Memories of My Lung Cancer Friends

I’ve shared my memorial of my passed lung cancer friends, Gina and Linnea in Part 1, who left us much too early. Now, I’ll tell you about Trish.

The memory of my friend, Trish

Trish is of Chinese descent but was born in America. We would "talk" on Facebook, but the first time I noticed her was in a Zoom meeting as soon as she started talking. She stuttered and forgot her words, worse than patients with chemo brain. Right away, I realized that we shared the same problem.

More alike than different

Due to lung cancer metastasizing to the brain, specifically at the brain's language center, we have a distinguished language disorder. We have difficulties starting a word, phrase, or sentence, and we're constantly losing our trains of thought when speaking.

After the meeting, I talked to her about the problems with lung cancer that we shared. From there, we became instant friends and would talk about almost anything.

She had a gift for amplifying voices

Not long after we got to know each other, Trish took part in lobbying the White House about lung cancer, organized by GO2 Lung Cancer Foundation. She talked about her diagnosis and treatment journey at the event. After the event, Trish spoke to me, upset that she didn't speak well because she was stuttering and losing words.

Trish felt she had so many stories to tell but couldn't speak out. I reassured her that this was what lung cancer was doing to us. The people who listened would realize and understand it. At the time, I felt Trish's bravery when she put herself out there, despite her difficulties with speaking.

The time I really heard her voice

She had just finished medical school and found out she had stage 4 lung cancer. Trish was an MD - an OBGyn - and I figured she knew the seriousness of having a second cancer.

One day, she seemed especially upset that she had a second "woman" cancer, that is, a cancer that could affect her fertility. I didn't think twice - and suggested she remove the fertility part. In my culture, the Chinese culture, saving your life is more urgent, and other issues are secondary. However, Trish was very against that and almost shouted at me.

That was the first time I realized that different cultures had different ways of thinking about things like motherhood and sexuality. I was also surprised that she had these views when I learned that Trish was an American girl, not Chinese.

She was so dedicated

Later, I got into 平甩功 - Ping Shuai Gong, or PSG - a Chinese soft martial art for exercise. Trish also practiced PSG, but she believed in it almost to craziness. She even contacted the master, famous for practicing the martial art in Taiwan, China, to get more information. She told me to practice for several hours daily, believing mastering it could cure cancer. I was amazed that even western doctors, like Trish, believed 平甩功 (PSG) could cure cancer. However, I think that the desire to survive pushes us to do anything.

I wasn't used to being so open to people, but I loved Trish's honesty and outgoing nature. That was the thing I enjoyed most about her.

An afterthought

I don't feel much survivor guilt, but it took me several days to memorialize my friends who have passed away and recover. I've made a promise to my departed lung cancer friends that I will keep advocating for them when they can't do it themselves. I would like to think that they are in a peaceful and sacred place. Sooner or later, we will meet there.

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