Vietnamese teacher shares bright energy among lung cancer patients

A cancer patient, the Vietnamese teacher Le Hoang Ngan launched the project We Can with the aim of helping others who are in the same boat.


Ngan, 32, has been forced to stop giving lectures these days to get treatment for her lung cancer.

Despite such an arduous situation, what Ngan has done becomes a source of energy for surrounding cancer patients.

Feeling pain personally

Ngan got an awful shock in 2019 when she received a diagnosis of stage 4 lung cancer. She was a teacher working at a high school in the central city of Da Nang at that time.

Ngan and her family struggled to overcome the most difficult period. The woman has learned to live with the disease and consider it as a part of her life now.

During the days of being treated at the oncology department of Da Nang Hospital, Ngan met with many cancer patients, with whom she could talk about various things.

“I found out cancer patients never think negatively or shed tears in front of others, they often laugh to suppress the pain and disease,” recalled Ngan.

“In contrast, many healthy people think that cancer patients want to be consoled, which turns out to be counterproductive.”

But as a cancer patient herself, Ngan knows they still need more warm-hearted and subtle attention. Many cancer patients must deal with the physical and emotional effects of their problem for years afterward.

She envisioned an organization that could offer cancer patients what they are genuinely in need. And project We Can was officially started by Ngan in April 2020.

Ngan initiated the project with the smallest, simplest, and most practical things. She and some volunteers opened a class, Drawing Green Dreams, for pediatric cancer patients.

She talks about psychology and emotion while providing them with knowledge and mental support as well.

We Can has fueled cancer patients with energy, confidence, and hope during the past year thanks to meaningful activities conducted by Ngan and many volunteers.

Le Hoang Ngan speaks in an event of We Can in a supplied photo.

Le Hoang Ngan speaks at an event of We Can in a supplied photo.

Learning to love themselves

As a woman in Vietnam, Ngan understands the importance of appearance to anyone, especially a female cancer patient who is in a course of treatment, which has often left negative side effects on her look.

Ngan holds a series of activities named We Shine in the hope of making female patients like her feel better and confident about themselves despite the treatment’s effects.

Taking part in the We Shine, female cancer patients who are treated by chemotherapy have a chance to learn to love themselves. They are showing the way to have a better look.

They receive the support of skin care products made from natural materials and get pieces of advice from make-up professionals. They can meet and exchange with other cancer patients, who share with them an enthusiastic love for life.

The initiative of We Shine, which has been held both in Da Nang City and Ho Chi Minh City, has attracted many patients to partake.

“The program [We Shine] has left a strong impression on me,” said Le Thi Kim, a cancer patient.

“I hope that other patients have opportunities to participate like me.

“As cancer patients, we all want to live, to be loved, to make ourselves as beautiful as others do; then to be more confident and live more positively.”

Apart from helping the patients, We Can also has activities that are meant to support their children, who have suffered many difficulties because of their mothers’ condition.

The gala We Sing is one of those activities meant to raise funds to help the poor patients’ children.

Along with cancer patients, both doctors and nurses in Da Nang Hospital sang many positive songs to inspire bright energy.

All the money raised from the gala was sent to a fund helping cancer patients.

The fund will help maintain activities that support the patients and contribute to a scholarship program providing aid for their offspring.

Talking about what she has done to help cancer patients, Nga rarely mentions obstacles despite running into a lot during the first days of running the We Can project.

“I know that there are always difficulties and challenges in life,” she said.

“But we had better not focus on them.

“We should instead try to figure out more appropriate solutions.”

Members participating in an event of the We shine initiative launched by We Can in a supplied photo.

People pose at an event of the We Shine initiative launched by We Can in a supplied photo.

Stopping treatment, starting again

During the last days of June, Ngan was in her sixth cycle of chemotherapy. Despite her weak body struggling with the side effects of the treatment, Ngan never forgot her responsibility to We Can.

As soon as she regained her senses, Ngan grabbed her mobile phone, checked information, exchanged with other members of We Can about their scholarship grant to help keep children’s dreams alive.

Forgetting about her painful condition, she coordinates everything online actively and smoothly.

We Can is in the final stage of accepting potential applications for the scholarship. They will review, verify, and choose the children who need to be helped out of their dire situations.  

The project intends to give about 20 scholarships annually to children whose parents died from cancer or those whose parents are suffering from the final stage of cancer while their families are in poverty.

With a value of VND12 million (US$523) each, the scholarship will be invaluable help to these unfortunate children.

“I would like to promise to try my best to assure that We Can develop sustainably,” Ngan told Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper.

“That means there are a growing number of cancer patients and their children would be supported to fight off the challenges and to move toward a better future.”

Le Hoang Ngan in a supplied photo.

Le Hoang Ngan in a supplied photo

The scholarship fund to keep children’s dreams alive has called for help from not only donors but also cancer patients.

Nguyen Thi Thanh, 35, a cancer patient, decided to sell fruits on Facebook while she is taking treatment to contribute a small part to the scholarship fund.

Thanh knew about We Can for the first time when she was treated at the oncology department of Da Nang Hospital.

She spared an amount of VND1 million ($44) from the profit of selling fruits online to the scholarship fund.

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