Sick team leader put duty ahead of cancer treatment

By Yang Zekun | China Daily | Updated: 2021-04-08 09:38
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Zhang Yan (left) at a crime scene with a colleague. [Photo provided to China Daily]

Officer wanted to finish work on crime crackdown

The world of police officer Zhang Yan's family collapsed in August when they were told the sad news he had terminal pancreatic cancer.

Although his doctor wanted to admit him to the hospital immediately to undergo chemotherapy, Zhang delayed the treatment for more than 20 days, according to his colleagues.

With an acute awareness of his mortality, Zhang was worried he might not be able to complete his work as head of the criminal investigation branch of the Qinhuangdao public security bureau in Hebei province. A three-year national campaign against organized crime was due to end in December.

"Following the diagnosis I had to face up to my disease in the correct way," Zhang said in an interview before his death on March 1.

"After I became a criminal investigation policeman, I didn't put too much emphasis on life and death.

"Time is precious to me and I must take the time to do more. I felt that I had not finished dealing with many things including work and family."

On March 21, the Ministry of Public Security posthumously awarded Zhang the title of "hero and a model of the national public security system".

A former colleague, Liu Dong, said Zhang was a talented investigator who worked for days on end to crack tough cases.

"He worked so hard during those years, just like a machine that ticks over every day," Liu said. "He often handled outside cases, slept in the office and sometimes did not return home for two weeks."

Early last year, Zhang started rubbing his belly but refused to have a medical check saying he was too busy handling cases.

He thought it was just a common stomach disorder. However, in August he couldn't sleep due to intense pain and was diagnosed with cancer, Liu said.

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