As a manager in the prime of my career, I was facilitating a planning session at IBM in Los Angeles when I collapsed. I was rushed to UCLA Medical Center. Following a biopsy, my gastroenterologist came to me with a grim look on his face.
My liver was so damaged that he didn’t know how to express it. He gave me the feeling that I didn’t have much longer to live. I was 35 years old and married, with two young children ages 6 and 4. Would I get to see them grow up?
This was no surprise, but I never thought that it would happen to me. Seven years before, my brother and I went to donate blood during a drive at our workplace. We were both rejected — hepatitis B was found in our blood. We weren’t alone. Fifteen percent of the Asian population had it. My mother’s side of the family all had it.
At that time, hepatitis B was incurable. Almost everyone who had it in our family died at an early age. My mother died at 57, still in her prime of life in 1980. Her sisters and brother also died early of liver failure or cancer. My brother would later die at age 61.
After my collapse, I was in bed for two months as my wife took care of me. It was a time to reflect and wonder what to do with what time I had left. Miraculously, I survived.
I realized then that I had two options: live with disappointment and regret at the pain this disease cause