Ex-radio DJ dies of breast cancer: She delayed treatment because of pregnancy
She was pregnant with her second child when she discovered her breast cancer had returned.
The pregnancy meant former MediaCorp radio DJ Kate Reyes had to delay treatment until she had safely given birth to the baby boy in 2012.
But Reyes eventually lost her battle with breast cancer on Saturday evening. She was 41.
Reyes leaves behind a husband and two children aged two and 3½ years old.
She was first diagnosed with breast cancer in 2005. It is not known when she went into remission.
Reyes, who graduated from Ngee Ann Polytechnic with a business diploma, started out at a MediaCorp radio station, then called Perfect 10, at 21.
Teenagers in the 1990s would be familiar with Say It With Music, her music dedication programme.
She had stints at other stations like Gold 90.5FM and, more recently, Lush 99.5FM.
But she had to balance her position as a radio personality with her preference for privacy.
Speaking to The New Paper on the second day of her wake yesterday, her father Rommy, an architect, gave a rare glimpse into his daughter's private life as a mother.
The 67-year-old spoke freely about what Reyes was like in her younger days.
But when it came to details about her marriage five years ago in California, US, he kept a tight lip.
That reticence spoke volumes about how fiercely Reyes and her husband guarded their privacy, despite her job putting her in the public eye.
That insistence on keeping a low profile was also why there was no obituary in the newspapers, Mr Reyes explained.
His daughter's first pregnancy in 2011 was a hush-hush affair even though she was giddy with joy at the prospect of becoming a mother.
"Of course she was really excited when she found out about her first pregnancy. That's why she devoted her life entirely to the family.
"She tried to stay away from the limelight as much as possible, thinking she could go back to it when the time comes and her kids are bigger," he said.
Reyes had her second baby in 2012.
But, a few months into her pregnancy, her cancer returned.
"Kate couldn't go through any scans, chemotherapy or radiotherapy as she was pregnant," said Mr Reyes.
"It was very troubling not knowing how we could help her.
"There was a delay of a few months before she got treated.
"We tried to be positive that Kate would somehow pull through, but we knew the chances were slim as she was diagnosed with stage four cancer," Mr Reyes said.
Despite her diagnosis, Reyes tried not to show the pain she went through and tried to be as active as possible.
This included driving her children around for their activities and classes.
"What she went through as a child, she wanted her kids to do the same.
"This included ballet, gymnastics, swimming and, at one point, horse-riding.
"I call it her bucket list - to accomplish what is possible during the time she had," Mr Reyes said.
Four months ago, she still accepted voice-over jobs "to feel the groove", but her condition worsened a month later.
She opted for home-based hospice care because she wanted to be where her children were.
"She enjoyed the noise," Mr Reyes said.
It was painful to watch his daughter slip away, but even more heartbreaking was knowing that his grandchildren will not have their mother at such a tender age.
His granddaughter, 3½, "somewhat knows" about Reyes' death, while his grandson, 2, is clueless.
"(My daughter's) husband just tells them 'Your mum is a star now. She's watching over you'," he said.
A two-day wake has been arranged for Reyes. Her funeral will be held today.
"She tried to stay away from the limelight as much as possible, thinking she could go back to it when the time comes..."
- Mr Rommy Reyes
"(My daughter's) husband just tells them 'Your mum is a star now. She's watching over you."
- Mr Rommy Reyes
TOO DISTRAUGHT TO READ VERSES
Mr Rommy Reyes' brave front belies a father's unbearable grief.
Since his daughter died last Saturday, Mr Reyes, 67, has been trying to be calm and strong.
But behind closed doors, the father-of-two conceded that he lets his grief take over.
Recalling the night former MediaCorp radio deejay Kate Reyes succumbed to cancer, the architect said: "I was very, very down that night (when she died). The feeling was very unbearable."
He added that he declined the pastor's request for him to read some verses at his daughter's funeral mass.
"I was afraid I would not be able to control my emotions," he explained.
As he shared about his daughter's life in her younger years, Mr Reyes listed her achievements like a proud father.
Not only did the deejay have the gift of the gab, but she also excelled in other areas like ballet.
She was a protégé of local ballerina and doyen Goh Soo Khim, and almost took on a scholarship to become a ballerina.
Mr Reyes and his wife told their daughter to keep her options open and try other things.
"If she became a ballerina, what would happen when she got old? It's a short career lifespan for ballerinas," he said.
Reyes went on to become a deejay - a decision that surprised Mr Reyes - and made it her career for 14 years.
During her stints at different stations, like Gold 90.5FM and, more recently, Lush99.5FM, Mr Reyes made it a point to tune in to her shows.
"She really enjoyed her job," he said.
Although the family was mentally prepared for Reyes' deteriorating health and eventual death, it was painful to watch her slip away.
Mr Reyes made it a point to visit his daughter every day at her home.
"It was draining, both physically and emotionally, to see her turn from a bubbly person to a patient," he said.
"It pained me. It's a great pity that she's taken away at a very young age."
Reyes leaves behind her husband, two children, her parents and brother Andre, 39.
"It was draining, both physically and emotionally, to see her turn from bubbly person to a patient."
- Mr Rommy Reyes