Xu Kecheng: the cancer fighter

By Guo Yiming
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail China.org.cn, January 27, 2016
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Working as a cancer treatment professional and living with the disease himself, Xu Kecheng, chairman of the Fuda Cancer Hospital, has dealt with the most diverse illnesses ever seen in the world, bringing life and hope to countless desperate families.

Xu Kecheng is awarded by Publicity Department on May 27, 2014.[Photo/Yangcheng Evening News]

Xu Kecheng is awarded by Publicity Department on May 27, 2014.[Photo/Yangcheng Evening News]

Strong and healthy, Xu barely looks like a cancer patient who has undergone five major surgeries. He often jokes about himself being a 10-year-old, implying his rebirth from liver cancer in 2006.

In his personal computer, the 76-year old veteran surgeon kept many photos featuring the development of the Fuda Cancer Hospital, a private cancer treatment center he founded from scratch which has helped over 7,000 patients from over 70 countries and regions.

His personal connection with cancer started in the 1970s when his mother died of the disease only 3 months after being diagnosed with terminal cancer. Seeing her passing away with great pain, he determined to wage a "war" against the disease.

In 1998, Chen Minzhang, then the Minister of Health and Xu's old friend, suggested that he found a specialized hospital in southern China, and later wrote an inscription for it. However, Chen did not witness its founding as pancreatic cancer took his life not long afterward.

Grieved and distressed from the loss of both his mother and friend, the then 61-year-old gastroenterology specialist founded the Fuda Cancer Hospital with only 20 beds, and has gradually built it into a full-fledged group with 3 branches.

"We have different technology in tackling with the problem," said Xu who helped the hospital find a niche by introducing new systemic therapy combining Cryosurgical Ablation (CSA), Cancer Microvessel Intervention (CMI), and Combined Immunotherapy for Cancer (CIC), or the 3C treatment model which proved a big success for intractable diseases.

The modern Bethune

In March 2006, Sin Chew Daily, the largest Chinese newspaper in Malaysia, reported the story of a 19-year-old girl with a massive tumor on her face. Upon reading the news, Xu immediately traveled there and checked the girl's condition despite his painful hepatectomy procedure which occurred only 2 months before.

He and his team used microvessel intervention therapy five times, and operated cryosurgery on the girl who finally "unmasked" the massive tumor after 4 months of treatment.

News of the successful surgery travelled far thanks to extensive media coverage and Fuda gradually become a beacon of hope for desperate cancer patients worldwide.

In 2008, a sufferer of pancreatic cancer from Denmark, diagnosed with only several months of life, witnessed a drastic decline in cancerous tissues.

In 2010, an Indonesian health minister had his terminal cancer under control and returned to his work post.

In 2011, a Syrian judge had his vicious 20-kilogram tumor removed from his abdomen, which shocked the Arab world.

Foreign patients in Fuda account for almost 70% of the overall total. Xu was awarded the Norman Bethune Medal in 2012 and recognized as a "model of the times" by the Publicity Department of the CPC.

Helping the poor

Only 15 days after his own hepatectomy, Xu, despite great pain, insisted on joining a group consultation of a girl surnamed Jiang who had grown a volleyball-sized tumor that covered her right eye.

In order to find a cure for her illness, Jiang's family even sold their ancestral home. But when they arrived at Fuda, the clinic physician found that they only brought 1,000 yuan. Xu asked the physician to hospitalize the patient, saying, "don't ask them how much money they brought but ask yourself if you can cure the disease."

Xu and his team removed Jiang's massive tumor which weighed 1.5 kilograms without affecting her eyes.

After the 12-year-old girl left the hospital, Xu remained concerned about her education. Having only slightly recovered from his own surgery, the old man took an 8-hour ride to visit Jiang in her hometown, bringing a computer and learning software to her school.

"Whenever he sees poor families during his ward rounds, President Xu can't help but give away some money from his pocket," said a staff member of the hospital. "Once, he gave a patient everything that was in his pocket. It was 5,000 yuan."

Over the years, the hospital has helped over 400 poor patients, reduced or exempted medical charges of over 6 million yuan, and donated 16 million yuan in public welfare.

During the 2008 Wenchuan Earthquake, the hospital dispatched a team to help with medical relief. It was the only privately sponsored team in Guangdong Province, and donated nearly all the financial resources of the hospital.

Inspired by his good faith, many of Xu's patients choose to study medicine or nursing and even become lifetime volunteers of the hospital after full recovery.

Bribery-free hospital

At Fuda Cancer Hospital, everyone knows the three bottom lines that prohibit all the staff from receiving any illegal payments, kickbacks and other bribes. Xu has stuck to these principles ever since the opening of the hospital and did not offer a green light for bad behavior even to its co-founders.

"Integrity and honesty are essential for private medical services," said Xu Kecheng. "Binding medical treatment with the doctor's own financial interest is nothing less than self-destruction."

Instead, Xu increased the doctors' income and allowances, and explained that "gaining higher pay through better services can eradicate the root causes of gray income."

For countless cancer patients, Xu is regarded as a super-hero bringing life and hope to the desperate. He considers himself as one of them, also struggling against the disease and trying to make every single day count.

After every major surgery, he never waits until he is fully recovered to return to his post. "Since I'm still alive after all this suffering, I try to live my life to the fullest," said Xu.

He pointed out that cancer is a kind of systemic body disorder associated with "diehard" cancerous cells, but with the 3C treatment model, 70% of middle and terminal stage cancer patients can embrace a longer life or even recover from the deadly disease.

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