Narcissism is Necessary - Tried, tested, and proven.

The Dirty Word that is Cancer

Cancer. A 6-letter word that nobody ever wishes to hear from their doctor. Unfortunately, the reality is that everyone of us knows someone who has or had cancer. We’ve even lost friends and family to this dreaded C.

Despite the prevalence of the disease, most of us don’t really know much about the disease itself. Perhaps ignorance is bliss but after attending a blogger workshop on lung cancer & melanoma recently, I’ve come to realise that it’s very important to be educated about cancer treatment options – especially immunotherapy.

Immunotherapy is a new treatment option for lung cancer and melanoma. Do you know that 10 Malaysians die from lung cancer, every single day? The mortality rate for lung cancer is also scarily high, more than 80%. However, now with immunotherapy, lung cancer patients have far better shots at living.

So what is immunotherapy? How does it work? Dr. Tho Lye Mun gave us a comprehensive but simple-to-understand presentation on the treatment at the blogger workshop.

It is a treatment that uses certain parts of a person’s immune system to fight cancer without the dreadful side effects that we all know of from other conventional cancer treatments. With lesser and milder side effects (they are only about as bad as regular flu symptoms), patients are able to lead better quality lives. Unlike conventional treatments, immunotherapy also does not damage healthy cells, so the rate of infections will definitely be lower, hence the potential for also extending long-term survival.

Listening to Niki Cheong who shared his personal stories of losing friends and family to cancer at the workshop was really heart-breaking. I was very young when my grandfather passed away from cancer so I didn’t feel much but as an adult now I can imagine the anguish. To watch somebody you love slowly being chipped away by the damn cancer. Early detection is the key, of course and often survival rate from cancer is a lot higher with early detection. That said, not many are lucky to catch it early on. Consider this, 9 out of 10 patients are diagnosed with advanced stage lung cancer. It’s heart-breaking.

After I posted about my experience at the lung cancer workshop on Facebook, I reconnected with a former college-mate, Sharizan. She revealed to me that she’s suffering from lung cancer that has metastasised to her brain. When I found out she was undergoing immunotherapy, I was relieved for her as I reckoned she’d have much better chance at survival with immunotherapy. She too attested to the effectiveness of the treatment. It’s given her a better quality of time and a renewed sense of hope that she may have a chance at survival.

However, when she told me about the costs, I was shocked. It’s not cheap and she had already exhausted her insurance, so she was going to stop her treatment and seek help at government institutions with conventional treatment aka chemotherapy. After learning what I’ve learned from the blogger workshop, I was crushed by her news.

I understand why immunotherapy is expensive – it’s the years and millions and millions of dollars invested into the research of this life-changing treatment. So ladies and gentlemen, if you’re reading this, do check your insurance policies. Personally, after listening to Sha, I have contacted my insurance agent and updated my policy to increase my annual limit to accommodate inflation and the high cost of current hospital treatments. I had already forgotten what I was entitled to in my insurance policy so I was very surprised to learn that the policy I got 5 years ago, which was pretty comprehensive back then, could barely cover a treatment such as immunotherapy now! So yeah, check and upgrade your insurance policies guys!

As for Sharizan, we are raising funds for her immunotherapy treatments at GIVE.asia. You can also read about her plight at the website. Please do help give my friend a shot at life, thank you!

Anyway, I digressed. My point is, get educated about cancer. Learn about its treatments! Don’t get caught off-guard. Cancer affects everybody, not just the patients and you’re better off with some good knowledge in hand.

Posted in: Social/Political - Continue Reading

Heart-shaped ricotta & spinach ravioli with prawns recipe

It’s been a while since I posted any recipe. So I’m pretty excited to share this one because it think it’s crazy delicious. The best thing is that you could substitute the ravioli with any other type of pasta and I’ve made this dish with both linguine and spirali.

So, I’ve gotten my hands on these beautiful heart-shaped ricotta & spinach ravioli from Bottega Mediterranea. They import delicious goodies such as cheeses, pasta, sauces and cured meats from all over Italy and best of all, you can order online and have them deliver to your doorstep! They also have a shop in the middle of Kuala Lumpur where you can eat and shop. But most of all I enjoy the delivery service and its prices; surprisingly very reasonable!

