Twenty-three-year-old Ms Fu Ying says that her husband is “God-given” : He feeds her first when they have meals together, and piggy-backs her up and down the stairs daily just so that she would not feel tired. But last Friday, she appeared in a heartbreaking episode of the reality series Chinese Dream Show with an unusual request: to find a new girlfriend for her husband, just in case she doesn’t survive her operation in Beijing the next day. For the past three years, Fu Ying has been fighting a malignant brain tumour which has already forced her into the most advanced stage of cancer.
Chinese Dream Show is a variety show in which contestants would attempt to persuade judges and audience members to grant them their biggest wish. If successful in their attempts, the judges, usually heads of corporations, would help them in granting these wishes through sponsorships. When she first appeared on the show, Fu Ying — affectionately called “Yingying” by family and friends — was bright and chirpy, taking swipes at the host and coyly refusing to reveal her dream unless her family and husband were disconnected from the show broadcast, because she wanted to “give them a surprise”.
Yingying then explained to the hosts and audience that she would be heading to Beijing the day after filming for a second operation on her brain tumour, which carries a risk of 80 percent. The tumour was too large to be removed in the first operation, but Yingying said that she believes in miracles, which is why she is undertaking this surgery. “The doctor told me after the first surgery that I couldn’t live for more than one year, but it has been three years now,” she told the audience exultantly.
She first met her husband Yan Haibing, a postal office worker, through a social app called Friendshake or Yao Yi Yao. “My head often hurts so much in the middle of the night that I can’t go back to sleep. I went on Friendshake to distract myself, saw a cute guy nearby who was my type and gave him a shake. We started chatting and going out for meals together.” The two fell in love and got married just a month ago, after two months of dating. His parents, knowing about her health condition, objected to the marriage, but Yan finally persuaded them when he got down on his knees and begged for their approval.
“He knows about the severity of my condition. But he doesn’t care,” said Yingying. “He used a loud-hailer — the kind that vegetable sellers at the market would use — and shouted in the direction of my hospital room: ‘Yingying, why don’t you come down. I love you, you don’t have to do anything at all, I will take care of you. Why don’t you marry me?’ ” There were no roses or diamond rings involved in the proposal, for Yan has prepared to sell the house in order to foot the 200,000 RMB bill that her second operation will rack up. “He told me, let us treat your illness first, and in the future we can have everything else that we need.”
She explains on the show that she is slightly cross-eyed due to the tumour in her head, but says that she feels far more beautiful standing on the studio’s stage than she did on her wedding day: “I’m leaving my best-looking appearance for my husband to remember me by, because I might really not survive the operation tomorrow.”
“I want to help my husband find a new girlfriend because it is the only way I can do something for him. He is a gift from God — he helps me to wash my feet every day. It is something that few men would be willing to do. He makes me so happy and blissful every single day. I need to live strongly, and I’m fearful about tomorrow’s operation, but I’m so scared of losing my husband,” said Yingying with tears in her eyes. “I hope I can find a virtuous, obedient, responsible and filial wife who would be able to take care of him.”
She was choked back by tears, but ploughed on with a heart-rending rendition of “Gei Ni Men”, or “For You All” , a rumination on love and mutual sacrifice in marriage. At the end of the show, the judges and audience unanimously agreed that they would pay for the costs of the operation in addition to a wedding ring that her husband can give her. The host also told Yingying: “You have such a great husband that he would definitely be able to find an eligible wife in no time if we broadcast this episode. But we hope your operation would be a successful one and that your wish would not need to be fulfilled.”
The husband, unaware of the dream that she has just shared, was then invited to the stage. Both of them had agreed that Yingying would appear on the show to try to grant their wish of having a memorial book published every year that they are together, so that they would be able to chronicle all the stages of their lives together. When questioned about what he liked in Yingying, he said simply: “I love everything about her. No matter what difficulties she faces, I would walk it through with her all the way till the end. Because this is something that a man should do. I want her to be happy every day…and alive.”
To which Yingying replied, initially smiling before collapsing into his arms: “No matter how tomorrow ends, it’s been such a blessing for me to have met you in my life. Thank you for walking through this journey with me all the way.”
Yingying also told the audience: “If you see us around on the streets, do come up to us to extend your best wishes. We should always look forward, I don’t want to talk about the sad and unhappy things.”
A large outpouring of support for Yingying and the success of her operation has since followed the episode broadcast. Currently, her operation has been deferred till the end of April and an epilogue to the episode shows her addressing the audience looking robust and in a good state of health. Sponsors have stepped forward to secure her an operation at Beijing Puhua International hospital, one of Asia’s top neurological and neurosurgical hospitals.
Watch the full episode of Chinese Dream Show here (Yingying’s story starts at 24:10. The song performance is at 39:07.)
By Yuen Sin