#DrKen Tran actually helped so much in this episode as well with the writing.— Ken Jeong (@kenjeong) February 25, 2017
This is an intensely personal story about my wife’s fight against breast cancer that also intertwines with a show that’s based on my life and my own personal story. [...]We tried to balance combining fact with fiction, while keeping it all realistic, and also medically as accurate as possible.
Q: What message are you hoping to send with this episode of Dr. Ken?
A: To get screened for cancer. Early detection is important. In this episode of Dr. Ken, Allison finds a lump through a self-exam. To me, mammograms, talking to your doctor about your risk level, about your family history of breast cancer, about the environmental risks of breast cancer, all these things are important. Ask your doctor and get screened. I believe personally and professionally as a former physician in the importance of breast cancer screening.
- The interview goes on about Tran dealing with the cancer and their relationship afterwards.
Suzy Nakamura who plays Ken's wife also has a personal experience dealing with breast cancer.
"I told him that I had my own cancer scare and it would be a good jumping-off point. I had a lump in my breast that was so big you could feel it with your fingers."
*She had multiple surgeries to remove the benign lump.
Q:Do you have a family history of breast cancer?
A: Yes. My mother died of breast cancer at 65, so I think the doctors were being extra cautious. I was 42 when I had my lumpectomy. Thank goodness, everything now is fine, but they do consider me higher risk because of my family history and my lump. I did radiation after the surgeries, and I’ve been on Tamoxifen, which is supposed to reduce my chances of getting it again by 50 percent. It’s just a pill that you take every day for five years.
Q:I also liked that this episode wasn’t just “Allison finds a lump, goes to the doctor, and everything is OK.” It’s much more involved than that. The episode really shows the uncertainties and the anxiety that comes with having to go through this.
A: Yes. The reality is I had to wait a week [to get results]. Because the margins weren’t clear, my post-op meeting with my surgeon ended up being my pre-op for an additional surgery. It’s hard to do that in a 22-minute episode, but I think we captured [the essence] of what it’s like to wait and have that uncertainty. And also what it’s like when you have a family. Of course Allison is going to think about her kids, and there is a reality to considering the consequences, and the spiraling that can happen when you’re left alone with the potential of an illness or a medical situation. I don’t think we should shy away from that stuff, because it’s very real. I think there’s a comedic opportunity as well. If it’s something you are comfortable with, you should joke about it. My mother, who had breast cancer twice, would joke that “the great thing about breast cancer is that you can only get it twice!” [Laughs.] I grew up being comfortable enough to talk about the everyday things that she went through.
Q: What do you hope viewers take away from this episode?
A: For the obvious reasons, I want women to be reminded to go schedule their mammogram and go for their annual screenings. But on a more universal level, I hope it starts a conversation of parents saying, "If anything happens to me, I want this and I want that." It sounds morbid, but because my mother knew she was dying, she discussed with us her not being there, and it helped me and my brother deal with her passing that much better. I don’t want people to be afraid of health or illness or mortality, because it’s a natural part of life.