I LOVE TODAY! My First Shower In A Month!

My excellent surgeon Dr Hoe Ah Leong & happy me

Today has been a REALLY GOOD DAY! First, Mr Threez took the day off to accompany me to see my doctors.

1. Dr Andrew Khoo has my last bandage removed and nods his approval. “So, you can do whatever you want, whatever you normally do. You can shower, swim, go to the gym — but no weights.”

Man, those words are music to my ears! I could KISS the man! And his nurse! He basically sends me home with “scar treatment”: A tube of Centellase for my belly button and breast scars. And a “sticker” pack (sorry I left my meds in my handbag 3 floors down, I’ll add the name later) to put over my tummy tuck scar to help it not protrude and keeps keloids from forming. (If you are reading this, pray for me. I’m a keloid magnet.)

I cannot wait to shower. I cannot wait to shower.

2. We head over to Hoe Ah Leong Surgery (and wait an hour for Dr Hoe because he’s got a chatty patient just before me).

“How is Liang Popo?” asks his nurse Christine. “Today no more Liang Popo!” Because, now that she mentions it, I am walking a little more upright today, and it’s not hurting so much.

Dr Hoe Ah Leong (that’s him at the top) takes a look at his handiwork, ie my right breast. “Dr Khoo did a great job,” he admires, before launching into a list of plastic surgery horrors he’s seen recently, including an oversized TRAM flap boob a whole size noticeably larger than the other, and a pedicle that didn’t heal properly and looks like a handle.

You don’t know how hard I am praying for a beautiful recovery! These are the things nightmares are made of! There’s Inception 2 for you!

Dr Hoe is happy with my progress, and next, he’ll make an appointment for me to discuss any possible future oral treatment (for prevention) with an oncologist.

All good! Thumbs up! I can shower!

3. Mr Threez and I have a FABULOUS lunch at Jones to celebrate! The chicken confit is really good.

4. Mr Threez suggests we go and watch Inception. Gosh, this is the longest I have been out of the house and out of bed. But I figure, okay, I only need to walk from the carpark to the cinema and back. The movie, unfortunately, proved somewhat underwhelming for me, but just being able to sit alone with Mr Threez at a movie – now, that’s bliss.

5. We crawl home in the 6pm traffic. I flop on the couch to ease my back. And then at 7.30, as if I’m really back to normal, we bring the 3Bs out for ice cream at Udders Siglap. Just watching Little B bliss out over her cookies and cream is worth any aching chest and back.

6. F-i-n-a-l-l-y we get home, I gulp down some nutritious black chicken soup (or my maid will throw a fit, she takes extreme pride in her cooking). Anything just so I can get upstairs and take a shower.

And…

My Blue Heaven! My shower, still steamy.

Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!

Can I just say, this is the highest point of all the high points of today. My first shower in 30 days — count them — 30 days. After 30 days of “mopping” myself with a face towel, this feels like angels pouring warm liquid gold all over me. Look! Soap suds on my thighs! Look! Water running down my body!

This is insanely, ferociously good!

Okay, now that I’m all satisfied, good night everyone. Thank you, God, for a perfect day.

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The Threez Review: Le Grand Chef 2: Kimchi Battle

Yummy! Click here to read KoreanDiorama's interview with Kim Jung-eun

I watched this movie today, having a lunch of black chicken double boiled with ginseng and red date, with my mother-in-law who had nasi ulam with long beans and dried shrimp on the side.

I love watching food shows with my mother-in-law. We both love to cook, and she is far more experimental than me. This morning we watched Martha Stewart and her guests do a sausage and fennel dish and some kind of a panettone. It’s great to ooh and aah over the same things, and argue over whether fennel and dill are the same or even from the same family. (“No lah Mom it’s noooot!”)

Le Grand Chef 2 is a worthy followup to, though not as satisfying movie as Le Grand Chef. Had I watched it on its own, I think it would have earned at least half a star more.

The tale centres around the power of a mother’s love and the way it flavours her cooking. There is something universal about “Mom’s cooking” that brings you back to a time when you felt your mother’s love acutely. (True for most, I would think. For me, it was the monthly feast of deep-fried prawns and fishball soup my mom would make for me after I got married and moved out. I could taste her love even in the sliced fruit she brought out after dinner.)

