30 DAYS/30 STORIES® 2022
I first met Ku K and her family in 2008 when she was only 18 months old. They had recently come to the US from Thailand. Despite the cultural and language differences, we became fast friends. My parents and I were by their side through their first jobs, Ku K’s educational journey, the birth of Julia in 2011, Jamie becoming a US citizen, and buying their first home. Then, on September 25, 2017, the unthinkable happened. Ku K had been not feeling herself for a few weeks. But on that day, Jamie (Ku K’s mom) took her to the doctor and got the phone call no parent wants to hear. Ku K was diagnosed with leukemia, specifically a particularly hard to treat type of AML. My parents and I rushed to the hospital that night.
And, in the ensuing days and weeks and months of Ku K’s long hospitalizations and treatment, both in Allentown at Lehigh Valley Health Network and in Philadelphia at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and the Ronald McDonald House, something surprising happened. My parents and I spent many hours at the hospital with the family. But so did many other friends and neighbors. A whole community came together for this family, from every facet of their lives from Ku K’s school friends (and parents), teachers, church family, my extended family, Jamie’s work, the best neighbors and other friends. Friends slept overnight in the hospital so Jamie could keep working part time, helped Paung (Ku K’s dad) with the logistics of his landscaping business that he had started just before Ku K’s diagnosis, set up a Gofundme to help with the mortgage and other household expenses; and other friends just gave of their time and their money. Since Ku K’s parents had never had a formal wedding ceremony in Thailand, Ku K asked her parents to have a ceremony here before she had her bone marrow transplant. Again, family and friends stepped up in a big way and we made a wedding ceremony happen in a week!
In the end, Ku K did well for several months, but the leukemia returned and she went to heaven early on Easter morning in 2019. Even then, friends and family came forward and stood with Jamie, Paung and Julia. The day of the funeral, they had to have a police escort through Emmaus to the cemetery because there were so many cars.
There are far too many individuals to name them all, but the other mainstay through this time, and continuing through today, has been PCFLV. As soon as Ku K was diagnosed, my cousin’s wife Val connected us with PCFLV, and they also walked with the family and continue to support Julia and her parents through Camp Smile, the back-to-school backpack event, the Christmas party and gift, and other events and opportunities throughout the year. You are all in our hearts forever.
Written by Ku K’s and her family’s dear friend, Marla
Please consider helping children with cancer and others in our community by scheduling a blood donation at Miller-Keystone Blood Center: https://donor.giveapint.org/donor/schedules/zip