Never Give up the Hope of Living
In this recorded conversation with a friend, Alison
Willson described her reactions to the news that she was going to die of
cancer. The conversation took place five months before her death.
Firstly, I told myself, "The thing has happened.
However much you fuss , and scream , and yell , it's not going to change
" I realised I'd got to discipline myself. Another thing was, I
remembered the vicar of a church I used to go to saying that this kind of
thing was often much harder for the relatives than for the patient. So
here there was scope for me to do something positive.
Thirdly, just before I left the hospital, I came across
two young women in their thirties, both with small children and both with
cancer. I thought , well , what am I worrying about , because my children
are grown up and independent. If I can get this right for myself and make
some sort of peace with it , then the people who love me will also accept
it and this needn't be too 6ad a time.
Of course, it wasn't as simple as that. When I came out
of hospital I found I was getting it wrong with quite a lot of people ,
because they didn't look at it the same way as I did. And again, I think
if you're going to die around the age of 50, far more people are involved
than if you're dying when you're really old. You know, it's fairly
threatening to people of your own age, they see you in the middle of a
fairly busy life suddenly stopping-and they find it unacceptable. This
busincss again of getting them to givc me pcrmission to die. . .
Several of me friends still feel very angry and bitter
aboui it and just won't accept it. In consequence they tell me I shouldn't
accept it. I get all these stories about these heroic people who have
organ after organ rcmoved and say, I'm not going to die; I'm going to
live; and they go on, year after year. It makes me fecl I'm be.ing
terribly fecble. I feel rather guilty , as if what they're saying is ,
wcll . you're not trying hard enough.
I can't really see what else I could be doing. I'm very
confused about all this. I don't quite understand what I ought to do. Well
, I suppose one could be a Chichester and rush across the Atl.antic in a
boat. But you know. really , I'm too tired for that. I think what I want
to say to people is that if you're in this situation it isn't nearly as
bad as people who try and put themselves in your position think it is.
For one thing . other people comc to it cold , whereas
I've been doingAmy homework on it for the last two years. I've got used to
the idea and have come to the point of acceptance gradually. The other
thing is that they're feeling well and vigorous, with lots of things
they're in the middle of doing. But I am actually getting very tired and
don't fecl vcry well.
The fact that I can't drive my car and am generally
having to cut down my activitics isn't as bad for me as
they?think it is. I try to get this through to people, and it seems to
release their anxiety a bit. My friends are beginning to accept what is
happening and come along with me.
It's been a time for thinking about relationships and'
sorting out those which weren't very satisfactory. Also, to a large
extent, the pressure is off and you're going to die, you don't really have
to do much. It's rather a rclief if you're not feeling well. I've been
very happy these last six months.
I used to think that if you knew you were dying there
would be a great black pall over everything, and nothing could be of any
value. But it isn't like that. In some ways, even, you get increased
appreciation of things. Colours are brighter and littlc pleasures mean
more. You almost get another dimension.
I feel that if. I hadn't understood what was happening,
and come to terms with it , this would have been lost. So if you asked me
whether I would rather have a coronary or what I've got . I would rather
have this because I've had all this good time. And I feel sad because
other people might have it , but miss it -because they aren't allowed to
come to terms with what's going to happen, or don't feel able to, and this
is such a waste.
Wang Jinghui is a lecturer in China Textile University
in Shanghai. Now, at the age of fifty-three, he is about to leave this
In July last year, he was diagnosed as to be suffering
from cancer in the esophagus. The doctor told him that there might still
be a slight chance for him if he got operated on at once, as the cancer
was already in an advanced stage. The news greatly alarmed Wang and his
daughter who had accompanied him to the hospital. Naturally they wanted to
have an operation at once as there was not a moment to be lost.
"But all our wards are full at the moment,"
the doctor told them.
"How long do we have to wait then?" the
"At least two months. We have a long waiting list.
Back at home, the daughter was at her wit's end. Five
years earlier, her mother had died of cancer. It was her father then who
had looked after everything - her mother's operation, then the funeral.
And after her mother's death, it was her father who looked after her and
her younger sister, and had seen them through school, and then college for
her. She had just graduated and her younger sister was still at school.
How could they do without their father? No, their father must not die.
She lost no time and spared no efforts in finding a
hospital for her father. She went everywhere and asked everybody friends ,
relatives , acquaintances , anyone who might know of a way to , or have
connections with a hospital. A few days later one of her former
schoolmates came with the heartening news that one of her friends had a
relative who could pull strings with a certain big hopital.
And so this friend's friend's relative made his
appearance. He proved to be very helpful and enthusiastic, and promised to
see the whole thing through. But he constantly dropped hints to Wang's
daughter about the "going price" for"road-paving" to a
At the hospital things went as smoothly as he had
promised. Wang's daughter had handed him three hundred yuan, and soon he
had everything arranged - consultation for Wang and registration for
living in. He informed them that there would be a vacant bed the following
They went home full of hope. He, the man who had
arranged everything for them, began to lay down his cards. "The going
price is two thousand and five hundred yuan. But don't worry," he
hastened to add when he saw the alarm in father and daughter's faces.
