My life is up­lift­ing and ful­filled when I meet other mem­bers who are en­gaged in the fight pos­i­tively.

China Daily (Latin America Weekly) - - China -

Aug 8 was a red let­ter day for a group of can­cer pa­tients from across China be­cause they were reg­is­ter­ing to be­come mem­bers of a spe­cial au­di­ence at the 2022 Win­ter Olympics in Bei­jing.

The pa­tients — many of whom have been told that they only have a few years or even months to live — were en­cour­aged to save 5 yuan (75 cents) a day to buy tickets for the Games and, more im­por­tant, to sur­vive another five years so they will be able to at­tend the event. Their num­ber mush­roomed to more than 7,000 in just two days.

Started by the Shang­hai Can­cer Re­cov­ery Club, the pro­gram serves as a driv­ing force to boost pa­tients’ hope and re­silience, and also pro­vides sup­port from their peers.

The ac­tiv­i­ties or­ga­nized by the club help mem­bers to un­der­stand that, in ad­di­tion to the cor­rect med­i­cal treat­ment, a pos­i­tive mind­set and a healthy life­style are cru­cial to re­cov­ery.

“We of­fer on-the-ground emo­tional and psy­cho­log­i­cal sup­port to peo­ple with can­cer, and en­cour­age them to fight the ill­ness to­gether,” said Yuan Zheng­ping, the club’s founder. “No one can fight can­cer alone.”

Rather than suc­cumb­ing to de­pres­sion and de­spair, mem­bers are taught to sing and dance, and en­cour­aged to at­tend life-af­firm­ing events, such as sport­ing con­tests.

In 2013, 3,682,000 Chi­nese were di­ag­nosed with the ill­ness, a rate of about 10,000 new pa­tients ev­ery day, and 2,229,300 — slightly less than the pop­u­la­tion of Paris — died from the dis­ease, ac­cord­ing to a 2015 re­port pub­lished by the Na­tional Can­cer In­sti­tute.

While the re­sponse to be­ing di­ag­nosed with can­cer varies sig­nif­i­cantly from per­son to per­son, most peo­ple are shocked and con­fused by the sud­den change in their life and med­i­cal sta­tus.

Some seek the best med­i­cal ser­vices avail­able, while oth­ers rec­og­nize the un­pre­dictabil­ity of the sit­u­a­tion and spend the rest of their lives en­gaged in new ac­tiv­i­ties, such as trav­el­ing. In ex­treme cases, peo­ple feel such de­spair that they take their own lives.

The Shang­hai Can­cer Re­cov­ery Club en­cour­ages pa­tients to ap­proach the ill­ness with op­ti­mism and in­still hope in their peers.

Ac­cord­ing to Yuan, the fiveyear sur­vival rate of the club’s mem­bers is 75 per­cent, far higher than the na­tional av­er­age of about 31 per­cent.

Founded in 1989, the club was one of China’s first grass­roots can­cer or­ga­ni­za­tions. In its 28-year his­tory, it has helped 200,000 peo­ple come to terms with their ill­ness and fight it.

Yuan, 68, was di­ag­nosed with lym­phoma in 1980, the year he mar­ried. At the time, can­cer was poorly un­der­stood, and some­thing peo­ple only spoke about in whis­pers. Some of Yuan’s friends tried to con­sole him, but oth­ers were so ig­no­rant of the dis­ease that they were re­luc­tant to shake hands with him for fear of be­com­ing in­fected.

Yuan’s doc­tors said he had a 20 per­cent chance of liv­ing another two years. That wake­been mem­ber of the Shang­hai Can­cer Re­cov­ery Club. up call gave him the im­pe­tus to change the way he and oth­ers re­garded the dis­ease.

“It prompted me to set up an or­ga­ni­za­tion for peo­ple like me, to pro­vide en­cour­age­ment, con­fi­dence and dig­nity,” he said.

Ini­tially, the club had 90 mem­bers. They vis­ited other pa­tients, or­ga­nized a lob­by­ing cam­paign and wrote ar­ti­cles about the dis­ease for news­pa­pers.

Now, there are 16,000 mem­bers in a num­ber of branches across Shang­hai, in­clud­ing 14 sub-cen­ters for dif­fer­ent treat­ments.

The most pop­u­lar ac­tiv­i­ties in­clude table-tennis com­pe­ti­tions and song con­tests. Dur­ing this year’s Spring Fes­ti­val, the club’s cel­e­bra­tion gala was streamed on­line and at­tracted an au­di­ence of about 1 mil­lion.

It also pro­vides re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion classes and cour­ses about nu­tri­tion, aimed at pa­tients with dif­fer­ent can­cers. Ad­di­tion­ally, treat­ment meth­ods such as mu­sic and drama ther­apy have been in­tro­duced from overseas with the aim of pro­vid­ing a re­lease valve for the pres­sures pa­tients feel.

“Get­ting can­cer doesn’t mean you have to give up your life, your stud­ies or your job. The man­age­ment of emo­tion is very im­por­tant,” said Yuan, whose lym­phoma has com­pletely dis­ap­peared.

In 2015, an ex­am­i­na­tion re­vealed that He Jiang­ping had gas­tric signet-ring cell car­ci­noma.

The ill­ness had de­vel­oped so far that He was told she only had about three months left to live.

Even though she was di­ag­nosed in March when the weather was warm, He, who usu­ally dis­liked thick clothes, felt so cold in­side that she bought two down jack­ets, a hat and a pair of gloves. Now, the 55-year-old Shang­hai res­i­dent re­al­izes that the clothes were a form of psy­cho­log­i­cal aid.

“It should have been a won­der­ful time. I should have Sum­mer Olympics.

Ye Zhenghe, for about 200 mem­bers, who trav­eled to Bei­jing to at­tend the

WU XIAOYAN/FOR CHINA DAILY

Yuan Zheng­ping (third from right) and mem­bers of the Shang­hai Can­cer Re­cov­ery Club join a char­ity run to col­lect do­na­tions for breast can­cer pa­tients.

WU XIAOYAN/FOR CHINA DAILY

In 2008, the club or­ga­nized a trip

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