My life is uplifting and fulfilled when I meet other members who are engaged in the fight positively.
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
Yuan Zhengping (third from right) and members of the Shanghai Cancer Recovery Club join a charity run to collect donations for breast cancer patients.
In 2008, the club organized a trip