Thriving Well


Our Fitness First Member, Phang Seng Lan shares her powerful story of surviving breast cancer. Follow her journey here.

11 Dec 2019
We all know that staying in good physical health can help you overcome even the hardest obstacles of life. We reached out to Phang Seng Lan, a Fitness First member to share her powerful story on how fitness helped fight breast cancer.

1. Tell us a bit about your journey. When did you first find out that you had breast cancer?

I was first diagnosed with Zero Stage Carcinoma In Situ on my right breast shortly after giving birth to my youngest child in early year 2005 at age 34. I did mastectomy on my right breast because the tumour was very near my nipple.

Then 8 years down the road, in year 2013, my breast cancer spread to my right lung and it was classified as stage 4, a terminal stage of breast cancer because clinically, it was believed that my breast cancer has gone through my blood stream and spread to my lung. I went through 8 cycles of chemotherapy. And now I need to do my follow up routine check-up once every two months.

2. How did you feel when you first heard the news?

I was devastated when my breast surgeon first told me that I had breast cancer. At that point of time, cancer to me was a terminal illness and I had zero knowledge of cancer. I was very depressed and helpless. At that time, my children were still very young back then where the eldest one was 5 years old and the youngest one was just born.

3. How did fitness play a part through your journey in battling breast cancer?

During my breast cancer battling journey, I continue to join my kids for taekwondo training classes during weekends, just to get myself active rather than sitting around waiting for their classes to be over. I did that even during I was going through my chemotherapy sessions, trying to get involve with my usual routine as normal as possible. I eventually gained my taekwondo black belt first dan in year 2015.

Then, I was told qigong is very good for breast cancers patients. I tried that a few times but found I was too bored with it.

Later, I joined Fitness First to try out its yoga class. I heard from my friend that Fitness First has got very good yoga teachers. I started with one hour per day on weekdays and now occasionally doing two hours of classes per day, i.e. either two hours of yoga or one hour of yoga and followed by one hour of Pilates on weekdays. I like doing yoga and Pilates as these exercises have helped me to strengthen my body and calm my mind. It also helped me to learn to be more persistent and persevere.

In addition, I also learnt Latin dance occasionally during my weekends because I like dancing.

4. What was the most important thing you’ve learned throughout your journey?

I learned that one has to love yourself before you can give your love to someone else. To be positive and more receptive on comments and try to not stress yourself over what others think of you. Not to take my life for granted, love what I do and do what I love, spend more precious time with my family members and friends, make lesser complaints, try to live to the fullest every day.

5. After going through something so tough, how did you maintain your positive energy?

Join the right positive people, get support from your family and/ or friends. Always try to be positive, proactive, actively participating in things that you like to do, exercise, eat healthily and be happy.

During my battling journey, I was very lucky that I have got a lot of support from my beloved husband and family members. I also joined the Pink Ribbon Foundation, a non-profit organisation, where I learned a lot from the members and gained a lot of knowledge related to breast cancers from talks and events organised. Also, I joined the Pink Ribbon Foundation breast cancers survivors’ dancing group namely “Dancing Roses” to do charity performances in raising funds for the Pink Ribbon Foundation.

6. What advice would you give someone going through a similar situation?

Do not be afraid, cancer is curable and controllable. Do not ask why one is diagnosed with cancer, accept it and be open about it.

Talk to the right people who has gone through with similar experience or join a cancer support group, so that you don’t feel that you are alone, fighting the battle all by yourself.

Get the right doctor whom you feel most comfortable with and can trust to face the battle with an open and positive mind.