Ashley Park, known for her works on Broadway as Tuptim in the 2015 revival of The King and I and on Emily in Paris as Mindy Chen, has revealed that she was diagnosed with leukemia, a type of blood cancer, at the age of 15.
The 29-year-old told Cosmopolitan that her leukemia diagnosis is a part of her life that she does not talk about it often.
Park said, “Many times people bring up my cancer experience. I totally don’t mind talking about it. I think it’s very important to talk about, but I also appreciate when I’m not asked to talk about the experience, or about how it’s informed how I’ve lived my life.”
The Emily in Paris star explained that she had a fear of letting her cancer define her career and identity. She said, “I never wanted to be just the Asian girl, just the ‘whatever’ girl, and then I got to 16 and was the bald girl and the sick girl.”
Park also revealed that she tried to ignore the harmful side effects of her chemotherapy. “I didn’t want to know that I might be infertile or that my heart might stop working or any of that stuff because once you say it, you’re thinking about it,” she added. “Even though my body beat the disease, if I let it change anything, it’s won.”
“When you’ve been through a really hard time you don’t want somebody else to go through it,” Park told Cosmopolitan.
Park said acting has helped her to recover and heal after beating cancer. In 2016, she told Playbill, “Everything is taken away, and that is the most human thing that you can ever go through… I remember people, right after I was done being sick, said, ‘You should go to therapy,’ [but] my therapy is theater.”