In memoriam: Carla Wu

In memoriam: Carla Wu

RIP Carla Wu 吴双 1

RIP Carla Wu 吴双
It is with great sorrow I report the passing of my dear friend and student, Carla Wu (吴双 Wu Shuang), on June 10, at the tender age of 25. Carla was diagnosed with osteosarcoma in the summer of 2013, after feeling sharp pains in her left thigh. She underwent surgery and had chemotherapy over several months, and was feeling well enough to get married in January this year. But the pain in her leg came back, and soon she was complaining of lower back pain as well, by late February. Doctors said the cancer had spread to her kidneys. Because she was pregnant, they postponed any aggressive treatment, hoping the baby could be born first. Sadly, she lost the baby (a boy) in April, and subsequent chemotherapy proved to be ineffective. She died peacefully surrounded by her family just a few days ago. Her husband told me the news tonight. I am of course very sad. Shuang Shuang (her nickname) was one of the first students I had in China; she entered Jishou University in 2008 as an English education major. A shy girl, she was not very confident of her speaking ability in English, and so we had few ...

An update on my former student, Carla Wu

An update on my former student, Carla Wu
JISHOU, HUNAN — I’ve been holding off on posting about Carla Wu Shuang until I was sure of what was going on. And I’m sorry to say, it’s not good news. When I last posted about Carla, it was all good news. Her cancer seemed to be in remission, and she and her fiancé went ahead with their wedding plans and held the ceremonies in his hometown on January 1. They held similar festivities in Carla’s hometown of Yueyang in February, after the Chinese New Year. By then, Carla was already two months pregnant. But Carla told me in February her leg was bothering her, and she was feeling weaker than before. Last month, she consulted with her doctors. They gave her some grim news. The osteosarcoma in her thigh had returned, and there was little they could do without jeopardizing her baby. On Tuesday, she told me she was now suffering from terrible backaches, as well. Doctors this time told her the cancer had probably spread to her kidneys, and now the choice was even more grim. For her to survive, they would have to terminate the pregnancy. I have not heard from her since Tuesday, so I can’t ...

My friend Carla Wu gets married

My friend Carla Wu gets married
CILI, HUNAN — Here’s a happy story for the second day of 2015. My friend and former student, Carla Wu, is a cancer survivor, and celebrated her marriage in her husband’s home village near here on New Year’s Day. Carla (吴双 Wu Shuang) was diagnosed with osteosarcoma in summer 2013. After surgery to remove a tumor from her thigh and aggressive chemotherapy since then, her cancer seems to be in remission. Her hair has grown back, long enough for a pixie cut, and she’s gained some of her weight back. Her husband Mu Yanhui (牟颜辉) is a nurse. They met while both were working in Guangdong province. He is from a small village near Cili, and she is from Yueyang city, several hours away. So, that means two wedding parties! The date of the Yueyang party has not been set. In his village, the local custom is for the groom to pick up the bride in her home, and carry her by car and on his back, as the case may be, to his home. There, they pay respects to their ancestors, and serve sweetened boiled eggs to family and friends. Then, there’s a big dinner. In recent years, Chinese ...

It’s almost the end of the term

It's almost the end of the term
JISHOU, HUNAN — Today I gave my last exams of the fall term. Classes ended last week. Once I hand in my marks next week, I’ll be free for nearly two entire months! My duties this year are teaching Listening Comprehension and Oral English to the freshmen and sophomores in our college. That’s about 160 students, so my load is much lighter than in the past. For the listening classes, we met in a lecture hall yesterday where I could meet all the frosh at once, then all the sophs at once. Judging from the groans of dismay, what I hoped to be a relatively fair exam may have been harder than I thought. More than a few students have told me they think they failed the test. Both listening exams followed the same format. Part 1: A VOA Learning English report. Announcers for these reports speak more slowly and use easier words than regular VOA readers. Parts 2 and 3: Short exercises from their textbooks. Part 4: Dictation of the first paragraph of Matilda. It seems they did OK with the VOA Special English section, but the readers on the other section spoke too quickly for the students. Granted, ...

Guest blog: Carla Wu — Such is life

Guest blog: Carla Wu -- Such is life
YUEYANG, HUNAN — My friend, Carla Wu {吴双), wrote this last week in her Qzone. I’ve taken the liberty of translating it (with a lot of help from Google Translate!) and reposting it here. You can see the original here. ———- Such is life. We not only cannot change the past, we cannot predict the future. Up to now, I still cannot believe, but it is already the case, and suddenly it is so. No accidents, no remorse, no discomfort, no resistance. I have it accepted all with calm, and even faint excitement. Photos of my hospitalization have been published before, and just-after-surgery photos have also, but here are a few pictures from the end of it. This one (left) should be just after recovering from chemotherapy. It had not yet finished off my hair. (Hard to keep one’s hair rooted in one’s head. This feeling is actually not a very good memory, not just one, but another one, and another one — looking at my fallen hair, I found that it was like in a horror film.) On this day, the sun was very good, I feel okay and on my own went down the corridor. Who could know? ...

Guest blog — Carla Wu: Is everything all right?

Guest blog -- Carla Wu: Is everything all right?
YUEYANG, HUNAN — Carla Wu (吴双 Wu Shuang) is a former student of mine, graduating in 2011. In August she was diagnosed with osteosarcoma, had surgery to remove a tumor on her femur, and has had two rounds of chemotherapy so far. Today I am publishing a poem she put in her Qzone. We hope you like it. Is everything all right? It’s already been more than two months. As for today, in a word, it’s nice to be alive. I went home, so, that’s ok. I can sleep and be lazy every day, so, that’s ok. I eat a meal, have a drink, or on a nice day, can sit quietly in the sunshine in the courtyard, so, that’s ok. I have a lot of time to think about things every day, so, that’s ok. I can read and write every day, so, that’s ok. If I am bored, I can watch TV, so, that’s ok. On sunny afternoons, I can go out for a walk, so that’s also good. Sometimes, a lot of childhood friends come over to play cards, or to chat with me, so, that’s ok. At night I can see the limitless night sky, so, ...
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