Not All Cancer Patients Have The Same Inspiring Story

Part of my job requires me to keep up with news of all kinds. And whenever I update myself with health news, it’s easy to notice that there’s news on the topic of cancer every day, whether it is about a new development in treating it, or about cancer prevention. More often than not, I’ll also see inspiring stories of survivors (or patients who are preparing for their death).

I notice a trend in these stories. It’s always about how the patient is a (usually young) person with a bright future, and how cancer struck in an unexpected way, how the patient and the family grieve, but eventually saw the positive in the negative, persevered through the tough treatments, and finally came out of it strong. And regardless whether the patient survives, there’s a silver lining behind the dark cloud.

Why are all the stories such a cliche?

Because inspiring stories sell. Everyone loves a pauper-to-prince story, and about how good triumph over evil. And so, everyone wants to hear how a tragedy happens to someone, and how he/she bravely overcomes it.

Can you imagine this story being published: Rachel has cancer, no insurance coverage, and no family members to take care of her. Because she has been a nasty and grouchy person, she has no friends too. When she fell ill, she became nastier and grouchier. She died after a long period of painful chemotherapy, with no one by her death bed.

In the end, patients are expected to look strong

No thanks to such “expectations”, patients are supposed to be brave and strong. There are many dark sides to fighting cancer that people may not have seen. I find it too cruel to share the horrible side that I stopped updating my social media about my illness. It’s too cruel to the social media audience, mind you – not to me. After all, what they want to hear is that I’m fighting a strong and brave fight. They want to make comments like: Kristen, you’re so strong and brave! Good luck! You’re going to get better! I’m going to pray for you! (Disclaimer: I appreciate well-wishers, really. And honestly, I can tell if you mean it or not. I may not call you out, but I know it. So, genuine well-wishers, I’m not referring to you.)

And what they want to hear in reply: I will! I can get better! Thanks for your prayers! I feel better already!

But guess what – this doesn’t always happen. I don’t always feel like a warrior. I don’t always want to share with you how I am really feeling right now (usually, in pain, afraid that I may die, lying in bed weakly). Sometimes, I may just want to sob quietly by the bed, asking God why it has to be me.

I didn’t feel like replying your Facebook comments to me and then find the strength to also look at your travel photos, food photos, and baby photos on the same platform, because these are luxuries that I may not be able to enjoy anymore.

Everyone wants to hear a good story especially after the fight is over

Even after the fight is over, and you’re officially a “survivor”, everyone expects a good story. I think the term “survivor” is so loaded, people put their own perceived value to it. You’re a cancer survivor, so you must have an inspiring story to share.

We held a small gathering shortly after I was given the “all clear” by the doctors. Some of Keith’s friends whom I hardly know came by.

I was asked questions like: How did God touch your life during that period? Do you feel like cancer has made you a better person? Share about how you overcome the pain! (Not verbatim, but definitely to the same effect.)

Now, I need to clarify that I was indeed very close to God when I was going through the treatments, and the ordeal made me and my family more prayerful. And because of the closer relationship with God, I’ve understood Jesus’ passionate love in a more “real” way, having experienced physical (and emotional) suffering, and this makes me want to be a better Christian (and in effect, a better person).

The issue I have is: I think I’ve been very lucky and I don’t think my experience can be taken to be a representation of many cancer patients out there. I have been extremely privileged because my parents, being self-employed, were able to take care of me very closely, I have a close group of girlfriends who supported me, my new husband did not run away out of fear and is also a faithful Christian, and many of my church friends supported me through prayers. There are many other privileges I have received when I was fighting cancer (that I may share another time), which helped me to weather through this darkest period of my life.

But these are not privileges that every patient will go through, I believe. And I find it absolutely presumptuous to ask a cancer survivor to share the positive parts of her/his ordeal, as if it were a given that the experience has to be positive, and that the survivor must have an inspiring story to tell.

Why do you want to hear stories anyway?

Is it because you want to feel better about yourself? Like, man, I feel good now to know that I’m better off than so many people. Or is it like, wow, this story makes for a good one to share with my friends the next time we are contemplating about life!

