Brandon Vang: School Board and Cancer Survivor

G. Brandon Vang was first elected to the Sanger Unified School Board in 2016. For the November 2020 Election he is running unopposed with no challengers and will serve a second term on the School Board for Area 3. How his life has changed the past year as a cancer survivor is an inspirational story that must be told.

He did not have any prior health problems but in November 2018 he woke up one day and became deaf in his left ear. It took the next six months visiting numerous doctors and specialists until one of them detected a cyst in his nasal cavity. After a biopsy was performed it confirmed that he was diagnosed with nasopharyngeal cancer. The cancer had spread to his neck so he had to go through radiation therapy and chemotherapy treatment. The alternative was to not do the treatment which would mean the cancer could spread and he would die. Given those choices Brandon decided to follow what the doctors recommended. He started the treatment in July 2019.

The next four months would be brutal as Brandon would undergo 40 sessions of radiation and chemotherapy treatment for his face, nose and neck areas. He could only eat through a feeding tube and his mouth bleed frequently. He wasn’t able to sleep. His skin in his face and neck was also peeling. Every time after treatment he would end up in the hospital due to the after effects of the treatment. He was rushed to the ER three times but doesn’t remember how he go there. Halfway through the treatment Brandon could no longer recognize himself in the mirror he had lost nearly 45 pounds and only weighted about 130.

Brandon shared about his one year battle with cancer on July 1.

Through all of this what kept Brandon going was hope, love and support from family. Despite the grueling and painful treatment sessions he trusted what the doctors were doing. His wife who is a nurse took six months off to care for him 24 hours a day. In Brandon’s case he was able to get early detection and early treatment which was key. He was also only in his late 40s and relatively healthy before this.

One year later Brandon’s life has completely changed. He still has to regularly get tested every four or five months. For this type of cancer there is a 20% chance that it might come back and may be more aggressive. He is a cancer survivor. He advises others in the community when you feel there is something is wrong” to go find out what it is. Find out what is wrong and get it done early.” He didn’t seek tradition healing and instead choose modern medicine. When it comes to cancer he believes its best to follow what the doctors recommend.

Seng Alex Vang

Seng Alex Vang is a lecturer in the Merritt Writing Program at the University of California, Merced. He is also a lecturer in the Department of Anthropology, Geography & Ethnic studies at California State University, Stanislaus where he teaches courses in Asian American studies.

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