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'I have to be honest about my physical limitations'

MediaCorp actor Chew Chor Meng is a fiercely private person.

Hence, his reluctance to be interviewed when The New Paper approached him.

Chew, 46, made it clear he did not want anyone to misinterpret that he was looking for publicity.

He said: "Facts are facts. It (his condition) will not change."

It has been six years since he was diagnosed with Kennedy's Disease, and he has not allowed his condition to affect his work.

Pan Lingling, 44, told TNP: "Chor Meng is a very strong person. (It took me) a year to fight my illness (last year), but he has so many more years to go."

Pan, who appears in the sitcom 118 as Chew's wife, went public about her battle with Stage 1 breast cancer earlier this year. She is now in remission.

Pan said: "Sometimes, we even forget that Chor Meng is still unwell. At times, the filming hours can be long and yet he can (is able to) stand longer than us. He is truly a professional."

A MediaCorp spokesman said that apart from slight adjustments when he was first diagnosed, Chew has continued to work normally. Chew said: "I don't think it'd be fair to hinder any production.

"But I also make it a point to be honest during filming, like if I had to do a running scene, I'd share with them the constraint - I can do it but I cannot do it fast. I cannot climb the stairs but if a scene required it, I'd do it, albeit slowly."

FAITH

Chew admitted that religion had helped him overcome the initial dark days.

He said: "It's important to have faith. It helped to renew my confidence in how to move on."

However busy, Chew finds time to speak to those suffering from the same or similar condition as his.

He said: "I take advantage of the fact that I am an artist, a familiar face, and try to encourage others.

"I have had parents come up to me and breaking down, asking why it happened to their young child. We don't have the answers to such questions, but I always believe that everything happens for a reason."

Chew added: "I'd share with them my experience, like how I went from being an unknown to being famous, to not so famous, and then now this (his illness).

"Hearing how I cope, watching that I am still standing tall, it encourages them."

By reaching out to others, he also builds his confidence, he said.

"I am reminded constantly that I can do it. We cannot change what has happened," he said.

"It is important to focus on what is left, not what is lost."

"There was this woman who walked up to us at a supermarket and just said, 'God bless you'. You realise there is a lot of love around. There was no need for words - a simple touch, a gesture and it was enough."

- Madam Deon Tan, Chew Chor Meng's wife