Sung-chan (Jin Goo) is a vegetable seller by day. But he is a stellar cook with roots dating back to the Korean emperor’s kitchen. This story picks up with him going to visit his adoptive parents. His adoptive mother owns a famous restaurant in Korea, which she has now closed down due to many unpaid debts. A property developer is pestering her to sell out so that he can expand the golf course next to the restaurant.

Jung-eun (Kim Jung-eun) is the birth daughter of Sung-chan’s mother, who never knew her father (my Korean is as good as my Russian so I’m guessing she was a comfort woman of some sort). Growing up taunted in school and ashamed of her roots, Jung-eun is now the Prime Minister’s chef in Japan after having left Korea for a decade.

She returns now, having “proven herself”, but her first task is to fight with her mother over giving up the restaurant. For her, it is a place of shame. For her mother, it is her whole life.

A national Kimchi Battle is announced to find the kimchi-making champion of the city. Jung-eun and Sung-chan find themselves pitted against each other: her many-starred culinary expertise against his simple yet astounding skill.

The first dish is the oldest kimchi dish in the world: the white kimchi. The secret ingredient is the salt. Jung-ean proves her mettle by handmaking sea salt for her steamed fusion white kimchi, yet loses to Sung-chan’s clever use of soya sauce, which not only adds salt to the vegetables but brings out their crunchiness.

The cooking parts are my favourite, but this movie has far less kitchen kungfu than Le Grand Chef. Still, the key principle holds: “A dish represents the chef’s heart.” Food in the Le Grand Chef movies, is purely an outward expression of the heart, and a commentary on the state of relationships between the characters.

Sung-chan, in his quest to find the most inventive kimchi, is led to an old lady’s eatery by a strange persimmon seller. The woman’s kimchi contains king crab flesh. As the woman tells her story, it becomes apparent that the son she used to cook for is the persimmon seller, who killed a man in a drunken accident, and is now on the run.

Sung-chan convinces the man to visit his mother, for he misses her and the sign of her love: her cooking. The joyful mother-son reunion is cut short when the persimmon seller is taken away by the police. And the mother’s anguished words as the cop car pulls away: “He hasn’t even eaten yet.”

The tragedy stirs up bitter memories for Sung-chan, whose birth mother was deaf. As a child, he suffered a near-death experience when he fell into a pond — his mother was unable to hear his cries for help. Fearing that he would fall into danger because of her inability to help him, his mother gave him to the restaurant owner and her partner. All she left him was a note and a pot of freshly made kimchi, which he stared at for days, crying, till it rotted.

This episode weighed so much on Sung-chan’s mind that his kimchi, though made brilliantly with fresh king crab, came out bitter, underscoring the state of his heart.

A story all mothers (and children) can identify with, Le Grand Chef 2 captures the way a mother cooks for her babies. The love, the thought put in, the unique ingredients that that child likes or needs… every mother who cooks will smile at the charming portrayal of this timeless ritual.

When her mother collapses and is found to be ill with terminal cancer, the siblings face off in the final kimchi battle: simply to make the best kimchi that the whole world will appreciate.

Sung-chan receives his emotional healing when he is brought to see the doctor who cared for his late mother. He was reminded of how his mother cheated death just to feel his presence in the room one last time before she died; that, despite what he chose to believe, his mother loved him.

The finale is predictable, but nevertheless thoroughly satisfying, as Sung-chan and Jung-ean face off in the ultimate kimchi battle. Sung-chan’s dissection of his kimchi and the significance of each reduces both Jung-ean and the audience to tears.

My mother-in-law’s face is wet by the time the credits roll. Sniffling, she says, “I think we have half a pack of kimchi left in the fridge.”

Kimchi noodles for dinner tonight, looks like.

Rating: ****
Cancer Recovery Points: Kimchi contains loads of vitamins and was apparently named one of the Top 5 Healthiest Foods in the World. My friend the health guru John Lynn says “The indole content switches off 16 alpha hydroxyestrone to safe mode…to prevent/cure breast CA. Eat Kimchi everyday.”
Comments: Rent this movie and watch it hungry (and preferably with a mom).

I rented this movie at 7 Frames. They do home deliveries.

Watch This Video On Breast Cancer Surgeries

I found this brilliant animation on Youtube today of the various surgeries that are conducted for breast cancer.

Kylie Minogue, Cured Of Breast Cancer

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This is Kylie Minogue performing in London on 11 July 2010.

