She decided to forgo chemotherapy and use cupping and acupuncture instead.
In July, 26-year-old Chinese actress Xu Ting announced she had been diagnosed with lymphoma.
She shared her medical results on her official Weibo account, along with a lengthy post explaining her decision to forgo chemotherapy.
“I want to forgo continual treatment and go with traditional Chinese medical treatment, no kidding. I’m not sure if traditional Chinese medicine will cure me, but I know that chemotherapy will be painful and I may even die sooner. So regardless of how long I can live for, I want to enjoy every day and live it to the fullest.”
Xu wrote that she would instead receive traditional Chinese medical treatment as it would allow her to “enjoy every day” without the pain of chemotherapy, even though she was not sure whether it would cure her.
She also said finances and a friend who had died from cancer despite receiving chemotherapy were her reasons for her decision.
In the following days, Xu posted photos to Weibo showing herself receiving traditional Chinese medical treatment including cupping, acupuncture, and gua sha, which is when the skin is scraped to produce light bruising.
In her post, Xu wrote that traditional Chinese medical treatment was still painful but urged others who were going through similar experiences to be strong and brave, calling them “the fortunate ones, because not everyone has the opportunity to challenge the extreme.”
The photos were immediately controversial among her fans, with some being outraged by her decision.
“Can you not do this? Can you please accept Western medical treatment?”
People voiced their concern and support for Xu, but urged her to receive the “standard treatment” of chemotherapy.
“Didn’t Lee Kai-fu (American venture-capitalist) have lymphoma too? He’s better now. You must be confident. You are young and kind. Go and receive treatment at a standard tumor facility! Don’t miss your chance. Hope you recover soon!”
“I have worked in a hospital for six years and with lymphoma patients too. Even though traditional Chinese medicine is very advanced, but based on my understanding, there has not been a patient who has been cured of cancer through traditional Chinese medical treatment. Cancer treatment is best with Western methods. Don’t delay the treatment. Chemotherapy is the only effective method to treat cancer right now.”
Most urged her to receive chemotherapy first before seeking traditional Chinese medical treatment, because it takes longer for traditional Chinese medicine to take effect.
“There is nothing wrong with traditional Chinese medicine. It’s just the treatment effects are quite slow, meaning it’s powerless against illnesses that progress too quickly.”
“Don’t let your illness get worse while you are receiving traditional Chinese medical treatment. Please combine both western and traditional Chinese medical treatments.”
Throughout July, she continued to post regular updates on her Weibo of her outings with friends and family.
However, her health took a turn for the worse in August.
“I threw up and suffered from diarrhea twice again today, and I couldn’t even throw anything up… This is so painful!!!”
Xu’s last post was on Aug. 18, when she was briefly hospitalized.
“I felt like I was suffocating last night… My family took me to the hospital early this morning, and after getting some oxygen, I feel a bit better. Praying that Buddha will bless and protect me so that this pain will leave me. It’s just much too painful!”
She died on Sept. 7. Her family posted the news to her Weibo account, along with the time and date for her farewell ceremony.
Xu’s death has sparked numerous opinion pieces debating the effectiveness of traditional Chinese medicine.
“Xu Ting’s Death From Cancer: Experts Say True Doctors of Traditional Chinese Medicine Would Not Reject Western Methods”
Several opinion columns have been published in local papers and picked up by the People’s Daily, with some calling traditional Chinese medicine a sham.
“The Traditional Chinese Medicine Sham in the Death of The Girl With Cancer”
“Gua Sha and Cupping Alone Will Not Kill a Cancerous Tumor”
Several experts and academics have also voiced their opinions on the subject.
“Traditional Chinese Medicine Should Not Be Blamed For Xu Ting’s Death,” a Chinese Medical University professor wrote.
“Do Not Use This Opportunity to Discredit Traditional Chinese Medicine”
Most fans, however, just left their condolences.
“Beautiful, kind angel, there’s no pain in Sukhavati.”
“Have a safe journey, Xiao Ting. I will always remember when we first met three years ago. I’m too late to say goodbye this time, but I hope you will be happy in your next life.”
Xu’s entire post read:
Actually I hadn’t intended on making the announcement on Weibo, but a lot of fans have been very worried about me and too many of my friends and kind strangers have helped me in these days. I don’t want to make more people worried and sad for me, but these are the results of medical examinations from two separate hospitals. These days, my family and I can’t believe this is the reality. Even now, I still can’t believe this is happening to me, but this is the reality. We cry, but even if we don’t want to understand or believe, it doesn’t change the reality. I’ve thought about it for two whole days, and I want to give up treatment to go traveling. I’ve seen a friend who I personally have helped die even after going through with chemotherapy. I don’t want to suffer through chemotherapy to come out unrecognizable, lifeless and without any money, but I know that my parents won’t let me forgo treatment. They said they will do anything just to get me treatment, and that if I die, they die with me. My attitude towards this is quite good. My medical results are: mediastinal malignancies and hematopoietic malignancies, but they have not confirmed whether it is lymphoma, leukemia or breast cancer. I want to forgo continual treatment and go with traditional Chinese medical treatment, no kidding. I’m not sure if traditional Chinese medicine will cure me, but I know that chemotherapy will be painful and I may even die sooner. So regardless of how long I can live for, I want to enjoy everyday and live it to the fullest. I mean, I have never really lived for myself in these 26-years. My parents had seven children, and I am the third eldest. I’ve been paying off my own tuition as soon as I began university. Before I could finish university, I brought my 300 RMB and went to live in a basement in the outskirts of Beijing. I spent five years acting in movies just so I could pay tuition for my younger brother, pay my rent, help my parents pay off their debts, buy a house. Countless sleepless nights, standing in ice cold water filming even though I was so tired my intervertebral disc was bulging out, so stressed I could hardly breathe, I’ve given all the money I’ve made from the 10 or so movies I’ve made in the past five years to my family. I could never spend it on myself. When I found out I had cancer, I experienced a particular sense of relief. I felt like I was going to be free of it all. I believe in Buddha. I don’t blame anyone, nor do I want to ask God why good people aren’t rewarded for their goodness. This is my life. Finally, I have one last favor to ask of you: If you share this with your friends or on Weibo, you must use pretty photos of me. Also, please call me by my new name: Xu Xiao Ting!