Crazy Rich Asians Ken Jeong celebrates Cancer Support Community LA at 5th Gilda Gala

Ken Jeong and wife Dr Tran Ho (photo by MargieBarron)

Comedy star Ken Jeong put the spotlight on the amazing Cancer Support Community Los Angeles, that supports people and their families battling the “big C.” His Crazy Rich Asians co-star Awkwafina helped him celebrate at the 5th Annual Gilda Gala, and it was an opportunity for Ken to honor his beautiful wife Dr. Tran Ho, who beat cancer.

 The Cancer Support Community Los Angeles (CSCLA) held the Gilda Gala on October 19, 2019 at the InterContinental Century City. Ken Jeong was honored along with the tremendously inspiring Dr. Annette Stanton, and Bedford Breast Center. Throughout the evening everyone emphasized CSCLA’s efforts were to “Give hope for one more day,” and they are there “So no one faces cancer alone.”

 The event benefited the free services for cancer patients and their families that CSCLA has provided since 1982. Their Gilda Gala is named for the late, legendary comedian Gilda Radner, an early participant and supporter of CSCLA.

Honoree Ken Jeong with Alonzo Bodden, Gilda Gala emcee. (photo by VinceBucci)

 Comedian Alonzo Bodden (Last Comic Standing) kept the laughs coming with his emcee duties. He talked about his mom’s great sense of humor and losing her cancer not too long ago. “She was the funniest person I know, inappropriate humor, but funny.” His mom would be proud to see him hosting a cancer support benefit. Alonzo and international auctioneer Andrea Fiuczynski led an energetic fundraising. And Alonzo gave a shout out to the event’s virtuoso violinist, Cristian Fătu, who was sensational. “I could really impress a girl with you.”

 Julia Forth, CEO of CSCLA welcomed guests and invited Dr. Mitch Golant to present the “Harold H. Benjamin Award” (named for the CSCLA founder) to Dr. Annette Stanton, UCLA Professor and Chair of the Department of Psychology, for “inspiring change.” Dr. Stanton has many impressive credits in the field of psychiatry and biobehavioral sciences, inspired by her father’s experience with prostate cancer, and the psychological impact upon her family.

Dr. Lisa Cassileth (left) and Dr. Leslie Memsic (right) of Bedford Breast Center embrace Jillian Barberie (center). (photo by VinceBucci)

 Vivacious TV and radio host, Jillian Barberie (The Drive Home 790 KABC, Good Day LA) was passionate when she presented the Gilda Award: Wellness Legacy to the doctors at the Bedford Breast Center (BBC)— Dr. Lisa Cassileth, Dr. Leslie Memsic, Dr. Heather Richardson, and Dr. Kelly Killeen of BBC.

 Jillian said, “I’m here to honor these Rock Stars, the women who literally saved my life.” Jillian tearfully told her story: “A year ago I got my regular mammogram, and two weeks later I had a double mastectomy. I did the research when a friend was diagnosed, so I knew the Bedford Breast Center was the place to go. I walked in knowing Dr. Leslie, Dr. Lisa, Dr. Heather and Dr. Kelly already, so I was comfortable and confident they were going to be my champions. What I didn’t know was how fun and less scary they were going to make it. The morning of my surgery Dr. Leslie walked in with her Wonder Woman cape on.”

 Steve Shapiro, Senior Vice President, of presenting sponsor City National Bank, spoke of his experience with cancer and the importance of community support for recovery. Then he introduced a hilarious video about honoree Ken Jeong. It included greetings from Ken’s friends (Randall Park, Rob Riggle, Jenny McCarthy, Ron Funches, Robin Thicke, Constance Wu, “Dr Drew” Pinsky). The video touched on Ken’s career, and focused on his wife Dr. Tran Ho. She was diagnosed and treated for an aggressive form of breast cancer shortly after giving birth to the couple’s twin girls, at the time that Jeong was filming The Hangover. 

Ken Jeong and Awkwafina, Crazy Rich Asians costars at the 5th Annual CSCLA Gilda Gala. (photo by VinceBucci)

 Alonzo Bodden announced a surprise guest, Awkwafina, funny actress and rapper, to present the 2019 Gilda Award: Community Champion to Ken Jeong. She called him “Papafina,” and said he really is a “community champion.” The two became good friends filming Crazy Rich Asians.

 Ken Jeong, a real doctor who became a stand-up comic, actor (sitcom Dr. Ken, and TV host The Masked Singer), paid tribute to his wife Dr. Tran Ho, “the strongest person that I know,” who supported his switch in careers during the toughest times of her cancer battle.

 “My wife Tran is a breast cancer survivor going on ten years, stage 3, triple negative, with a 23% chance of survival. It’s a miracle,” Ken said with emotion and love. The former GP physician went on to describe the process in medical terms that all in the ballroom understood.

 Although Ken was very funny, he was also very serious about his wife’s cancer diagnosis and its impact on family and professional life, and the emotional support required. He acknowledged the warm support from his Hangover castmate Bradley Cooper and producer Todd Phillips. It’s all part of Ken’s recent Netflix special.

Julia Forth, CEO of Cancer Support Community Los Angeles greets past honoree Sharon Lawrence. (photo by VinceBucci)

 After the awards dinner, a Gilda After Hours Comedy Show was held, hosted by Zoe Rogers, featuring comics Jenny Yang, Chris Bryant, Tamer Kattan. Ken Jeong also did a stand-up routine, but most of his act was saying thanks for his amazing wife who beat cancer.

 Julia Forth, CEO, CSCLA, said, “The power of humor and joy to lift spirits, promote wellbeing, support mental health, and buoy recovery efforts was well known by our founder Dr. Harold Benjamin. An early CSCLA community member, Gilda Radner, leaves a legacy of joyful living that we never lose sight of.” It’s honored every year at the Gilda Gala.

Margie Barron has written for a wide variety of outlets including Gannett newspapers, Nickelodeon, Tiger Beat and 16 Magazine, Fresh!, Senior Life, Production Update, airline magazines, etc. Margie is also proud to have been half of the husband & wife writing team Frank & Margie Barron, who had written together for various entertainment and travel publications for more than 38 years.