Alex Tung

Alex Tung was diagnosed with cancer at just 38 years old. Alex was happy and healthy, an avid surfer and athlete, but he suddenly faced a rare form of leukemia that was immune to chemotherapy. In fact, one hospital told him he only had six months to live. But in Alex’s mind, he had too much to live for. 

The son of a mother who was both a Chinese immigrant and single parent, Alex wanted to beat cancer for her, since she defied so many odds for him. She joined Alex in his hospital visits and was by his side throughout his treatment.

On top of the lack of conventional treatment options, there was also no bone-marrow match for Alex; although 12 million people have signed up with the registry, only seven percent are of Asian descent. So, along with his doctors, Alex decided to try a revolutionary treatment. “Alex signed up for a clinical trial that used umbilical cord blood for transplantation instead of bone marrow. Cord blood has been found to provide the stem cells necessary for transplant when a blood cancer patient doesn’t have an ideal stem cell match.”

Alex is now in remission and, along with his unique treatment, he credits having a strong support system as a key to his survivorship. “Having cancer and going through treatment can completely turn your life around, so it’s important to have a strong support system to rely on. One of my favorite things to do before I was diagnosed with cancer was go surfing. I used to surf almost every day. When I was receiving treatment…I couldn’t be as active or even go outside on most days. Having my mom be with me every step of the way really helped me get through this challenging time.”