You know people who are racist stereotype a particular race and form a specific opinion about them, right? Thinking that all cancer survivors must share a common trait (such as, having inspiring stories to share), is a similar form of bias.

I have a lot of inspiring stories to share. But they aren’t all accumulated during the time I fought cancer. God has touched my life not just when I was fighting cancer, but also when I’m not fighting cancer. And the time I fought cancer comes with a lot of ugly stories too, just so you know. If you want to hear the good stories, you got to accept the ugly ones too, but I’m not sure if everyone wants to hear them.

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Udders Isn’t Just Great At Ice-Cream, It’s A Champion In Pancakes Too

I’ve visited Udders along Upper Thomson Road many times (because it’s near to where I used to stay before I got married, so it is a usual haunt for supper) and have noticed that they started selling pancakes some time ago. However, I’ve never ordered it; somehow I felt that a brand that’s known for great ice-cream can’t do well in pancakes, y’know, like how you expect someone who can speak good English to not be able to speak good Mandarin too?

(I’m making this analogy despite the fact that I’m effectively bilingual. So, yes, please mark the irony.)

This is until I moved to the west and started going to the Bukit Timah area (near Beauty World) for supper instead. There’s an Udders Ice Cream outlet there that I visit with my West-side friends, and I noticed that it also has a new Udders Pancakes outlet next to it now. My first thought: Wow, so, they’re quite serious about this pancake business huh?

Still, I didn’t visit it, because, y’know… a brand that’s known for great ice-cream can’t possibly… yada yada… yup, thanks for completing the sentence for me.

This is until Udders invited me to The Udder Pancake for dinner (with the promise of ice-cream too) that I gave it a shot.

The Udder Pancake cute interior

Similar to Udders Ice Cream, which has a very cheeky brand image (notice their staff wearing t-shirts that say “Ice-cream is better than _ _ _” or “Don’t be selfish, think of Udders”?), The Udder Pancake has lots of playful design within the shop that I can’t help but go through each of them and taking a picture of them. These are some of my favourite (and let’s see if you get the joke):

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And the cute design isn’t just restricted to the shop, but in the toilet as well. This is in the gents (I, erm… got special permission to enter…) and if you press the button, you’ll hear whistling.

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Besides the “In case of…” installations, the furniture are interesting as well:

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The above is not a real rock, by the way. When you’re there, look for this “rock seat” and touch it. It’s really amazing.

Some of the tables also come with adorable displays like this:

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Review of The Udder Pancake food

The very generous Udders ordered A LOT of food for Keith and me so that we can try as much dishes as possible.

This is the Honey-glazed Herbed Chicken (S$14.90).

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I’d say that this is perhaps the safest choice in the menu, and is a crowd-pleaser. The chicken is slightly charred but gives a very flavourful “BBQ” taste. It’s marinated very thoroughly and is served with honey mustard sauce that goes well with both the chicken and the pancakes.

We also had the Tequila-fired Seafood Pot (S$18.90), which we thought was a very interesting combination for pancakes. I’ve never had pancakes with seafood, ever.

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The pot of seafood may be small, but the garlic sauce is creamy and rich, and it came with really good quality, fresh seafood, including greenback mussels, prawns and scallops, seared with tequila. The sauce went surprisingly well with the pancakes, and I’d love to have some bread to dip it with.

The Salmon, Crab & Caviar Egg Benedict (S$16.90 for half stack, S$24.90 for full stack) sound like a decadent treat and this is now my favourite style of egg benedict. The generous layer of crab coupled with the creamy pouched-egg-plus-hollandaise sauce are a party in the mouth, and the caviar gives it a much-appreciated texture, making the dish a very wholesome and delectable dish. This is my personal favourite.

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And this is a close second for me (but Keith’s favourite): the Pulled Pork Egg Benedict (S$12.90 for half stack, S$17.90 for full stack). The seasoning for the pulled pork was excellent – savoury with just the right amount of sweetness. Similarly, it wasn’t a combination that we really expected, but they go very well together.

