Her breast cancer has been in remission since 2014, and the Mediacorp doyenne is a picture of health today, radiant, cheerful, and forthcoming about her secret battle some four years ago.
After being diagnosed with Stage 1 breast cancer in March 2013, Pan underwent a partial mastectomy, followed by five months of chemotherapy and a month of radiotherapy. During this grueling period, she had stayed away from the limelight, despite speculation about her health.
“I didn’t tell people because I wanted to have a peaceful recovery stage," she had told TODAY. "I didn’t want all the people who were concerned about me to get worried – once they started to ask me, ‘How are you?’ I think it would have become a burden because it would have made me feel like I was very sick."
Today, she's much more ready to talk. "I am prepared to reveal everything because I want to create awareness of the disease, and remind people that they shouldn’t be afraid of cancer," she tells us. "You just need to detect it early enough and go through treatment, and recover."
"I don’t mind people approaching me to ask anything about cancer, and while my experience is my own, I don’t mind sharing advice and my experience," she says.
Throwing in her support for fellow breast cancer survivors and patients this Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Pan Ling Ling shares with us the biggest life lessons she's gleaned through the ordeal.
On staying positive:
“I’ve always been happy-go-lucky, but I never thought I’d be so strong! My husband said he felt as if he had to get to know me again. He didn’t imagine how I could go through what I did, yet stayed so positive."
On how she helped her dad through his own battle with lung cancer:
“I like facing reality. There’s nothing to be afraid of — you decide your own fate. So I decided to be happy. This positivity also helped when my dad was diagnosed with lung cancer in the same year. He told me that if I could [fight cancer so bravely], so could he. He felt that positivity from me, and he stayed strong throughout his treatment."
On her secret to beating cancer:
"Women worry about too many things. We have to learn to relax, and be happy. My doctor told me that cancer won’t kill a person — it’s when you’re terrified and unhappy that things worsen. Be brave and face [the cancer] head-on, and victory will on your side.”
A version of this article first appeared in the October 2017 issue of ELLE Singapore. To download the full issue, head to Magzter.
Read also: why Foyce Le Xuan took "silly selfies" after each operation for her breast cancer, and Lum May Yee's brave move to remove her uterus and ovaries after her breast cancer went into remission.
For more on living, head here. Don't miss also this powerful letter than Serene Williams wrote about body-shaming, and find out what Sandra Riley Tang does to stay zen while on the road.