The following is the story of 48-year-old nurse Han Ning, who has devoted herself to the battle against severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) since the epidemic spread to Beijing.
In recent days, one misfortune has befallen another.
In my family, my 77-year mother has become extremely feeble after a heart attack. And in Beijing, SARS is threatening.
The events have made me understand the old Chinese saying, "loyalty and filial piety do not always complement each other."
Ten days ago, Changxindian Hospital in Fengtai district of Beijing, where I have worked for 28 years, was designated a special hospital for SARS patients.
Together with dozens of colleagues, I have been sealed off from the outside world, even though my home is just opposite the hospital which now houses about 60 SARS patients.
I used to be a theatre nurse and am now an assistant to the doctors and nurses at the hospital.
Every day, the task force I work for is responsible for meeting the needs of those front-line medical staff.
The logistics group consists of 11 nurses, all about 50 years old, who were trained for a week before the SARS patients arrived.
Our work is easier and less important than that of the staff who deal directly with our patients.
Every day, they have to wear several layers of virus-proof clothes, face masks and take other prevention measures.
When they work, they find it hard to breathe, their energy is quickly depleted and, worst of all, the possibility of infection looms large.
After they return from SARS-infected wards, I try my best to offer as timely and satisfactory a service as possible to help them rejuvenate their hearts and minds.
To our delight, our efforts are gradually paying off.
Some front-line doctors and nurses say that some seriously-ill patients are starting to recover.
Meanwhile, my mother's health has also slightly improved, thanks to my husband's care and assistance, although she is still in intensive care at Beijing's General Hospital of the Air Force.
I continue to hope for a long, full life for my mother and for the eradication of SARS.
I am quite confident these are achievable goals because China has survived many disasters such as floods, epidemics and wars.
My husband, an experienced doctor in the same hospital, and I are both prepared to join the thousands of medical staff nationwide to achieve this victory.
Telephone calls and e-mails have become my communication channels to the outside world. Yesterday, my husband telephoned and said: "Mother is getting better and I'm waiting for the order to fight."
(China Daily May 2, 2003)