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I must also mention that, alone, the pancakes were a treat too. If you remember how McGriddles tasted like… well, these Udder pancakes tasted almost the same, but without the maple syrup sweetness. They’re crispy on the circumference, but very fluffy on the inner part. I would have been satisfied with eating it plain, actually – but of course, there’s no way I would have said no to the other combinations.

Besides the pancakes, check out their drinks selections too. The Elderflower Gummy Bears, for instance, makes for a really cute drink that’s very Instagram-worthy.

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Recently, The Udder Pancake has also launched two new fries selections: Mentaiko (S$9.90) and Salted Egg (S$9.90).

 

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They also have perennial favourites like Truffle Fries.

I’ve gone back again just one month after this tasting and brought friends along this time because I really enjoyed the food. The next time you’re thinking of having ice-cream at Udders, consider hopping over a little earlier for lunch or dinner instead (and then have ice-cream after that).

The Udder Pancake is located at 17 Lor Kilat. They’re opened:

Mon – Thurs (12pm – 11pm), Fri (12pm – 12am), Sat (11am – 12am) and Sun (11am – 11pm). On eves of public holidays, they’re opened till 12mn and on public holidays, they open at 11am. In other words, they’re opened EVERY DAY. See The Udder Pancake full menu by clicking here.

I Want To Take Better Care Of My Body Skin!

I spend almost 20 minutes per day on skincare: cleanser, toner, eye cream, serum, moisturiser, and a facial mask a few times a week.

And the amount of time I spent on my body skin? Zilch.

I recently went on a trip to Taiwan and checked myself in a hotel with an en-suite onsen. Thanks to this facility, I indulge in a bath two times a day – before I leave the hotel in the morning and after I get back from the day’s activities. What I noticed was that my body skin became reaaaaally smooth. My body skin tends to be dry and on certain parts, a little flaky. So, with the results yielded, I must say that I liked it!

As such, one of my new resolutions (I don’t care if it’s already four months into 2015!) is to take better care of my body skin.

The body care ritual I’m intending to commit to

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The body skin isn’t that much different from the facial skin, if you think about it. It deserves the same kind of care ritual! This is what I’m intending to commit to:

1. Shower Gel aka Cleanse
2. Body Scrub aka Exfoliate
3. Body Butter aka Moisturise
4. Body Mist aka Moisturise on-the-go
5. Foot scrub aka Exfoliate
6. Foot moisturiser aka Moisturise

I’m currently using a shower gel from Crabtree & Evelyn’s Somerset Meadow collection and it doesn’t just smell wonderful, and is very, very moisturising as well. I alternate between an Yves Rocher scrub and a Soap and Glory scrub. I’m intending to look into getting more body care products from Soap and Glory because I really like how they smell. The fun and cheeky packaging is irresistible too.

P/S: I’ll also be sharing more about my Taiwan trip. I had a blast!

Share with me! How do you take care of your body skin? What products do you use?

 

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myVillage Is My New Kampung

I’ve been residing at Ang Mo Kio almost all my life, and besides Ang Mo Kio Central, the other place that I used to visit with my family and friends is the Serangoon Gardens area. I’ve always been drawn by the rather rustic vibe that I get from the area, and the very good food that Chomp Chomp Food Centre offers.

The visits there became less regular since I moved to Clementi after getting married. But after I got re-orientated to the myVillage mall, following an invitation from their marketing team, I’m determined to visit it more often and make it the kampung I hang out with my loved ones!

My reasons?

  • It has a sense of cosiness about it. I like that it doesn’t have the hustle and bustle that I have to put up with when I’m at other heartland malls (I’m sure you can think of a few as you read this).
  • It may not be a huge mall, but it has everything that I need: from NTUC Fairprice to QB House, and from Guardian to DBS Bank.
  • On top of the “necessary” services that I mentioned above, it also offers a more interesting tenant mix that most other malls don’t offer, some of which I’m going to talk about a little more in this post.

Now, come along with me on my little tour around myVillage, and I’ll show you what I meant:

There are several reputable beauty services at myVillage

And I’m talking about literally head-to-toe beauty services. MyVillage is home to Gui Ren Tang (head, for hair treatments), Beyond Beauty (for facials, massages and manicures), and Chen Kang Foot Reflexology (toe, for foot massages). Cuttour, a hairstyling salon, and Nail Addict, a manicure salon are also at myVillage.

