Although her incurable disease may eventually lead to paralysis, Yang Yu-xing (
Yang, a 29-year-old anchorwoman for the Buddhist BLTV, suffers from a rare type of muscular dystrophy, the common name for several progressive hereditary diseases that cause muscles to weaken and degenerate.
There is no prevention or cure for the disease, she said.
In her speech "Courage in Trouble" given at the KMT headquarters yesterday, Yang related how she and her sister came to terms with their weakening bodies.
Born to a poor family in Yunlin County, Yang and her two siblings are all victims of muscular dystrophy. Yang, her older sister and younger brother discovered they had the disease when each of them turned 19.
Yang was a promising musical student majoring in the Chinese flute when she found the rare disorder started to weaken her muscles.
She began to stumble when walking on her own and gradually lost control of her legs. Yang's sister's situation was worse, as the disease started attacking her one year earlier than it did Yang.
Although Yang and her sister can still walk on their own, their movements are slow and laborious. They have to watch their steps carefully and cannot stand up without help once they fall.
Yang said they often had to plead for help from passers-by to prop them up.
"One evening, my sister went out to buy dinner at McDonald's. She stumbled and fell and nobody noticed her for a long time because it was dark," said Yang.
When her sister spotted two women coming in her direction, she cried out for help and one of them approached her.
However, when the woman tried to prop her up, the other stopped her and said they would call the police to help her instead.
"They simply left my sister in the middle of the road. My sister spent 20 minutes crawling to the roadside and managed to stand up by clutching at the pavement railing," Yang said.
When her sister entered the McDonald's, she found the two women eating inside. They did not call the police as they promised to do.
"My sister felt so humiliated and was very sad about her failing limbs," Yang said.
"I told her we needed to be patient when we were hurt," she said.
Yang, who now hosts a program for patients of rare disorders on BLTV, showed no signs of being defeated by her illness.
Though sometimes feeling sad about her situation, Yang said her physical sufferings helped her to realize the meaning of life.
Three years ago, the Taiwan Foundation for Rare Disorders (TFRD) dubbed Yang "A Rare Disorder Angel." She often visited patients of rare disorders and has so far written three books.
Yang said she derived strength from Christianity and Buddhism and that she rarely had negative thoughts about life.