July 27, 2016

Today I had a repeat blood work, and a CT scan of my chest and abdomen. Then we waited for Dr. Picozzi, the oncologist, to discuss the result. His words were ‘everything is clear.’ Based on VM statistics, all long term survivors were among those who completed 16 chemo treatments. (I have as of July 13.) He said there seemed to be no added value to have more treatments. He gave the baseball analogy that I am currently in scoring position on second base, with one out. The out is because the tumor was labeled Adenosquamous Ca. Chemo got me to first base; surgery advanced me to second base. Dr. Picozzi felt sufficiently positive to congratulate me and scheduled a follow-up for 10/10/2016, almost the anniversary of my initial diagnosis.
Linnea and I are overjoyed. The responses we’ve received:
Excellent, great news.
Congratulations Brother, love you.
Wow!! Praise God from Whom all blessings flow. Amen, Thanks be to God!
Praise to all creatures great and small
My Mom admonishes me to be grateful and keep praying. I will. Thanks everyone for your good thoughts and wishes, as well as your diligence in prayers.

High School Sketches

In 1960, William and I entered 10th grade at Springfield High School. With students coming from five different junior highs, Springfield High had an enrollment of over 2500. An additional high school was projected to be completed on the north side of town by fall of 1961, when students would be divided to attend either school.

As 10th graders, it was both exciting and intimidating to be a student at such a large school. Basically we were familiar with only 1/5 of the students in our grades. In my Latin class I met Sandy Barrett a student who sat in front of me since we were assigned seats alphabetically. Sandy was a genuinely nice person: smart, gentle, kind, very pretty and impeccably dressed. But most importantly, Sandy was always diligently prepared with all her home work every day. Ms. Fritz, our Latin teacher, was a terror of an instructor! She would randomly go around the room and ask us students to read (out loud in Latin) ‘All Gaul Is Divided into Three Parts.’ If we stuttered or stumbled, she would scold us and rage on for minutes. At this point, I had barely mastered reading English out loud; reading Latin, certainly to Ms. Fritz’s standards, was particularly challenging. Fortunately, once a student was selected to read, Ms. Fritz’s pattern was to continue down the seating alphabet. Sandy was a good Latin reader with exceptional emphasis and expression in her delivery. Ms. Fritz would tell the class that we should all read like Sandy. Thus, Sandy and I developed a secret plan. Whenever the chance to read came down our row, Sandy would stand and read like an expert, completing whole passages without stopping, thus preventing me from being called on to read. She read so well that Ms. Fritz seldom stopped her. After Sandy read, I would volunteer to diagram the sentence structures that she read, thus fulfilling my turn. Sandy and I both did well in this Latin class. I seldom had to depend on anyone in school for help, but I deeply owe Sandy my gratitude for my success in Latin class.

With the addition of a new high school in 1961, Springfield High was split into North and South High. William and I attended the new Springfield North High School our 11th and 12th grades. Between homework and part-time work at the grocery stores, we did not participate in much of the school programs available to us, although I was in the choir and afterschool science clubs.

Although William and I did not participate in any North High team sports, we did gather friends to play games such as football, baseball at Snyder Park. I recall one incident that happened while Wendell Lutz and other neighborhood boys were playing football with William and me. Of course we did not have any protective gears but we were supposed to be playing flag football. Wendell was able to throw the football fairly accurately over 70 yards. One time he threw a pass deep down the field and William caught it; I chased him and he fell hard on the ground, dislocating his left elbow. William’s forearm was dangling and he was in severe pain. Everyone huddled together in total fear. I remember seeing a doctor at the City Hospital yanking a forearm hard, ‘popping’ the joint back in position. That seemed rather simple so I had William lay flat on the ground; Wendell held his arm straight and I jerked as hard as I could. ‘Glory be,’ the forearm snapped back in place. Though still painful, the arm no longer dangled. We got hold of our parents and William was taken to the hospital. Thankfully the X-ray showed that I did not do William any damage. This was my first experience of practicing medicine.