Anyway, before you even begin on this recipe, I implore you to make a huge jar of the non-spicy peri-peri sauce aka Yummy Red Sauce as it’s a very versatile sauce. Besides using it as a pasta sauce, I’ve also used it as a salad dressing as well as marinade for fish, steaks and of course chicken. Basically, follow the peri-peri sauce recipe exactly but omit all the spicy chilis and replace with perhaps 1 or 2 more whole red capsicums. Of course, without the spiciness it becomes a very toddler-friendly sauce too.

Now that I’ve gotten that off my chest, lets get back to my recipe….here are the ingredients:

125ml of Yummy Red Sauce aka non-spicy peri-peri sauce (make it ahead and it will store well for 1.5 months in the fridge)
1 onion, sliced
10 or more cherry tomatoes, halved
250gms of ricotta & spinach ravioli or any type of pasta
10 or more prawns, peeled (I used frozen peeled king prawns)
1/2 cup of parmigiano reggiano, grated (got the cheese from Bottega Mediteranea too)
Salt & pepper to season

First, prepare your prawns. Peel and wash them or in my case, I defrosted the prawns sous vide style at 57 degree celcius for 20 minutes for perfect, succulent prawns.

Then, boil the pasta according to instructions.

While the pasta is boiling, start up your pan with some olive oil and begin sauteing the sliced onions till fragrant.

Next, add the halved cherry tomatoes and saute until slightly softened.

In the meantime, drain the pasta.

Once the tomatoes have softened, add the pasta into the pan.

Followed by the sous vide prawns. If you’re starting with raw prawns, feel free to pan fry them together with the onions first.

Stir in the Yummy Red Sauce.

Mix everything until evenly coated. Taste and season with salt & pepper as needed.

Lastly, grate the beautiful parmigiano reggiano over.

Voila, heart-shaped ricotta & spinach ravioli with prawns…an easy but impressive dish to serve to your loved ones :)

Hope you enjoy this recipe!

Have a wonderful time cooking up a storm!

Posted in: Homemade Recipes, Noodles - Continue Reading

Liam’s 1st night in his own room

We have decided to send Liam to a kindie since he started saying, “I want to go school” at every chance he gets. So yesterday, we took him to a prospective school! Gareth and I were only planning on discussing the nitty gritty aka $$$ but the principal assigned a teacher to watch over Liam while we were in the office and boy, was he chuffed! 

He took to the school like duck to water. At first, sitting down calmly playing with puzzles, then following other kids around and before long he was dashing in and out of the principal’s office like he owned the place. I nervously said to the principal, “You will have a handful with this one”, but she smiled brightly at me and said, “Don’t worry, mummy!”. Did that assuage my worry? Of course not, are you kidding lol

Anyway, since Liam is going to school in less than two weeks, we realised he has to start waking up early. Like really, really, really early. I am not sure who I fear for more, myself or him haha. I mean, his regular bedtime is loosely midnight but sometimes he hit the sack at 3am 😑

We believed in just chalking up 12 hours of snooze a day for him so was never really bothered by when he goes to bed, just what time he wakes up. Well, well done and congratulations Kim cause now you have to get him in bed by 9pm. I know some parents have their kids tucked in by 7.30pm, power to you folks but that sounds like a friggin’ prison sentence to me. 

So after we got back from the kindie, we decided to bite the bullet and start Liam’s sleep training straightaway. Poor thing didn’t get to nap and fell asleep in his chair in the middle of colouring. 

Had to wake him up after taking this picture, poor Liam.

He was so angry after I woke him up I had to pacify him with snacks and a couple of episodes of Tayo the Little Bus on tele.

Here, he is too wrecked to care. He refused to get up for dinner. Look at those eyes contemplating his shitty life.

My target was to get him showered and in bed by 9.30pm but I missed the mark by an hour at 10.30pm. No matter it was still very early considering he went to bed at 2am the night before. 

Oh and did I forget to say? We also decided to make things more challenging by putting him to bed in his own room. HIS OWN FRIGGIN ROOM! 

Other than the first month of his life of where he spent in the hospital’s NICU, Liam has never slept on his own without at least me, Gareth or his grandpa by his side. We started prepping him about sleeping in his own room quite sometime ago but he always managed very witty comebacks, such as “I don’t want to sleep in my room”, “No sleeping in Liam’s room” or a succinct “No”. 

