Video From Cleary Fundraiser

Below is a link to a video recording of the presentations from my first fundraiser hosted by Cleary Gottlieb.  For details about the evening, you should read Going Public.  For those who don’t have the patience to watch the video, I’ve also pasted below my speech.  More

Going Public

I have chosen to be very public about my disease, first by blogging and now fundraising. And by choosing to be public, by voicing my opinions, by asking for money for research, I have exposed myself to criticism, judgment and anger from people who hate my writing, disagree with what I write, don’t think finding a cure for colorectal cancer is a worthy cause, think that I’m simply seeking notoriety and desperately and pathetically trying to impose meaning on some really bad luck or just simply don’t give two shits about me or what I’m doing.   The criticism is not always voiced but I know it’s there. Indeed, how could it not be? People have independent thought and opinions and it’s inevitable that at least some of those independent thoughts and opinions will clash with mine. While by comparison, the vocal critics are few and the supporters are far greater, it’s always the critics’ words that I remember the most, that disappoint, sting and scar; after all, it is human nature to focus on what is wrong and bad rather than what is right and good. Sometimes, the negativity make me question even the sincerity of all those who proclaim their support.


A Love Story

[This is part 3 and the final segment of the story of my cancer diagnosis, continued from A Nightmare (part 1) and The Hand of God (part 2).]

The drive across Los Angeles from east to west was speedy, the freeways thankfully and bizarrely free of any late afternoon traffic.  Within 25 minutes, I could smell the ocean and was staring up at the crystal clear blue sky (another rarity for Los Angeles).  The EMTs pushed me through the most beautiful hospital I had ever seen, brand spanking new it seemed with wide and glistening hallways that seemed to go on forever, past orderlies, nurses and doctors who smiled kindly at me, everything and everyone bathed in a soft golden light much like the golden light I’d briefly glimpsed outside.  I expected to stop at a desk to satisfy some customary bureaucratic paperwork requirement, but no, the EMTs pushed me right into my own private room with a view of the Santa Monica mountains and overlooking a quiet green courtyard (where my children would often run in the days to come), a flat screen TV, real wood detailing and three nurses clad in dark blue waiting to fuss over me.  I had been taken out of hospital hell and into hospital heaven.  I knew then without a doubt that I would be in good hands, that come what may in the days ahead, this for now was where I belonged, where I was supposed to be. More

The Hand of God

[Now that the kids are back in school and the Cleary fundraiser is over (which was an incredibly special experience for which I do not yet have the words to share with you), I hope to be writing a lot more again. This is the long-anticipated – I’m being facetious – part 2 of the story of my cancer diagnosis, continued from A Nightmare. This post begins with some weighty, philosophical thoughts, but bear with me – you will soon know the next part of the story.  Part 3, the final part of this story which should be closely read with this piece, will be forthcoming soon.]

I follow no institutionalized religion and have no patience for proselytizing, but I do have faith in a higher power – most of the time anyhow. In my elusive moments of faith, when I am alone and still and no one asks me to verbalize or justify that faith, I know with a certainty that I could never explain that the hand of God has touched my life. It was that hand of God that allowed me to live when I should have died at two months of age. It was that hand of God that took me out of the desolation of Communist Vietnam (made even more desolate by the very fact of my congenital blindness) to this greatest country in the world where everything is possible. It was the hand of God that led my mother (who spoke no English and knew no one in this new country) to take me to one of the finest eye institutes in the world where sight would be given to me (more sight than anyone would have expected after four years of blindness and optic nerve damage). It was the hand of God that gave me the innate tenacity, intelligence and drive to overcome the often times demoralizing aspects of seeing the world so imperfectly with my embarrassing large print books and magnifying glasses and constant sense of humiliating dependency and incapacity. It was the hand of God that, despite the utter absence of guidance and expectation both at home and at school and the other crippling effects of poverty and cultural ignorance, led me to make decisions and take action quickly based on intuition alone, resulting in me attending the top ranked liberal arts college in the country (where I paid virtually nothing for that education) and then Harvard Law School, where I lived and studied with people much, much richer, smarter, more articulate and more accomplished than I, but who, despite intimidating me, drove me to be more than I ever dreamed possible.