Home>Service> Global Love of Lives Award> 18th Fervent Global Love of Lives Award> Fighting Brain Cancer on a Unicycle Chia-Ming Yeh
Spreading Love in Streets; Paying back to Society

 
Even though the path of growing up is tough, be strong! Get up on your feet again after you fall!
 
 
-Chia-Ming Yeh
 
Cancer Fighting Partners—Mother and Son
Chia-Ming Yeh is now a freshman in the Department of Gerontic Technology and Service Management at Nan Kai Technology University. When Chia-Ming was in second grade, four to five tumors of various size were found in his brain. He was then diagnosed with malignant Astrocytoma.
A series of surgeries affected his intelligence quotient and caused emotional disorders. When he was in junior high school, his teachers and classmates often didn’t understand his condition, and this led to misunderstandings between them. Chia-Ming wasn’t able to control his emotions, resulting in seizures. He passed out and had to be sent to hospital.
Multiple disabilities caused by the disease often upset him. Luckily, things got better when he transferred to National Taichung Special Education School. The teachers there cared about the physically disabled students more and were more patient—which created an appropriate environment that met the special needs of these students. Furthermore, his classmates were friendly and kind. They learned and grew together. He was comfortable with his surroundings, and felt happier.
Chia-Ming regained his confidence in this big family. He learned how to ride a unicycle, play the ukulele, and make bread. In addition, in light of encouragement from the Director of Counseling Services Wei-Chi Chen, he even teamed up with his mother as the “Cancer Fighting Partners—Mother and Son”. They passed the street performer exams and obtained the certificates issued by Taichung City, Yunlin County and Nantou County. Now they often go to social welfare organizations and schools to give performances and help disadvantaged groups. They’re also dedicated to participating in charity events. His achievements truly qualify him to be the Brain Cancer Fighting Unicyclist, and allow him to stand out among the 2,341 global candidates of the Fervent Global Love of Lives Medals. We are honored to award him the 18th Fervent Global Love of Lives Medal by the Chou Ta-Kuan Cultural and Educational Foundation.
Disabilities and Setbacks All Along the Way
Back when the Nan Kai Technology University freshman was in second grade, he went to the hospital for routine checkups for his Amblyopia and Strabismus. He was found to unexpectedly have four to five tumors of various size in his brain, and with further medical examination, he was then diagnosed with malignant Astrocytoma. Upon hearing the news, his parents were all astounded and unable to accept the truth. Chia-Ming’s mother often cried in bed secretly, worried to death about his sickness and his future. Contrary to his mother, Chia-Ming comforted his mom and said, “Don’t worry, mom. I’m fine!”
Brain tumors cannot be removed completely lest it should damage brain neurons; thus, as the disease recurred in fourth grade and seventh grade respectively, the tumors got larger, and he needed emergency surgeries.
Chia Ming could never forget the time when a kind social worker, a young man older than him, from the Childhood Brain Tumor Association came to visit Chia-Ming and said something encouraging to him.
“You are so brave, Chia-Ming, you know. I believe that ‘Gold can only be tested by fire, and the brave person, predicaments.’” said the young man.
“What does this mean?” Chia-Ming asked.
“Gold can be refined when it’s burned by fire and the impurities would be removed; and the brave men will only show their true courage when faced with predicaments.”
“Can the brave men fly?”
“As long as you have courage, nothing is impossible,” and the social worker asked, face shining with determination, “Chia-Ming, do you want to be a brave man?”
“Yes. I will overcome this surgery with courage.”
People around him always encouraged Chia-Ming. Even when he was feeling sick and upset, thanks to them, he could always have the courage to go on with his life.
Surgeries affected not only his IQ but also his ability to control emotions, and he also became sensitive to sounds, unable to tolerate any noise.
Resting and Starting off Again
After the surgeries, Chia-Ming returned to school. The students and teachers didn’t have a good understanding of the after-effects of brain tumor operations so they misunderstood him, which left him with unpleasant memories. He was sent to hospital for depression.
The school didn’t do a good job of educating and informing the students, and the classmates as well as teachers were ignorant about his condition, leading to setbacks in his relationships. One time, he felt wronged by his classmates but he was unable to clarify himself and control his temper. He was so angry that he passed out due to seizures, and was then sent to hospital for treatment. 
Because of the operations, Chia-Ming stopped going to school for a while. However, taking his physical health and ongoing education into consideration, he decided to rest and then continue his education. He was not emotionally stable then, and his memory deteriorated as well. The subjects that rely much on memorizing things were very demanding to him. Therefore, he dropped the school when he was in his first year of senior high school. He applied for a disability certificate, and transferred to National Taichung Special Education School to continue his education. Chia-Ming’s life became quite happier after he went to the new school. The teachers were very caring and patient towards the students with disabilities, which provided a comfortable and appropriate environment for the students to live. Many children that had suffered from isolation were discovered to be versatile, and they were all grateful for the guidance of the teachers. Chia-Ming also learned a very unique skill here—being a fighter on a unicycle.
