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Cancer warrior finds purpose in helping others

Nguyen Xuan Hoan has been battling for cancer for years, but he never stops helping people.

Nguyen Xuan Hoan on a charity trip to the needy. His pickup truck has been a companion in all of his charity trips. — Photos courtesy of Nguyen Xuan Hoan

In the past three months, at the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic, Hoan has driven his pickup truck carrying rice, vegetables, and eggs to help those in need. Even during chemotherapy treatment, he has helped his team keep the work going.

Hoan was diagnosed with nasopharyngeal cancer in 2016. Luckily, he was given the all clear a year later after undergoing 40 therapy sessions.

The treatment transformed him into a more positive person. Hoan realised the importance of good health to lead a meaningful life. He plunged into jogging and participated in many marathons. In 2018, he won a race of 42.2 kilometres in four hours and 38 minutes at the China Marathon.

When his health improved, he challenged himself with another mission: helping other people. In 2019, Hoan became a member of the Pickup Vietnam Club, which was part of the Vietnam Youth Union in Hanoi, and joined different charity activities with other members.

Hoan never missed any charity activity. He, together with other members of the club, brought gifts to children in mountainous areas for the Mid-Autumn Festival, and transported food to disadvantaged people in remote or flooded areas.

He led a volunteer group to cook porridge for patients at hospitals in Hanoi almost every day. The pickup truck has become a useful vehicle and a companion, helping him in hundreds of charity trips across the country.

Since 2020, Hoan has become an active member in charge of transporting medical equipment and necessities to the pandemic epicentres in Bac Giang and Bac Ninh provinces. Hoan, in his protective clothing, he volunteered to help people in quarantine and locked down areas in Hanoi and patients in Bach Mai Hospital and the Central Hospital for Tropical Diseases.

Hoan has been in charge of helping more than 40 new members of the club in charity activities. These new members must pass the ‘rookie’ challenge to become official members of the club.

"I remember the trip to deliver necessities and medical supplies for COVID-19 hit Bac Giang Province. I and other members in the team were given a bag of lychees as a gift from local residents. I felt very happy because that’s the gratefulness of local people towards us," he told Lao động thủ đô (Urban Labour) newspaper.

When Hanoi applied strict social distancing due to the fourth wave of COVID-19 in July, Hoan was told nasopharyngeal cancer had metastasised to his lungs.

Hoan faced this new challenge in a different way. He didn’t want to keep being afraid or depressed, but calmly accepted it, and prepared for long chemo treatment.

He drove himself to the hospital, took care of himself during each chemo session, and helped other patients.

"This time I’m not as tired as I was five years ago, maybe because I have exercised regularly,” he said.

His long hair, which was down past his shoulders, fell out and he became thinner due to the chemotherapy. He has found it hard to move his tongue and can’t communicate well.

However, nothing can stop him from being the leader to help the needy. He is optimistic and full of the spirit of a warrior. Lying on the hospital bed, he still keeps in touch with other members and supported them when they were in need.

There was a day he went to lead the team to help people when he just finished his chemo treatment.

“The rookie team was on duty to deliver meals to poor unemployed workers in Dich Vong Ward in Cau Giay District on that day. I was not sure they could manage it due to the heavy workload, which could lead to a shortage of food for the needy. So I went with my team as I felt better,” he said.

Hoan delivers meals for people in Hanoi. 

Hoan said PVC Club gathered drivers who shared the same goals and passion for volunteering, and the leader needed to inspire his ‘rookies’. Hoan has trained hundreds of ‘rookies’ to take part in charity work for the club.

Hoan said his team would go to Tra Leng in central Quang Nam Province to support local people this month.

“Every trip, I have a chance to meet many different people facing different hardships, so I’ve found myself really lucky. This is the motivation for me to participate in volunteering activities as it gives me positive energy,” he said.

“I’m just doing what makes me happy and makes other people happy, too,” he said.

Source: Vietnam News

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