At the tour, I visited Beyond Beauty and enjoyed a massage at the spa.

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As a beauty editor, I have visited many spas, tried many massages and spoke to many therapists. At Beyond Beauty, it was the first time I’ve encountered a therapist who was able to tell me, based on her TCM knowledge, what are some ailments I should be worried about and how I can go about resolving them.
For instance, my therapist advised me to soak my feet in warm water before I sleep if I can, because I’m someone who tends to get chills more easily. This is in fact something that I know I’ve been suffering from since I was a child. She also shared a lot more other health tips that are specific to me, which I shan’t share on this public space :)

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Fashion junkies: Hot spot alert!

When I was in university, I used be very excited to visit Chomp Chomp Food Centre, not just because of the food, but also because of a fashion store that’s within the area. The store isn’t your usual “market” store selling “auntie” clothes, but actually stocks very fashionable wear that I remember buying for Chinese New Year.

Guess what – the children of the owner of that store now runs their own fashion accessories outlet – U-design – at myVillage.

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It looks like the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, because the fashion taste of the U-design owners are obviously impeccable.

I understand that they source for their ware from overseas, especially from Korea. It took me very long to shop, because I want to buy everything, but I managed to go home with two necklaces and two pairs of earrings. These are the necklaces I picked!

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You might have seen me flaunting some of them on my Instagram. Here are pictures of me and Qiu Ting having a blast at the shop:

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 By the way, you can quote “Kristen Juliet” at U-design to enjoy 10% off your purchases!

Food at myVillage is quite an exciting deal too!

There are quite a number of food options at myVillage. You can go for something hearty, like steak at iSteaks, or burgers at Relish Gardens (Which I absolutely love! So much so that fellow blogger, Yina, saw me once in person there, and noticed that I was there again at the myVillage outlet in the same week. She called me out on Instagram :p).

Otherwise, if you want something that’s great for sharing, I’d recommend Yogiyo Chicken. Its owners brought the fried chicken that got its fame at the Hongdae area in Korea to Singapore, and this is their first outlet here. Very interestingly, having visited Hongdae before, I felt that Hongdae has this laidback vibe that myVillage also shares.

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I’m not a super huge fan of fried chicken, but even so, I have to say these are good stuff. MyVillage’s marketing manager shared how he can almost have this as a daily meal, and I can totally see where he’s coming from.

Whether it is the non-spicy ones with honey and topped with sesame…

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Or the spicy ones that have just enough spice to give a kick to the taste, but not too much to have me yelling for water…

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They’re both really delicious.

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I like that these very functional, but somewhat cute, thumb gloves were handed out to us so we won’t have to dirty our fingers while digging in.

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You can sweeten things up at myVillage

There are several dessert places you can visit, if you want to find a nice place to share some food and good conversations; Bakerzin, Little Wimbly Lu and Udders Ice Cream are all available at myVillage.

Ice-cream is my Achilles’ heel of all desserts, and that’s why I was on cloud nine when I was told that visiting Udders Ice Cream was part of the tour.

I’ve been a patron of Udders since forever their first outlet at Novena, and have been going back to them because of their Mao Shan Wang ice-cream (I’m a huge durian fan) and alcoholic options that are served with real alcohol (they have a license for it).

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At the tasting, I was treated to not just my favourite Mao Shan Wang Durian ice-cream, alcoholic fares like the Orange Choc Bitters, Bailey’s & Bourbon, Tira-miss-u and Rum Rum Raisin, I also had a preview to the Nian Gao ice-cream, which they served only during the Chinese New Year period.

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I spoke to co-founder Peck Lin, and learnt more about how they made sure their ice-creams are made of the freshest ingredients, and the thoughts and innovation that they put into creating new flavours every month.

