories about me fishing out puppies and fire-breathing baby dinosaurs from a sparkling river and barbeque dinners courtesy of said dinosaur.
- Mommy's vision of heaven is of an immense, blue lake with colorful row boats, towering trees and vibrant green grass.
- Mommy and I have the most amazing and supportive friends who offer prayer, encouragement, and edible and non-edible gifts!

Three days ago, I learned that:
- The pain will be especially debilitating some days, even with the powerful pain meds.
- Mommy would be receiving radiation therapy on her spinal cord, specifically T9(the ninth thoracic vertebra).
- Good-looking male doctors are good-looking, smart, and aplenty in the UCSF hospital.
- Nurses are angels in disguise. Being in the hospital strengthened my desire to pursue a career in nursing.

Two days ago, I learned that;
- Doctors may want to completely stop chemo treatments. We would be transitioning into the pain control, quality of life stage.
- It's hard to tell your mommy that there's a possibility that nothing else can be done treament-wise. All I wanted to do was lie to protect her.
- Mommy's oxygen levels are low enough that she needs to keep a respirator by her bedside at home to help her breathe while she sleeps.
- Heaven is beyond beautiful. The patient we shared the room with died during surgery and described heaven as "more beautiful than you can ever imagine, with colors more vibrant and lively than we've ever seen. And the flowers, oh the flowers! They were each so uniquely and intricately painted." She was sad when they brought her back to life, and told my mom that she was jealous of her.
- Mommy can make everyone smile, even the grumpy nurses.

Yesterday, I learned that:
- I'm so sick of hospitals.
- Mommy is so sick of hospitals.
- Mommy would also need to receive radiation for two other parts of her spine, T2-4 (second to fourth thoracic vertebrae) and the sacral and lumbar regions.
- Mommy can wiggle her left ear.
- Even when she's in extreme pain, we can slowly dance our way to happiness and comfort.

Today, I learned that:
- There really are no more treatment options. Doctors can only make her days on earth more comfortable.
- Mommy is not scared of death. She's excited to go to Heaven.
- I'm scared of losing my precious mommy. I want her with me forever.
- It's hard for me to believe this sometimes, but God is still good.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

It's Father's Day, but I'm thinking about my mommy

Mommy is asleep in her massage chair as usual. These two napping hours are the most peaceful of the night. She's been in extreme pain all day, coughing, wheezing, and aching in so many spots on her body that I can't even keep track anymore. This post-dinner nap serves as a tiny break before another agonizing bout. This is the window of time where I can be quiet and pretend that everything is normal. Or not. Tonight, I went on and read stories about cancer survivors who have won their battle and have gone on to run many more miles and achieve more personal records. I'd like to say that I found inspiration in these stories and gave thanks to God for giving those cancer patients new life, but this is not true. I am bitter because my mommy, love of my life, will never be fully cured. I am bitter because the cancer continues to take over more and more of her body. I am so bitter and heartbroken.

But I can't cry or scream like I want to, because I don't want to wake her. Once she's up, she'll have to endure the pain again, and my heart will hurt more.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

We're ready for that miracle, God.

Mommy was scheduled to start the oral chemo, Tarceva, on the 27th, but we are still waiting to receive the drug. The delay is mainly due to our stupid insurance company taking over a week to approve the drug and then charging $3700 dollars each month for the prescription. These past few weeks, I've been in contact with various copayment assistance organizations and drug companies, and we were finally approved today to receive free Tarceva from Genentech. In the three weeks, mommy's cough has worsened and she has also developed back pain(a 9 out of 10 on the pain scale), either due to the pressure from coughing constantly or from the cancer occupying more area in her lungs. She's also complained of heavyness in her chest. When she coughs now, she bends over in pain with her left hand pressed to her back. I feel so useless seeing her this way, unable to soothe her or to make the pain go away. Two days before my graduation, I am worrying about what to do if my mom needs to go the ER during my ceremony. And what about chapter camp? How can I allow myself to be three hours away from her without phone reception for 6 days?

