Zheng Cao, who beat the odds and cheated death, is the Mezzo-Soprano from China

March 18, 2013

She describes herself as a girl from China who came to America with $45 and knowing two words of English, “Merry Christmas.”  Source: SFGate

When Zheng Cao burst onto the San Francisco Opera scene in 1995, she played Siebel in “Faust.” Since then, she’s performed in opera houses throughout North America, Europe and Asia.

Today, an inspiration, the Shanghai-born Mezzo-soprano has defied the odds of surviving stage four lung cancer and a diagnoses that said she had six months to live.

When diagnosed, she received a death sentence. Months later, she would learn that the rigorous treatment plan had dramatically reduced the cancer threat.

“This is the most impressive response I’ve seen in my life,” Dr. Rosenbaum said.

Zheng Cao’s tumors either had decreased in size, were no longer visible or no longer considered active.

To learn more about Zhen Cao’s journey, visit her Blog at Caring Bridge.org.

Zheng Cao holds degrees from the Shanghai Conservatory and the Curtis Institute of Music.

While studying, she worked as a singer on the Holland American cruise line where she met Troy Donahue in 1991.

Donahue said, “We were very serious, very committed to each other. It’s the greatest relationship I’ve ever had in my life.” Source: Troy Donahue at encore4.net

Zheng Cao and Troy Donahue were engaged until his death in 2001. She turned 44 on June 9, 2010.

See China’s Got Talent Too

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

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Spinning a Web – Part 2/2

August 17, 2011

Since The Opium War by Julia Lovell will not be released until September 2011, I do not know if Ms. Lovell will provide a balance in what she writes.

However, we could find citizens of any country willing “for a fee of course” to sell out their government and people. Why should some Chinese be any different, or are the Chinese judged by a different standard?

It will be interesting if Lovell mentions the Taiping Rebellion, which was one of the bloodiest civil wars in history between the Manchu dominated Qing Dynasty and millions of Christian, Han Chinese rebels led by Hong Xiuquan.

The Taipings had three goals: defeat and replace the Manchu rulers of China, rid China of Opium, and spread Christianity.

It is estimated that The Taiping Rebellion (1845 – 1864) saw about 20 million Chinese killed and the Taipings were not the only Chinese rebelling against the Manchu rulers of China.

For an example of some people willing to do anything “for a fee of course”, a United Nations publication of 1998, “Economic and Social Consequences of Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking,” says,”With estimates of $100 billion to $110 billion for heroin, $110 billion to $130 billion for cocaine, $75 billion for cannabis and $60 billion for synthetic drugs, the probable global figure for the total illicit drug industry would be approximately $360 billion. Given the conservative bias in some of the estimates for individual substances, a turnover of around $400 billion per annum is considered realistic.” Source: World Statistics Updated in Real Time

In addition, in the American media, we often hear of the Mexican and Columbian Drug Cartels but seldom do we hear that if it were not for Americans doing the same thing that some Chinese did during the Opium Wars, it would be difficult and/or impossible to sell illegal drugs to Americans.

In the US, distribution and the sale of drugs are mostly conducted by extremely violent, nationally affiliated American street gangs.

Justice.gov says, “Street gangs, outlaw motorcycle gangs, and prison gangs are the primary distributors of illegal drugs on the streets of the United States. Gangs also smuggle drugs into the United States and produce and transport drugs within the country.

“There are at least 21,500 gangs and more than 731,000 active gang members in the United States. Gangs conduct criminal activity in all 50 states and U.S. territories.”

Just because some Chinese cooperated and worked with the British, French and Americans (among other countries) that were selling illegal drugs to the Chinese people during the Opium Wars, that doesn’t mean that all Chinese were guilty. I hope Ms. Lovell makes that clear.

Return to or start with Spinning a Web – Part 1

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of The Concubine Saga. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

To subscribe to “iLook China”, look for the “Subscribe” button at the top of the screen in the menu bar, click on it then follow directions.


Mao and Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder – Part 1/2

August 7, 2011

Today, Mao is judged by a Western value system that did not exist during his lifetime. His world was a place and time that molded him to be a survivor in a brutal world where failure often meant death.

It is now accepted that who individuals grow up to become as adults is partially due to genetics but mostly from the environment and lifestyle one experiences.

Mao grew up in another world nothing like most experience in the West, but he has been judged by Western humanitarian beliefs known today as “political correctness” that did not exist when he was born into China’s collective culture where the reverse was true and the individual was not more important than the whole.

There is a strong possibility that Mao also suffered from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and this may have influenced his behavior and decisions during the years he ruled China.

Helping Psychology says, “PTSD victims tend to be in a continuous state of heightened alertness. The trauma that precipitates the disorder essentially conditions them to be ever-ready for a life threatening situation to arise at any moment … But the continuous releases of brain chemicals that accompany this reaction time – and their inability to control when this heightened reactivity will occur – take psychological and biological tolls on PTSD victims over time.”

Before I continue, I want to say that American troops are not the only humans on this planet to suffer from PTSD. Every person is susceptible to the ravages of violent trauma and if we examine Mao’s life, it would be impossible to deny that PTSD may not have played a role in the decisions he made in old age.

In fact, Medicine Net.com says, “Complex posttraumatic stress disorder (C-PTSD) usually results from prolonged exposure to a traumatic event or series thereof and is characterized by long-lasting problems with many aspects of emotional and social functioning.”

