Why am I including in my blog of hope, a story of an Asian American woman who recently died of breast cancer at age 57? Because Jeannette Wang's story is FULL of LIFE bursting with HOPE and LAUGHTER amid CHALLENGE throughout. Her unwavering optimism, no matter how difficult her life challenges were, is a bible on how to live life fully. I know I'm one of the lucky ones to have known Jeannette.
Jeannette was born in Taiwan and at just 3 years old, her parents divorced and she and her brother James were sent to live with her aunt and uncle and five cousins in Saigon.
Active in community affairs, Jeannette served two terms as President of the Organization of Chinese Americans-Westchester, Hudson Valley Chapter, a non-profit volunteer organization that promotes the political, economic, and social well being of Asian Americans.
She also was a member of the Rotary Club, Secretary of the Irvington, N.Y. Chamber of Commerce, a fundraiser for the United Negro College Fund, chairperson of the Junior League, an active member in the Women’s Interracial Leadership group, and President of the Parent Teacher Student Association.
Jeannette was diagnosed with breast cancer late in 1999 and her husband wanted to treat her with traditional Chinese herbs. Eventually the tumor became so large that her doctors begged her to get medical treatment before it became too late. In 2004, she underwent chemotherapy and then a mastectomy with more chemotherapy for another year.
With her business partner, Alan, they eventually opened their own successful boutique real estate sales company called Triumph Property Group Westchester. After being business partners and then best friends, Jeannette and Alan became life companions and started a new life together. Alan sang Jeannette's praises, "Her warm, engaging, outgoing personality and her zest for life are contagious. Her insights are keen and her judgment always right on target. Just don't go to movies with her as she will tell you the ending in the first 10 minutes of the movie and she is almost always right!"
In Germany, doctors performed a newly developed chemo sensitivity test to determine the best chemotherapy for Jeannette's genetic makeup. In addition, she underwent some experimental and cutting edge treatments that at the time were not available in the United States due to the very strict protocols and testing requirements mandated by the Federal Drug Administration. At the clinic in Germany, doctors also combined the chemo treatments with infusions of vitamins and other daily homeopathic treatments to help the body recuperate. Jeannette always believed that fighting cancer was a balance between taking the correct chemotherapy drugs along with supervised homeopathic medical treatments and the proper organic diet to boost the body's immune system. This was a pattern of treatment she continued for the rest of her life.
While receiving treatment in Germany, Jeannette and Alan kept a blog. Below are some of their precious entries:
Alan contributed to this story.