Tom Hall, another North High classmate held a Ping Pong tournament using the “round robin” format in his basement every year and he expected to be the winner each time. Somehow, the word was out that I played a little and he really wanted to beat me. (I think it was Wendell who asked that I be invited to his tournament.) Since no one at school had ever seen me play, people were surprised that I won the 1961 Tom Hall championship trophy. The next year Tom invited me again because he wanted revenge; I asked if my younger brother Danny could also play. Tom willingly welcomed the idea and accepted the extra entry fee. Although he was 15, Danny was a better Ping Pong and tennis player than most of us. Of course Danny won the 1962 championship trophy. The Chu brothers upheld the Chinese reputation for this traditional sport. Tom Hall was not happy!!

After William and I learned to drive in 1959, we bought a 1950 Chevy from our Uncle David for $50. We also obtained a same model junk car and used it to merge all the good parts, including the seats. William also worked at an auto body shop the summer of 1960 and was able to get the body of the car repaired and painted. Our Aunt from New York came for a visit and was impressed with what we’d done to refurbish the old car; she noted that the seats in the front and back were of clashing and different colors so she gave us $50 to pay for new seat covers to match the newly painted light blue color of the body. To pay for our gas money we transported 3 classmates each day to and from high school, charging each one 10 cent per trip. We just didn’t think of calling our service “Uber”!!! We were able to maintain and use this car through college.

In 11th grade, I became acquainted with another female classmate, Linda Swisher. Her Mom and Grandmother shopped at Fulmer’s Grocery where I worked after school. They would often ask me to take their purchases to their car, not that they needed any help, but more for allowing me a break. For a science project in 11th grade, Linda submitted the DNA model of Watson and Crick. I had barely any notion of what DNA and genes were about and here she was already making models of how the alpha helix, spiraling like a coil, can make replicates and protein chains. I was really in awe.

Sadly, and suddenly, Linda lost her mother on Easter Sunday, 1961. I wanted to be there for her so I reached out and we became good friends. Although I was aware that she had a boyfriend, a nice classmate, John Day, I wanted to go out with Linda on at least one date before graduation. While externally, I appeared very sure and confident, internally I also realized that as a Chinese, asking out Linda, a popular, scholarly white girl, may not be the ‘acceptable norm.’

Anyway, I mustered my courage and called Linda to invite her to a movie at Melody drive-in after work one Saturday night. As a real true friend, she accepted my invitation. I believe we had fast food there and a large drink. I placed the speakers on the back window and my Coca Cola in a carrier in the front window. I don’t remember the movie, but I thought it was supposed to be a thriller which would keep my interest. Unfortunately, I was so tired, I felt fast asleep shortly after the movie started, and slept through the entire show. (I regard it a talent to be able to shut off my ‘computer’ and fall asleep immediately.) I probably snored so loudly that Linda didn’t have any chance of watching the movie, either. Anyway, after the show ended, she woke me, and in a fog, I disconnected the back speakers and closed the back window. I picked up my Coca Cola and proceeded to dump it out the front window. The simple problem was the front window was also closed. The full container of drink splashed all over both of us and the front of the car! Of course I apologized profusely and Linda and I remained friends.

While my commitment and dedication to work hard both in school and in employment, my opportunity of a typical teenage social life was compromised. I was blessed, however, with excellent health. Another undisclosed fact and consequently unknown to most of my classmates is that from 7th grade through 12th grade, I held perfect attendance in classes and at work. If I’d had a ‘cold’ or minor illness, it always seemed to occur on days off or vacations. I feel especially proud of this achievement.

July 13, 2016 … Treatment #16 completed

I am writing on July 14th. It has taken a full six months to complete the chemotherapy, with a 2 months hiatus from 4/1 to 6-1 for the Whipple procedure and recovery. My Oncologist, a leader in pancreatic cancer world-wide, Dr. Picozzi seemed very pleased that I fulfilled his requirement. The current regimen did affect my white blood cell counts, this time, my neutrophil blood cells decresed to only 1100. Dr Picozzi decreased my chemo dosages yesterday by 25%.