Doesn’t she look fab?

She’s a breast cancer survivor too, and she makes me want to keep keeping on. She was diagnosed in May 2005. She was then at the height of her popularity, and in the midst of her Showgirl Tour, when she found out. She took a hiatus from the limelight for a year and a half, bravely resuming the Showgirl Tour at the end of 2006.

Kylie had a partial mastectomy, followed by eight months of chemotherapy and radiation treatment. It’s just been announced that she’s going to celebrate 5 years of being cancer-free next February with a big concert that involves celebs like Elton John and Robbie Williams. The concert will raise funds for cancer awareness.

She’s even dared to “bare some” in a Fashion Targets Breast Cancer campaign in March this year, wearing nought but a silk scarf.

I have to say that now, 3.5 weeks after my surgery, I don’t think I could do a Kylie and get back on my horse just yet. But just reading about her walking through this nightmare, going for her treatments, and yet, full of hope about her life and her career — that gives me hope.

Maybe one day I’ll have the guts to get before the camera again too.

Pam & Ning Come To Visit

My sweet and super-gifted former colleague from Vanilla, now 938LIVE Living Room host (and one of the most awesome WMD volunteers I ever had the privilege to have) Pamela Ho and her bestie Ning (aka Magic Babe Ning, aka tech queen, aka future Le Cordon Bleu patisserie school graduate) came to visit today.

Not being able to get out of the house has driven me slightly batty so I Whatsapp Ning and beg her to swing by a McCafe and buy me a lowfat caramel latte.

Which of course takes them out of the way to East Coast Parkway McCafe, which of course of all days, did not have lowfat milk…

Anywayyyy, I got my coffee (thanks guys, kiss kiss kiss) and I got to see these two beautiful chicks who made me laugh and wonder and miss being in a room full of super-women (Vanilla magazine’s team really was All That!).

They let me tell them the blow-by-blow of my cancer story, and Ning shared some pretty scary stories of her own. It was like that scene in Lethal Weapon where Mel Gibson and Rene Russo compared scars. Ning has a back problem like mine too — we could be sisters!

She later blogs about this — I’m really touched by this young woman, who has the wisdom and demeanour of such an old soul. (No wonder Neil Gaiman is not-so-secretly attracted to her! And come on, have you seen Amanda Palmer?)

It’s really nice to be able to tell your friends the truth without mincing it or acting “hero” — that it sucks losing your nipple. It blows having your 43-year-old breast that deserves a long-service medal, removed. And it’s sad that no matter how gifted Dr Andrew Khoo my plastic surgeon is (and he is remarkably talented), my breast will never be as perfect as the one God gave me.

And [cussword I promised never to utter again] I miss my breast. So there.

Ning then astutely notes that nipples are just Braille for “suck here”. LOL! She has a point. Two, actually.

And as Pam always does, she brings out the positive in me. I share with them how discovering it before it’s even a real mass really saved me. So I lost a breast — but I have my life back. I don’t have to undergo chemotherapy, which I was really dreading, or radiotherapy, which I watched destroy my mother’s skin. I’m as good as cured! My cancer was really a parenthesis in my life.

Ning has brought me a really special gift: a fantasy wand she handmade! She even had it all wrapped up in a black felt pouch with a red drawstring — move over, Harry Potter. Kiss my heinie, Hermione.

We share chocolates and black coffee (except for Ning who’s “allergic” to coffee – bring me that wand, I’ll cure you of it!), and laugh about other people (yes, Gossip Girl’s older siblings).

I feel good after having these two crazy BFFs over. It’s been therapeutic just telling it as it is, instead of worrying about how my friends or relatives are going to take it. If they think I look sickly (which I don’t — till I stand up and they notice I walk like Sheriff Woody). If they are secretly afraid that by breathing the same air, they are going to get cancer too (I sh*t you not, someone actually said that to me).

Worse, I don’t think I could deal with PITY. As someone who doesn’t believe in pity — self or any other variety — pity is the worst baggage any visitor could bring me. So, in fact, I will be radically honest and say that I haven’t accepted visits from people who might potentially hold me a pity party.

I’ve done well — I haven’t heard “You poor thing” from anyone else apart from Dr Khoo, and he was talking about my crooked spine.

Pam and Ning have made me decide I’m okay with having friends over now. Thanks guys. I love you both.