Join me on Twitch at 9am JST while I try my hand at Star Trek: Starfleet Academy! Will I be able to succeed at the Kobyashi Maru test like Kirk? Or will I need to spend extra hours in the simulator? Let’s find out!
The 25 Year Old Trekkie Countdown begins on August 14th, and continues all the way to September 15th! Get ready for an entire month of content being released each day in celebration of my birthday. Netflix watch parties, live-streams, YouTube videos, Twitch streams, and more! Below are the monthly and weekly calendars corresponding to the event. September’s monthly calendar is coming soon!
When brainstorming for this event, I knew that I wanted to take an opportunity to encourage donations to charity throughout the countdown. Last year around this time, I ran a fundraiser for the Navy Marine Corps Relief Society (NMCRS), an organization that helps military families deal with the mental, physical, and financial struggles of life in the armed forces. As my husband and I were going through a permanent change of station move to Okinawa, Japan last fall, NMCRS was a big factor in helping us both pack up and get settled into our new home.
This year, I have a more personal and special request. I have never known an online community more supportive and caring than the online Star Trek fandom space, and my family is needing some support. I want to you all to know Ryan’s story.
Ryan Vue was my husband Brandon’s cousin. He was 24 years old—the same age that I am now. Brandon has told me all sorts of stories of the two of them growing up together; they were as close as brothers. I couldn’t tell you how excited and proud we were when Ryan made the choice to join the United States Marine Corps (my husband is an active duty Marine as well). Ryan attributed his choice to join so as to honor Brandon’s brother Alex that was killed in action in Afghanistan in 2012. It turned out that Ryan’s first duty station was the same place we were formerly stationed: Camp Pendleton, California. Military life isn’t always easy, but to have a close family member stationed in the same place as you definitely warms the heart! Ryan married the love of his life Pai in March 2019, and I got to take some pictures and live-stream footage of the wedding! She and their son Noah joined him in California shortly afterwards.
It was only about a month after their move when Ryan began to feel a small bump under his tongue. Within a few short days of having it biopsied, they were slammed with devastating news that it was cancerous. Ryan and his family were looking forward to enjoying their new lives in California, but this was something no one expected. A few days after receiving the news, the Marine Corps transitioned Ryan into the Wounded Warrior battalion flew him and his family back home to La Crosse, WI. At Mayo Hospital in Rochester he was diagnosed with an extremely rare and aggressive form of cancer called NUT Carcinoma, formally known as NUT Midline Carcinoma. With roughly 350 cases worldwide there is no known cure or standardized treatment protocol. With other avenues exhausted, the options for treatment were limited to clinical trial and phase 1/2 studies. Ryan’s scans showed that the cancer was spreading to other areas of his body quickly. This entire ordeal had been very taxing, but he promised to not give up. Ryan and Pai had had to travel between MInnesota and Wisconsin to meet with his medical team and continue chemotherapy. This left Ryan very weak and depleted between his treatments. Due to this, Pai took a leave of absence from work so that she could care for him/help with any day to day routines.
Our hearts were broken when Ryan passed away this past week. It is not an often occurrence that I have trouble coming up with words to say.
Marrying Brandon in 2017 granted me the blessing of being enveloped with love from an entirely new family. Growing up with only one brother of my own, I was excited to forge relationships with new brothers, sisters, parents, grandparents, cousins, aunts, uncles, etc. While sitting around dinner tables, campfires, lounging on the couch— I came to learn the family stories. I heard about joys and struggles, childhood pranks and hospital visits, nights out on the town and secret recipes, fishing trips and fights for survival.
Loss, unfortunately, is an inherent part of our lives. It breaks our spirits; toppling over skyscrapers as we grieve. Our hearts are pushed past their breaking points. We sit and ask ourselves: “Why?” It is a question many of us have wished that we had the answer to.
In my short 24 years on this planet, I have found that the losses never get any easier. Each one burns with the fire of 1000 suns, etching the names onto our souls. But it is so much more than a list of names. It’s memories; birthdays, weddings, driver’s tests, skinned knees, lost teeth. The music they played nonstop. The food that made them crinkle their noses. The look on their faces when they laughed.
Our list recently got a little longer. It’s a name that never should have been added so soon. It felt like it left a hole in our hearts where Ryan used to be. A part of our lives, gone. But I was wrong. Ryan never left. He lives on in the memories of those whom he loved and loved him. While the hurt of losing him will never go away, his light still shines through to us every day. Despite our grief, Ryan’s passing takes place in the shadow of new life, the sunrise of a new world; a world that he sacrificed his life to protect.
We miss you, Ryan. We’ll hold you in our hearts forever and always. No doubt that the fishing’s good where you are now.
“Seize the time. Live now. Make now always the most precious time. Now will never come again.”
I’m asking for a show of support for Ryan’s family as they natigate this difficult time. It breaks my heart that Brandon and I are so far away from them here in Japan. I appreciate ANY amount of donation or a sharing of this message.