As a result, with the pretreatment of anti nausea, anti emetics, atropine, and dexamethasone medications, I was feeling energetic and strong yesterday and today. I thought I had an ELCA Executive Council meeting yesterday, and was planning to attend, but discovered that it had been rescheduled for 2 weeks later. So I called my cousin R’Bau, suggesting we get together. Naturally this evolved into dinner plans and we contacted other cousins who lived nearby. One of them, DeShan, got the call at work as she is the head bookkeeper at China Harbor Chinese Restaurant on West Lake Union. (This is one of the best Chinese restaurants in Seattle, certainly the most diverse in Chinese cuisine, from the furthest north to the deepest south.) The boss overheard that we were planning to find a place to eat together. He insisted that we should all come to his restaurant and let him treat me to a banquet meal. He said he considered himself as my older brother and has this need to do this. So eight of us gathered with the boss and his wife and were treated royally to the following banquet. I will just list our menu for your vicarious enjoyment: (Chinese banquets consist of nine dishes because the word nine sounds like wine, indicating joy, fun and celebration. the word ten sounds like death thus is avoided. But rice is a stable part of any meals and is not considered a ‘dish’.)

1. China Harbor 5 variety flavored supreme cold cut
2. Shark fin soup with ground chicken in chicken broth
3. Dungeness crab Chinese style with thin glass noodles
4. Maine lobsters over long life noodles
5. Sweet and Hot flavored diced chicken
6. Tara coated roast duck
7. Abalones covered Chinese greens
8. Hollow heart vegetables, (Chinese green vegetable dish)
9. Steamed fresh fish cutlets
Fried rice with egg white and scallops
For dessert they served us tres leches cake and a mixed fruit plate.

Anyway, I was able to eat everything without holding back much, and I tolerated the entire feast with absolutely no difficulties! By far, this was the best meal I’ve had since my diagnosis in October 2015!!! I am sincerely grateful to Mr. Sun Lo-Yu and his wife Shiao Lin for their generosity and their kindness to me and my family.

Today I am wearing my slow flow 5-FU and will have it removed, hopefully for the last time, tomorrow!!
In two weeks, I also trust that my follow-up CT scan will be clear. Thus far my blood tests have shown the Pancreatic Cancer marker to be all below normal.

Again, thanks to ALL for your constant thoughts, prayers and concerns. God’s Peace, Grace and Blessing be with all of us.

