Home>Service> Global Love of Lives Award> 18th Fervent Global Love of Lives Award> Painting Strength, Spreading Happiness Shou-Yu Wen
Deep in my heart, I know that help comes to those who help themselves. There is no need to complain and no room for sympathy. One must overcome oneself before any recognition is earned from others.
- Shou-Yu Wen

Inherent Limitation Encourages The Body and Mind
Wen Shou-Yu, currently studying German Literature at Tamkang University, is a size smaller than her peers. Even though she has leaded a life much different from others, she always has a smile on her face and remains optimistic. Shou-Yu suffers from osteogenesis imperfecta, a disease that turned her into the so-called “glass doll”. Osteogenesis imperfecta is a congenital genetic disorder that cause defects in type I collagen fibers, thus resulting in fragile bones. Even a minor collision can result in serious fractures.
As a child, Shou-Yu’s parents taught her to learn about her physical condition, and asked her to pay extra attention to daily routines in her life. They even trained her how to swim so that she can exercise all the muscles in her body. Besides swimming backstroke, Shou-Yu can now swim freestyle for up to 200 meters at a time. Through the swimming lessons, Shou-yu learned the importance of self-accomplishment and physical strength in life.
Shou-Yu is the apple of the eye amongst her classmates and teachers at school; she also has the best academic performances. She is a frequent winner of English speech contests, creative writing contests, and she even passed the intermediate level of General English Proficiency Test (GEPT). Her passion for watercolor and sketching brings her peace at mind, and the awards presented by each contest encouraged her and rewarded her with self-affirmation.
Painting as Communication, Painting Strength
Shou-Yu originally used painting as a way of communicating with her teachers and classmates. She became better and better at it as she started painting her own voice, hope, and strength. She was awarded first prize in art contests in and out of school multiple times, all of which lead her to receive an award for her outstanding adversity quotient (AQ) from Kaohsiung City in 2009.
More importantly, Shou-yu considers herself as an angel chosen by God. She remembers her mother’s encouraging words, “Everyone gets sick, only my bones are sick, everything else is normal. I have an intelligent mind and should pay no attention to what others think. I need to believe in myself.”
Shou-Yu’s mother asks her to express her unhappiness on paper. Painting eventually became an alternative way of communicating with her teachers and classmates for Shou-Yu. Her drawing in the contact book has received positive feedbacks from her teachers. Painting has become Shou-Yu’s way of entertaining herself, and by selling her works for charity causes, it has become her way of helping others.
Rising Against All Odds, Spreading Happiness
Shou-Yu uses her art to paint the voices and feelings of patient’s with rare disease. Painting is her way of entertainment, communication, and a way to help others. She not only paints hope and strength, she also paints joy and spreads happiness. She is indeed a glass doll that had risen against all odds. She stands out from 2341 candidates around the globe who were nominated for their love for life, winning the 18th Global Love of Lives Medal from Chou Ta-Kuan Foundation.
Chosen Angel of God
Wen Shou-Yu was born on November 19, 1995. She was diagnosed with the rare disease osteogenesis imperfect at birth. Shou-Yu has a healthy sister who is seven years older than her, she is a child that her parents have long awaited. When her mother was pregnant with Shou-Yu, she went through all kinds of examination that came back with good news. The doctor said the child was healthy and had a tall nose. Her mother often talked to Shou-Yu while she was in the womb, and tells her to be brave and that her family is waiting for her.
On the night of her birth, Shou-Yu’s mother felt comforted by her loud cries. The family saw Shou-Yu crying amongst hungry babies, but she was the only one with tears streaming down her red cheeks. Only afterwards did they know that Shou-Yu’s leg broke when the doctor pulled her out. The tears were tears of pain and not of hunger.
She was diagnosed with osteogenesis imperfecta before she was one-month old; her parents took her to Kaoshiung Chung Gung hospital for a thorough examination and found out about her fate as a glass doll.
