On October 31st, my friend Alex died of brain cancer… he was 34 years old and leaves behind his parents who lost their only son, his wife, and his 3-year old son. For several years, Alex was my arms, my legs, and my head for the management of our suppliers, but more importantly, he became a close friend and I had the chance to know his family. We certainly owe him, as much of our current success is due to his hard work.

Ten days after his marriage in 2015, he has severe headaches and learns that he has a brain tumor. He has surgery and his physical recovery is slow and painful, but finally, things go into remission, thank goodness, until last spring when the disease struck again… the tumor came back. A new surgical intervention failed and Alex did not have much time left. He has a few more years perhaps but, in all likelihood, only a few months… In comparison with someone who dies suddenly, he is lucky, or unlucky, to know the deadline in advance. But as with everything in Life, he had the choice… to feel sorry for himself or make the most of it with courage. He made the second choice.

Please do not misunderstand me! I do not claim to be an expert in misfortune and I know for a fact that many of you have lived, or are currently experiencing difficult situations, but throughout this ordeal, Alex greatly impressed me with his calmness and confidence. He trusted the people around him and maintained his personal values, a beautiful lesson that could be applied in all areas of life:

• Despite the 2015 diagnosis, he decides to invest… The property market in Shanghai is undergoing increasing inflation and Alex wants to continue building capital as he wishes to secure the well-being of his loved ones after his death. It takes a lot of courage knowing that such an apartment easily costs the price of a house in a major North American city, especially since wages are in no way comparable to ours! However, the investment paid off! He succeeded and despite everything, he moved forward.

• How to show his son who his father had been… a difficult task, filled with sadness. Before his death, Alex created a blog. A blog about life, friendship, what he considered good and beautiful, and what he wanted for his son, his wife, his parents and friends.

• “Last-chance chemotherapy”. When the chemotherapy provided by the state system was no longer efficient, doctors offered him an experimental treatment, but it cost $4000 per month! Of course, he wanted to live, but would he squander the hard-earned money he wanted to leave to his family… he tried, but quickly decided to respect his commitment, what he had wanted… leaving as much as possible to his family and so he stopped the treatment.

• I am not an expert in Chinese law, but towards the end and with the illness progressing, a problem arises: When he dies, there is only one way to make sure everything he has goes to his wife and son… he must divorce, at least on paper, to leave everything he has to his wife in the divorce settlement… a heartbreaking choice that tears him. As he suffers more and more, he makes this courageous choice.

Last October, I had the chance to see him again at a dinner with his family. His parents had cooked dishes from his hometown for the occasion. On the way back three days later, we exchanged text messages while I was at the airport. He thanked me for accompanying him throughout his journey and said he felt happy and at peace. He died the next evening.


Have a good trip my friend and rest assured, I’ll remember the Lesson.


Daniel Marleau – CEO LanOTR