Dien's Cancer Story

Thank you for coming here. We are grateful that many of you have asked how to support Dien Tran and his family during this incredibly challenging time. 

In early October 2020, Dien went to the doctor due to fatigue and trouble breathing. He hoped to be told his symptoms would go away with a week or so with prescription medication. Instead, he was admitted to the emergency room due to fatigue, significant shortness of breath, and respiratory issues. The doctors found that he had pneumonia and drained 1.4 liters of fluid from his lungs. Unfortunately, it wasn’t just pneumonia. Dien initially thought he’d only be in a hospital a few hours, but was ordered to stay for eleven days while doctors conducted multiple tests, scans, and a lung biopsy. A pulmonary specialist diagnosed Dien with multiple lung diseases: Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), Emphysema, and Stage 4 Lung Cancer. 

Dien’s October CT chest angiogram showed a mass in his right upper lung and a 12cm mass in his left lower lung as well as a 3cm mass in his right adrenal glad. His illness is both an obstructive and restrictive lung disease—air can go in but has a harder time leaving the lungs, causing them to hyperinflate.  The obstruction/restriction of his lungs is caused by COPD/Emphysema and the lung cancer masses that bind to the lung walls, limiting their expansion. The lung cancer masses also cause an impaired gas transfer index; Dien is not able to get rid of all of his gas waste (CO2) and isn’t able to get enough oxygen into his bloodstream, even if he is able to to get oxygen into his lungs. For several weeks, this meant that Dien had trouble getting enough air to fuel his body for once everyday tasks. He could no longer do his ritual 5K early morning walks. Even walking across the house, standing for long periods, or speaking more than a few sentences at a time were significantly taxing. 

At the advice of top pulmonary specialists, Dien started chemotherapy treatment in early November to prolong his life and hopefully ease his suffering from this terminal disease. A few days leading up to it, Dien found it even more difficult to breathe, thus had no appetite for food and didn’t eat solid food for several days. After his first chemotherapy treatment, Dien’s breathing continued to worsen. Something had to be done, so we had an ambulance take him to the Emergency Room to triage his condition. They prepared him for surgery immediately and did a second CT chest angiogram. The pulmonologist once again found fluid in Dien’s lungs. He also saw that the left lung cancer mass that had been 12cm just a few weeks ago now filled his entire left lung. Dien had been straining to breathe with only his right lung, compromised by fluid. The immediate goal of the surgery was to (1) drain the fluids and (2) prevent them from being able to return through a procedure called talc pleurodesis. 

After the surgery, doctors found that Dien was unable to breath on his own and placed him on a ventilator (which does the work of breathing for you). Each day, doctors try to wean him off the ventilator to a CPAP (a device that helps make breathing easier, but doesn’t do all the work for you). Dien is strong-willed as ever and has been able to go from a ventilator to a CPAP from a couple minutes the first day to almost two hours today (November 11). Although Dien has not been able to communicate verbally with a ventilator tube in his mouth, his mind is sharp as ever and he communicates his wishes with hand gestures, nods/shakes, and firm blinks. We know Dien wants to live, wants to be with his family, and is fighting to get better each day. Our hope is that he will eventually be able to get off the ventilator, come home to be with his family, and continue with chemotherapy or radiation treatment.

Dien has led an incredible life. He fought for South Vietnam’s freedom during the Vietnam War, was held in a Communist Viet Cong prison, and even after surviving that ordeal, built a business manufacturing ice blocks from the ground up. Though his hard work and ingenuity ensured his family would never go hungry, Dien knew they would have a better life with more opportunities in America. Under Viet Cong rule, Dien’s family was only allowed to immigrate if they “returned” all their assets (i.e. the successful business, house, and all possessions) to the government, so when Dien arrived in the America in 1988, he was in an intimidatingly foreign land and could not (yet) speak English. To support his family of six young children, Dien took every available opportunity, including washing cars, delivering newspapers/medicine/pizzas, and other odd jobs. Due to Dien’s perseverance and tenacity, he landed a job with Jaguar Land Rover as Inventory Manager and worked there diligently for over 20 years. 

As you can imagine, cancer treatments are taxing on many levels—physically, emotionally, and financially.  For the first time, Dien is unable to work, and his wife, Tricia, has her hands full tackling numerous additional responsibilities for his care. Dien’s greatest wish is to continue his incredible life for as long as possible and spend time with his family (including several grandchildren). Any funds raised would help ease the family’s financial burdens from medical bills in the months to come and would be greatly appreciated.

We will be posting regular updates of Dien’s treatments and progress here.
Thank you.

Donations

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  • wil kim 
    • $5 
    • 22 hrs
  • Randy Van 
    • $500 
    • 3 d
  • MyLinh McDonald 
    • $100 
    • 5 d
  • Tang Mai 
    • $100 
    • 6 d
  • Mỹ Dung Vo 
    • $50 
    • 6 d
See all

Fundraising team (3)

Catherine Nguyen 
Organizer
Raised $5,680 from 8 donations
Andy Tran 
Team member
Tu Tran 
Team member
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