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August 6, 2010

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Expo reggae star fights secret war on cancer

REGGAE pianist Andrae Vladimir Marsh from Jamaica finished his last concert in the Expo site last night - and maybe said goodbye to Shanghai. Today he'll fly home for treatment for advanced cancer.

Marsh, 31, has been wowing crowds in the Puxi site with his seven-piece Kurfew Band, spreading the infectious dance rhythms of reggae twice a day since July 14.

Little did the cheering audiences suspect that Marsh was suffering from lymphoma, which was diagnosed after he reached Shanghai. The problems started, Marsh said, two months before he came to Shanghai when he felt unwell. But doctors in Jamaica failed to diagnose the musician's squamous cell cancer.

About 10 days after arriving, Marsh began to suffer from continuous low fever, and a tumor near his groin was growing, giving dull pain. He went to Ruijin Hospital for CT scans and biopsies.

The result was shattering.

"At least I eventually knew what disease I've caught," said Marsh. Doctors suggested he rest and find someone else to perform with the band twice a day in Shanghai's searing summer heat. He refused.

"I'm a professional," he said. "The band's performance would be affected if I took leave."

He and his band played in temperatures of up to 39 degrees Celsius - which felt like torture for the Jamaicans, used to milder summers.

However, Marsh said his fellow musicians gave him strength. "I may weep when I'm by myself, but people around me would give me power and love, making me strong," he said.


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