How much does sympathy really cost?

September 30, 2018 - 09:00

The story of actress Mai Phương, who has been receiving special treatment for lung cancer, with the sympathies and love she received from fans and friends, offers food for thought.

Illustration by Trịnh Lập
Viet Nam News

By Hoàng Hồ


After an incredible fight, actress Mai Phương, who has been receiving special treatment for aggressive lung cancer, has been discharged from Military Hospital 175 into the loving arms of friends, family, fans and colleagues.


Although the battle against cancer is not over, with Phương facing many more hospital visits and follow-up appointments, her journey has been remarkable and inspirational.


Since the first days of her treatment, the hospital has welcomed visits from many celebrities to help and encourage Phương. With continuous updates on the media and thousands of messages from fans on Facebook around Việt Nam, everything seemed to be going well, until actor Gia Bảo – a close friend of Phương’s, spoke up and caused some ripples.


“If you don’t have a close relationship with the patient, you can just help by offering messages of support, because that’s what the patient needs most. Please do not visit. It bothers both the patient and doctors. The patient is very tired and needs a break, don’t force her to put on a ‘polite’ smile,” Bảo said, expressing his frustration with those taking advantage of Phương’s illness for self-promotion or social media ‘likes’.


During Phương’s stay in the hospital, there was uproar among the public about a Facebook post from an insurance company, using Phương’s illness for marketing without her permission.


The controversial post, including a photo of the actress, said: “When we are healthy, people say insurance is a fraud. But when you are sick and want to buy insurance, the company doesn’t sell it anymore. Mai Phương had an insurance policy to pay for medical treatment, her daughter’s school and she has a bright future. May luck be with her throughout this difficult time.”


There were reports that fake Facebook accounts had been set up under the names of artists like Hồng Vân and Quốc Thuận, to receive donations for Phương and Lê Bình – another actor who was receiving treatment at the same facility as Phương.


Whether it is strangers or companies who are trying to take advantage of someone’s time of need, Gia Bảo’s statement raises a good point. It asks the question of how we treat patients, not just Phương, with their illness.


Recently, I had the chance to visit hemodialysis patients at Hữu Nghị Hospital. I talked with Nguyễn Văn Việt, 50 years old, who had undergone thyroid surgery.


“After the surgery, I didn’t have any strength left. I just wanted to rest rather than meet anyone besides family and close friends. I felt really exhausted interacting with many people during this time, especially when so many relatives who I hadn’t seen for years started showing up. That’s not how we show our love and sympathy, it is how we treat each other in daily life that important,” Việt said.


You may not have experienced what happened to Phương, but the pain and exhaustion caused by radiotherapy sessions in end-stage cancer is undeniable.


Phương’s family claimed that when she read reports of her illness in the media, she collapsed and cried, affecting her health, mentally and physically. Therefore, the family limited access to outsiders. Knowing this, Gia Bảo’s opinion that people should let Phương rest is understandable.


He also mentioned that if you really want to help her, there are many other ways because when there is true love, care and sympathy, there are options.


Famous singers Đàm Vĩnh Hưng and Lệ Quyên, along with many other artists, have planned to hold a two-night concert to support Mai Phương.


Her close friend Ốc Thanh Vân, who is in charge of a bank account with more than VNĐ500 million from donors, has decided to transfer all of the money to Phương’s 5-year-old daughter for her future, reports.


She also took good care of the child while Phương was in hospital.


And not to mention many other good deeds from artists and donors.


With all the love and support, Phương’s illness is stable and she is now recovering, both physically and mentally – proof that people can overcome anything, as long as there is will, determination and care from others.


With wholehearted care, even the media can have an impact. Some might say that Gia Bảo’s statement is wrong, because if you took photos with Phương, with good intentions, the message will be sent and touch people’s hearts. In fact, without many post about Phương’s illness from celebrities, the news wouldn’t have reached thousands of people, and inspired many to donate. 


And with sympathy, the media has told us stories about Phương’s strength, how much love colleagues and fans have for her, how relieved she was about the huge support from donors for her and her daughter and how inspirational it was when people saw her and actor Bình holding hands and comforting each other in hospital.


Love has no boundaries, love should be spread through every moment of our life. And what we can do as a fan, or even if we are not, is support Phương on her journey and give love everyday, as much as possible. VNS