Shou-Yu was told by her mother that she was struggling between life and death before she was even one-month old. Shou-Yu was in critical condition when she chocked on anesthesia medicine intended for her brain tomography at Chung Gung hospital. She was luckily saved in time. God has tested Shou-Yu several times on her strength and love for life since birth.
Shou-Yu lived up to her parents’ expectations and overcame God’s trials for her. She walked bravely past her 20th year in her life, knowing that there is another journey waiting for her to realize, her ideals and ambitions.
Every life has its value of existence; if one only knows the beauty of oneself can they achieve unlimited possibilities in life. Shou-Yu believes that the challenges in life are trials laid out for her by God. If she persists with faith, she will have a chance to accomplish the task that God had entrusted in her.
As Mencius puts it, “Before a man is empowered by heaven, he must be tested, exhausted, starved, impoverished, and interfered so that he may grow stronger at heart and rise beyond his limits”.
Refined Dazzling Glass Doll
From the moment she was born, Shou-Yu went through surgery due to bone fracture and had undergone countless adjustments since then. She wanted to attend kindergarten, but no teacher would take her in due to her condition. When she reached the age to start school, her parents were advised to send her to schools with special education programs. However, her parents insisted that she should study with normal kids and learn from and with them in school.
Elementary kids have not learned the meaning of respect. At the beginning of school all the kids were warned of Shou-Yu’s fragile condition, and the warning resulted in kids swarming to Shou-Yu’s classroom during recess out of curiosity for the “glass doll”. Shou-Yu felt like she was a wounded animal trapped in a cage.
After school, Shou-Yu told her mom that she did not want to go to school because she didn’t want to be labeled as a glass doll. She remembered her mother telling her “Everyone gets sick, only my bones are sick, everything else is normal. I have an intelligent mind and should pay no attention to what others think. I need to believe in myself.” Her mother encouraged her to draw her negative feelings on the contact book. The drawings were later well received and had positive feedbacks. Shou-Yu fell in love with drawing ever since.
Shou-Yu suffered from extreme pain from a young age, therefore she is more sensitive and curious, and she is always discovering things ahead of other children.
At the same time, she is inspired and creative under unexpected circumstances. Her love for drawing opened the door to third-grade art class within the school, and from then on she spent most of her time learning about drawing from elementary school to high school. She is often encouraged by her teachers and participated in many contest in and out of school, often bringing home the gold medal.
Studying at NTU Hospital – A Lesson in Life
Shou-Yu studied at the Affiliated Senior High School of National Kaohsiung Normal University, a school of her dreams. With the open learning environment and special care provided for special students, Shou-Yu could learn in peace. During the first year of high school, her teachers and classmates helped and cared for her. Her fellow students all had good grades but they were not distant under academic pressure. They slow down their steps and offer Shou-Yu their most heartwarming care.
Her fellow students also gave her a chance to serve the class. She was elected teacher’s assistant for home economics class, and was made in charge of the class expenses. She is very proud of being trusted by her classmates. However, the long-hours of studying for the high school entry test resulted in severe scoliosis. Shou-Yu could not sit long due to backaches and needed a pillow under her waist to sleep. The doctors suggest immediate treatment; otherwise it will greatly affect her future. Consequently, Shou-Yu left the school for two months during the second semester in her second year of high school to go through chiropractic at NTU hospital. She then studied at the hospital to face the lessons life has presented.
A spine surgery is a serious surgery, unlike the previous bone adjustments; it will result in paralyzation or even death.
Two visiting doctors from NTU hospital were involved in Shou-Yu’s treatment. Due to her special bone structure, and a scoliosis well over 90 degrees, Shou-Yu questioned the difficulty of the surgery as the doctors explained the S-shaped spine x-ray to her mother.