God, seriously, if you have a miracle planned for mommy, now is the time to reveal it to us.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Date juice

Mommy just walked into my room holding a thermos of hung jo soiy (date juice/water/soup?)which is supposed to fix my poor circulation. My heart nearly exploded with love at the sight of her in her polar bear pajamas with an oversized red hat on her fuzzy, round head. Sometimes I wonder if it's possible to faint or go into cardiac arrest from too much joy. When she smiles at me with her scrunched up, dimpled face, every molecule in my body feels so saturated with overwhelming love, joy, and goodness that I just want to scream or explode! This must be how it feels like to find true love! I am so, so in love with my mommy!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Thursday, April 28, 2011

the waiting room is so sterile, so cold
while you nap, i flip through a magazine
hoping to distract myself
from this difficult life
from the devastating news we would be receiving
from your suppressed coughs
suddenly you look up
you place your freckled hands on mine
and say, with utmost confidence
"i'm actually not afraid,
i give it all up to God."

your faith is staggering

and now, as i sit at my kitchen table
trying to make sense of all the bad news we received
"cancer has grown"
"less than 10% chance of working"
"maybe less than 6 months"
i replay that declaration of faith in my head
and my heart aches just a little less

mommy, i want to be just like you.

-Please start praying for tarceva, our last resort. It's known to work miraculously in young, Asian, non-smoking women with adenocarcinoma lung cancer. Mommy fits 4 out of the 5 characteristics, but Dr. Jahan says that not meeting that last requirement (she has squamous cell carcinoma) lowers her chance of responding to this drug to 10 percent. Tarceva is a targeted-cell therapy, which means that it searches for cells with a specific genetic mutation called EGFR. Mommy is negative for this mutation, but there's still a slight possibility that she will respond. This is our last option. We are desperate. Please pray for a miracle. Please ask God to prepare the drug and my mom's body so that there will be a positive response, so that there will be healing. Please ask Him for a miracle. Thank you, thank you, thank you! We really are amazed and blessed by all your love, your support, your prayers! You all are wonderful, the best commmunity we could ask for! Please share your prayer requests with us too so we can pray for you!


Saturday, April 23, 2011

A bag of tissues

I woke up this morning in a cheerful mood because for the first time this week, I got a full night's rest. My mom already left the house for a full day of fun in Japantown with her support group buddies, so I allowed myself to imagine that if she were still at home, she would tell me that had gotten a full night of uninterrupted sleep and that her cough was not bothering her so much today. I spent the rest of the morning in a good mood, pretending that things would be better soon, but for some reason, in the middle of watching "Easy A," I decided to walk into her room. My mom always keeps a plastic bag at her bedside to hold the used tissues that she coughs her phlegm into. This was the first thing I set my eyes on, and seeing the bag full knocked me back to reality. I estimated that there were about 100 crumpled tissues in there, which means that she probably woke up 5 or 6 times throughout the night and spent half of her 8 hours in bed laboriously coughing up liquid buildup in her chest. Alone. No one to hold her hand, no one to comfort her. She wouldn't let me sleep beside her because she didn't want to disturb my rest. Now, my heart hurts because I remember that every additional tissue in the bag means that cancer cells have taken over and destroyed another centimeter of my mom's lungs. My heart hurts because there's nothing I can do to help her.

I hope mommy is having a good time in Japantown. I hope she will come home with a bright smile and good news that she did not cough so much today.

Please pray for our appointment with Dr. Jahan this Wednesday. We will be getting out CT scan results and discussing the next treatment option.

Sunday, April 17, 2011


Please pray for us! This is probably mommy's 7th or 8th CT scan. All this radiation is extremely dangerous for her body, so please pray that it will just pass through her body and not cause any more harm. Mommy is coughing so, so much right now, she was coughing up mouthfuls of blood the other day, and her left lung has been hurting. Honestly, we already expect that the CT scan results will show more cancer growth and spread. Please pray for hope and miracles. We're desperate for a miracle right now. Please, please, please.

Also, please pray that God will give mommy more time, at least until my graduation and our trip to Hong Kong. Please, please give her strength to attend my graduation and travel back to her real home.

Oh, and please ask God to give mommy a full night of sleep. She hasn't had a full night of uninterrupted rest in a long, long time.

Miracles, please.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Thank you, mommy!

Thank you for loving me every second of my 22 years of life! When I turned 21 last year, I remember asking Jeffrey Poon, "What if this is the last time I get to celebrate my birthday with her?" I am thankful for another year with my sweet mommy. My tummy is full and my heart is warm.

Here is a picture of my cutie holding the presents I got her for my birthday. Those are elephant watering cans. She told me to make the elephants "sek sek."

