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Meet Tammy

age 5, brain cancer


In June 2017, Tien and his wife Alice were worried about their oldest child and only son, Tam. During a family outing to pick cherries, Tam’s head began to hurt and he was hot to the touch. “We thought it was heatstroke,” Tien said.

But weeks passed and Tam wasn’t feeling any better. Finally, at the end of June, the doctor ordered a CT, which revealed Tam had a mass on his brain, identified as a type of brain tumor called an anaplastic ependymoma. The news was devastating. “I begged God for more time with Tam,” Tien said.

St. Jude patient Tam with family

St. Jude patient Tam with his family

Tam underwent surgery immediately, during which the entire tumor was resected. Doctors in California recommended Tam undergo proton therapy, so the family traveled to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital for Tam’s continuing treatment.

Because the majority of St. Jude funding comes from everyday people, St. Jude has the freedom to focus on what matters most – saving kids regardless of their financial situation.

Tammy, St. Jude patient

As soon as we arrived at St. Jude, everyone was so welcoming. The care is amazing. From the shuttle drivers to the doctors to the staff, we’ve just been taken care of so well.

Tien, pateint Tam's dad

Tam’s treatment included 33 rounds of proton therapy and four rounds of chemotherapy.

He’s now finished with treatment and visits St. Jude for regular checkups. Tam loves playing with his two younger sisters, going to the park and making crafts. “St. Jude gave me hope for Tam, more days with Tam,” said Tien. “They gave us hope for his future.”

St. Jude video

Patient Tam's mom, Alicia, shares her appreciation for St. Jude.

Adults give up quickly, but kids, they just keep fighting. Not just Tammy. All the kids at St. Jude. You can see that they fight for their life; they just naturally want to. I really respect them.

Alice, St. Jude patient Tammy’s mom

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