Tri Nguyen,24, shown after his diagnosis through difference stages of his treatment. (Courtesy of Emma Massick)
Unfortunately, in the world today, any day could be your last. A former Saddleback College student Tri Nguyen, 24, passed away on March 19.
In March 2015, Nguyen, was diagnosed with Stage 3C Germ Cell Cancer and received treatment for a year. Germ cell cancer usually develops in the ovaries or the testicles. it is when the cells form themselves into a tumor.
However, for Nguyen, the germ cells formed in his chest and all over the place, doctors call this Mediastinal Germ Cell Tumors. According to Cancer Research UK, germ cell tumors that grow outside the ovary or testicle are very rare and doctors are not certain how they form in other areas.
Nguyen received his chemotherapy treatment at Orange Coast Memorial Medical Center in Fountain Valley. He later moved to the City of Hope in Duarte for a Stem Cell transplant. City of Hope is a world leader in the research and treatment of cancer, diabetes and other serious diseases.
Emma Massick, a friend of Nguyen said, On Feb. 28 he was admitted to the hospital for a brain tumor the size of a walnut in the front of his brain. All went well with the surgery, however, during his recovery several tumors took over his lungs, causing them to collapse.
He was moved to Kindred Hospital in Westminster, where he passed. He spent the majority of his last days unconscious.
“He had been unconscious for several days,” Massick said. “He was in and out of consciousness a lot towards the end. We all miss him so much.”
Nguyen attended Saddleback College and was studying to be a digital imaging technician along with production. After he left Saddleback, when he wasn’t freelancing on film sets, he often came back to volunteer his help, teaching and assisting the college film department.
“He was able to provide info and tips that were way beyond my expertise,” said Charles Myer, Saddleback College professor of cinema, television and radio. “He helped write the handbook on DIT that they still use in the class today.”
Tri Nguyen with fellow film student and friend Emma Massick working on student productions. (Courtesy of Emma Massick)
Nguyen’s last semester at Saddleback was summer 2014. While he was making a living working in entertainment, he continued coming to Saddleback to work on student production. It took an average of 12 hours a day for three to four days for each production and he did so without pay or earning credits.
Neither the cancer nor treatment prevented him from helping out at Saddleback. He taught the students what they should expect working as a digital imaging technician and better explained the subject. Myers called him “gold,” said he was the most beloved student he has ever had and reminded him why he fell in love with teaching.
“Like all dream students, Tri had gone beyond his teacher,” Myers said. “I respected his accomplishments and genuinely rooted for him and his future. I did not realize that he was to far surpass me in very unexpected ways.”
Some friends and family said that Nguyen had a great sense of humor, and used words such as witty, talented, helpful and intelligent to describe him. Many simply stated he was a great person, how much he was loved and how he will be never be forgotten.
“RIP Tri Nguyen, you will be dearly missed,” said Saddleback student Carlo Cabrejos in a Facebook post. “I will always remember how much you helped me when I started film 2. You were truly a great and unique person.”
“Nguyen made such an impact on the department, 60 to 80 percent of those at his service were people from Saddleback,” Myers said.
Myers said Nguyen described CTVR as a diverse dysfunctional family, but a family nonetheless. He showed all of them what the Saddleback CTVR family was all about.