Unbearable Pain from Serious Illness
This family of 7 lives in a remote mountain area in Zhangjiachuan County, Gansu. In the past decade, they have had to deal with 4 of their members battling serious illnesses. We first learned about them when they needed help for their son Xiao Ma, who had congenital heart disease. Now they are desperately trying to save another son, Xiao Jun, from bone marrow cancer.
Xiao Ma Diagnosed with Congenital Heart Disease
Xiao Ma was diagnosed with congenital heart disease when he was only 7-8 months old. The doctor told the family the surgery would cost 10,000 RMB ($1,500 USD), which the family couldn’t afford. They had to give up on surgery for Xiao Ma at that time.
A year later, Xiao Ma's grandfather was diagnosed with bowel obstruction. The family had to borrow money for the grandfather to have surgery. They were once again plunged into poverty.
Treatment for Xiao Ma
In 2011, Xiao Ma's father found out about an organization called Minzheng that might be able to fund Xiao Ma’s surgical cost, so he applied. However, Minzheng couldn’t handle the case because of the complexity of Xiao Ma’s condition. The father was extremely disappointed and cried very hard while holding Xiao Ma in his arms.
Fortunately, at that time, he met one of the Little Red Scarf staff members, Mrs. Liu. After hearing about their family situation, Mrs. Liu cried. She said, "Why has God given you such a child? Your family has suffered enough. Don't worry. Little Red Scarf will help you."
Little Red Scarf helped Xiao Ma have a successful surgery when he was 4 years old.
We anticipated that this suffering family’s situation would gradually improve after Xiao Ma recovered from surgery. However, Xiao Ma's grandmother was diagnosed with bile duct cancer in 2013 and had to have surgery in Lanzhou. The postoperative chemotherapy treatment had strong side effects. Xiao Ma's grandmother did not survive the chemotherapy treatment and eventually passed away.
Xiao Ma Recovered
Xiao Ma went to elementary school in 2014. He was able to wear a red scarf, just as he wished. He was healthy, smart, and active. His father would contact us often, introducing us to children with congenital heart disease who needed surgery. In every phone conversation, he always expressed gratitude towards Little Red Scarf for saving his son. He would say, "Little Red Scarf is our family's savior." He is a simple, positive, and optimistic person who works hard.
Xiao Jun Diagnosed with Cancer
Astronomically Expensive Treatment
Xiao Jun is now receiving his fourth chemotherapy treatment. The cost from the previous three rounds of chemotherapy treatments plus the family's travel and living expenses was about 200,000 RMB ($30,000 USD). The family owes 130,000 RMB ($19,500 USD) in debt so far. They have received some donations from people in society to help cover the cost. The doctor believes Xiao Jun may need a fifth chemotherapy treatment before his surgery. The surgery cost is estimated at about 300,000 RMB ($45,100 USD).
The cost of treatment is very expensive. The amount of money needed to cover the chemotherapy and surgery is an astronomical figure for the family.
Family in Agony
Facing tens of thousands of dollars of treatment costs, the family sold everything that they have, but it was still was not enough. Seeing the disease devour his son's young life day after day, the uneducated father took the courage to look for help everywhere, from WeChat and newspapers to the local government. Seeing his relentless efforts, patients, old friends, and people everywhere donated money to them so Xiao Jun could have his fourth chemotherapy treatment.
For Xiao Jun's father, the kind of money needed to pay for Xiao Jun’s chemotherapy and surgery is not something he can earn in his lifetime. But with his child's life on the line, he is driven to do all that he can. As soon as one round of chemotherapy treatment was completed, Xiao Jun's father would go out again to borrow money for the next treatment. Sometimes Xiao Jun's mother would stay with her son at the hospital while his father kept running around outside trying to get funding for the treatment.
Race Against Time
Original article written by Guan Ying, translated by Cindy and Shawn Chung, edited by Carolyn D.
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