Every morning, and throughout the day, I check my WeChat messages from China.
There are messages from former students, comments from colleagues about my “Moment” posts (mini-blogs), friends, foreign teachers giving me in-country updates, my church choir’s announcements and the Amity Foundation staff member, “Sally” Wang, who connects with my school regarding my return. (Yes, that still is halted as China continues to limit those coming and going from the country due to Covid.)
While I’d much rather have that message from my school representative, Dan Li, saying, “Guess what?! We have your invitation letter!”, the next best thing is always, “Connie, can you help me?”
I’ve had several of those this past week. Let me share with you one of them.
From Qi Ping, in Japan
Briefly, I met Qi Ping (chee-ping) in 2013 at the swimming pool in Chengdu. I was doing a stint of language study at Sichuan University and swam every day at the natatorium. Qi Ping was in the lane next to mine and admired my swimming stroke. Her English was somewhat limited but when she found out I had lived in Japan in my younger years, she shared with me that she was visiting her parents in Chengdu but she actually lived in Japan. She married a Japanese businessman, whom she met on a factory tour when she was hired as a translator (She majored in Japanese.) She was the same age as I, in her 40s, so we hit it off right away.
Our friendship continued with me visiting her parents a few times and she even visiting me in Luzhou the following year, after I returned to my teaching placement at my college.
She came twice a year to check in on her aging parents and her 2 older sisters but was not accompanied by her husband. He seemed to have little appreciation of China or the culture, plus it was hard for him to get away from work long enough for a visit, so Qi Ping came on her own.
“Can you order this mushroom health product for me?”
Qi Ping’s message for help, sent yesterday, was one which touched my heart.
Her sister, whom I met on one of my Chengdu visits, has cancer.
Qi Ping learned of this recently. Due to Covid, she hasn’t been able to visit her parents or her sisters since 2020 as China is not allowing her entry due to stringent “Zero Covid” policies. Visas are not being approved, even for returning Chinese desperate to reunite in person with family members. The government fears too many will bring the virus with them.
“Hello, Connie! The picture I send you is a mushroom health product. It is said to be produced in the United States. I would like to ask you to help me purchase. This product is not on the mainland. If you can buy, how much money a bottle? My sister is suffering from genealogical cancer. It is said this care product is useful for her treatment.”
After doing a little research on mushroom powder, I discovered the following:
- Balances Immune System.
- Boosts Cognitive Function and Mental Health.
- Improves Energy Levels.
- Supports Healthy Brain and Nerve Cells.
- May Contain Anti-Cancer Properties.
- Defends Against Free Radical Damage and Oxidative Stress.
Further research had me pulling up a wide variety of mushroom powders to order online, from pulverized stems only to mushroom caps and even roots, as well as blends.
Also mentioned were the different medicinal qualities of different kinds of mushrooms. Reishi, Lion’s Mane, cordyceps, chaga, Turkey Tail, shiitake and maitake are all mushrooms that supposedly carry different healing qualities. For Qi Ping’s request, I found chaga was listed as one of the best for antioxidant support and healthy aging, with studies showing it can slow cancer growth and reduce oxidative stress.
Problems of Ordering and Shipping to China
Qi Ping’s plan had been for me to order here in America, package it up, send to her sister’s address in China and she would pay me back. There is a brand of mushroom powder sold in China but unfortunately, Covid has closed the factory where it’s produced. She mentioned that she had no way of knowing when the product would be available and she was eager for her sister to begin taking the supplements.
While I’d have been very happy to help Qi Ping, packages arriving from overseas now are quite challenging to have delivered due to Covid.
Boxes are sprayed with disinfectant numerous times (literally doused to dripping, I’ve been told) and have a “detox” room into which they are tossed until deemed safe to send. (Usually 2 – 3 weeks). Some are opened and the contents sprayed in case Covid-positive individuals handled them.
I can just imagine having something delivered from a USA warehouse to China having such a fate, and perhaps not even making it past customs.
All that money, perhaps $300-400 in total to send perhaps 5 bottles, without being assured of an arrival or even a “when” arrival, just doesn’t seem a wise use of Qi Ping’s money.
I’m always happy to help order such things for my friends but in this case, I explained my skepticism and encouraged she wait until the powder was available in China. Or try supporting her sister’s cancer fight with different products. There are so many traditional Chinese medicines, likewise plant-based, which might be even better.
We closed with the following:
Qi Ping: Thank you, Connie. The company Bactolac in China has many medicines. I can try.
Connie: Yes! You can try!
Qi Ping: I’m sorry to bother you.
Connie: Never a bother, Qi Ping. We are friends. We will do our best to help her.
Qi Ping: Yes. Do our best. To save my sister.