Also pictured is my fishy scarf from Becky. (:

I almost forgot! We have another chemo session tomorrow at 8:30am. Please pray for a miracle!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Mommy and I saw a Thoracic oncologist, Dr. Jahan, at UCSF today. We were hoping that we could switch over to UCSF, as it is one of the highest ranking Cancer centers in America and since Dr. Jahan is extremely experienced in the field. Instead of making the switch immediately, Dr. Jahan recommended that we continue with our current plan of three cycles of Camptosar followed by a CT scan. At the end of April we will see him for a follow up and he will decide our next steps. I guess I thought that seeing him would change everything, that he would have some secret, surefire plan of attack that will extend my mom's life for years, but even he himself said that there is nothing more to do than to try different treatments and hope for response. So far, Camptosar seems to be completely ineffective. Mommy is coughing more and more each day, and her supraclavicular lymph node is swollen with cancer cells. I feel so completely helpless and useless because I can do nothing to make her feel better or heal her. In my mind, I had a plan. My mom was supposed to respond well and continue to improve with the first drug for one or two years, then we would start the second drug and she would continue to improve, and by the time the third drug stopped working, there would be new therapies, and she would continue thriving for decades. She would be at my wedding, watch her grandchildren grow up, and decades later, she would die from old age. We would tell everyone about God's healing powers and how she lived for decades even though her prognosis was 6 months to 1 year. Everytime we get a CT scan back, her life is shortened and shortened, and I lose more and more hope. My mom is so good, so loving, and I want her here with me forever. I've done everything I could to fight for her. I've prayed desperately every moment of every day and I've asked for prayer from everyone hoping that God will hear my plea. Right now, my mom is coughing non-stop, and the cancer is taking away her breath and her time here on earth. Where is God? Where are his miracles?

Sunday, February 27, 2011

new treatment

hi everyone, this is jen updating for glenda.
she has asked that you all keep praying urgently for God's healing, and to keep hope for her family.

her mom's last CT scan didn't have very favorable results. there is also a lump on her collarbone, and we're not sure what the cause is. we're praying that the cancer hasn't spread up there.

glenda's mom is starting a new chemo drug called camptosar on tuesday. please pray that this new treatment will be extremely effective! also pray that the doctors will have new insight/wisdom, and will be able to give her the best care that she can get.

please keep remembering glenda, her mom, and the rest of her family in your prayers. pray that God will answer and keep holding onto them, that they won't lose hope!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Need prayer

Tomorrow we go in at 1015am for another appointment. We will be getting the results from the last scan.
Please pray that the cancer would not have grown or spread, but that mommy would be better. Please pray for strength,hope and more faith for me and my whole family. Pray also that my family will stand together and go through this as a team, not as individuals.
Pray for a miracle too. Just pray please.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Another CT scan

Mommy has a CT scan scheduled for tuesday morning. This is the most daunting scan so far because mommy has only gotten worse since the last scan. Please pray with all your heart that the cancer has not grown or spread, and please pray that God will be present in our lives especially in these difficult times. We are all exhausted and fearful of the future, so we ask that you please keep us in your thoughts and prayers.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Chile and Ensalada

Herrow! It's time for another update!

We had our second round of Taxotere yesterday, and mommy doesn't seem to be experiencing any extreme symptoms so far. Please pray that she will be completely side effect free! Unfortunately, the new chemo doesn't seem to be working, as mommy continues to cough almost continuously throughout the day. So please pray that the chemo will improve mommy's condition drastically.

She's lost almost all her hair, so we are in search of soft hats and scarves to cover her head. If you happen to know where we can find such hats, please pass on the info. We are driving to the Stanford Cancer center tomorrow afternoon to pick a wig for her, so please pray that we will have a good time and that we will find the perfect hairpiece for her! We also attended a lung cancer support group at the same center last Wednesday, and we met many non-smoking lung cancer patients. Please pray that she will find a way to communicate with the other patients even though she doesn't speak fluent english and that it will be an uplifting and supportive place for her.

We have already switched doctors once, but we are considering switching to UCSF's lung specialist Dr Jahan. We will need to send in her medical records and wait for him to review her case before we can began the switching process. Please pray that God will lead us to the right decision and that we can be at peace with the outcome.

Lastly, please pray for me. I am very sick, so on top of not being able to take care of mommy, I am exposing her to extra germs in her most critical period.

Thank you! And if you are wondering about the title, ask Katie Low about it!