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After the very indulgent tasting, I still love my Mao Shan Wang, but have also developed a new love for the Snickers Mars Honeycomb Vanilla, Awesomely Chocolate, and Salted Speculoos (as you can see, I’ve ventured beyond the intended tasting menu that day and started tasting other flavours hahaha!). I love almost all the alcoholic flavours, by the way, although I’m kind of decided to be a teetotaller for the next two years because I just got into remission. (This being said, I’ve already had a teeny weeny bit of alcohol this year, but I’m really cutting down by at least 99%.)

MyVillage is located at 1 Maju Avenue, which is just a stone’s throw away from Chomp Chomp Food Centre, in the Serangoon Gardens area. Find out more at its website.

 

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Food & Nutrition Tips Based On My Chemotherapy Experience

Like it or not, many patients experience loss of appetite and change in taste buds during chemotherapy. As much as I’m a foodie before I fell ill, these happened to me too, and was probably why I lost 10kg after my chemotherapy treatments ended.

They’re both side effects of chemotherapy. The loss of appetite could be due to nausea, or just generally not “feeling” like eating, and also because of oral ulcers that tend to occur especially with aggressive chemotherapy.

In my case, my chemotherapy doses increased with each cycle until my fourth one. They couldn’t increase it anymore because my body wasn’t able to hold up to the strong effects. With each cycle, I got worse oral ulcers despite gargling with salt water regularly, and keeping my oral hygiene in tip-top condition. We are talking about ulcers that fill the entire mouth and tongue. It was impossible to even talk or open my mouth, let alone eat.

Taste change on the other hand, is really peculiar because medically, I don’t think there’s a clear reason for it. It could be because of damage to oral cells. However, food tasted really odd to me, they sometimes tasted bitter, or with a weird sweetness, or just… strange. Generally, nothing tasted particularly good.

It could be psychological, but I felt like puking whenever I smelt hospital food. So those days I had to be in the hospital (which was about 7 days per 3 weeks) were the days I struggled most with food.

All the above-mentioned problems, coupled with less options for food (everything has to be kept low-bacteria, that means no raw foods, including raw vegetables, and thin-skinned fruits like grapes, and no yogurt and mayonnaise – the former is made up of (good) bacteria, and the latter of raw eggs). My parents cooked every meal for me, washed everything properly and made sure they were cooked thoroughly and that I ate immediately so as to make sure they weren’t contaminated.

Now that my taste buds and appetite are more or less back to normal, I thought I’d share some tips and thoughts that I had during that period. Hopefully this is going to benefit those who are going through chemotherapy now and feeling a bit lost, or for those who are cooking for loved ones who are going through chemotherapy.

