The ABC Cancer Diaries

A young, American-Born-Chinese woman living with metastatic breast cancer

Wynne Wu Music Festival in London May 28, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — stevenwaseda @ 2:36 pm

Our wonderful half-British, half-French friend Philippe lives in London and runs a bi-lingual French/Engllish nursery school called Mars Montessori (  He was here for Wynne’s memorial service and at one point mentioned to me how the music at the service made him more attuned to how significant a role music can play in life.

He then came up with the idea of having a music week at his school for the children where he invites different professional musicians to come each day and play music.  And he’s named the weeklong school music festival in Wynne’s honor.  See below for the explanation from the newsletter he sends to parents.  (See further below for the French version.)

It goes without saying that Wynne would be extremely touched and flattered by Philippe’s gesture.


Hello! This year is shooting by, and so far we’ve had a really fantastic term! Without exception, all the children are thriving; they are developing and learning really well.

The youngest all settled in long ago and have made great friendships and the oldest ones will soon be ready to be thinking about their next steps (thank you for those parents who have already given us written notice about their children starting primary school in September).

Wynne Wu Music Festival @ Mars
Earlier this term my dear friend Wynne Wu died of cancer, leaving behind a 4 month old baby and husband. She was only 35 years old and she will be terribly missed. I’ve been thinking of ways to honour and celebrate her life and I’ve decided to launch an annual “Wynne Wu Music Festival” at Mars.

Wynne went to a music conservatoire (music was always really very important to her) and later became a nursery teacher before becoming a secondary school Chinese language teacher in New York. She was always very excited about my plans at Mars and I think she’d approve of this festival.

So here is the plan: the Festival will launch on Friday 25th June with a visit to the London Symphony Orchestra session for nurseries.

For the following week from Monday 28th June until Friday 2nd July I would like to have a different musician come in every day and play live music for the children whilst they are outside. The reason I want to have the musicians whilst the children are outside, is that it gives the children a choice; the children can both sit and listen, or just carrying on playing whilst hearing the music in the background.

I was thinking we could have a violinist one day, a guitar player another day, even some exciting drums and perhaps a flute etc. And for this, dear Mars parents, I need your help. I’d really love to have local musicians to celebrate the sense of community we have here. So if your friends, neighbours, family members can play an instrument – let me know!!!


(Now, in the spirit of bilingualism, here’s the French version)

Bonjour! Cette année scolaire avance à grande vitesse, et jusqu’ici le trimestre se passe très bien! Tous les enfants s’épanouissent; ils se développent et apprennent très bien.

Les plus jeunes se sont installés depuis un bout de temps et partagent de belles amitiés alors que les plus grands se préparent à aborder de nouveaux défis (merci aux parents qui nous ont déjà signalé que leur enfant va entrer à l’école primaire en septembre).

Festival de musique Wynne Wu @ Mars

Au début de ce trimestre ma très chère amie Wynne Wu est morte du cancer, laissant derrière elle un bébé âgé de 4 mois ainsi que son mari. Elle n’avait que 35 ans et elle va tous nous manquer terriblement. J’ai réfléchi aux diverses façons d’honorer et de célébrer sa vie et j’ai décidé de lancer le « Festival de musique Wynne Wu » chaque année à Mars. Wynne a fréquenté un conservatoire de musique avant de devenir professeur de chinois dans un collège de New York. Elle était toujours très enthousiaste à propos des projets prévus pour Mars et je pense qu’elle aurait approuvé ce festival.

Alors, voici le projet : le Festival va débuter le vendredi 25 juin par une visite au « London Symphony Orchestra session for nurseries ».

Pour la semaine suivante, du lundi 28 juin jusqu’au vendredi 2 juillet, je souhaiterais avoir la visite d’un musicien différent chaque jour qui jouerait de la musique « en live » pour les enfants alors qu’ils sont dans la cour. La raison pour laquelle je veux que les musiciens jouent pendant la récréation est que cela va donner le choix aux enfants : ils peuvent soit s’asseoir et écouter la musique ou bien juste continuer de jouer avec la musique en fond.

Je pensais que nous pourrions avoir un violoniste un jour, un guitariste un autre jour, quelques tambours, peut-être une flûte un autre jour, etc.… Et, pour cela,  chers parents de Mars, j’ai besoin de votre aide. Je souhaiterais vivement avoir des musiciens locaux pour affirmer notre implication dans la communauté. De ce fait, si vous avez des amis, des voisins, des membres de votre famille qui savent jouer d’un instrument, faites-le moi savoir !


