Turning tragedy into inspiration
Lung Cancer Food Writer and TV chef, Ching-He Huang, explains how her aunt’s death to lung cancer has inspired her to support the British Lung Foundation.
Why are you supporting the BLF?
I’m choosing to support the BLF because this is a cause close to my heart. So many people die of lung cancer each year and not enough funding has gone into raising awareness for this type of cancer. A recent BLF report has found that a third of people with lung cancer are diagnosed in an emergency, which means that survival rates are low. Lung cancer funding is also lower than that of bowel cancer and breast cancer despite killing more people.
How close were you and your aunt?
My aunt died at the age of 50 of lung cancer 20 years ago despite being in good health. She was a non-smoker and was always fit and healthy. So the diagnosis came as a huge shock to the family. We were close but not as close as we could be, as a teenager, her death was the first real loss in our family, and it really affected me. For a long time, I felt lost and confused by her death.
How involved were you in her care?
I wasn’t involved much in her care as her late diagnosis meant she was in her last stages of lung cancer and she passed away really quickly within a week. I did get to say goodbye and I will never forget how frail she looked in her last few days of life.
What have you learnt from this family illness?
I’ve always tried to make sense of her death at that young age and it made me realize how fragile and vulnerable we all are, how previous time is and how much regret and sadness comes from not living our life to the fullest when we do have our health. We all take so much for granted. Since then we have had many deaths in the family – my uncle passed away earlier this year from liver cancer, my husband’s grandma from bowel cancer just last week. More needs to be done to help early diagnosis as well as help those have been diagnosed and are seeking care, and ultimately, ways to prevent it.
How has it inspired you?
It’s inspired me to not waste time. The fear of death and losing loved ones has taught me to make time for my family and friends and to cherish all moments no matter how fleeting.
Talk about the big breakfast.
The Big breakfast campaign is about getting together all your family, friends, work colleagues and holding a BLF Big breakfast. You can invite them round to your home or hold it at work and getting people to donate for the breakfast you cook for them. Or hold a pot luck – breakfast style, get everyone to bring a dish and cater to your group in return for a donation! It’s such a simple yet fun activity to get everyone to share the most important meal of the day and do something good! All the money raised will help bring more awareness and support the great causes in the fight against lung cancer.
People can get involved by visiting the BLF website www.blf.org.uk/BigBreakfast. For more information about lung cancer please call the BLF Helpline on 03000 030 555.
A new book by Ching-He Huang Eat Clean: Wok Yourself to Health is out now, published by Harper Thorsons, photography by Myles New. Her new series Ching's Amazing Asia will be out in 2016.