Talk around town
By Mộc Miên
In mid-March this year, the 42-year-old rocker Trần Lập, captain of The Wall, one of the most influential rock bands in modern Vietnamese rock age, died from rectal cancer.
The man who was widely admired for his energy, optimism and “soldier spirit” could not defeat the Death Man despite intensive treatment because his disease was detected at terminal stage – too late to be cured. Both rock fans and those who had never listened to his music shared their sympathy for the man. It was a big shock to quite a few of his audience.
“In recent years, I have heard of numerous cancer cases but they seemed not as touching as Lập’s case. His music embodied the strength and the broad-mindedness, which was then more obsessive when he’s gone,” Nguyễn Việt Dũng, a rock fan, said.
Dũng’s statement gives me an understanding of the very little awareness quite a few Vietnamese have of cancer which is affecting their families more than ever. The reasons are many. An unhealthy lifestyle, consuming non-certified food, the overuse of banned substances in agriculture, and the polluted environment, in addition to the ineffective management of the market and protection of consumer’s benefits, are the biggest causes. Not until the death of rocker Lập as a public icon did many people understand that humans could not take on any challenge forced on them by destiny.
“I was shocked to know that cancer had surpassed strokes to become the top cause of deaths in Viet Nam. I feel totally unsafe,” Trần Thanh Hoa, a young woman, said.
On March 23, at the same time around Lập’s funeral, a lot of reviews on his life, career and fight against cancer were uploaded and read widely. Social networks and public forums had a record amount of information on prevention of cancer, the effect and consequences of Western treatment methods, including surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy, to be shared.
Those who were recovering from cancer said that surgery, chemotherapy, and radiotherapy were badly needed.
Some others said that surgery, chemotherapy, and radiotherapy, might worsen the disease, meanwhile, increasing the victim’s exhaustion.
Others encouraged those with cancer to shift to a healthy lifestyle, such as starting a vegan diet, practising meditation, staying away from stress, and waiting for the body to recover by itself.
“I am overwhelmed by the information on cancer. Everything I have read seems so logical and worth trusting,” Dũng said.
“It is quite a mess. Just when I read a piece of information about cancer a day later, it can be another story with a totally different argument,” Nguyễn Thu Phương, a housewife, said with wonder.
Even some health professionals and doctors have different arguments on cancer treatments. Some doctors advise that cancer patients should consult at least three doctors before making a final decision in treatment methods.
Nutrition and diet are another story.
“Some doctors say red meat should be dismissed from daily diet, while some others say yes to it to balance nutrition for the patients. It is so confusing,” Phương said adding more details.
Given that fact, people who can read in English tend to trust foreign information gateways or special health website of cancers published in the United States, the United Kingdom or Australia, etc. Those who cannot, have to consult professionals, especially the ones with official health training in developed countries or those who live abroad.
“I still wonder if the life of cancer patients is totally decided by fate. Are we that helpless?” Hoa asked.
“When cancer has become the biggest threat to most people in the country, I think we deserve official and trustworthy information by the authorities and the best professionals,” Nguyễn Thị Kim Phương, a woman with colon cancer, suggested.
Her point of view is not just the need of a single person. It has become the real demand of numerous people in our society before it is too late. – VNS