Job Experiences

When William and I turned 16 years old at the beginning of our 10th grade, we both applied for ‘real’ part-time jobs. Being big brother, I was first hired at Fulmer’s Grocery, and shortly thereafter, William was employed down the block at Kroger’s. Danny inherited our paper routes. I was started at $0.75 an hour which seemed reasonable for someone with no experience. However, William, because Kroger’s was a union store, was started at $1.09 an hour. Surprisingly, by his second paycheck, he was raised to $1.19 an hour for having had a birthday. Then, again due to union benefits, after the New Year, he was earning $1.45 an hour. I was loyal to Fulmer’s and thankful for having this job, so I worked as many hours as I could to compensate. On Fridays I usually worked from 4-9, Saturdays from 9-9, and Sundays from 1-8, they docked 2 hours each week for meals/breaks and I was paid for 25 hours each week, or $18.75. William worked Fridays 5-9, Saturdays 10-8, and some Sundays for 3-5 hours. His pay included meal and break time at an average of 18 hours for $26.10!! This discrepancy became much greater over time. In the summer time, William’s paycheck would more than double mine. So I asked him to deliberately cash it with my boss, and I would hint with the boss that perhaps he should give me a raise. The boss’s comment was ‘oh, that was for two weeks, right? You get paid weekly.’ During his breaks, William would bring donuts and other goodies from inadvertently opened packages for us to snack on. Also he would spend his break helping me sack potatoes into 10 lb bags, etc. We worked in the grocery business for 5 years, through our two years of college at Wittenberg. During summers, we each had another day job and mostly stacked the grocery shelves at night.
In the summers of 1960 and 1961, I also worked at the Springfield City Hospital. The first summer I served as a ‘dienen.’ This person prepares the bodies for autopsy by the pathologist. The very first body which served as the tutorial to teach me my duties totally surprised me; it was the wife of our family physician, Doctor England! I managed to get through that, so they thought I was good to go. My next encounter was a body that was stiff as a board and weighed over 300 lb. I had a very difficult time, trying to transfer the body first from the refrigerator onto a stretcher, then onto the center of the autopsy table. I could not just go out into the hallway and yell for help! It took me hours and the pathologist was impatiently waiting; I thought for sure I’d be fired. But after he saw the body, he understood. I was paid $1.00 per hour with the ‘privilege’ to pay for the cookie snacks for the pathologist’s afternoon tea. I learned a lot and was more certain that medicine was my goal.
The summer of 1961, I was the delivery boy for the hospital pharmacy department, also at $1.00 per hour. I tried to study and memorize the drugs, having little idea what they did and how they really worked. It was a good introduction to medicine, a most valuable experience.
Finally after high school graduation, I got hired on at the Steel Products factory. This time my pay was $3.50 an hour! We were making replacements helicopter parts during the Vietnam engagement. Thus not only wanting to do well to keep this job, but out of patriotism, I wanted to help in my small way. I worked very quickly and thoroughly. My bench mates were always asking me to take a break, get a snack or go wash my hands. Later I discovered that they were assigned a certain time frame to do each piece, and I naively was setting a new pace. The permanent employees were worried that management would reassess the piece requirements and oblige them to work faster. This job was their life and for me, it was only summer employment. To resolve this conflict, management separated me from the group and assigned me the task of burring the spurs off the magnesium casings used in the helicopter. Apparently the pace for this job was 2 casings per 8 hour shift. After getting the hang of it, I was able to finish at least six each shift. There was no ventilation, and I wore no protective gear. Fortunately I was unaware that the fine shavings could easily light up and explode. It was a good thing I never smoked.
After Uncle David and Uncle Paul opened the Chinese restaurant near Springfield North High School, William and I would work there as our 3rd summer job on week-ends. Talking with and explaining Chinese food to customers yielded us very good monitory tips. After moving to Columbus to attend the Ohio State University, we often returned home to Springfield on week-ends to work at the restaurant.

Through 9th Grade

My father was not much into earthly possessions except for always wanting a big car. I believe this ‘complex’ was ingrained because in Malaya, he was assigned a tiny Austin for our family of five (Elizabeth was born later) while the other missionaries were all driving large Ford and Chevy station wagons! Thus, when a member of the church offered him a discount to buy a new model of the Chrysler DeSoto, without hesitation he bought it.
After our arrival to America in 1955, Dad sponsored his three younger brothers who also applied through the same Communists Affected Refugee Program. They arrived America in 1957.
Although everyone worked very hard, we also took advantage of seeing much of the country. Inevitably we spent two weeks each summer exploring the beautiful USA via road trips. We packed our clothes in pillow cases, and brought along in the trunk two leaflets from our dinner table. At night we would check in one room in a cheap motel so everyone can use the facilities. For sleeping arrangement, Mom, Dad, Danny and Elizabeth stayed in the motel room. Uncle David would sleep on the front bench seat; Uncle Paul would sleep on the back seat. The packed clothes in pillow cases would be used to fill the wells of the back floor, and Uncle John would sleep there. The two boards would be placed between the back window and the front seat and William and I would sleep on them. We did this for several trips and visited many national parks and historic sites. During driving time, the front bench seat was occupied by Dad, Mom, Danny and Elizabeth. The three uncles sat on the back bench seat. William and I would either sit in the wells or on the uncles’ laps. Whenever Elizabeth was sleeping, she was placed under the back window. (Little did we realize that we were ‘baking’ her.) Then, Uncle Paul and John joined and served in the Air Force and we had more room in the car.
Time passed very quickly through our Clark Jr. High years. For leisure time, we taught ourselves to play Ping-Pong, tennis, and soft/baseball. Danny, though younger, was much more adept at the racket games than William and I. William loved football, and I was fairly good at soft and hard ball. In track, William ran the 100 and the 220 yard dashes and I ran the low hurdles. We had the Presidential Fitness decathlon and out of 1000 points I scored 975!
Finally came graduation day from 9th grade. I was awarded the Sons of the American Revolution Good Citizenship Metal. (I believe Ann Carey (McFeatters) received the female version.) When we entered 10th grade at the Springfield High School and were joined with students from the other 4 junior high schools, with this award, I sensed a responsibility to represent the working class Clark students and ‘compete’ academically against students from the other more affluent schools. I believe that Ann (now a national syndicated op-ed columnist) and I did fairly well in this regard.