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  • Distract yourself during meal times. When I first got home after I was diagnosed and went through my first chemotherapy cycle, I was still in a state of distraught. So were my family. Everyone was so concerned that when I ate, everyone gathered around to “watch” me. I soon realise that this wasn’t a “good” way to eat. My trick was to either eat with someone and chat, or eat while watching a show. The idea is to get my mind off the food and make the motion of feeding myself go auto-pilot, and focus on something that’s engaging instead. The shows of choice during that time? Masterchef (weird, I know) and Kang Xi Lai Le.
  • Eat multiple meals in small portions. Food became something intimidating to me during that time. When I saw too much food on the table, I’d feel like puking. It helped when my parents started serving food on very small plates for me. For instance, I may be eating just a small slab of fish and a few pieces of vegetables for lunch, but may take a small bowl of red bean soup during tea time.
  • Eat slowly. I typically take about one and a half hour to finish one small bowl of porridge. But this makes eating less intimidating.
  • Don’t think, just eat. Mentally, it’s hard to swallow food especially when you don’t have appetite. I didn’t even feel hungry most of the time. However, I had to logically tell myself that I HAD to eat to have the energy to fight an ongoing battle. So, I dissociate food with enjoyment, and think of it as a necessity. I reminded myself that all I had to do was to put food into my mouth, bite and swallow. Win.
  • Plan your meals. Because you can’t eat as much as you used to, it’s important to pick the “better” things to eat. It is very important to have sufficient protein input every day (at least 7 servings). I get most of my protein in the form of fish, tofu, eggs and beans. On days when I REALLY can’t eat anything, I drink a can of nutrition supplement called Ensure. By the way, I still have several cans that I stocked up but never drank. If you know of anyone who needs it and particularly if they can’t afford it, please let me know and I’ll be pleased to give them out for free.
  • Make your food interesting. There were certain ingredients that can instantly perk up my appetite. I’m not sure if it works for everyone, but I thought I’d share. Salted butter was a life-saver for me. I put that onto bread and into mashed potatoes, and they instantly tasted better. You can get the individually-packed ones from supermarkets to ensure hygiene. Adding a touch of lemon juice to fish also made them taste better for me. Another way to make food interesting is to change up the way you present the food. I quickly got sick of having steamed salmon, but when my dad started grilling them and putting them into burger buns, it became more appetising.
  • Fruits and fruit juices work. I could never get enough of fruit juices and particularly coconut. The coconut also offers a good source of energy and fats, which are good for the body.
  • Prepare liquid food. These were my ammunition on those days when I my mouth was full of ulcers. My best girlfriends showered me with lots of baby foods that really worked out well because they’re easy to eat, nutritious, and are soothing on the ulcers because I chill them in the fridge before eating them. They were the only things I ate during those days I have ulcers, because it hurt a lot even when I ate tofu. You can also consider soups.
  • Find ways to curb nausea. My girlfriends also supplied me with sweets and lollipops that helped to curb my nausea. One of my girls bought me organic mint tea, which I find useful to stop nausea. Whenever I feel nauseated, I also quickly lie down and breathe deeply. The doctor prescribed me medicine as well, which I only take as a last option.
  • Ask for medical help. Two weeks after my last chemotherapy, I was experiencing extreme pain because of the mouth ulcers and constipation. I had a great fear towards food and eating too, firstly because it was just too painful to eat, and secondly, I knew that if I ate, I had to go to the toilet, which was super painful as well. Those were very horrible days that I still shudder whenever I think about them. I was admitted to the hospital for neutropenia, and during that stay, a pain management doctor was called in to help. I was prescribed mylocaine and morphine – which were really my magic potions. I personally don’t think we should use pain relief drugs readily, but speak to a doctor to see if he/she would advise it for your case. These drugs made my life a lot easier.

I was really very, very lucky because I have a strong cheer-leading team. My parents took turns to prepare all meals for me. It wasn’t easy and I know it’s rather stressful too, but they did this with so much joy and with a heart of service.

My brother constantly did research to find out what foods I could eat and to find ways to make food more interesting for me. He also spent time during meal times to chat with me so I could be distracted.

My girlfriends pampered me soooo much: whenever they know I like something (that I was allowed to eat), you’ll be sure that I’d be showered with it.

And a special mention for my dad and brother, who cooked san lao hor fun and mushroom risotto using ingredients that I was able to eat, just because I said I had a craving. During those times, I had no appetite all the time, and having a “craving” was very rare. But what’s more priceless was their readiness to indulge in my craving.

Finally, a word for you, if you’re going through chemotherapy and struggling with food. Don’t be depressed! Every morsel you consume is one mini victory. Take it one spoonful at a time. Try different ways to manage the issue. Get help – speak to a doctor or a nutritionist. And don’t feel bad about it – your body’s like a battlefield now and it’s normal for you to feel horrible all over. Keep your eyes on the goal. And all the best!

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I Think I’ve Found My Favourite Waffles Place!

Thanks to the recommendation of our friend Camy, who is a bona fide cafe guru, Keith and I went to Department of Caffeine one leisurely weekend for brunch (with Camy).

I’ve always had a nice memory of waffles, because it’s a weekend food that I ate frequently when I was a kid – at A&W. I can’t exactly remember whether A&W waffles were REALLY good, but I haven’t tried good waffles for the longest time. For instance, the waffles at Strangers’ Reunion didn’t impress.

We heard that waffles were a signature for Department of Caffeine, so we decided to go with it.

I went with a pretty safe choice of Buttermilk Waffles with butter rum bananas ($12.50) served with New Zealand Premium vanilla ice-cream.

