It’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month. In this second of a two-part series, Pan Lingling opens up to SmartParents on how she coped with breast cancer.

Pan Lingling’s breast cancer journey

1. What physical and emotional changes did you notice when you had breast cancer?
Before I underwent chemotherapy and radiotherapy, my doctor had advised me to cut my hair because I would start losing it once the treatment started but I didn’t want to because I wanted to experience hair loss. I lost most of my hair. You just pull it [hair] and it comes off in bunches. My eyebrows and eyelashes were all gone. I also put on around 10kg. However, I stayed positive throughout the illness. The only time I broke down was when my elder son posted a message on Instagram that read, ‘My mommy is a warrior’.

2. How was it like going back to work after the cancer scare?
I actually looked forward to going back to work because I had not been acting for a year before that. My first assignment after the health scare was Channel 5’s Mata Mata 2. It was my first English-speaking role in a drama and very different from the Channel 8 dramas I’d acted in. I also got a chance to star opposite Rebecca Lim, whom I had not acted with before, so I was very excited about the opportunity.

3. How have you been taking care of your health after the health scare?
I used to simply eat whatever I wanted, but now I make sure to include fruits and vegetables in my and my family’s diet. I also exercise more now ― I do figurobics exercises daily and play golf.

4. What advice do you have for breast cancer patients who are trying for children?
Although breastfeeding can be a challenge for breast cancer patients, I still encourage women to try for a baby once the cancer is under remission because that is the beauty of being a woman. This also gives women a reason to fight the illness every day.