The ABC Cancer Diaries

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

Restoring Sanity October 30, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — stevenwaseda @ 10:02 pm

I just watched a clip of Stephen Colbert at the “Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear,” and it occurred to me that Wynne didn’t have the chance to know that this ever occurred, which of course made me sad.  I knew there would be lots of moments like this.  So this is another.

I think she would have been particularly excited about and proud of Stephen Colbert, especially after getting to meet him and getting a first-hand experience of what a decent and thoughtful (and funny) guy he is.


Marathon October 24, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — stevenwaseda @ 4:04 am

My brother Greg will be running the NYC Marathon in a couple weeks and will be dedicating his run to Wynne.

This means that he’s asking friends and family to support cancer research by making a donation to Fred’s Team, with all money raised going to a special metastatic breast-cancer research fund at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center.

Regardless of whether you make a donation (and please don’t feel obligated), it’s worth reading some of his nice thoughts about Wynne.  Here’s the link to his page:

Needless to say I’m very touched by Greg’s very thoughtful gesture as running was a big part of Wynne’s life, and she also was very aware that metastatic breast cancer is, in many ways, a different disease than the kind of breast cancer more commonly faced by women.  I remember her explaining to me early on that she wasn’t interested in going to regular breast cancer support groups because she faced very different issues and also because, as she said, a metastatic breast cancer patient was everyone else in a support group’s worst nightmare.

So if you’re out watching on Marathon day, make sure to cheer Greg on and Wynne too.


6 months October 23, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — stevenwaseda @ 7:20 am

Today, October 23, marks 6 months since Wynne died.  I can’t believe how long it’s been and at the same time how quickly time has passed.

I love you Wynne-Pie and I miss you so much.


Here’s another one of your favorite songs:  Cucurrucucu Paloma – Caetano Veloso




The ABCs of Chinese Americans October 18, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — stevenwaseda @ 12:12 pm

This morning on WNYC there was a Radio Rookies segment titled “The ABCs of Chinese Americans” by Helen Peng.  ( Peng describes her experience living in Flushing, Queens and her awareness of the divide in the Chinese community between ABCs (American Born Chinese) and FOBs (Fresh of the Boat).

I pictured listening to the story with Wynne and her reaction.  I know she would have really appreciated it and probably would have shared the story with her classes.



Wu Family Poem

Filed under: Uncategorized — stevenwaseda @ 3:37 am

About a week ago I learned a little more about the Wu family poem.  Together with Helen, I met Wynne’s father, Jim, for lunch at Wing Shoon restaurant on the Lower East Side (@Rutgers St & Essex).  I also invited my Chinese teacher, Susan, to join.  Jim explained the poem and Susan wrote it down for me on a Post-it note (below).

The significance is that each person’s name in their family is based on the characters in the poem.  And each generation uses the subsequent character.  So Wynne and Winslow’s names–Wen-Ren (Ask Humanity/Kindness) and Wen-Tian (Ask Heaven) are based on the character “wen” (bottom character in the 3rd column from the left) which means “ask.”  And Helen and her cousin Preston’s names are Zi-Zhen and Zi-Zhong.  The character “zi” (top character, 2nd column from the left) means self.  (I haven’t figured out yet what the whole poem says or means.)

Wynne had told me about the family poem before, a common tradition in many Chinese families.  What occurred to me is that I’d never seen the poem.  And when I asked Wynne about it, she didn’t have it written down anywhere.  She just told me her dad knows it.  And none of his relatives made it out of China after 1949 and other than him, none of them survived.

I asked Jim how he knew the poem, and he explained that he had just learned it growing up.  He also explained that it is actually not the full poem but only the part that he was taught growing up.  And he also explained that according to the poem, Jim represents the 23rd generation of his family.  Wynne and Winslow represent the 24th.  And Helen and Preston represent the 25th generation.

It made me feel good to learn all of these things.  And I’m extremely grateful to Susan for joining us for lunch and helping to translate and explain these things to me.

An interesting side note:  Susan is now one of the two Chinese teachers at Bard High School Early College, where Wynne taught.  They were looking for a new Chinese teacher this summer, and Susan applied.  One day at my lesson, the mentioned she was applying for a teaching position and asked, isn’t this where your wife worked?  Susan is an experienced and terrific teacher and got the job.  And it of course makes me feel very good to know that this connection exists.  Almost as if Wynne is somehow pushing buttons and pulling strings somewhere.

Thanks Wynne, for all of this.


For Wynne October 6, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — stevenwaseda @ 12:37 am

Two songs for you to listen to, Wynne.

1.  Cardinal Pair (Polecat Creek)



2.  Tickle Me (Randy Newman)