In upcoming Ch 8 drama, The Lead, Xiang Yun plays a veteran actress past her heyday who struggles with health issues brought on by age. It’s something the 55-year-old star knows all too well.
At the drama’s press meet on Tuesday (March 9), the actress tells us: “In the show, my character is unable to act well in her shows ’cos she’s old and sick. The director told her that she’s no longer in good shape. It resonated with me ’cos these are problems that we seniors face. Once you reach a certain age, your physical abilities and mental faculties go on a downward spiral. I was worried while filming [2016 Ch 8 drama] Peace & Prosperity and The Lead ’cos I kept falling sick as I'm going through menopause."
"My hormone changes are very drastic. My weight keeps fluctuating like a balloon. Sometimes, my face would become bloated or one of my eyes would be puffy due to hormonal change," she continues. "There were times I’d look at myself in the mirror and get a shock. I know that I’m going through a physical change, like a 15-year-old girl when she’s going to get her menstruation. But these things are beyond my control. It’s not that easy. You’re fighting against nature."
Then, her tone takes a turn for serious, or should we say scary when she tells us about the two times she fell really ill the past year. “The first time it happened, I suddenly woke up in the middle of the night,” she says. “I peed and there was a lot of blood, I was wondering why I kept peeing non-stop from midnight to 3am, so I turned on the light and there were blood clots in my pee. I was very scared. So I went to Khoo Teck Puat Hospital where they put me on a drip and scanned my body. They did everything and they still couldn’t find the cause of the bleeding. I was in the hospital until 8 or 9am and by then, the bleeding had stopped. But I was on MC for a week. Two months later, I went back for a check-up. I told them that I had two very large stones in my kidney but when I went for an ultrasound, they were gone. I don’t know what happened and all I can think of is that the stones fell out and cut my urinary tract?"
“The other health emergency happened when I was filming The Lead. One Sunday night my throat was in a lot of pain all of a sudden. When I went to the clinic, the doctor told me that he can’t give me meds and that I have to go to A&E immediately. So I did, and the second I got there, they put me in a wheelchair and put me on drip. I didn’t know what was going on. A specialist only tended to me after an hour and the moment he saw me he knew what I had. He told me that I’d have to be hospitalised for a week and that I’d have to go for surgery. I told him I can’t be warded ’cos I have to film! Then the doctor said if I didn’t, my life would be in danger. That made me really scared! Turns out my entire throat was filled with white pus. It’s a form of virus that if it attacks, and if it’s in your throat and you don’t treat it, you entire neck will atrophy. So I bargained with him and asked if I can don’t stay in the hospital but he still performs the surgery. He agreed, so every day, I would go see him and he would sit me down in a dentist chair, make me open my mouth and remove the pus with a knife down my throat.”
The actress then says in jest: "I took MC twice ’cos of these health issues while filming those two shows. I was very paiseh ’cos I seldom take MC. The 14 days of MC I took then was to make up for my clean record the past 35 years of my career (laughs).”
But don’t expect the dedicated actress to slow down anytime soon.
“I won’t turn down acting projects ’cos I love acting too much. But I’ll boost my health and try not to give myself too much stress. I’m learning yoga to slow down my aging process. I also don’t have much of a nightlife now and I hardly touch red wine anymore. So I’m very disciplined. I remember during the last few years of my dad’s life, his diet only consisted of fish soup. I’m growing old, so I must start leading the life of an old person (laughs).”
The Lead debuts May 22, 9pm, Ch 8.
PHOTO: KELVIN CHIA