polo sunglasses Man completes marathon in Antarctica for his late wife
She was 39. He was 43. While neither had been married, both had been in long term relationships, both knew what they wanted and what they didn’t.
“She just struck me right off the bat,” he said. “Her story just captivated me.”
She was born of Chinese decent in Vietnam. As Communism spread, My’s parents, two older sisters and younger brother boarded a boat with no clear destination. During their 10 days at sea, My’s brother, Sang, says they had to fight off several pirate attacks before landing at a Malaysian refugee camp on the island of Bidong. It’s west of the mainland in the China Sea.
At the time, My was just 5 years old. The six of them shared what amounted to a one room hut with no running water for 13 months. My’s uncle, who was already living in the United States, got in touch with the American Red Cross. The organization found the family and relocated them with him in Houston, Texas.
Dave says My wasted no time in Houston: learns English, graduates valedictorian of her high school class and then gets herself into Yale. didn’t stop at learning English. In addition to her native Cantonese, she also spoke Russian and Spanish. Her ability to speak four languages helped her land a job as a diplomatic liaison and translator at the US Embassy in Uzbekistan, Russia. In her spare time she picked up a brown belt in karate, climbed Mount Kilimanjaro and had run marathons on five continents. She dreamed of hitting all seven.
“Her plan of running on all seven continents it was more of a goal to travel than it was to run,” Dave said. “She wasn’t a runner first. She was a traveler first.”
She returned to the United States in 1999 after accepting a job with IBM’s global initiative team based in New York. Dave says she helped find ways for women owned businesses to succeed. Four years later she found herself sitting across from Dave on a Match date. There was another soon after and a few more before, as Dave says, they both knew this had, “long term potential.”
After only a month and half of dating, Dave says, My proposed a trip to a friend’s wedding in the Dominican Republic. And I said even better.”
It was on this trip Dave heard more of My’s story. She had been diagnosed with a rare blood cancer in 2012. are diagnosed with Amyloidosis blood cancer. While it can turn deadly quickly, it can also be treated as a chronic illness. People can live for decades if doctors can find the right balance of medication.
After My was diagnosed she received chemo and a stem cell transplant. It seemed to work. Her cancer was in remission for the year leading up to the Dominican Republic trip. Dave admits, after reading what he could on the internet about Amyloidosis,
he was scared.
The fear however, was countered with the fact she was in remission, had just run a marathon in Dublin and was training for a marathon in the small Asian country of Bhutan. It would be her 8th marathon on her 6th continent.
He says he looked himself in the mirror and asked himself two questions: “What would I regret more in the future? Losing her to a medical condition or walking away out of the fear?” Dave says his choice was a “no brainer.”
Not long before the Bhutan race, My told Dave she was starting to feel some of the same symptoms just before her original diagnosis. After the marathon, her doctor confirmed her cancer had returned.
Dave said it was scary but he knew they had found the right combination of drugs before and they, along with My doctor, were confident they could do it again.
“We never had the conversation terminal you have so many months. We always had a path forward. There were medical options available. It’s the hope that can balance the fear, Dave said.
With hope and a heart full of love Dave decided it was time to ask My to marry him. He told her they were going to Philadelphia, Dave’s hometown, for one of his friend’s birthdays but instead he took her to get her nails done.
They visited the spot of their first Match date before he took her to a hotel where he had put together a book of memories from their year and half of dating. Photos, matchbooks, play bills, ticket stubs, and menus from restaurants. Then he played a video with their friends urging her to say yes to the next question.
“I said there is a great view from the roof top bar, he said. Waiting on the roof were 30 of their closest friends and she was happy she had her nails done.
A few weeks before their wedding, they got some bad news. My was not responding to treatment.
“Do we want to wait until you are in remission again? We talked about that but decided to press forward with our original schedule. So glad we did. I would have regretted it so much, Dave said.
While things weren’t looking good, Dave says there were still options, still hope: “She thought she was going to outlive all of us.”
They were married on August 7, 2015. The New York Times covered it. The article doesn’t mention her illness. It focused on their story. It focused on their love. That was by design, Dave told me. For their honeymoon, they spent four nights in Aruba.
When they returned, My continued treatment but her doctors still could not find the right drug combination and worse, she had developed an infection. Over the next month her health started on a downward spiral. She was admitted on a Monday. Her cancer was at an advanced stage. After initially seeing an uptick in key markers Dave says, she went into cardiac arrest. Dave watched it happen. “I wouldn’t wish that moment on anyone”