Breast cancer can affect anyone. In Singapore alone, more than 25 per cent of all cancers diagnosed in women are breast cancer.
Battling an illness like breast cancer takes strength, courage and resilience.
In honour of Breast Cancer Awareness month, we are paying homage to five celebrities who have fought the disease and the efforts they made to raise awareness about Breast Cancer.
Join us in applauding these inspiring women for overcoming the odds and speaking out for the cause.
Lum May Yee
The 45-year-old former model-actress who is now in the jewellery line was given news that what she suspected to be a milk duct (she had just finished breastfeeding her youngest) at first was actually a stage 2A slow-growing cancer. She then received four months of chemotherapy.
After three years of battling cancer, the disease went into remission in 2016. To lower the chances of a relapse, May Lee had her ovaries and uterus removed last year after her doctor’s recommendation.
According to the National Cancer Centre Singapore, the risk of breast cancer increases with age with most women diagnosed being over the age of 40. That said, younger women may also be affected.
The local veteran actress was diagnosed with stage 1 breast cancer in 2013 during an annual check-up. One of the six cysts found in her left breast was cancerous.
She underwent a partial mastectomy, chemotherapy, radiotherapy and breast reconstruction and has been cancer-free for almost five years.
Ling Ling now practises eating a healthy diet that is high in vegetables and low in meat.
She is also paying forward the support she has been given by speaking about her cancer experience, be it dietary advice or tips on maintaining a positive outlook.
The legendary Hong Kong singer’s diagnosis came in 1996 at the age of 48, she went with a surgery and radiotherapy to fight disease.
Thankfully, it was detected at an early stage and she didn’t need a mastectomy or chemotherapy. She currently resides in Sydney where she takes on the role of a housewife and grandmother to her two grandchildren.
The 70-year-old was in town earlier this year for a concert. She performed the song “Days with George” and dedicated it to her grandson George who was diagnosed with a brain tumour as a newborn.
As a two-time cancer warrior, Francis is living proof that there can be miracles and we hope the same can happen for her grandson.
Diagnosed with breast cancer after it showed up during a mammogram in 2006, when she was 44, Sheryl underwent a lumpectomy and a seven-week radiation therapy.
She shared during an interview that she picked up several lessons during her battle with cancer. Besides learning to put herself first, she also realised “it’s OK to say no…and also that no matter how much you think you can control things in life, you really don’t.”
After she was given the all-clear by doctors, the Grammy Award-winning singer-songwriter decided she wanted to be a mother. She adopted her son Wyatt in 2007, and another one Levi in 2010.
“When you are stripped of everything and you have to grow your eyelashes back, grow your hair back, it’s just astonishing,” said the Australian pop superstar of undergoing breast cancer treatment in 2005.
After learning of her diagnosis, Kylie postponed her Showgirl: Greatest Hits world tour. She did a partial mastectomy as well as radiation and chemotherapy. The following year, she was given the all-clear.
Now 50, she says overcoming the illness made her a more relaxed person. “I thought, ‘I just can’t worry that much, people are enjoying it, I love doing it, so I owe it to myself to try and enjoy it and let go’.”
She has no children but is content being auntie to her sister’s kids and believes she is more likely to become a stepmother.
A version of this article appeared on Asia One. Additional reporting by Mary Lim.