Getting diagnosed with cancer is devastating enough, but for one 11-year-old boy, seeking treatment hundreds of miles away by himself was his reality.
Shi Luyao was living a normal life until November 2013 when he developed a high fever. Upon medical assessment, it was found that he had acute lymphocytic leukemia, and things were never the same.
For one, Shi had to leave school for long-term chemotherapy, which became an economic burden for the family. Shi was abandoned by his mother when he was 2. Since then, his father has worked far from home, and Shi was left to live with his grandparents.
While Shi received financial assistance from relatives and friends, they weren’t enough to pay the bills. His father accumulated 200,000 yuan (nearly $30,000) of debt over two years. His father reportedly told him:
“My son, you must hold on. I will save you by all means.”
Shi held on. His condition got better in August 2015. At the time, he decided to continue schooling while receiving treatment nearly 250 miles from home.
To save costs, Shi started going to the hospital all by himself, People’s Daily reported. From his home in Guizhou province’s Bengjing village, he goes to Liupanshui by bus, where he boards a train for Kunming.
However, Shi has never felt more lonely:
“I wanted to cry, but I did not as I did not want other people to know I was all by myself.”
After treatment, Shi is required to lie flat for six hours, but he leaves earlier — despite the pain of a bone marrow puncture — to save time. Upon arrival at Liupanshui, he waits more hours to catch the bus going home:
“I can’t remember how many times I waited for the dawn at the railway station.”
Despite all the circumstances he’s in, Shi remains an excellent student. While he was out of school for treatment, he borrowed his cousin’s textbooks and continued studying. He enrolled for his fifth year at Huale Primary School in September 2015, and now, he ranks first in his class. Peng Lu, his Chinese-language teacher, commented (via China Daily):
“He was down and lonely, but he scored surprisingly good grades.”
Peng was surprised after learning that her student had leukemia. To make Shi feel better, she had four of his classmates study with and look after him.
Shi is poised for recovery. His doctor informed that his treatment entered its later stage. Even better, he will no longer need a bone marrow transplant.
The family’s struggle may also be eased by funds recently raised from their hometown, including the government’s promise of assistance.