Real Weddings

Terminally ill Taiwanese woman fulfils dream wedding shoot alone

28-year-old Chen Bo-yu, a Taiwanese woman determined to fulfil her dream of wearing a wedding dress before she succumbs to illness.

Ms Chen Bo-yu has terminal breast cancer. Her photos have made headlines worldwide.



Against a backdrop of church spires, a woman in a bridal dress gazes into the distance, the train of her gown puffy like a cloud.

In other photos, she is in different wedding dresses as she poses in front of a piano next to a lake or against the window sill of a manor.

There is something unusual about the photos: there is no sign of the woman's significant other. These photos feature 28-year-old Chen Bo-yu, a Taiwanese woman determined to fulfil her dream of wearing a wedding dress before she succumbs to illness.

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Ms Chen in an outfit for the bridal shoot. 



The photos of Ms Chen, who has terminal breast cancer, have made headlines across the globe. A BBC video interview with her uploaded online last Thursday has so far attracted more than 900,000 views and been shared around 1,900 times.

Besides fulfilling her dream, Ms Chen wishes to raise awareness of breast cancer through her solo wedding photo shoot at Yangmingshan on the outskirts of Taipei .

Ms Chen, known as Q May Chen on Facebook, was told she had terminal breast cancer in 2015.

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Ms Chen's solo bridal photo shoot was featured in women's magazines.



Her story of courage and faith, which has been shared on several online media websites, was first reported by Taiwan's Apple Daily newspaper in February this year.

"Every girl dreams of wearing a wedding dress, and I was always waiting for someone to wear the dress for, but after I got sick, I think it is okay to do it alone," she told Apple Daily.

Ms Chen admitted that she was devastated after learning of the diagnosis. She cried, but only for a day. Now, she is planning to go to Bali for her "honeymoon" with her mother, whom she said has been her pillar of support.

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Ms Chen wore four wedding dresses of different colours to represent different sides of her persona. 



An only child, Ms Chen was raised single-handedly by her mother after her father left the family when she was only four.

She said she decided to share her story to encourage and inspire others to live their lives to the fullest.

Ms Chen, who said only that she used to be a company employee, would upload videos to her YouTube account to document her journey through her ordeal in the hope of encouraging fellow cancer patients to stay strong and fight the disease.

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Ms Chen posing beside a lake in a wedding dress. 



Her solo bridal photo shoot was featured in women's magazines like Cosmopolitan and Brides.

Ms Chen wore four different wedding dresses for the shoot, each of a different colour to represent different sides of her persona.

In the BBC video interview, she said: "When I wore the wedding gown, I was so moved I wanted to cry. I felt as if I had finally achieved a dream I've had for many years."

Ms Chen is undergoing chemotherapy and has to go to the hospital three days a week for injections.

According to the Taiwan Breast Cancer Foundation, breast cancer is the top killer of Taiwanese women, with more than 10,000 women diagnosed with the disease each year.

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Ms Chen says she plans to go to Bali on her "honeymoon" with her mother.



Ms Chen was a recent guest on Taiwanese cable television network Era TV's cancer awareness programme. After this and the BBC video interview were aired, many Facebook users left comments on her public page to thank her for sharing her story.

"You're very brave, inspirational and you're touching hearts across the world," wrote Facebook user Stacey Burton.

Another Facebook user, Ms Maria Cormack, said: "Your beautiful story has really touched my heart. What a wonderful person you must be."

Ms Chen was first diagnosed with stage two breast cancer in March 2013.

She was declared cancer-free after receiving treatment for more than two years but it came back shortly as stage four cancer.

"Many people with a terminal illness worry about the future, how long they will live, when they will die... But I would say, 'Don't worry because we don't know. So why not cherish the present?"


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This article originally appeared on The Straits Times.