Foo Jie Ying
The New Paper
Friday, Nov 14, 2014
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.
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