SINGAPORE - Veteran local actress Pan Ling Ling was dealt two great blows when she lost her father to lung cancer in February this year and found out she had stage one breast cancer last year.
The Channel 8 star had to remove a 2.8cm-wide lump in her left breast and underwent chemotherapy and radiotherapy before she was declared cancer-free.
Despite the trying ordeal, Pan, 44, bounced back within mere months and went back to work in April.
She headed straight for unfamiliar territory and accepted a role in the English-language Mata Mata 2, a first in her 26-year career, as a house servant and adoptive mother to Margaret (Rebecca Lim).
"It's all new to me, but I wanted that challenge. My good friends (and Mata Mata 2 cast members) Aileen Tan and Cynthia Koh are around to help me out and they always tell me to relax and just go with the flow. I feel like a junior on set, a student all over again," said Pan.
For the bubbly mum of two, it's "all systems go" and "full steam ahead" when it comes to her career.
"When I was resting, I watched all kinds of dramas, and it made me want to act again. My manager urged me to rest for as long as possible, but I love my job too much," said Pan.
After Mata Mata 2, she has a role as a coffee shop owner in a 190-episode Channel 8 drama lined up.
Filming begins in September.Pan is not looking back and said she feels better than before.
Despite her positivity, friends and loved ones constantly watch out for her on- and off-set by reminding her to have "only one glass of wine", to "stay away from raw food" and "not overwork".
Back at home, her family - former actor-husband Huang Shinan and sons Beckham and Kynaston - adopts a healthier diet which includes more fruits and vegetables and less meat to encourage her to eat well.
"I can now go back to my M-sized clothes, finally," said Pan, who does figurobics to get back into shape.
For her, life is "back to normal" and she is ready to continue pursuing her passion.
A relapse is the last thing on her mind.
"I have always been a happy-go-lucky person... Once you're happy, it's easier to get through life."
"I maintain this positive attitude because I want to be a source of motivation for other cancer patients," she added.
This article was first published on June 9, 2014.
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