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Thanh Nguyen

When Thanh Nguyen came to the United States in 2011, she began to notice pain in the back of her shoulder. Her doctor ordered an MRI and told her she had late-stage breast cancer.

She was referred to Ben Taub Hospital where her most vivid memory is watching the July 4th fireworks over Miller Outdoor Theatre from her sixth-floor room.

Thanh has been taking chemotherapy every three weeks since 2012 and had a mastectomy of her left breast in 2015. Shortly after her surgery, she fell and fractured her knee. That’s when she learned the cancer had metastasized to her lung and liver. Today, the tumors have stopped spreading, so her medication has been reduced. She’s even been able to return to her part-time job as a school janitor.

Healthcare at Ben Taub Hospital and Smith Clinic is at the top of her gratitude list. “My care has been very good,” she says. “My doctors are affectionate and caring beyond what words can describe. With my limited English, it’s hard to express my thanks. I don’t know how I can repay them, so I pray for them and their families to have health and success.”

She has learned to pay attention to her body and to care for herself. Part of self-care is forgiving others. “If anyone makes you feel bad, forgive them. You are living for yourself, so ignore hurtful statements.”

She knows nutrition is important. Though she eats very little, she is partial to boiled vegetables with fish sauce. She walks each day, and when she tires, she puts a cloth on the ground and lies down, looks to the sky and prays to God and the Statue of Liberty, a symbol of her appreciation for the United States.

Most important, she says, is to live as much as you can. She reminds herself of that each July 4th when she recalls the fireworks she watched from Ben Taub Hospital.