HONG KONG • Cheung Tat Ming (right), who acted in Stephen Chow movies in the 1990s, returned to the spotlight earlier this year after he was nominated for Best Supporting Actor at this year's Hong Kong Film Awards.
In media interviews published last week, the 55-year-old opened up about his battle with cancer and thanked friends like actors Chow Yun Fat and Francis Ng for their support.
Cheung was happily married and had an acting career that was on an upward trajectory when he was diagnosed with Stage 3 nasopharyngeal cancer in late 2011.
Besides the illness, he also went through divorce and financial problems, but chose to remain positive, he told Hong Kong's Oriental Daily News.
Cheung had acted in comic roles in Stephen Chow movies such as Forbidden City Cop (1996) and Lawyer Lawyer (1997), as well as TV serials such as Justice Sung (1997).
He said he felt he was one of the luckiest persons in the world before his illness, as he had a successful career and a happy family, but he lost them after his cancer diagnosis.
Cheung married clinical psychologist Ho Nim Chi in 2001 and they have two children. However, in 2016, they announced that they were divorcing due to their different outlooks in life.
Cheung said he contemplated suicide during his illness, but he gave up the thought for the sake of his children, who are now teenagers.
But he has recovered sufficiently to resume work gradually and acted recently in A Home With A View (2019), starring Ng, Louis Koo and Anita Yuen, and I'm Livin' It (2020), starring Aaron Kwok, Miriam Yeung and Alex Man.
His role as a homeless man in the 2020 movie earned him a Best Supporting Actor nomination at the Hong Kong Film Awards. He joked that he did not need much make-up as his character was thin and had thinning hair.
While things look to be improving for Cheung, he said his health has not recovered fully, as he had heavy metal poisoning due to chemotherapy. As a result, he suffers from numbness and muscle atrophy in his legs, with doctors warning that he faces a risk of brain tumour.
Still, Cheung remains optimistic.
"I still have the support of my family members and friends," he said.