Ginger Tam, singer and lung cancer advocate, dies at 56

Ginger Tam used to joke, “There isn’t a room in Chicago that I haven’t closed.”
For many years, she sang at venues together with the Ritz-Carlton, Toulouse on the Park, Inexperienced Dolphin Road and Pops for Champagne.
As soon as, whereas her clarion voice was ringing out on the Drake Lodge, Liza Minnelli and Joe Pesci walked in.
“I played for them!” she would say with delight.
Ms. Tam, 56, of Northfield, died at JourneyCare hospice in Glenview on Feb. 10 after an almost seven-year battle with Stage four lung most cancers.
Ginger Tam | Fb photograph
Advised she had a life expectancy of two years after her analysis, Ms. Tam was decided to reside so long as doable for her daughter, Amelia, 14.
“I don’t want to see my daughter hurt,” she as soon as mentioned. “That’s my biggest fear.”
“When I think of Ginger, I think of a mother first and a lung-cancer crusader second,” mentioned her cousin, Mary Beth Slack.
She turned a fierce advocate for medical analysis funding, lobbying on Capitol Hill. And Ms. Tam investigated medical trials throughout the nation so she might take part.
Via all of it, she stored on singing and provoking her medical workforce.
Irene Haatoja, a nurse practitioner at Rush College Medical Middle who helped look after Ms. Tam, referred to as her “a force of nature.”
“She did everything that she could to keep herself alive as long as she could for her daughter,” Haatoja mentioned.
“Ginger was one of our favorites,” mentioned Rush oncologist Dr. Philip D. Bonomi.
For analysis, Haatoja mentioned Ms. Tam donated a few of her tumor tissue to the biotech firm Charles River Laboratories. She additionally appeared in a video for Charles River that raised $25,000 for lung most cancers analysis, in accordance with her pal Lisa Howard.
Ms. Tam lobbied for analysis in Washington, D.C., with the Lung Most cancers Alliance and with U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky, D-Unwell., Howard mentioned. And he or she sang at a number of alliance conferences.
“When I think of Ginger Tam, I picture a courageous, determined and inspiring mother and advocate,” mentioned Lung Most cancers Alliance CEO Laurie Fenton Ambrose. “She made a difference by tirelessly sharing her powerful, personal testimony about her cancer journey with members of Congress, patients and the public.”
“Sometimes she would fly out to Denver every few weeks for an experimental treatment, sometimes she’d be on something [Dr. Philip Bonomi] had concocted at home, sometimes we sent her to other places around the country,” mentioned Dr. D. Ross Camidge, an oncology professor with the College of Colorado Denver. “UC Davis in Sacramento got to enjoy her for a while, for example — wherever the best treatment was in our opinion, we tracked it down. She racked up air miles and friends along the way.”
And, Camidge mentioned, “She also made a wig look better than almost anyone else I have ever seen.”
To lift consciousness about lung most cancers, Ms. Tam sang the nationwide anthem at Wrigley Subject in 2014.
For greater than 25 years, she sang for the Dick Judson Orchestra. She was an enormous asset to the band: hardworking, gifted and with arresting inexperienced eyes. In truth, as soon as she noticed Ms. Tam, one bride-to-be as soon as canceled the band for her marriage ceremony banquet, in accordance with Judson’s spouse, JoAnne.
“(The bride) said . . . ‘I mean, my husband-to-be really thought she was really special.’ I said, ‘She is,’ ” mentioned JoAnne Judson. “And so she said, ‘So I’m not gonna use her.’ ”
“I was really in awe of the way she could sing pop songs,” mentioned cabaret singer Denise Tomasello. “She had a really wonderful range.”
Jazz vocalist Paul Marinaro mentioned Ms. Tam turned his first pal and cheerleader when he moved to Chicago in 2003.
“She had a magnificent voice. She was extremely talented, probably one of the best I had heard, yet she would kind of downplay her own talent to let other people shine,” Marinaro mentioned.
Ms. Tam additionally did voice work for the animated children’ present VeggieTales.
“She was born a singer,” mentioned her sister, Charmaine Tam. “She would be singing, you know . . . sing with a hairbrush as a microphone when you’re only like 7.”
Ms. Tam used to say her daughter Amelia was a greater singer. She sang at an open mic reception following her mom’s Feb. 24 memorial service and performs in highschool musicals and church, Charmaine Tam mentioned.
Ms. Tam cherished nature, and at one level arrange a GoFundMe web page when her terrier combine, Zeke, injured his paw. She was supported in her most cancers struggle by the First Presbyterian Church of Wilmette, the place she grew up, and Willow Creek North Shore.
Along with her daughter Amelia and sister Charmaine, she is survived by her sister Christie and brothers Monty and Tim Tam, a niece, two nephews and a number of other cousins.
Companies have been held.


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