Doan Tue Thu has a smart face and bright eyes, though she looks tired and much smaller than other nine-year old girls.
Doan Tue Thu and her mother To Thi Bich Van at HCMC Children's Hospital No. 2
Fighting back nausea, she managed to rise from her bed to greet me when I stopped in for a visit.
Her mother, To Thi Bich Van, could not stop crying as she spoke about the future of her only child.
She said Thu was never as strong and healthy as her friends and fell frequently ill.
Recently, her symptoms grew stranger.
Early this month, the family travelled more than 500 kilometers from their home in Chanh Loc Village"”a small community in Phu Yen Province's Song Cau Town"” to seek treatment in Ho Chi Minh City.
There, doctors diagnosed Thu with blood cancer.
"When the doctor informed us, my husband and I just died," Van said.
Early this week, the girl received her first chemotherapy treatment at Ho Chi Minh City Children's Hospital No. 2.
Her mother remains hopeful that doctors can treat her daughter. At the same time, she worries about the cost, which she estimates will total hundreds of millions of dong.
Van and her husband said they had no savings when the doctors rendered their diagnosis. They only had their small rice farm, which provided just enough for food and the girl's school expenses.
In the past few weeks, they've sold their only motorbike and most of their land. They've also borrowed as much as they could from relatives.
But all of their efforts only provided around VND50 million which has disappeared after less than three weeks at the hospital, Van said.
Van has no idea what to do with a more than VND30 million chemotherapy bill.
"That's just the first bill," the mother said in tears. "She will have to receive eight to ten more sessions like that."
By Hai Nam, Thanh Nien News
Trapped in her own skin
Pham Thi Ly has had hundreds of painful black bumps sprouting small gray hairs all over her body since she was born. The bumps itch terribly, but when she scratches them, they often bleed causing her further pain.
Pham Thi Ly at her home in Ha Nam Province
The 8-year-old girl from the northern province of Ha Nam weighs 22 kilograms and is only 1.2 meters tall. The skin of her torso is thick and rough.
In 2010, she was taken to the Central Dermatology Hospital in Hanoi where doctors diagnosed her with a chromosomal defect. In 2012, the private Thanh Nhan Tumor Hospital determined that she suffered from a neurological fibroid. Doctors at the hospitals all shook their heads when asked about how she could be cured.
Do Dinh Thong, a local government official, said the girl's family is "especially poor."
"We really want people to help the family with some money to treat the girl," Thong said. "I hope doctors can find out how to save her, so that she can go to school normally like other kids."
Her 30-year-old mother, Luong Thi Thu, has been single-handedly caring for Ly, and a younger child, since her husband died in 2009, during her second pregnancy.
Thu can be contacted on her cell phone 0164 567 1124 or at her home in Noi village, Dong Du Commune, Binh Luc District, Ha Nam.
By Nguyen Duc, Thanh Nien News
Donations to the two cases can be sent to Vietcombank account of Thanh Nien newspaper at 102010000116341. All donations should be noted as intended for "Đoàn Tuá»‡ Thư," or "Phạm Thá»‹ Ly."
They can also be deposited at Thanh Nien offices, nationwide:
* 248 Cong Quynh St., Dist. 1, Ho Chi Minh City
* 2nd floor, No. 17, 167 Tay Son St., Dong Da Dist., Hanoi
* 41B Cat Cut St., Le Chan Dist., Hai Phong
* 1 Nha Tho St., Thanh Hoa Town, Thanh Hoa Province
* 144 Bach Dang St., Da Nang
* A22A Tran Le St., Da Lat
* 133 Le Loi St., Quy Nhon Town, Binh Dinh Province
* 120 Thong Nhat St., Nha Trang
* 88 Vo Thi Sau St., Bien Hoa Town, Dong Nai Province
* 99 Tran Van Hoai St., Can Tho City