My dearest Apollo and Artemis,
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.
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!