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Jian’s Journey: Against All Odds

Jian's Journey: Against All Odds

Every person's holistic health journey is unique, and over our 60-year history, El Camino Health has provided the expertise, support and care that people need to recover and live their best life. One of our most unique patient stories is that of Jian.

When Jian and her husband Andy found out they were expecting a baby and would soon be new parents in 2012, they could not have anticipated the monumental challenge they were about to face.

It began with the discovery of blood clots in Jian's leg. As a life-threatening condition to both Jian and her baby, Jian was admitted to El Camino Health's Mountain View Hospital by her OB/GYN, Sarah Azad, MD, and successfully treated with blood thinners.

Then, at just 22 weeks into her pregnancy, she began to have contractions. Dr. Azad was able to slow down the contractions, but tests revealed fluid around her heart and lungs. She underwent an immediate procedure to drain the fluid, which was sent for analysis. Jian then received the devastating news that she had stage IV lung cancer. The cancer had also spread to her lymph nodes and bones.

"I was shocked," Jian recalls. "I didn't expect it because I was only 34 years old, and I never smoked. And I was still pregnant."

With two lives hanging in the balance, Jian met with Dr. Azad and medical oncologist Shane Dormady, MD, to design a treatment plan targeting the cancer as aggressively as possible while keeping Jian's baby safe.

But the day after beginning chemotherapy, and at 23 weeks into her pregnancy, Jian went into labor.

Her daughter, Ella, was just 1 pound, 2 ounces when she was born. Ella spent the first month of her life in the El Camino Health neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). She battled numerous infections that led to organ failure, which required specialized surgeries to save her life.

And while Ella was fighting for her life in the NICU, Jian was also fighting for her own life. Although the chemotherapy was working, she had to undergo another surgery to remove fluid that had once again built up around her heart and lungs.

Three days after the surgery, Jian suffered a massive stroke.

While she survived, Jian lost mobility on the right side of her body and the ability to speak. She began intensive stroke rehabilitation at the El Camino Rehabilitation Center in Los Gatos while continuing her lung cancer treatment, learning how to do everything from walking to regaining her speech.

Jian's extraordinary resilience and determination to see her daughter grow up kept her going when she felt like giving up. "I thought: I can't give up. I have to get better for my daughter, my husband, and my parents. And for myself."

And she did. Although Jian continued to receive chemotherapy, she remained in a stable condition for several years while her daughter grew and started preschool. But Jian's journey back to health wasn’t over yet. In 2017, Jian was diagnosed with a brain tumor. She underwent a series of CyberKnife radiosurgery treatments performed by radiation oncologist Robert Sinha, MD, PAMF, that completely removed the tumor, alongside targeted cancer therapy. Three years later, another tumor was discovered, this time in Jian's hip. She received advanced immunotherapy treatment and radiation, which was successful in removing this latest tumor.

While Jian continues to receive treatment at El Camino Health to prevent new tumors from developing, today, Jian remains in remission. She spends her time cooking, gardening and caring for her family and is currently writing her autobiography. Her daughter Ella is happy and healthy.

Jian's health journey has touched the lives of many at El Camino Health, with around a hundred staff members helping Jian and her daughter recover. To Jian, they are a second family. "El Camino Health is amazing. They saved my daughter's life. They saved my life," says Jian. "The doctors are beyond words, and the nurses are like family. Every time I go to the cancer center, I feel like going back home. They are my friends, my family."

Jian's remarkable story of courage in the face of multiple health crises is a testament to her incredible resilience. It's also one of hope for others facing complex, life-threatening health challenges.

"Go to a good hospital and find good doctors like the ones at El Camino Health and then never give up hope. No matter how low you are, you still have hope and the possibility to get up and get better."