I was dying. Months before I turned 21, the doctors confirmed my greatest fear. I had a cancerous tumour which needed to be operated on.
Angry, broke, hapless, and disfigured from the repugnant lump on my face that stretched out awfully, pulling out the side of my right eye to a slit, I tried to summon up all positivity. I was hungry for life. Living. Not merely existing. There was still so many places in the world I wanted to travel to, people to meet, experiences to relish. So I decided that I was going to be a fighter.
I remember waking up after the surgery, overwhelmed by pain and brightness. A baptism of light. The operation was a success, but it left a scar that blossomed on my cheek. A scar that needed to be there, so I could live. Pretty much like appendicitis. Gain a scar and live; keep the raging head tumour and die.
Walking the road towards recovery, I decided to bang out my own future. Who knew how many years I had left? Too often we forget we aren't invincible to the ravages of time. So I followed the fervent whispers of my heart, and forged my own path, becoming Singapore's first professional female escape artist and illusionist: 'Magic Babe' Ning.
Magic had always been a childhood hobby but I decided to make my mark in a world traditionally dominated by men. Jumping into it blind, fuelled by my thirsty passion for life racing like pure adrenalin pulsing through my veins, I proved myself worthy of not just being a man's equal on stage- but evolved into a celebrity magician capable of entertaining Middle Eastern royalty, gracing TV shows overseas and engaging crowds of 12,000 at 'live' events.
Over the decade plus of playing a larger-than-life character who would risk life and limb to escape death and set world records in the world of legerdemain, I had my fair share of accidents and midnight hospital visits no thanks to stunt rehearsals gone wrong. But I took it in stride and was thankful for all experiences because true formidable growth and transformation can only be spurred on by attacking adversity.
Last year, I decided to hang up my show boot and make my magic disappearing act. Many questioned my unanticipated decision but I had a very good run and wanted very much to do other things. So I did. Throwing myself into my writing, I authored two books and still found time to travel and engage in pursuits dear to me. And people. Regardless of how impressive your work resumé may be, it really is people who matter at the end of life's journey.
So here I am again like the mythical phoenix, rising from hot ash and glowing embers, reclaiming a new life and embracing untried opportunities. The best of me is also the best of you... Our unapologetically fiery passion for life.
Embrace change. It blazes powerfully with calescent potential. And when you decide to live the life you craft by the mindful awareness of your own hands... That, is when the Magic happens.