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April 20, 2011

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Breast cancer blogger dies at 33

YU Juan, a young university teacher who blogged about her fight against breast cancer, died early yesterday morning after moving millions of people with her words. She was 33.

Her colleagues, students and hundreds and thousands of netizens mourned her death online yesterday and many planned to attend her funeral on Saturday.

Yu wrote a blog with dark humor about her daily setbacks and triumphs since she was diagnosed with advanced breast cancer in late 2009.

More than 3.6 million people have read her blog.

"She is famous and many people visited her," said Yu's next-door neighbor surnamed Ji. "A lot of visitors mistakenly knocked at my door."

Her 70-plus entries, which give hope to other patients and remind the healthy to keep good life habits, will be published in a book in June.

The publishing plan was made before she died and many of her fans have booked copies for friends and family members.

Unfortunately, Yu will never be able to see the book.

Fans are invited to participate in a charity tree planting campaign in her hometown in Shandong Province to fulfill her last wish.

Her friends released news of her death on her blog yesterday, starting with a poem: "No matter how far the flight is, one needs to land. No matter how long the journey is, one needs to go home."

Yu's final blog was posted on April 6 in celebration of her 33rd birthday.

Yu lost consciousness on Monday night and died about 3am yesterday with family members, including her son, at her side.

"She left calmly," said her brother-in-law surnamed Luo, who was with her when she died.

Yu was the only child in her family and her husband's family members promised to take good care of her parents as well as her three-year-old son.

"We just told 'Potato,' her son's nickname, that his mother had fallen asleep," Luo said. "We don't know whether he understands yet."

In a previous interview, Yu told Shanghai Daily that she kept writing to encourage others who are dealing with a terminal illness and help more people realize they need to take better care of themselves.

She had a PhD in economics from Fudan University and master's degrees in related fields.

She studied at the University of Oslo, Norway, before landing a job at Fudan University.

Breast cancer is by far the leading cause of women's cancer deaths in China.

In Shanghai, 69 out of every 100,000 people have breast cancer; the mortality rate is 16 out of 100,000 people.

In comparison, 20 out of 100,000 people had breast cancer and nine out of 100,000 people died of the disease back in the 1970s.


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