"I've managed to bring it ddwn to the bottom line-- one thousand two
hundred. But you have to get it ready soon. I have to satisfy the
registration office, the surgeon-in-charge, the operating doctor and his
assistant, the two anaes thetists- not a single one could be left out.
What else could they do? In order to cure her father,
the daughter went about and managed to scrape together 500 yuan which she
handed to the man just before her father went to live
As arranged Wang entered the hospital on Monday, July
16. But more than a week went by and nobody seemed to bother about him,
and nothing was 'mentioned about his operation. Both father and daughter
were worried about this endless waiting and she approached the man again,
to see if he could speed things up. "An operating doctor has yet to
be found. " She understood what that meant , and as she was almost
worried to death, she gritted her teeth and produced another four hundred
yuan. Apparently the man meant what he said when he mentioned one thousand
two hundred as the bottom line.
On July 28, Wang finally was wheeled into the operation
theatre. But he was not kept there for long. The doctor opened up his
chest and found that cancer had reached such a stage as to make an
operation impossible. So merciless was the hand of fate!
When a reporter from Xinmin Evening went to see Wang
early this year, she found an emaciated man lying in bed, obviously
nearing his last. He could hardly produce a coherent sentence, but he kept
repeating ; "We've been robbed of one thousand two hundred yuan . ..
Now we are penniless . . . what is going to happen to my two girls?. . .
The daughter said: "What happened to us was far
from unique. It has become quite a common practice for patients to pay
through their noses in order to live in. All the same I want our story to
be told, not that I have any illusions about getting our money back"
Not long ago , an unusual wedding was held in Bcijing's
Yuyuantan Park. Both the bride and bridegroom suffered from cancer but had
made surprising improvement with the aid of qigong. a traditional C.hinese
healing system that relies heavily on breathing exercises. It is also
through qigong that the young couple met and fell in love.
The 28-year-old Guo Chengpei was formerly a top player
on the Beijing table tennis team. But after participating in the First
Pyongyang lnternational Table Tennis Invitational Tournament in Sepember
1981 , he felt his health declining and he could hardly talk. After an
examination he was diagnosed as having lung cancer, which is usually
fatal. He had to stop training and undergo treatment.
Because Guo's cancer had spread to his lymph nodes, it
was inoperable. The radiation treatment he received helped little. His
doctor predicted that despite his youth, Guo had only three months to
However, being trained as a table tennis player for 12
years, he had an unyielding will and an optimistic attitude. and he did
not give up hope.
One of his friends suggested that he practise qigong,
which is credited with prolonging many cancer patients' lives. This
strengthened his will to surmount the disease.
He took his friend's advice to practise Guo Lin qigong
(a combination of moving and breathing) every day.
Getting up at 2:45 a. m. he took the night shuttle bus
to Ditan Park and started his routine at 3:40 a. m. He practised for more
than five hours. His father and uncles took turns accompanying him.
With his strong will and indomitable perseverance, he
has kept practising qigong for seven and a half years, in all kinds of
A check-up in 1987 showed that the lung cancer's spread
to the lymph nodes had disappeared and the tumour was reduced in size. His
weight has increased from 60 to 85 kilograms. He has become fitter and his
general health has improved.His 26-year-old bride, Chen Yamei, became ill
with thymoma in September 1985.
"When I was told that I had cancer, I felt the
future looked so dark and miserable that I was in despair," she said.
In December that year, she had an operation. Afterwards
she received chemical and radioactive treatments, but little effect could
be seen. The cancer began to spread to the lymph nodes and bones.
While she was hospitalized she often saw patients
around her die. She was terribly frightened and she felt on the brink of
In June 1986, she heard that qigong could help cure
cancer. Though she didn't completely believe it, she saw a glimmer of hope
and decided to try It.
She also went to Ditan Park to learn qigong and was
assigned to the class that was instructed by Guo Chengpei.
"Everyone in my qigong class looks vigorous and
energetic,"Chen said. "There is no sign that they have had the
deadly disease. It gives me confidence
and courage to live on. "
She often sought advice from Guo and he always helped
her patiently and enthusiastically. They shared experiences and encouraged
each other. At last love blossomed in the young couple's hearts.
After three years of constant qigong practice, Chen's
condition is stable. Now she says she has a better appetite and sleeps
"Curing cancer through qigong had a scientific
basis," Guo said. "The growth of cancer cells is restrained when
one breathes plenty of oxygen. After one properly practises qigong for
quite a long time, he is able to greatly enlarge his respiratory capacity.
This is good for cancer patients. "
Drawing on his own experience, Guo thinks that
combinations of qigong, Western medicine and traditional Chinese medicine
are the best way to conquer cancer. And he said a wholesome psychological
outlook is the most important thing.
"Everyone suffering from cancer should think like
this; Even if the survival
rate in cancer is only 0. 1 per cent , I am the 0. 1 per cent , " Guo
said. "Those who can get better the fastest are those who are strong
in spirit. "
The couple hope that all cancer patients love life and
never lose their hope of living.