After examining Mao’s long history with violence and war, it is safe to say that he may have been a candidate for C-PTSD.

Before I wrote this two part series, I scheduled The Long March and China’s Great Leap Forward to appear in addition to The Cultural Revolution.

Continued on August 8, 2011 in Mao and Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder – Part 2

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of The Concubine Saga. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

To subscribe to “iLook China”, look for the “Subscribe” button at the top of the screen in the menu bar, click on it then follow directions.


Life is a Miracle – a movie review

August 4, 2011

Life is a Miracle with Zhang Ziyi (twenty-two films including Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon – 2000, and Memoirs of a Geisha –2005) and Aaron Kwok (45 films) was released in China 2011 and as a DVD in the US. For those interested in seeing what life is like in a remote area of China, I recommend this movie but as a film about HIV/AIDS it fails compared to Philadelphia (1993 – Tom Hanks and Denzel Washington).

The film, adapted from a novel, tells a tragic love story between two AIDS-afflicted lovers. Kwok develops a crush on Zhang Ziyi’s character, also an AIDS patient.

Changwei Gu (the director) did not capture the horror of HIV/AIDS in this film.  However, in Philadelphia the true reality of HIV/AIDS is depicted dramatically through Tom Hanks’ character.  In Life as a Miracle, the stars are just as healthy and sexy at the end as they were early in the film.

Instead, the film seems to be a story of two thirty year olds spurned by their spouses and the healthy villagers. The two turn to each other to fulfill the need for companionship, love, youthful lust and much sex.  If you enjoyed Zhang Ziyi in Memoirs of a Geisha and her other work, then you may enjoy watching her in this film. She does not disappoint.

There was one obvious flaw in the film. The only people infected with HIV/AIDS got it while sharing the same needle giving blood.  The symptoms of the disease then come on so fast, that their spouses were never infected. This is unrealistic since HIV often hides for years or decades before it becomes AIDS.  For most, it would have been impossible to realize they carried the virus until it was too late and their spouses were infected, which is the main reason the disease has become a global epidemic.

I also found that the subtitles were too small and difficult to read. However, I managed to understand what was going on.

I easily get teary eyed in films that tug at the heart. In fact, my wife and daughter know me well enough that when a dramatic scene of this nature comes on screen, they usually glance in my direction to see if the “compassion” bug has kicked in.

That didn’t happen once while watching Life is a Miracle. In addition, when I lose interest in a movie, I often fall asleep.  That did not happen with this film.  For me, the rural Chinese setting and the supporting actors mostly carried the movie.

Discover Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress, another Chinese film

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of The Concubine Saga. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

To subscribe to “iLook China”, look for the “Subscribe” button at the top of the screen in the menu bar, click on it then follow directions.


The Challenge of Rural Health Care in America and China

July 7, 2010

This morning, I read in the AARP Bulletin about small town medicine in the US aptly titled Lonesome Doc.  I learned that 77 million Americans (more than 25% of the population) living in rural areas have 10% of the doctors and that a 2008 study found life expectancies are declining in rural America.  Many doctors will not work in rural America where primary care doctors make about $20,000 a year less than their big-city counterparts.

China has similar challenges with rural health care. In 2009, The Journal of International Relations reported that in China “low-end institutions, particularly the rural township hospitals and community hospitals in the cities are gradually shrinking. More than 87% of rural population was without any health insurance.…When rural low income people need to go to the hospital, 70 to 90% choose self care.”

Then near the end of 2009, China’s central government announced a new five-year plan to improve the quality of life for rural citizens. The New Health Care Bill Facts reported “The (Chinese) government decision to improve healthcare infrastructure in rural areas will result in increasing demand of medical devices and equipment.”

China also recently sent a team to Sweden to learn how chronic diseases are managed there since China, with its ageing population, has seen a dramatic increase in the number of chronic disease cases.”

I wondered what the US was doing to improve rural-health care.  I did read that primary-care doctors coming out of college would have student loans forgiven if they work in rural America. After all, this is America where we trust in the private sector to solve everything as long as the money is there.

See China’s Health Care During Mao’s Time

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of The Concubine Saga. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

To subscribe to “iLook China”, look for the “Subscribe” button at the top of the screen in the menu bar, click on it then follow directions.


Evil Tobacco in Big China

March 30, 2010

Cigarettes are evil.  The person smoking the cigarette may not be evil but the pain and suffering that cigarettes cause is. I watched a father-in-law, a neighbor, an aunt and my father die from the ravages from tobacco.  The last few years of my father’s life, he wore a breathing mask attached to a tank of oxygen.  His freedom was limited to the fifty-foot hose connected to that tank.

Smoking Kills

Margie Mason (Associated Press) wrote about smoking and listed some frightening statistics.

  • Thirty percent of the world’s smokers are in China.
  • In the next 15 years, an estimated 2 million will die from it.
  • The largest tobacco grower in the world is in China.
  • Heart disease, linked to smoking, is already killing a million a year.
  • China has more cases of diabetes than any country.

Dr. Judith Mackay said, “You have to price them (cigarettes) out of the hands and pockets and the mouths of children.”

Hong Kong may be showing the rest of the mainland how to cut back on tobacco use by putting high taxes on cigarettes as we have done in America. The Chinese government may be watching and hoping that this cycle of doom can be slowed.

Learn more from Smoking Gun

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of The Concubine Saga. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

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