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My order came first and as I took a bite into the waffles, I can’t stop telling Keith how much I liked it. It was very crispy, fragrant and the ice-cream was really – pardon the pun – icing on the cake.

I had my waffles with a glass of Apple, Ginger & Fresh Mint juice ($5.50), which was very refreshing.

Keith ordered the Apple Pie Waffles, which looked like a de-constructed apple pie that sits on top of crispy waffles.

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And I enjoyed this thoroughly. I’ve always enjoyed apple pies but usually find them a bit too sweet. This was just right, and the buttery taste of the waffles balance out the sweetness of the fruits. The crumbles on top made it extra delicious.

Keith ordered the hot chocolate ($5) to go with his treat. It was one of the best hot chocolate I’ve tried too, and I would have gone for it, if not because I also had hot chocolate the night before at another cafe. Call me weird, but I simply refuse to have the same type of food/drink as I did within such a short time.

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Department of Caffeine is located at 15 Duxton Road. They’re closed every Wednesday, and are opened on weekdays from 10.30am to 7pm, and on weekends from 9.30am – 7pm. It’s one of the few cafes that opens so early on weekends, so if you want to start your day early on a weekend, this is where you can go. Get more info on their Facebook page.

7 Things I Didn’t Expect About Being Married

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1. I was lonelier than before

When I was staying with my parents, I’ll get home from work at 7pm, have dinner with my family (my parents and brother) and spend the rest of the evening watching TV and laughing over the programmes. The house is always vibrant, filled with noises from the TV set, chatters and laughters.

And then I got married and moved into our new house.

Keith doesn’t finish work at the same time as me. In the first month of our marriage, he typically finishes work at 9pm and gets home at about 10pm.

My evening became this: Take a bus home, have dinner alone at the food court near the estate, shower when I get home, turn on the TV and feel super lonely because there’s no one to laugh with me. By the time he got home, showered and caught up with his social media feeds, it was already bed time.

I was quite depressed in the first month of our marriage because I constantly felt lonely. Plus, I was “homesick”, I missed my family a lot.

Thankfully, we’ve resolved this issue in the last few months, so it’s all good now :)

2. We don’t “spend time” all the time

Even when we are both at home, we may not always be interacting. We may be at a different part of our house, doing our own things.

3. “Dates” don’t come naturally

You’d think that staying together means it’ll be easy to go on “dates”. It won’t happen unless you set a time for it. Somehow, we have so many commitments: our friends, doing housework, and visiting our parents regularly. In the end, we realise we didn’t make time for each other. Now, we set Friday nights as our “sacred” date nights. We aren’t supposed to do anything else besides spending time as a couple.

4. We argue over trivial day-to-day things

Before getting married, I often thought that the stereotype of how married couples quarrel over whether to dispense the toothpaste from the middle of the tube or from the end of it, and also about the man leaving the toilet seat up, was ridiculous. Who cares for such things?! Well, we didn’t quarrel over these things specifically, because they’re indeed ridiculous, but Keith whines about my face-washing habit because I tend to get some water onto the mirror. Please tell him he’s being ridiculous ;)

5. He takes over my parents’ role. Kinda.

I thought I no longer need to put up with nags after I moved out. But boy, does my husband nag at me (sometimes). In a “parent-ly” tone.

6. There’s never-ending housework to be done

I’ve been very lucky that my mum is the one who does most of the housework when I was staying with them. But my new place isn’t big and I thought that we’ll be fine spending a few hours every weekend doing housework. I eventually realise that consistency is the key to keeping the house in a pristine state. This means there’s a need to do small chores as often as you can, or you’ll need to launch a very tiring spring-cleaning project frequently.

7. Life is still a routine

This is especially when I moved back again after going into remission. I really thought we could start doing fun projects together, plan trips and visit hipster cafes, but seriously, in between work, Daily Vanity, household chores, church and family obligations, what I can say is “ain’t nobody got time for that!”

I finally understand why all fairytales simply end with “and they lived happily ever after”, because there’s not much of a story to tell thereafter, and if there is any, it’s not quite a fairytale.

All these being said, I’m very happily married, in case you thought otherwise. Because I know that we are the kind who will work towards making each other happier.