The Fighter on a Unicycle Helps the Disadvantaged
The school has its own unicycle team which is the only one that belongs to a special education school in Taiwan. On average, it takes half a year for a student to learn how to ride a unicycle, but Chia-Ming only spent two months learning, and managed to be familiar with the basic skills as he practiced rigorously—unyielding to falls and hurts, enduring all pains.
When he could position himself on the wheel and move forward, he and his team members ventured to Kinmen Island and even Sichuan in China to perform, and also paid a visit to pandas there.
During 2013 summer vacation, he even challenged his limits to ride a unicycle around the whole Taiwan Island for 23 days. During the trip, he and his team members needed to ride averagely 50 to 60 kilometers every day, and had to hit the road at 5 am every morning. The trip was in total over 1,000 km. It was not only a physical challenge but also a test of endurance. A typhoon struck Taiwan during their tour, yet they proceeded on the path under the gushing rain and whirling wind. And on other days, despite the 37 Celsius degree scorching sun, they rode along the paths marked with their sweat. Though some people got heat stroke, injured, IV drips, and ran a fever during the tour, they refused to give up, and were determined to carry on regardless. Chia-Ming has set foot on every city and county, from south to north, of Taiwan. They even went to prisons to perform in the hope of making the prisoners feel the liveliness and persistence of these cancer patients and students with disabilities, and, in turn, encouraging them to live their life to the fullest when they reenter society.
After Chia-Ming learned how to ride a unicycle, he often teamed up with his schoolmates to participate in charity events, and provided assistance to disadvantaged groups.
Singing for Dreams; Spreading Love in Streets
At the family-like Taichung Special Education School, Chia-Ming not only acquired the unicycle skills, but also learned how to play the ukulele.
Teacher Huang taught him how to play. In the world of music, he fell in love with beautiful notes. Music calmed his mind.
He later formed the “Two Heads” music band with his classmates, and joined the National Talent Contest for the mentally disabled. They entered the finals, and won the championship of music performance in the teen group category. In light of encouragement from the Director of Counseling Services Wei-Chi Chen, he teamed up with his mother as the “Cancer Fighting Partners—Mother and Son.” Chia-Ming played the ukulele and his mother sang. The team allowed him to acquire the special skill, and also realized his mother’s dream to be a singer. The team passed the street performer exams and obtained the certificates issued by Taichung City, Yunlin County and Nantou County. Now they often visit social welfare organizations and schools to perform, share their stories, help the disadvantaged, and participate in charity events.
Restarting and Never Giving up
Chia-Ming also passed the test of the Level C technician for baking food. In the future, he wants to own a bakery shop. He would invite people with disabilities or cancer to work with him, and start the business together. If the business operates very well, he wants to make bread, cakes, and snack food for the disadvantaged in need to make people feel love and passion behind the food. It’s his biggest dream and vision.
The things he learned at Taichung Special Education School are countless, including how to make bread, how to play the ukulele, and how to ride a unicycle.
“Chia-Ming doesn’t back down from the pain his disease brings upon him, he stands strong, is audacious to try different things, and learns various things. He has received many honors on behalf of our school.” What’s more, the school recommended him for the 2013 President Education Award, and he succeeded in being distinct from other competitors, passing the final selection, and the prize went to him.
Another Setback, Re-experiencing life
A year or so ago, he had an eye allergy, a doctor specializing in family medicine prescribed him eye drops with steroids for the allergy, but it led to the fluid pressure in his eyes to soar three times higher. He almost lost his vision to glaucoma.
Recently, one of the tumors in his brain was found to have expanded, and needs an operation. In the past when he was sick, all he and his parents did was to turn to doctors right away without digging further about the meaning of life. However, after the numerous operations, he deeply felt that people are incapable of controlling life. You never know what will happen the next second. Life is out of one’s control. Sometimes things will never go with one’s plans. A series of frustrations made him understand the importance of seizing the moment from the bottom of his heart.
 
Confronting Challenges and Giving Back to Society with Gratitude
When Chia-Ming was first diagnosed with brain tumor, he was not old enough to feel scared. He bravely went through operation after operation, and one chemo after another, just as he’s still fighting—pulling through a series of difficulties.
He is grateful for his family’s companion, and love from teachers. He’s also thankful for the angels in his life—doctors, nurses, social workers, and last but not least, every individual that offered encouragement and help.
Thanks to their love, Chia-Ming is able to be confident again, and to be outgoing once more. Today, he’s versatile; he can make bread, sing and even spread love to everyone through his own experience.
He has received invitations from schools to given speeches about his story, and he encouraged healthy students that no matter what adversaries one faces, one can’t succumb to them. We all need to sail forward with courage.
 
It’s like his motto “Even though the path of growing up is tough, be strong! Get up on your feet again after you fall!”