Casualties of War
September 28, 2021

The family awakes to the destructive sounds that have become all too familiar. The bombs are dropping again. They hurry into the underground shelter, a dwelling dug under a large mound of dirt. These nights repeat themselves, and the terror is all too familiar. Finally they end. The bombs stop falling and the country is turned over. The war may have ended but the consequences linger.

The war tore up our community, leaving many in poverty and polluting our land with toxins. In 1993 we left for the United States. I thought I had escaped the fate of a typical Vietnamese village child. In a way I had, but in a way I hadn't. Even on the other side of the world, the war is still within me.

At the age of 23 with a fairly healthy lifestyle I can't help but wonder how this rare diagnosis came to be. I'm the youngest patient in my oncology office, a baby by the nuses's standards. What was it that made my body so much more vulnerable to developing a soft tissue sarcoma?

Two words led me to pull up webpage after webpage of painful information: Agent Orange. Millions of gallons of this herbicide were poured over my country. It killed our trees, sank into our dirt, and mixed with our waters. Countless people suffered physical problems and many children were born with rashes, deformities, and a strong likelihood of developing cancer.

My mom who recounts the story of bombs falling during her adolescence tells me that she feared for my fate. Would I too become a casualty of a war fought decades ago? I thought I had escaped that destiny. Maybe I hadn't, and maybe all these years something within had been waiting to rise.

There is no certainty that exposure to Agent Orange toxins led me to where I am today but there are clues. The Institute of Medicine has found that there is sufficient evidence linking this herbicide to four types of cancers: Non-Hodgkin lymphoma, Hodgkin disease, Chronic lymphocytic leukemia, and...soft tissue sarcoma.

You can take a person out of the war-torn countryside of Vietnam...but you can't take the remnants of that war out of her.

I'm back in Virginia started chemo today. More details to come. Thank you to everyone for your messages of support and encouraging me to be strong. To my friends that found out through NVG of all


O tom is 3handed. I should head toi the rio

28 minutes ago
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