Fellow travelers: Thao

A continuing source of strength, inspiration, sometimes sorrow but always joy, are my relationships with others who are battling cancer. Although our paths are often very different, they can intersect in meaningful ways.

Among my fellow travelers is a young woman who is quite special to me. Having met online, we have built a relationship via personal messages. Only thirty two, my friend Thao was diagnosed with advanced lung cancer four months after the birth of her young son. Over the past three years, Thao has undergone just about every conceivable treatment in an attempt to arrest her cancer, including numerous clinical trials. Often, her life has hung in the balance. But Thao is tough, and I have learned to never underestimate her commitment to surviving.

IMG_0024On Wednesday Thao’s nephew Bon drove her to Boston for an appointment at MGH. Having exhausted most treatment options, she is hoping to participate in an upcoming clinical trial; enrollment is still weeks away. After the appointment, Thao, her nephew and I met at a restaurant in Chinatown called Shabu-Zen. Over an asian hot pot meal, I learned more about Thao and her extended family and what motivates my petite but formidable friend. Before saying goodbye we asked Bon to snap a photo of the two of us on my iPhone.


Not only did Thao insist on buying my lunch, she had a christmas gift for me as well. I cheated, and opened it that day. Everytime I wrap the beautiful scarf around my neck, I will be reminded of my connection to Thao. Please join me as I keep her in my thoughts and prayers.

12 responses to “Fellow travelers: Thao

  1. Good evening Miss Linnea. Thinking of you. I hear our “Force of Nature” from MA paid a weekend visit.

  2. My thoughts are with her. Thank you for sharing this story of finding a friend online. It’s just incredible what connections happen with a few thoughtful messages. ~Catherine

    • Catherine, the connection piece is the positive aspect of this terrible disease–I have met so many wonderful people who have been affected (either as patient, family member or caregiver) by lung cancer. Thao will appreciate your good thoughts.


  3. What in hell is with all these young women getting advanced stage lung cancer? It boggles my mind. Where, indeed, is the funding? Prayers for both of you, Linnea.

    • I’m boggled as well Melanie, and more than a bit angry when cancer picks on young people. Thank you for the (dual) prayers.


  4. Sending my strength and thoughts to both of you!
    It keeps on being “shocking” to see beautiful healthy-looking faces of seriously ill. Your faces (ours) sure should be able to get that funding going.
    Thank you Linnea, for all what you do!
    Strong hugs,

    • Thanks Anja. It is always a bit shocking, no? How one can look so healthy and yet have such a monstrous disease. A bit of a disconnect. And thank you for those thoughts and hugs (Thao’s strong hugs remind me of yours).

      love, Linnea

  5. Great pictures! Love the friendship that shows so strongly through your smiles and embrace. The scarf is beautiful — how truly warm it must feel wrapping around you. My thoughts are with you both. Good luck, Linnea, tomorrow, too!

  6. I have thought the same thing others have said here, how beautiful you both look. My thoughts and prayers are with you often, and now gladly for Thao as well. Praying for you tomorrow as you take on another line of treatment. Best wishes! – xo Dana

    • Thank you Dana, and I’m glad you’ve added Thao to your list–she is so special and deserves a break (are you listening universe?).


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