This week has been the roughest week since my chemotherapy treatments started. It is currently day 10 of chemo #2. Surprisingly i barely had any physical side effects following the infusion, other than fatigue and mild bone pain. My oncologist says that being less nervous the second time round may have reduced my side effects too. But emotionally i felt super vulnerable. I'm not sure if it is because of lowered red blood cells, which I'm told will cause depression, or whether it is because of the extreme hair loss that i had managed to avoid during round #1. I felt very angry and alone because constantly being positive and pushing happiness out made me seem very strong on the exterior, when i actually just wanted to roll into a ball and be pampered and cuddled. I also felt so hideous, because my hardcore skinhead had evolved into a patchy cancer head, which in the mirror seemed to draw out the other deformities and scars of my reconstruction. Naturally, while I was already at it, I might as well also question whether I will really live, whether the cancer has metastasised to my bones, whether my implant will burst during radiotherapy, how many more reconstructive surgeries will i need, etc. It's so true that negative emotions often snowball together and it's hard to pull out of it. I hadn't cried since April, but i spent the whole day crying and trying to let it all out. The most powerful lesson i learned during my long stay in the hospital, was that in moments of deep despair, the only thing you can rely on is God, and your mind that only you can cultivate. I prayed truthfully and consistently, and that brought me peace. And then I made actions plans to realign my mindset and recover from my momentary "system failure". I was angry at myself for being angry, because I knew that each stressor, sadness and helpless feeling inflames my body and contributes to cancer cell growth. This made me scramble to stop the tears and fix myself asap.
Now that I've calmed down, I know that i have to be more forgiving to myself. After a decade of cigarette alcohol and stress abuse, is one day of anger and tears going to kill me? Is one meal of refined sugar and carbs going to make my cancer grow? As far as i know it, I'm already dead because i've killed myself through years of maltreatment. My mind often flashes back to a financially stressful time in 2011 where I went to a hospital twice in a week with numb legs, nausea and heart palpitations only to be diagnosed with a panic attack, twice. And those many times over the years where i woke up reeking of smoke and alcohol and not remembering what happened in the last 10 hours. Why am I angry about being angry and not eating enough vegetables today? I know I am angry at my myself, but probably for something deeper than what I failed to do today.
BUT, I know that I am slowly bringing myself back to life through this newfound and overwhelming love i have for myself. I love myself now not only by eating well, exercising, meditating and praying, but also by being proud of all my weaknesses and failures, celebrating how wonderfully liberating it can be that i am so mediocre in many aspects, and appreciating that it is exactly how unperfect I am that has led me to where I am today - a daughter, wife and mother - all that I had ever wanted to be. Today's failure to improve only means that I tried. Tomorrow, I will wake up and continue my intensely healthy regimen of mental and physical cell repair. And then, everything will be ok. I promise myself that because no one else's promise matters as much as mine and how much I believe that to be true.
Now back to the recipe! If you watch Korean mukbang you would know that Chinese glass noodles with all kinds of pasta sauces is a thing lately, and spicy cheese sauce is just phenomenal, you just have to try it for yourself. The glass noodles are actually chewy sweet potato vermicelli noodles (紅薯粉). It's super simple to make but these noodles are really hard to find in Hong Kong. I have ordered them from China previously but decided not to anymore because the packaging is really dodgy and the brands are not reputable ones. I used to be okay with eating total garbage but food safety with quality ingredients is something I'm really concerned about nowadays. These noodles were brought back from Seoul by my cousin Claudia. If anyone has come across these wide chewy sweet potato vermicelli noodles in Hong Kong or online, please let me know! Using sweet potato noodles for pasta is so great not only because they are so delicious, but they are also gluten free with a low glycemic index, ie. it's less of a bad carb.
HOMEMADE ALFREDO SAUCE (because cousin Claudia says - "never use store bought sauce!")
Melt 2 tbsp butter in a small pot.
Add 3 cloves minced garlic and around 1 tub cream cheese (around 200g) and whisk together.
Add 1 cup organic milk and cook till bubbling.
Add 1 cup shredded parmesan, season with salt and pepper.
Remove from heat and set aside for use later.
In a pot, boil water and cook your wide sweet potato vermicelli noodles for 10 minutes or until very al dente, then drain and soak in ice water to keep it chewy. I used half pack (200g).
Stir fry any vegetables together in a teaspoon of olive oil. I used mushrooms and asparagus here.
Once veggies are softened, add shrimp and stir fry until they just turn pink. I used defrosted frozen shrimp and i did not marinate them.
Add your homemade alfredo sauce and stir.
Once the sauce is bubbling, add noodles and cook till softened to your liking and the sauce has thickened.
Add 4 thickly sliced green Cheongyang chili peppers and mix through before taking off the heat.