by Phuong Mai
Rock star's battle with cancer inspires
More than 10,000 music fans were on hand recently at a concert in Ha Noi to celebrate rocker and songwriter Tran Lap's iron will and enthusiasm for life in his ongoing battle against rectal cancer.
The 42-year-old leader of the Buc Tuong Wall band was diagnosed with cancer in November. He underwent surgery to remove a tumour and is now under intensive treatment.
To help his recovery, the concert Buc Tuong and Friends: Hands Bring Warmth was held at the Giang Vo Exhibition Centre on January 16. The event also honoured the 20th anniversary of the founding of the Buc Tuong.
Due to poor health, Lap appeared in a wheelchair at the concert. He performed four songs, including Mat Den (Black Eye), Tieng Goi (The Call), Tam Hon Cua Da (Rock's Sound) and Doi Ban Tay (A Pair of Hands).
The compositions, all by Lap, have been popular for years.
"I highly appreciate our fans' love for me. It will help me overcome the disease, and continue to live in good spirits," Lap said during the concert.
Nguyen Hanh Linh, 32, of Ha Noi, who has been listening to Buc Tuong's music since the 2000s, said after the show: "When Lap's voice rose, I saw that he was hurt. I and many members of the audience burst into tears and sang along with him."
"Lap is a great source of inspiration to young generations. Let's live for passion and always be optimistic about the unexpected upheavals that occur in life," she said.
The three-hour show included the famous Vietnamese rock bands Microwave, Hac San, Cat and Small Fire. Many leading singers like Thanh Lam, Ha Tran and Tung Duong were also featured.
Most of the proceeds raised from the concert were donated to Lap, while the rest was given to cancer patients across the country.
Love of writing keeps spirit alive
"The fact that I'm still alive is a magical thing," says young writer Le Huu Nam, who has congenital heart disease.
Nam, now aged 30, has the body of a 15-year-old boy.
Though he has spent a great deal of time in and out of hospitals for his entire life, Nam has never given up and has tried to live a useful life.
His efforts have been recognised by civil society. Last week, the HCM City-based writer, who works as a reporter on culture, won the Best Young Author prize given by the HCM City Writers Association.
His winning work, Mat Ngu Rung Xanh (Green Forest Password), issued last August, tells the story of four friends and their fathers who form two groups to protect forests and wildlife.
"The book gives good lessons about nature and environmental protection to children," said poet Phan Hoang, vice chairman of the association and a member of the judging panel. "Vietnamese writers should offer more of these kinds of books to our children."
Nam said: "I wrote Mat Ngu Rung Xanh to help young people learn more about wildlife and habitat destruction caused by humans. I hope they realise the importance of protecting forests and animals when they grow up."
Born in Da Lat in the Central Highlands province of Lam Dong, Nam moved to HCM City in 1998 to receive treatment for his disease and to live in a warmer climate.
During his long stays in the hospital over the years, Nam developed a love for literature.
"I knew I had to escape from the sorrow and pain of the disease. Literature makes me feel peaceful, excited and hopeful. I believe more in the magical things of life," he said.
"When writing, I feel happy because my job is to be helpful to little readers. To me, writing is a long road containing dreams waiting to be discovered."
In 2013, Nam released his first book Hanh Trinh Tro Ve (Journey of Return).
A year later, his second book was published. Con Den Nhu Mot Phep Mau (You Came as if by Magic) reveals his love for his son.
Nam is planning to release three new books, including a fictional short story, at the HCM City Book Fair in March. — VNS