updated 16 Feb 2013, 13:38
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Wed, Feb 13, 2013
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'I'm too young to die now'

Sitting in her mother's car, feeling extremely weak and watching the street lights whizz by, Julie Tan had only one thought on her mind.

I am still so young, I cannot die.

The 20-year-old MediaCorp actress had a close brush with death recently when she suffered an asthma attack.

Speaking to The New Paper over the phone last Friday night, Tan - who has suffered from asthma from a young age - sounded well and cheerful. But that was not the case the previous Friday.

After finishing the day's filming for her new Channel 8 drama, 96°C Café, she met a childhood friend for dinner at Hougang.

And because their parents were also friends, Tan asked her mother to join them, something she did not usually do.

"I gave my mother a call and asked her to join us," she said.

"She was surprised by my invitation, but I can't imagine what would've happened if she hadn't been there."

Tan said she felt unwell during the dinner, but thought it was due to her cough and flu, as well as fatigue from filming.

"So we took our leave early, and after we left the restaurant, I told my mother: 'I think I'm having an asthma attack'," she said.

No inhaler

At that point, Tan said she turned pale, was having difficulty breathing and her limbs were going numb.

To make things worse, Tan did not have her inhaler with her that day.

"It was an oversight," she said. "I thought it would be fine since I was only filming in the studio that day."

Her mother drove her to a nearby clinic, but it was already closed.

So, she rushed Tan to the Accident & Emergency department at Mount Elizabeth Hospital.

Along the way, Tan's mother kept talking to her and asking her questions, for fear she would go unconscious.

"I could sense she was panicking, but I could only manage very weak replies, and she said 'I think you better rest'," said Tan.

Looking out of the window, Tan saw the street lights whizz by, and thought about the worst possible outcome.

"I was so afraid I'd die just like that. I'm only 20, I'm still so young," she said.

"There are so many things I haven't done, I didn't want my life to end there."

At the hospital, Tan was told by the doctor that her windpipe had narrowed to a point that was life-threatening.

She also had a lung infection, and she said the doctor told her she might not have made it if she had reached the hospital any later.

She was discharged the same night, slept for most of the weekend and returned to work last Monday.

Tan may have survived the scare, but it freaked her mother out.

So much so that she took a photo of Tan receiving treatment in the hospital.

"She wanted to scare me with it, and after I woke up in the hospital, she asked me to stop acting," said Tan, laughing.

"But I told her this was my interest, and I won't give it up. She didn't seem convinced, but I had to continue with my work and not disrupt the filming."

After returning to work, Tan said her mother constantly called and texted her to find out how she was doing.

When asked about lessons learnt from this experience, Tan said with a laugh: "Always bring your inhaler!"

Tan was also stung by a jellyfish a few months ago while filming Channel 8 drama It's A Wonderful Life, which is now showing. She is now hoping her bout of bad luck is over and she can start the Year of the Snake afresh.

"There are always ups and downs in life. The Year of the Dragon has been an up for me in terms of my career, so there are bound to be some downs," she said.

"The jellyfish sting and asthma attack are indeed the low points, but now that Chinese New Year has arrived, I hope all my bad luck from the previous year has been used up!"

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