三个月前， 我有幸受邀作了一场 TED 演讲，讲的是我的亲身经历和真实故事，中心思想是坚定的信念，积极正向的态度和勇于坚持的精神如何帮助我们在决定中挑战不可能。我一直坚信，勇敢的人，不是从不落泪的人，而是愿意含着眼泪继续奔跑的人。为母则刚，作为妈妈，必须做好家里的精神领袖，接住生活扔过来的各种凌厉怪招。演讲是全英文的，今天附上英文视频，根据视频整理的英文讲稿，以及中文译稿。需要说明的是，中文译稿并非逐字翻译的，而是尊重了中文的语境和表达方式，略加改编。
从乐乐确诊至今，这场无硝烟的战役已经打了三年，我们一起创造了奇迹。乐乐顽强地生存了下来，并重返校园。这场艰苦的旅程一路走来, 我们依靠的是强烈的信念，持久的坚持精神， 无数好心人的帮助以及上天赐予的好运，所有这些陪我们度过了一个个不眠之夜和无数个难熬的治疗阶段。我将经验总结了四条，分享给大家。
乐乐生病，使我们全家不得不面对许多我们不愿面对的事实。我们意识到命运残酷，必须接招，然而我们更清楚地意识到，就像林肯总统曾经说过的，放弃才注定失败，不放弃就有希望。我们是孩子的天，天不能塌。我们必须在噩运包围时抱有能杀出一条血路的信心，哪怕这意味着我们要做出诸多牺牲, 就像我先生必须放弃工作，就像星星必须在短时间内去适应三所风格完全不同的学校, 克服心理障碍，结交新的朋友，在新的环境中卓越表现，去重新建立个人品牌。再好像星星曾经是美国羽毛球青少年组的前几名，我们却不得不暂停他坚持多年的训练和比赛，因为我们搭不上时间接送。更别提在乐乐的化疗当中，星星突破重重竞争，获得了去耶鲁大学参加国际辩论赛最后一轮的比赛资格，而我们决定放弃，因为我们正在全力以赴, 为乐乐的生存而战。
感恩是坚持精神的可持续来源。有了这个心态，我们从不幸中发掘出许多万幸， 把自己从悲伤哀叹中解放出来， 集中精力去做那些真正有用的事。
Dare to Believe You Can Make Miracles Happen
Today I am going to share a story of my four heroes and how we made miracles happen. There are 4 boys in my family: my husband Steve, my older son Justin, who is turning 17 and my younger son Larry, who is turning 13, and a lovely dog named Reese. From the picture, you might not be able to tell that Larry is a brain tumor survivor. 33 months ago, Larry was diagnosed with brain tumor, this news came as a thunderbolt out of a blue sky. The location of the tumor suggested it was not benign, the prognosis was not good, the treatment was a brutal one that included major brain surgery followed by many rounds of radiation and chemo therapies and altogether it took more than a year. We went through all of these. 33 months later, I am standing here sharing how our family worked as a team and helped Larry fight through this devastating disease.
Larry is a fighter. He suffered through the unknown post-surgery pain that tortured him for almost a month, he tolerated multiple treatments that led to temporarily loss of many functions including speaking, eating and dressing. He managed to live with the nasal gastric tube for 15 months as he was not able to eat at all due to constant nausea. Despite these tough challenges, Larry never lost his courage to fight and he never lost his beautiful smile. He always looked for things to cheer himself up. During his radiation therapy in late 2014, he was barely able to stand, he still tried to look for a creative way to celebrate Halloween, he borrowed the physical therapist uniform and he used that uniform as his Halloween costume. When he re-learned to eat, it was a very tough task as his stomach refused to take solid food, he claimed victory after he swallowed every single piece of French fry. Chemo wiped away his hair but never wiped away his sense of humor. He made jokes about his bald head and hand made a hat with pomelo skin, by the way, pomelo is an eastern version of grapefruit. Larry always had hope and made wishes. In thanksgiving time of 2015, he made a wish to have a dog, a month and half later, we adopted our dog Reese. The good thing of having wishes is: once he has a wish, people all strive to help him materialize it, and that brings satisfaction and happiness, which helps the immune system fighting cancer.
My older son Justin is a hero. Justin is not a stereotypical teenager. Justin grew up significantly through this challenging time. Due to Larry’s treatment, he had to transition through three schools in a 12-month period of time during his freshman year. He sacrificed a lot of his playing time with his peers and became Larry’s best game partner and play mate. He probably also took some unfair blame from us when we were stressed out, but he never took it personal, his brotherhood, his love and his maturity was very critical during Larry’s fighting journey.
My husband Steve is a true hero. After Larry’s diagnosis, he quit his job and became Larry’s 24/7 caregiver and a multi-tasking father. He is a chef, a nurse, a pharmacist, he is also a physical therapist, a teacher and a playmate. Steve took on this tough task and has been Larry’s strongest source of strength.
Reese, our dog we adopted on Jan. 9th 2016, is a very important member of Larry’s fighting team. In the past 1.5 years, Reese took away lots of stressful times for my family. The level of joy he brought exceeded our highest expectation. Reese became Larry’s companion day and night. Amazingly, Reese understands Larry’s ups and downs, and offered the best comfort that humans may not be able to do.
Larry’s battle was the toughest battle we ever fought. What we have achieved so far is a true miracle, Larry was back to school and has been making continuous progress in his recovery. This journey took many sleepless nights, many strong beliefs, a huge amount of resilience and good luck. Here are the four secrets that worked for us to make the miracles happen.
