Mark Lee on turning 50 and coping with his daughter’s illness: ‘Life goes on’

You only have 24 hours in a day, so how does Mark Lee find time for everything: running a production company and F&B business to acting and hosting?


Photos: Teo Sijia, Joanna Goh

Mark Lee is the energizer bunny we all aspire to be (or still be) when we turn 50.

The funnyman, who will be turning half-a-century-old in a couple of days' time (Oct 14) seems to run on a limitless energy reservoir: he starts his weekday mornings bright and early with a radio show on Love 97.2, then attends to business meetings for his production company and soon-to-go-regional F&B business, 13 Stages. Sometimes he has acting or hosting commitments that go on well into the night for days or weeks on end, and at the end of the day, he returns home to assume daddy duties.

On top of that, he and his wife, Catherine Ng, have to shuttle between the hospital and home, three days a month, for their youngest daughter’s medical treatment.

A little over a month ago, Mark and his wife were delivered a crushing piece of news when they found out that their 3-year-old daughter, Calynn, was diagnosed with a rare autoimmune condition that was attacking her kidney. They are doing everything they can for her now and have reaped small results from their efforts to treat her condition.

During his 15-minute break when he was filming the second season of The Love 972 Breakfast Show with co-hosts Dennis Chew, Marcus Chin and Chen Biyu, Mark gave Toggle an update about his daughter’s current condition, after undergoing three rounds of treatment.

“After the checkup and after the report was out, there are still some protein found in her pee, but other factors are mostly under control,” he shared. “It was a big percentage in the beginning and now it’s down to a little above zero percent and that’s a good effect. Now we’re just undergoing the treatment because it needs to completely go down to zero to reach the optimum levels.”

The most pressing matter at hand, according to Mark, is to “keep things under control” and for Calynn’s immune system to improve.

Mark and his wife (left) with their third child, Calynn. (Photos: Instagram/Mark Lee, Catherine Ng)

Mark added that doctors are unsure if his daughter will recover completely and revealed that there are two possible outcomes from this depending on whether it is a malignant or benign kidney disease.

If it’s the former, Calynn may lose her kidney completely in three to six months’ time and although she has the option of removing one kidney, the bacteria may attack her sole remaining good kidney. If it’s the latter, which is the case for Calynn, they are able to use steroids to treat it and she may (or may not) grow out of it after she turns 16 or 17 years old, said Mark.

“I told my wife that no matter what, she’s our child and we need to do this. When my wife heard about Calynn’s sickness in the beginning, she would cry, but to me crying is pointless. Of course I understand that she carried the child to full term in her womb and feels the pain, but crying does not help. What’s important is we need to treat her illness together. Even if we cannot treat it completely, we need to do our best to prevent it from deteriorating further,” he said.

Mark and Catherine have a long road ahead of them but the entertainer and entrepreneur shared that his wife and their three kids are coping well with the changes in their household, especially little Calynn who’s proving to be a real trooper with her hospital visits and treatments.

Mark tells us about his chicken rice and coffee business going abroad, how his ‘little lover’ (aka Calynn) has matured overnight after she was diagnosed with this illness, and their family’s short brush with a scammer who attempted to raise funds by misusing Calynn’s photos. Read on for more.

The Love 97.2 Breakfast Quartet TV show airs Thursdays, 8pm on Channel 8. Watch past episodes on Toggle.
Tune in to The Love 97.2 Breakfast Quartet on weekdays from 6am to 10am.

(Continued on next page: Mark talks about 13 Stages' expansion into Malaysia)

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