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I was proud of the story Laura would be reporting. We had both covered a number of stories about sexual trafficking throughout our careers and felt strongly about the issue. When our mother was a child growing up in Taiwan, she had seen desperate women having to sell their bodies to survive. Her stories both enraged and touched us as women, and as young journalists we sought to raise awareness about the global sexual exploitation of women whenever possible.

But in recent months, I was starting to get very concerned that Laura was overworking herself. Her self-imposed pressure was unrelenting. It hurt me to see how much her work was bleeding into her personal life, even to the point where it started affecting her health. She had literally made herself sick from taking on so much.

Our family was most concerned about the recurring ulcers she had been dealing with for more than a year. I can't recall how many times Laura would call from another country to tell me about her stomach ailments, which seemed to be made worse by severe foreign environments. She had been on medication for more than a year, and her last endoscopy indicated that though her original ulcer had shrunk, a new one had formed. I was with her during that procedure and became deeply saddened because she and Iain had been seriously thinking of starting a family, and she didn't want to do that while she was on ulcer medication. My husband, Paul, is a physician, and he was also becoming concerned about her health. He remarked a number of times that Laura "really needs to lower her stress levels."

I know I was annoying Laura by constantly urging her to slow down. She would often shoot back with "You're one to talk. You travel as much, if not more, than I do.”" While this was true, I wasn't managing a department simultaneously, and I rarely got sick on the road. Plus, she was my little sister, and looking out for her was the role I'd always played.

FROM: Held Captive for 140 Days: Lisa Ling's Sister Breaks Her Silence
Published on May 18, 2010

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