Wu-laoshi Challenge for extra credit!

Can anyone out there post a Chinese version of the above in the comments section?


Smiles from Wynne May 26, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — wenren @ 12:58 pm

We’ve been extremely blessed to have a very smiley baby.  In the morning when she wakes up and I go in, Helen looks up and smiles.  Whenever I wake her up to feed her, rather than crying, she usually smiles once she recognizes my face.  And it’s not just me, she seems to smile at everyone.

I always like to ask her where she gets all those smiles from.  (She’s not talking yet, so it’s really a rhetorical question.)  And then I explain to her that Mommy sends them down to her to give out to everyone.  It sounds a little crazy, but I can’t think of any other explanation.

Here’s Wynne’s gift for today:


One month

Filed under: Uncategorized — stevenwaseda @ 4:12 am

May 23 marked one month since Wynne died.  That just sort of hit me this past Sunday.  We happened to spend it with wonderful relatives who also have little (and increasingly bigger) kids which was a good way to spend it.  Of course, I kept picturing what it would have been like if Wynne had been there, how she would’ve enjoyed it, the moments where one of us would hand of Helen to the other so we could have a conversation or play a game.

Wynne giving Helen her first piano lesson. 🙂

And here’s a gratuitous Helen shot, this one from Sunday, May 23, 2010 taken by my dad:


Truthiness May 23, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — stevenwaseda @ 2:11 pm

I just wanted to share that we received a very thoughtful and personal condolence note from Mr. Colbert yesterday.  Among other things, it reconnects me to that very intense period of time and reminds me that it was all real, that we really met him and had a wonderful conversation, and that Wynne is really gone.

That might sound like a negative, but as more time passes and I start adapting to life without Wynne, I find myself worrying about losing my connection with her.  I appreciate things that bring me back, even if some of them are painful or don’t necessarily feel good in the moment.


Condolences May 21, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — stevenwaseda @ 1:59 pm

A nice article from the NYTimes on Condolences that my brother emailed to me:

And I thought this would be a nice opportunity to say thanks to everyone who has reached out in various ways.  Every card, every email, every comment, every hug, every visit, every gesture and every everything else has been extremely helpful.

In Portuguese, thank you is “muito obrigado.”  Here’s a nice, upbeat song that Wynne and I both enjoyed and that I’ll share as a way of saying thank you.

Muito Obrigado


Insurance problem solved

Filed under: Uncategorized — stevenwaseda @ 3:20 am

It looks like we won’t be on the hook for payments for one of Wynne’s treatments, which could’ve totaled $10K to $40K.  The insurance company said that the patient is not responsible for payment if coverage is denied, i.e., it’s up to the insurance company and the hospital to work it out.

Wynne had been worried because she had to sign something saying that if coverage was denied, then she would be responsible for payment.  But we got confirmation from the hospital that we would not be billed.

In communicating with the billing coordinator at the hospital, it sounds like the insurance company is either very incompetent or being intentionally difficult (or perhaps both).  e.g., At one point the hospital had sent some document 3 different times, yet the insurance company kept saying they didn’t have it.  Our friend was persistent on Wynne’s behalf and got the hospital rep and the insurance rep on the phone together, at which time it was finally determined that the insurance company did have the document in the file.  It was just that no one had actually looked at the file.  And this was only one example of such incompetence/shenanigans.

It’s good news that we don’t have to worry about a large liability hanging over our heads.  However, I feel bad that Wynne had to spend time stressing about something she probably never really needed to stress about in the first place.

I guess the silver lining is learning a little bit more about how insurance and medical billing works and how skeptical to be of insurance companies.

Thanks to everyone who helped in ways large and small.


Cherry blossom poem May 18, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — stevenwaseda @ 10:00 pm

Today I received an email from a Japanese friend who, in thinking about Wynne and reading one of the posts about cherry blossoms said:

“This reminded me of one of my most favorite Japanese poems.  This poem is written by a famous 12th century poet named Saigyo Hoshi.  This poem has always been my favorite for its sound, words and meaning which are so beautiful. I just wanted to share this with you.”

Negawaku wa
hana no shita nite
haru shinan
sono kisaragi no
mochizuki no koro

(English translation)

Let me die in spring
under the blossoming trees,
let it be around
that full moon
of Kisaragi month






We miss you, Sweetheart.