My 7th Grade Memories

After finishing 5th and 6th grades in one year, William and I started 7th grade at the William Clark Junior High School. We were in the same grade but they placed us in different homerooms and classes. Through reasons unknown to me, and without any campaign promises, my homeroom class elected me as president. As much as I recall, my duties were mainly to roll call for attendance and report the absentees, collect the lunch money each morning, and a few other odds and ends duties. Unexpectedly during the Christmas holiday break, our homeroom teacher passed away. The principal came to our class and asked me to select 4 other students and myself to represent the class at the teacher’s funeral service. I was told to prepare a three-five minute speech to express how she served us students. Remember, I’ve only learned English for one year! Think back when you’ve had a language course, after one year would you be able to come up with a speech to deliver in front of a church full of strangers? I asked my Dad for help. He just said that he does that every Sunday. He advised me to emphasize how she influenced me as a student and especially how she taught me to be a leader serving as her homeroom president. I worked on that and delivered my message well enough to receive loud applauses.

Jim Walsh, a NCAA football punter for the U of Colorado was our football coach. He recruited William and me to be on the team. We said we knew nothing about American football but he said he would teach us and he was sure we were smart enough to learn quickly. William was fullback and punt returner and I was the running halfback. Our front line consisted of an unusual group of 9th graders. Our center weighed almost 300 lb. Our guard/tackle was Dick Evey (drafted as the #14 player in the First round by the Chicago Bears. He played in the NFL for 7 years.) Our receiver/end was Eddie White who later tried out as an Olympic high jumper. All William and I had to do was to run through the holes the team created and hold on to the ball. Once, William blocked for me and broke the arm of the opponent player. The word was out that we knew karate and the rivals were fearful of tackling us even in the clear open field. William and I scored touchdowns after touchdowns. Football was fun!! This did not last, the next year, after the 9th graders left, the team was not at all the same. I gave up football but William persisted playing through his Junior High School years.

As reported previously, since age 4, my single minded goal in life was to become a medical doctor, and I needed no distractions. But being also a normal healthy male teenager and I was beginning to appreciate the different features of the opposite sex. Walking or riding my bike to and from school each day, I often encountered this beautiful blond haired girl carrying a violin case. I thought she was pretty enough to be Miss America in the making. (If you ever watch CNBC, the reporter named Courtney Reagan reminds me of the youthful beauty then) I discovered her name was Pamela Waits, but she was not in any of my classes. I wanted to take up music anyway, so I asked our orchestra teacher/conductor if he would be willing to teach me to play the violin. He surprised me by asking me to come early MWF before school for a 30 minute lesson. I did that and soon join the school orchestra. But unfortunately, shortly afterwards, Pamela unexpectedly moved away. I had barely gotten acquainted with her! Anyway, I enjoyed playing the violin and stayed in the orchestra through 10th grade.