Di­ag­nosed ii learned in­vin­ci­ble”

Hong Kong Tatler - - Features -

free, hor­mone­free, or­ganic prod­ucts—not an easy task in Hong Kong. “I turned into Meg Ryan from When Harry Met Sally. I was an ab­so­lute night­mare in restau­rants, ques­tion­ing the ori­gin of ev­ery piece of pro­duce; I’m sure wait­ers around Hong Kong thought I was in­sane,” she says with a smile.

Ross-tse had been very ac­tive be­fore the surgery, tak­ing up to four ex­er­cise classes a day, and her se­date new life­style was some­thing she railed against. “I de­cided to try a yoga class about two months af­ter the op­er­a­tion, and when I at­tempted the bridge pose I screamed and passed out from the pain,” she says. “That was a turn­ing point for me, as I re­alised I had to re­lin­quish con­trol and let my body re­cover at its own pace. All my friends would tell you I’m an ex­er­cise nut and a con­trol freak, so that wasn’t ex­actly easy for me.”

Nearly five years af­ter that life-chang­ing di­ag­no­sis, Ross-tse is sit­ting op­po­site me at Zuma eat­ing sushi and look­ing slim, fit and pretty in white jeans and a Bre­ton top, set off by a deep tan from her re­cent hol­i­day in Phuket. “It took me three years to feel nor­mal again,” she says. “I still have to eat very healthily, but I can now in­dulge from time to time and I al­low my­self a glass of wine at par­ties. I’m ex­er­cis­ing a lot too, so other than my scar there are no phys­i­cal signs that I’ve ever had can­cer.

“How­ever, it has had a pro­found ef­fect on me men­tally. The day I was di­ag­nosed I learned that I wasn’t in­vin­ci­ble, and that changed my out­look on ev­ery­thing. I’ve taken a step back from hec­tic Hong Kong life and ap­pre­ci­ate how sa­cred a night at home with my fam­ily is. I love and ap­pre­ci­ate my hus­band more than I ever thought pos­si­ble. We got through the can­cer di­ag­no­sis as a unit and came out the other side stronger than ever. I don’t sweat the small stuff in our re­la­tion­ship any more; if he wants to have a boys’ night out, that’s fine with me. It seems point­less to ar­gue over such triv­ial things af­ter ev­ery­thing we’ve been through.”

As well as chang­ing her ap­proach to life and love, Ross-tse has also shifted her pro­fes­sional fo­cus. Be­fore her di­ag­no­sis, she spent most of her free time work­ing on her beauty and life­style blog, Gla­maross, but to­day she is pour­ing her en­ergy into pro­mot­ing the Hong Kong Ad­ven­tist Hos­pi­tal Foun­da­tion’s can­cer fund. “Sur­viv­ing a can­cer di­ag­no­sis is largely determined by how quickly you get treat­ment,” she says. “I had pri­vate health­care and ac­cess to the best hos­pi­tals in Hong Kong, and they couldn’t have re­acted faster, as shown by the fact I was on the op­er­at­ing ta­ble less than 24 hours af­ter my di­ag­no­sis. But if I’d been in the public sec­tor, it would have taken weeks or even months just to get my test re­sults back, and that would have spelt the dif­fer­ence be­tween life and death.”

The foun­da­tion’s can­cer fund aims to fast-track tests for un­der­priv­i­leged peo­ple and help them gain ac­cess to the best can­cer care the city has to of­fer, thus of­fer­ing a far greater chance of sur­vival. Ross-tse is help­ing the foun­da­tion raise money through Women of Hope, a Hong Kong-wide cam­paign that al­lows res­i­dents to vote for the most im­pres­sive women in the city in a num­ber of fields, in­clud­ing en­trepreneur­ship, the en­vi­ron­ment, health, and art and cul­ture. The Women of Hope awards lunch, at which the eight win­ners are to be an­nounced, will be held on June 11 at the Asia So­ci­ety. All pro­ceeds from ticket sales and dona­tions will go to the foun­da­tion’s can­cer fund.

“There was no doubt in my mind that I had to do some­thing to help peo­ple with can­cer,” says Ross-tse. “I know the sense of help­less­ness that comes from a di­ag­no­sis, the sad­ness of watch­ing your fam­ily worry so deeply about you, the ter­ror that you may not see your chil­dren grow up and the guilt that this is some­how your fault. But I now know that can­cer is noth­ing to be ashamed of and, if any­thing, it makes you a stronger per­son. There is a great joy that comes from re­cov­ery and the re­al­i­sa­tion that what you thought was just ev­ery­day life is ac­tu­ally a thing of won­der. And I want as many peo­ple as pos­si­ble who are cur­rently bat­tling can­cer to ex­pe­ri­ence that sen­sa­tion.”

To cast your vote for the Women of Hope, go to

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