So last night while tucking him in, I very calmly (emphasise “calmly” because on the inside I was hysterical omg I am abandoning him, he’s going to come at me aged 35, telling me I’ve ruined his life and given him serious pyschological issues), repeatedly assure him that he’s a “big boy”, that big boys sleep in big boys’ room, mummy sleeps in mummy’s room, that his room is nice cause all his books are in it etc etc etc. 

He seemed agreeable and fell asleep willingly with his fingers embedded on the inside of my armpit. I made my escape, exited his room and came down the stairs triumphantly. Leisurely folded laundry and watched an episode of GLOW on Netflix (certified fresh by yours truly). Ahhh, this isn’t so hard actually. 

1.5 hours later, the first animalistic cry rang through the house. Gareth went up to pacify him. Not long after, he came down telling me Liam wants mummy. I gave Gareth the evils, and continued drinking my tea in silence. I could still hear Liam sobbing from downstairs but I hardened my heart. 

He finally stopped crying after what seemed like am eternity. It was only 15 minutes in reality. I went up the stairs very quietly but I heard a door opened and out came this adorable little poppet with tear-rimmed eyes at the top of our staircase saying, in a trembling voice, “Mummy, mummy hug please”. Oh my heart :(

I scooped him up, carried him back to his bed and very calmly told him that it’s okay. I repeated what I said the first time and I kept kissing him on the forehead, sang with him. I also turned on the nightlight, which I referred to as “baby light” and brought him Roxy, a stuffed bunny and Hoppig, a stuffed dog. He’s always slept in pitch darkness and he’s never attached to his soft toys so I didn’t even think that any of these could comfort him but they did! 

I told him in a cheeky voice that Roxy has an armpit too (he needed to fiddle with my armpit everynight before sleeping, yes ladies and gentlemen my son’s chouchou aka smellie blanket is my smelly armpit) and placed his finger under the poor bunny’s arm. He giggled. 

We went at this for a few minutes and from him reiterating, “Liam sleeps in mummy’s bed”, he started saying, “Liam sleeps in Liam’s bed”. I said, “I love you”, and he said it back. I said “Goodnight”, and he said it back. By the time he puckered up and leaned in to kiss me when I asked for one, I knew he was ready. He didn’t protest when I started leaving his room but I could see his little face as I closed the door…my Liam was trying to be brave. Oh my baby! His lips were quivering and he was trying so hard not to cry. At that moment I really wanted to scoop him up and bring him to our room but I didn’t. 

I closed the door behind me and waited. Not a peep. After coming out of the shower I asked Gareth if he heard anything. Nothing. 

Part of me felt like checking on him but Gareth said no. I suggested getting a baby monitor, he said no to that too. Party pooper. 

I read a little in bed and then I tried to sleep but I couldn’t. It was 2am and I still hadn’t heard anything from Liam’s room and I wasn’t sure if it was a good or a bad thing. I slept fitfully. 

At 7.30am I popped up. I opened my door half expecting a Liam sleeping on the floor in the hallway but there’s nobody. 

I tiptoed into his room, pretty sure he’d be on the floor sleeping on a pile of toys at least but he wasn’t. 

To my utter surprise, Liam was fast asleep in his bed, just as I had left him!

What a sight for sore eyes. Sniffs.

I don’t think I could describe my feelings. At best, I think I can say I’m feeling as proud as the day he was discharged from the hospital almost 3 years ago. 

As I type this blogpost out on my phone, Liam is still sleeping in his own bed, in his own room, by himself! I have to pinch myself! 

I suppose Liam’s first night alone in his own room is a success. Lets hope his second night will be even better. 

Liam, my dearest son, I love you so very much and you’ve made mummy so proud. If I could, I would want you in our bed for as long as you wish but please understand this is for your own good. You are starting kindie and you need good quality sleep, without mummy and daddy’s reading (read: phone usage) distracting you so that you can be your best happy self at school. If you’re currently 35 years old and suffering from abandonment issues that you think I caused from making you sleep on your own all those years ago, I hope reading this can give you some insights into my situation then and I encourage you to forgive and love me cause I am your mother, mister. 

Love you loads, mummy. 

Posted in: Parenting - Continue Reading