Quoc Nguyen has been married to Tuan for 42 years, since she was 17. As a young couple in Vietnam, they waited for two documents: his birth certificate so he could enlist in the Air Force and a license to marry. Both arrived on the same day.
Except for the time in 1966 when Tuan came to Fort Worth for flight training, and the six and one-half years he was a prisoner of war in Vietnam, they have been a team. Today, they are a team against breast cancer. He interprets for her, though no translation is needed to understand her beautiful, gentle smile.
In 2012, Quoc discovered a lump when she did a breast self-exam. Her doctor referred her to Harris Health Lyndon B. Johnson Hospital for tests, and cancer was confirmed.
They were very worried. Though they have lived in the U.S. since 1994, they have memories of Vietnam where so many people die from cancer. “The doctors and nurses reassured us,” Tuan says. “They said it is curable, and that we shouldn’t worry about it.”
They are very careful to do everything they’re told. “The nurses train us,” he says. “They walk us through everything, explain everything. They are very nice. We take their instructions. The doctors and nurses tell us not to go to restaurants during chemo. We cook at home.”
Their lives haven’t changed much, they say. They enjoy cooking and go out very little. They watch movies. Lots and lots of movies. They own a collection of 7,000 films. It’s not unusual for them to watch movies most of the night.
No strangers to adversity, they have little doubt they will get through breast cancer recovery together. Before leaving Vietnam, they did not have access to jobs or to adequate healthcare. Their children, one with Down syndrome, could not go to school. In the U.S., all that is available to them. Tuan had an excellent job before he retired, and they say their healthcare is the best.
Tuan tells people that, “LBJ is a good hospital for cancer. The doctors and the nurses are friendly and helpful. We’re very comfortable when we come to LBJ.”