It's been a year since Hung Tran, who along with his wife Kim Le owns Kim's Day Spa, was diagnosed with lung cancer that had already spread to the brain and bone. It's been a year that has taught us many things: about how brave Hung is in his fight against this disease; about how this fight is a long journey -- a marathon, not a sprint -- about how wonderful our friends are in supporting us and surrounding us with love during this journey; and about the many different kinds of speedbumps we encounter along the way.
Hung and Kim need your help.
In the last year Hung has had numerous different types of treatments from chemo, and radiation, to the "CyberKnife". Currently the brain cancer, which was last treated in late December, remains in abeyance, but the lung cancer continues to pose a big fight. And most recently, complications have led to a septic infection that will require eight weeks of IV antibiotics, and in-home health care and medical equipment including a hospital bed and wheelchair.
But Hung -- who has been dubbed The Amazing Mr. Hung by his loyal clients and friends because of his courage -- continues to fight and continues the journey.
One of the speedbumps that never seems to go away is how expxensive health care is, especially when you're on the leading edge of science. It is particularly bad when the whole family is self-employed and time away from work is lost income. Because of this, we are so grateful to everyone who continues to help us overcome this particular speed bump. Any contribution is humbly and gratefully appreciated. If you cannot help in this way, we ask you to take a moment to send prayers or positive energy for Hung's journey.
We hold all of you who take time to help in any way, physical or spiritual, in our hearts.
Neither Hung nor Kim are strangers to long journeys that require courage. Below, we have included a story about one of those long and hard journies. This is the story (told in Kim's own words) of the journey of how Kim and Hung came to be the beloved owners of Kim's Day Spa.
I want to share with you my story of how I came to America. My father was American and my mother is Vietnamese. I never knew my father except that he served in the military. In January 1980 the Orderly Departure Program was established in Bangkok, Thailand. Over the course of its work the ODP could assist nearly 500,000 Vietnamese refugees in resettling in the United States. I applied for the program in 1980 because I was an Amerasian. Amerasians were Vietnamese citizens who had a Vietnamese mother and American father. I had always been treated as an outsider because of this mixed blood. I was teased and harassed as a child in school, and it was difficult to make friends and find a place to stand in the world. I felt that going to America would give me that place. Although the entire process took 10 years, my dream came true and I finally made it to America! During those 10 years, I met a young man named Hung and married him in 1990. Even though it was an arranged marriage, it has been a magnificent relationship.
We set off together for America, and had to stop in the Philippines for a second interview. We were very fortunate and only had to wait nine days. Some people had to wait up to six months for an interview spot. After the interview we boarded an American Airlines flight to America. At that time I did not speak English but Hung had studied English and understood it. I think I was so young and optimistic I didn’t know to be scared, but Hung was smart enough to be a little worried.
Our lives completely changed when we arrived in the U.S. on July 18, 1991. That was a very memorable day for us; I felt as though I had been reborn and was beginning a whole new life. This is when we first met Ms. Rose Marie B. (full name withheld for privacy), a wonderful lady with the Mohawk Valley Resource Center for Refugees. She supported us mentally and emotionally so as to help us make a healthy transition to America, helping us find adequate resources through the Resource Center for 3 months in Utica, NY. Yes, we were in New York and had never seen snow. I had no idea what it was at first, and had to have it explained to me.
The freezing weather in New York was unnatural for us, so Hung and I relocated to Atlanta in 1992. We did not have much money or know many people. We had to rent someone’s basement. Although we felt fortunate to find a place to live, we were also depressed at our situation. We had traveled thousands of miles but still had a challenging time finding possibilities. During this time I attended The Beauty College and in six months had earned my certification as a nail technician. I started my career at a nail salon in Buckhead. I would wake up at four in the morning to get ready for my job. I did not own a car, so I would take Marta every morning. I felt as though I was working so hard but not earning enough to survive.
After a few years I decided to take a step to improve my situation, and I opened my own salon. I moved to office space in the lobby of a high-rise Buckhead apartment, and established Nails by Kim. It wasn’t big or lavish, but it worked well for me at the time. In 2000, at the request of my customers I went back to school to receive my certification as an esthetician. I did not have a lot of money so I had to work in the mornings and attend school at night. I spent a lot of nights on the couch studying and working on homework. After I received my certification, I decided to open Kim’s Day s Spa. Hung had also been in school, and had just achieved his certification as a massage therapist. So he joined me in creating our family business.
Our first child Anh Bao Tran-Le was born in 1994. We sometimes joke that Anh Bao grew up at the salon, quietly playing with Pokemon cards while our clients visited around him. He has so many honorary aunties among our wonderful, long-time clients! We only expected one child… however life is full of surprises! In February of 2009 we found out that Anh Bao would soon have a sister! We had to start thinking of a beautiful name for our daughter.
I had always remembered warmly the lady, Rose Marie B, who sponsored us when we came to the US in July 1991. I decided that I really wanted to talk to her and started my search to find her. I went online and Googled her. I instantly found her on Facebook after 19 years! I was so excited to see her picture that I immediately sent her an email. She said that that time 19 years before had been an important time in her life as well. Since then we have kept in touch, which just thrills me! She is a very accomplished lady who continues to aid Asians through several agencies.
Our beautiful daughter arrived on November 12, 2009, and of course we named her RoseMarie. She is the perfect complement to our family. On Thanksgiving of 2010, after nineteen years we were reunited with Ms. RoseMarie in New York. What a wonderful reunion for all of us. And, like her brother, our RoseMarie is also growing up at the spa surrounded by clients who have become extended family.
Ahn Bao is now grown and taking his place in the world. After graduating from Emory University, he is now living in Madison, Wisconsin doing well as a Project Manager in the medical field. Since our childhoods were difficult, we always dreamed for him to have a great future and do well in his life.
Just as our family has grown, so has our business. We’ve moved a few times, and are now located at 3739 Roswell Rd, and have changed our name to Kim’s Day Spa to reflect everything we do. Over the last two decades we have always tried to serve the Buckhead community with our hearts. It was our dream to open a spa that reflected our understanding of the mind--body-spirit connection. We believe that the beauty of the body and spirit comes from healing and relaxation. We and our staff greet everyone with a genuine smile. Both Hung and I take the time to greet and get to know and remember every one of our clients, offering them not just the spa services but care and attention to the inner beauty as well.
And so our lives and Kim’s Day Spa flourished. We were enjoying our family and friends, and sharing our successes because success does not happen alone. We have so many family and friends engaged in our lives! And as life throws difficult obstacles your way, you begin to reap so many benefits from lives entwined with yours. As we are learning every day.
In May 2017 we received the shocking news when Hung was diagnosed with lung cancer that had spread to the bone and brain. Why Hung, he is a wonderful and loving man? He never even smoked!
Many questions with no answers. This is when family and friends took over. They helped us cope, understand the medical situation, and gave generously of their time and love. We would not have made it even part-way through this difficult journey without the help from our circle of friends in our community. I would like to personally thank them all for their generosity! Mr. Hung and I would like to express our deepest gratitude to our families, friends, community and the best clients we could ever have! Thank You all for embracing and loving our small family and making us feel at home! We Love You All.