Cancer hotels home to China's healthcare misery

Story highlights

  • Cheap hotels in Beijing cater to cancer patients and families from across the country
  • Many people don't have affordable access to good quality cancer treatment
  • Cancer patients -- especially rural ones -- often experience catastrophic financial hardship

Beijing (CNN)The sick sell their homes to come here.

A shabby row of two-story buildings in west Beijing, a few hundred meters from one of China's top cancer treatment and research hospitals, they house untold misery.
    Known locally as "cancer hotels," they provide a cheap, temporary accommodation for hundreds of patients in a country where a cancer diagnosis can be financially, as well as physically, devastating.
      At night, sobs of agony can be heard as patients pace the hallways wracked with pain. Far from home, they come to seek treatment that they believe is unavailable in China's rural hinterland and smaller cities.
      "I thought I was going to collapse when I heard the news," said Liu Dajiang, who cares for his wife.
      They have used one of the modest guesthouses as a place to wait for chemotherapy, surgery and radiotherapy at the nearby hospital since her diagnosis with cervical cancer in September 2014.
      There's no nursing care in their lodgings, but a communal kitchen allows them to live cheaply as well as draw support from fellow sufferers.
      "Nobody could fix her disease in a small place," said Liu of his coastal home town north of Beijing.