The surgery was carried out in two stages. They planted four nails before and after her skull, slit her waist on the side, and loosen the bended part of the spine. After the surgery Shou-Yu recovered quickly, but all of this is only the beginning. Shou-Yu followed the doctor’s orders and obediently hanged sandbags to adjust her spine every day. The sandbags she hung above her head went from 2.5 kg to 4 kg. Even her waist needs to be twisted with 4 kg on each side. Two visiting doctors took their daily rounds seriously and visited her even on their days off with no exception. Their care for Shou-Yu moved her and made her a very good patient who would adjust her spines everyday in hope of getting well soon.
First Glass Doll Bone Correction
The surgery for final fixation came on the third week. Shou-Yu’s tears rolled down her cheeks against her will at the surgery room at noon. All the un-controllable factors worried and frightened her, but her mother held her hand as she climbed onto the surgery table, giving Shou-Yu all the power to face the surgery.
Shou-Yu knows that if she has the will to live than God will give her a chance. After eight hours of surgery, the doctors told Shou-Yu’s parents that it was a successful surgery. Shou-Yu’s parents in turn thanked them for their excellent work.
Shou-Yu’s mother said that the doctors were worried that Shou-Yu’s bone wasn’t strong enough for the normal bone adjustment treatment. She is the first patient to ever attempt this treatment and the outcome was better than the doctors had expected.
Shou-Yu made a thank you card for the doctors to thank them for the eight-hour surgery and for impairing her imperfect bone structures.
Shou-Yu is grateful to all those who cared for her when she was the most fragile during surgery. She felt deeply in her heart that help comes to those who help themselves. There is no need to complain and no room for sympathy. One must overcome oneself before any recognition is earned from others, only then will chances be given.
Live with Passion, Share the Joy
Shou-Yu’s fragile bones made her more compassionate to others. She loves animals and feels like she has the ability to take care of them. Sometimes she would bring home wounded birds to heal them. Every time she sees a small life struggling to walk, to fly high into the sky, she is deeply moved.
She feels sad for stray dogs in the streets. When her parents took her strolling by the love river one time, they saw adoption advertisement for stray dogs. They immediately brought one home due to Shou-Yu’s request. The puppy is now a member of the family, accompanying Shou-Yu’s studies late at night.
Shou-Yu is often wounded when she was young, and her hand or legs were frequently wrapped in plaster. However, her parents would arrange family outings, taking her everywhere in her wheelchair and into nature. Shou-Yu is used to carrying notebooks with her to draw out her feelings. She is grateful for her family’s company and thankful to them for taking her all over Taiwan to enjoy the beauty of nature.
Shou-Yu loves to be in the woods where she can enjoy the dream-like mountain mists. She loves watching fishes swim in the ocean. She loves traveling and observing things, because it is what inspires her and brings peace to her mind.
Shou-Yu knows that she is not alone, she knows that there are patients out there like her, therefore she keeps in touch with them so they can exchange and share their feelings.
Accepting Fate’s Challenge With Bravery
Shou-Yu visits Taipei very often to meet and encourage people with similar condition. Each person has a different condition, but they all went through countless pains, and they were all are brave enough to accept the challenges presented by life.
Shou-Yu felt that she had a mission to accomplish something in life, not for her own vanity, but to fight for some resource that she can share with them.
Shou-Yu’s favorite artist is Andy Warhol, the father of pop art. She wants to be more daring and vibrant in her choice of colors like him to express herself.
Andy Warhol’s work often combines with commercial goods. Shou-Yu wants to be a commercial designer in the future; she wants to design small products that bring warmth and happiness to the customer’s daily life. She wants to share all her fortunes and to improve the minority group’s spiritual life and quality of life at home through her designs.
Shou-Yu always warns herself to never give up, because miracles may appear at any moment. She is grateful and she wants to give back to the society that has helped her, she wants to be able to lead and walk beyond her physical limits, enjoying life to its fullest.
She know she is not the brightest star in the sky, but she hopes that she is one of the star chosen by God who brings hope, love, and meaning to other chosen stars in the sky.