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Monday, 11 December, 2000, 19:32 GMT
Cancer diary man dies
Website of Mr Lu
Lu's poetic writings on death won his many fans
By Duncan Hewitt in Shanghai

In China, a cancer sufferer who became a literary sensation after publishing a controversial diary of his last months on the Internet, has died in a Shanghai hospital.

The death of Lu Youqing, 37, was reported on the same Shanghai-based website which had chronicled the last months of his life.

Page from Lu's diary
The diary was originally written for his son
Mr Lu had been in hospital for the past month after the malignant tumour on his neck made him too weak to carry on writing.

His online diary, initially written as a souvenir for his 10-year-old daughter, attracted massive interest in China for its unusually frank discussions of sickness and death.

His humorous and lyrical reflections on the meaning of life won him many fans.

Yet among the tens of thousands of e-mails he received, there were also criticisms from people opposed to such public discussion of his illness.

Book deal

Nevertheless, so great was the popular interest that a book version of the diary was recently rushed out in time for Lu Youqing to fulfill his life's ambition of becoming a published author.

Concorde disaster in Paris
Lu once wished he had been on the Concorde plane which crashed
Mr Lu, who refused painkillers in order to preserve his mental clarity while writing, said composing the diary helped keep him alive, and he outlived the predictions of his doctors by more than a month.

He calmly deflected criticisms that he had set out to cause a sensation and achieve fame and wealth.

'Black farce'

His wife, Shi Muyan, said that even if some people reacted negatively to the diary, at least it had prompted them to think about the universal topic of life.

Lu Youqing was however blunt in his own criticisms of the treatment of cancer patients in China, describing the country's medical system as a black farce and the attitudes of many ordinary people to cancer sufferers as a tragedy.

But many Chinese readers say the most important aspect of Lu Youqing's writing is summed up by the title of his book: A Message of Life.

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24 Nov 00 | Asia-Pacific
Online diary of dying man
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