A 49-year-old teacher in Daye, Hubei province who suffers from Spinocerebellar Ataxia (SCA) has managed to keep teaching for the past three years by hanging on to a rope in class to keep herself steady.
SCA is a degenerative disease which can result in clumsy coordination of hands, speech and eye movement. Zhu Youfang was diagnosed with the genetic disease around three years ago, but has continued teaching at the Shangluo school in Chengui town despite her worsening condition, according to NetEase
After learning that she had inherited the disease from her late father, the school tried to convince Zhu to take more time off for rest, offering to pay her the same salary. Zhu, who’s taught for over 31 years, declined the offer and kept on teaching as she always had.
Zhu’s husband, who works as a PE teacher in the same school, attached a rope to the ceiling above the classroom blackboard to help her keep balance and stop her from falling down during her lessons.
After standing for a few minutes, Zhu feels dizzy and takes a seat at her desk.
Zhu’s husband, Huang Heming, helps her keep the class in order.
When her husband is free, he comes to her classroom to help supervise the students and keep them in order.
Zhu has trouble standing, raising her hands and turning her head, and occasionally has to stop and massage her head when she feels dizzy.
Zhu balances herself with a handrail while walking upstairs.
Zhu walks with the help of her husband back to the teachers’ dorm after lunch.
Zhu is photographed walking on a treadmill, which her husband picked up for her for 2,800 yuan.
She walks for 10 minutes at a speed of 1.6 km/h every day to work out her legs.
Zhu’s former students return to the school to visit her.
After Zhu’s former students learned of her disease, many of them returned to the school to visit her, while others sent her messages wishing her good health.
Zhu reads a message from one of her students during a class break.
Zhu reads a text message from a student named Cheng Liangde.
She said she’s moved by the support from school colleagues, family, students and parents, and wants to continue working as long as she can before inevitably losing her ability to speak.
By Lucy Liu
[Images via NetEase]