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Janice Koh as told to Chandreyee Ray - May 2023
Award-winning Singaporean actress Janice Koh was diagnosed with oral cancer 10 months ago. She first noticed an ulcer on her tongue that wasn't going away. She had a surgery to remove it, and then under the guidance of a second opinion, had a second surgery to make sure the margins were clear, and so the tumor wouldn't spread.
"I told them to do what they needed to to give me the best chance of surviving this. It was a clarifying moment. My job was to live, not to act."
More than half her tongue was removed during these two surgeries, which has led to reassessing her acting career. "It’s very obvious when I speak. I’m in speech therapy, and it is slowly improving over time. But I’m an actor—I can’t help but have high expectations of myself when it comes to clarity and articulation."
"I try not to let it bother me. In fact, I try to talk to as many people as I can. Rather than isolate myself due to embarrassment or fear, I feel it’s important for me to be social, to attend events or weddings, to meet friends and industry folk, so that everyone can get used to my new voice—and so that I can get used to it too."
"But I’ve spent so many years working... I have missed birthday dinners and important family occasions because I was away at a theatre show or on a touring production. Now, I feel like I’m making up for lost time. I’m home when the kids come back from school. I have time to drive them to places they need to go. We sit down for dinner together and talk about how their days went. This time to be present with my family is a real luxury. Even if it is under these circumstances, it is a gift."
Read more of Koh's story here.
Original source: vogue.sg