While MKR fans may be stunned by the sensational and unexpected turn of events, New Idea can exclusively reveal the heartbreaking personal tragedy that has lead the Melbourne mum to make the totally gut-wrenching decision.
Rocked by a devastating call from her mother, Kim rushed to be with her terminally ill sister, Lan, after doctors advised the family that they should say their final goodbyes.
‘I had to leave MKR,’ Kim tells New Idea in an exclusive interview. ‘I had to go, I couldn’t live with myself if I didn’t see Lan – if she passed away and I hadn’t said goodbye, then I would’ve lived with that guilt for the rest of my life. I wouldn’t wish that situation on anyone.
‘Mum called me and said the doctors didn’t think she had long left. Before I’d gone on MKR Lan had been stable and the tumour in her lung had actually gone down in size. But while I was on the show, the tumour in her brain had basically grown overnight and she was deteriorating rapidly.’
While Kim knew she wanted to be with her sister – who had been diagnosed with inoperable brain and lung cancer in 2009 – she said giving up her MKR dream was weighing heavily on her mind.
‘My mum said: “this is your dream to be on MKR, your big opportunity” – but the guilt was too much,’ she said. ‘I also felt bad for Suong – she was my partner and I didn’t want to take her MKR dream away from her, I knew her future rested on this.
‘If the producers said that if I left then Suong would have to go too, then I would feel really bad on my part because I was making her lose her opportunity. So I had a lot on my mind, a lot of pressure because I felt like
I was letting people down.
‘Suong was very supportive – she said if you have to go, you have to go,’ Kim tells.
But in a miracle twist, Lan pulled through her grave brush with death after having Kim by her side – and is still alive, taking each day as it comes. And after a four-day vigil, Kim was able to return to the MKR kitchen and join forces with Suong again. ‘Lan is still living day-by- day,’ Kim says. ‘We are happy to have her in our lives for an extra day. The doctors tell her that she should plan her funeral, but she says, “No! I’m going to live for another 10 years!” And I believe her.
Read the full story in this week's issue of New Idea, on sale now.