A selfless couple who are cancer survivors themselves

As cancer patients endure medical treatment, emotional struggles, as well as financial burdens, it can be hard for them to stay upbeat and continue to connect with others in society.

However, this was not the case for Mdm. Phương Dao and Mr. Thanh Cường, a couple who owned a restaurant in Saigon and while both battling cancer themselves.

Determined to not let their sicknesses get in their way of living normal lives and helping people, they have been unfailingly handing out free food packs to cancer patients in Ho Chi Minh City Oncological Hospital for the past 6 years.

The husband’s promise with a friend who died of cancer

hand out free food to cancer patients
The couple preparing lunches for cancer patients
Image adapted from: Ẩm thực và Du lịch

A gang member for many years, the husband, Cường, experienced life as he knew it changing forever when he witnessed his best friend dying of cancer. Hoping to help his friend get reborn in a better realm according to a Buddhist belief, he promised to hand out free food packs to patients battling with cancer for 49 days.

However, as the period of 49 days elapsed, he realized that there were too many people who needed help and decided to continue helping them until today. For Cường, helping the people in need – together with his wife – is also a way for him to pay it forward.

The couple are cancer survivors themselves

Now, the couple tirelessly handing out free food packs is a common sight to the patients of Ho Chi Minh City Oncological Hospital.

cancer couple
Mr. Thanh Cường (left) and Mdm. Phương Dao (right)
Image credit: Tuổi trẻ & Xã hội

Not many know that behind their facade of happy faces and seemingly endless energy, this couple who’s been married for over 30 years with 3 sons together is also going through their own battles.

2 years ago, Dao was diagnosed with lung cancer. Even though she knows many friends who passed away after only 3 to 6 months of treatment, incredibly, her own cancer cells did not spread beyond her lungs and she recovered after lung tumor removal surgery.

After her fortunate victory against cancer for Dao, her husband was also diagnosed with lung cancer. Luckily, fortune smiled on the couple again as Cường also went through cancer treatment and recovered within only 3 months.

“My mother has been battling cancer for the past 17 years. My other family members, including my wife, were also diagnosed with cancer. Fortunately, we were able to overcome this heartbreaking turn of events together as a family,” Cường said.

hand out free food to cancer patients
Cường, Dao, and their volunteers handing out free food packs to cancer patients
Image adapted from: Saigon Travel

Cường recalled how his sickness was challenging: “During my cancer treatment, I couldn’t go shopping for groceries or cook so I gave my wife money to buy milk and banh mi to hand out to the patients 4 days a week.

“They had been expecting to see us and waiting for us to hand out food for the past 6 years. They’d be devastated if we stopped doing that for just one day. No matter how hard it is, I’ll try my very best to help them. Nothing makes me happier than operating my restaurant, handing out free food to those in need, and watching my children grow up. I hope that I will always stay healthy so that I can help more people.”

hand out free food to cancer patientsThe dishes Cường prepares every day for the patients
Image adapted from: Saigon Travel

Besides handing out free food to cancer patients, Dao and Cường also serve free food to those in need in their own restaurant from Monday to Thursday from 3PM.

hand out free food to cancer patients
A sign at Ba Cu restaurant that says “A free portion of rice with meat. Available from 3PM from Monday to Thursday. All you need to do is to get in the queue.”
Image adapted from: Saigon Travel

The couple’s unwavering dedication to the needy

From cooking to cleaning to taking medicine, a cancer patient always needs physical assistance and emotional support. Taking care of other cancer patients while having cancer themselves couldn’t have been easy for this couple, as the task would be a challenge even for healthy people.

However, cancer didn’t deter this selfless and brave couple from doing what they deemed right. Instead of caving in to fear, they rose to the occasion and have become a great pillar of support for those facing the same challenges.To join Cường and Dao in their endeavors to help more cancer patients in Saigon, you can patronise their restaurant and donate groceries or money.

Address: 271 Nơ Trang Long, Ward 12, Bình Thạnh District
Opening hours: Mon-Fri, 9AM-4PM
Telephone: 091 961 8210

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Cover image adapted from: Saigon Travel and Ẩm thực và Du lịch

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