First, strengthen your beliefs to form a new reality.
When we handle tough challenges, it is OK to be a bit superstitious. The beliefs are the strength. What we believe determines what we make true. What we take to be true at subconscious level becomes reality. It is the strong belief that makes all the difference. We found ways to strengthen our beliefs that Larry would make it. Here are a couple examples: the number 9 in Chinese pronunciation means long lived. When I got my new car, I asked for the 999 license plate and the BMV lady was touched by my story and gave the plate to me. Since then, every day when I drive, I drive with the strong belief that Larry will be long-lived. I travel a lot for work, when I check in a hotel, I always ask for room 219 if possible, as the pronunciation of 219 in Chinese means “my son will live long”. That provides comfort when I am away from home. In many cultures, a double rainbow means good luck. It is very rare to see and it stays only for seconds or minutes. When Larry was in treatment, I saw the double rainbow and I took this precious picture. Since then we had another reason to believe that good luck will be with us. In eastern culture, red means many good things including happiness, fortune and good luck. You might not know, but the Chinese stock market is the only place where when a stock goes up, it shows red instead of green. After Larry got sick, I bought a lot of red things for myself and my family members. My goal was to make red easily visible to everyone in my house. Every day the red constantly reminds us to stay positive. All of these strengthened our core belief that good things will happen.
Secret number two, do not let the worry or negativity consume you, find ways to sleep well, distract yourself, stay connected with people and ask for help. When we face adversity, it could become pervasive, all of sudden, everything in life becomes awful because of one unfortunate event. It takes a lot of conscious effort to drag ourselves out of the negativity. During Larry’s treatment, Steve and I lost many nights of sleep, we decided to use a sleep aid. Both Steve and I found ways to distract ourselves, I used writing and Steve used exercise. I am a professional writer and I wrote hundreds of essays, many of them were published and I had numerous followers. The feedback from my followers inspired me, encouraged me and motivated me. Steve started to practice Yoga and plank exercise and that helps relieve his stress. When we face deep adversity such as significant disease, often people choose to keep it private, especially at work, as they worry people may doubt their commitment at work and impact career development opportunities. It is true that there are many legitimate reasons to keep the challenges private, but my experience of sharing the challenges with friends and colleagues has been very positive, because those who care about us wanted to help, and we needed help. Sometimes, when one bad news is followed by another, we are swallowed up in a fog of helplessness and the pressure simply needs an exit. In situations like this, bringing your whole self to work, showing your vulnerability and accepting the help not only makes sense, but also is critical to keep our own well-being so we will be able to accumulate sustainable strength and energy to cope with the long term challenge.
Secret number three, acknowledge the difficult situation, make rational trade-offs and never regret your decisions. Larry’s event has changed my family profoundly in many ways. We learned the brutality of the possible child loss. But more importantly, we learned that, as Abraham Lincoln said: you cannot fail unless you quit. It did not take long for me and Steve to understand that our mentality affects Larry’s confidence. If we are strong, Larry is strong. If we are hopeful, Larry has more hope. Miracles can happen only if we dare to fight. Fighting a devastating disease is expensive and we made many trade off decisions to make Larry’s treatment our top priority. Steve had to suspend his career, Justin, besides changing school three times in 12 months, as a national badminton award winner, he had to suspend his favorite sport as we did not have time to drive him to practice. In the middle of Larry’s chemo therapy, Justin qualified for the final rounds of a prestigious debate competition at Yale University, but we were not able to send Justin as we were fighting for Larry’s survival. Now thinking back, is there anything we could have done differently or better? I am sure there was. But we chose to move on and never looked back. The bottom line is: whatever we did, we made it through. We focus on looking ahead and getting ready for more challenges and more wins.
The most powerful secret is to be grateful. Finding gratitude and appreciation is key to resilience. Larry’s event helped us find deeper gratitude. With gratitude, we realized things could be much worse and we were actually on a better path. With gratitude, we got motivated as we knew we had helpers fighting with us. We were grateful that we had good parents’ instinct, we identified the problem before significant symptoms. I was grateful that my company gave me an opportunity to lead our oncology business unit so I was knowledgeable in the oncology space and was well-connected with the physicians. I am grateful to the leaders and team members for their unconditional support and trust. We were grateful to our colleagues who have offered many seemingly insignificant help that made a huge difference. That help could be a dinner at a colleague’s house when we were new to Indy, that help could be an email asking for Larry’s update on a late Thursday night, knowing Larry had a MRI and follow up visit that day. That help could be as short as a 10-minute quick check-on how my family was doing. That help could also be as long as thousands of miles, when a friend hand carried a locally made dietary supplement for Larry from the other side of the world. That help could be as simple as a warm hug, could also be as time-consuming and complicated as offering help in reviewing Larry’s medical history and spending hours with thought leaders on Larry’s treatment plan. The list goes on and on.
The essence of “dare to make miracles happen” is resilience. We are not born with the fixed amount of resilience. Resilience is something we can build up. We all have the potential to become a more resilient version of ourselves. If everyone of us does that, our organization will be more resilient. Failure is a natural part of our business, we have had drugs failed after more than 10 years of effort, that drug will not be the last one that fails. But the important thing is we learn from the failure and move on. As the drug development, commercialization and pricing environment becomes increasingly difficult around the globe, our organization’s resilience is more critical than ever and the company’s resilience relies on every one of us. Today, I shared my 4 secretes to make miracles happen and may I ask you to come up with yours. If we all strive to become a hero, our company will be a hero, and the patients we serve such as Larry will be heroes.