SINGAPORE - It has been a trying year so far for Pan Ling Ling, but the local actress is determined to overcome adversity with a smile and a positive attitude.
Last April, through a routine health scan, she found six cysts in her breasts, which led to her taking six months' medical leave from acting.
The cysts had caused discomfort and the full-time MediaCorp artist had them removed through surgery. Then, in November, Pan's father, Mr Phua Kan See, 75 , was diagnosed with lung cancer.
Last week in hospital, when his heart stopped beating, she had to make the decision that every child dreads - she and her two younger brothers chose not to resuscitate him.
His death was extremely difficult for her as she had been very close to him.
She declined to reveal more about her own medical condition except to say that she is feeling better now.
Pan, 43, told The New Paper: "I had to handle my own situation first before I could take care of my dad.
"I didn't wallow or pity myself. I simply went for the surgery. Many women, like me, have lumpy breasts, so it's safer to take out the 'useless' lumps.
"I had the operation so I wouldn't feel the cysts all the time. I was officially back to work two months ago but my projects haven't started yet."
On Feb 2, the third day of Chinese New Year, Pan and her brothers were notified at the hospital that her father's heart had already stopped beating for four minutes.
The doctor asked them to make a decision on the spot on whether they wanted to try to resuscitate their father.
Said Pan: "I love my dad more than anything in this world and he can't be replaced.
"I'm closest to my dad because I guess it's true what they say about fathers and daughters.
"The doctor told us that if we chose to try to restart his heart, there would be a 10 per cent chance that he would survive and even then, he would be a vegetable or in a coma.
"He said, 'Let go or we will try, but you have to make the decision now.'
"I asked the doctor to give me 10 minutes but there was no time.
"My brother said, 'Sis, let go' and I didn't want to see my dad suffer any more so I did."
Pan said that they then rushed to their father's bedside to say their goodbyes.
"I told him that I wanted to be his daughter in all my other lifetimes. Then we asked him to go peacefully."
Pan's mother was not at the hospital as she was at home taking care of the grandchildren.
Last November, after a holiday to Hong Kong, Mr Pan arrived home and collapsed.
He was weak and breathless and Pan sent him to the hospital, where the doctors initially suspected that he had colon cancer.
Instead, the diagnosis showed that Mr Pan had stage 3B lung cancer, where the tumour was contained in his lungs and lymph nodes and had not yet metastasised to his brain or spine. Pan said her father had been a smoker for 50 years.
She did not want to put him through chemotherapy and she said that she was grateful for local actress Jacelyn Tay's recommendation to consult a certain reputable herbalist.
She said: "I chose this alternative therapy because my dad was too weak to take any medicine. We tried our best for him."
The toughest part for her was seeing her father's weight drop from 58kg to 41kg.
But she finds comfort in the fact that he lived long enough to have a final reunion dinner with them on Chinese New Year's Eve.
Said Pan: "When (husband) Shinan carried him from the bed to the chair to eat his kway teow soup, he was so light and barely weighed anything.
"My father was the kind of man who was loved and respected by all. He only wanted to give and he gave so much care and love to his grandchildren, my brother's two daughters and my two sons.
"Even at the hospital, all the nurses would tell me how fuss-free he was and that he was such a cute and nice old man." After he died, Pan asked her family, friends and colleagues to give her five days alone so that she could grieve for him.
"I asked for that time so that I could feel everything first, I was very sad. My dad wasn't afraid of death, but he couldn't bear to leave his grandchildren, who were very close to him.
"In life, he gave no trouble. He went the same way."
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