Forgive me, I’m an unworthy son, Chinese doctor tells parents after he went missing following cancer diagnosis
Medic left note for heartbroken parents saying he did not want to bankrupt them ‘just to drag out my miserable existence’
After years of being trained to deliver bad news to disease-stricken patients, a young doctor in central China has disappeared after he struggled to come to terms with his own cancer diagnosis.
Tang Gongwei, 26, has been missing for more than 50 days, and left behind his bank cards and a letter to his parents in Hengyang, Hunan province, saying that he did not want to become a burden to them, Beijing Times reported on Tuesday.
Tang’s heartbroken farmer parents are still looking for their only child and spoke to the media in the hope members of the public could provide clues as to his whereabouts.
“I beg the kind and sympathetic people in society to help me find my son,” Tang Chunwu, the 55-year-old father told the newspaper. “He is our only child, we are really helpless.”
Tang was diagnosed with oesophageal cancer in late February, just three years after he graduated and started working in the pharmacy department of Hengyang Chinese Medicine Hospital.
Tang did not want to be treated because he could not afford the medical fees – doctors are badly paid in China and average annual salaries for medical staff in Tang’s city are somewhere between 63,000 and 77,000 yuan (US$10,000-12,200).
The five-year survival rate for that type of cancer is just over 20 per cent, according to official statistics.
Despite this, his parents thought they had convinced him to seek treatment after he agreed to surgery to remove the tumour.
But on February 20, after the family had spent the evening having dinner together and watching television, Tang sneaked out of the house and has not been seen since.
He left a letter to his parents, saying they would end up having to “spend all your savings and even run into debt just for dragging out my miserable existence for a few years at best”.
His note continued: “If I let you face the financial burdens and the sorrow of losing a child in your late years, it would be a sin for which I should die a thousand times.
“I also don’t want to live like a near dead person for the rest of my life. So please forgive me for bringing forward the cruel result. I’m an unworthy son, and I will pay back your love in my next life.”
He had been a mature and caring son, his father said.
“He always shouldered difficulties himself and never let us know. He was frugal because the family is poor, and wouldn’t even buy new clothes for himself,” Tang told the newspaper.
“He is my son, and I will treat him no matter how much it costs.”
Police suspect that Tang may have headed to Zhangjiajie, a scenic Unesco World Heritage Site, about 500km (310 miles) from his home.
He is known to have travelled there with friends on a college graduation trip, but he does not have any family members there.
Police in the area have been trying to trace him, but his phone has been turned off and they are not known to have any other clues as to his whereabouts.