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Round 11: Weekly routine.


Round 11: Weekly routine.
November 16, 2014

AAt the hospital: Wednesday, November 12.

Hmmm….  Not very many people today.  The waiting room is not full and it is already the middle of the morning.  I checked in and sat to wait for my name to be called.  The normal routine is to get my vital signs, like weight, blood pressure, temp, pulse, and oxygen saturation.  Then they take several vials of blood for the study and lastly, they access my port.

This is my weekly routine unless I have a chemo break.  I practically have memorized my vital sign stats and at times I would play a game with the nurse tech to guess exactly my weight, BP, pulse, temp.  With the weekly blood test, I know the results my kidney function, blood work, platelet count, and other details enough to understand them.  Then I have monthly CT or PET scans to monitor my tumors.  I know every change in my body and the impact of my exercise and vegetarian diet as a result of these weekly tests.

These weekly routines give me a sense of stability or normalcy, and I am thankful.  Also, I have mentioned it before, it helps me be grounded with my priorities.  Outside the hospital, there is the hustle and bustle of life: the text messages, the email, conference calls, bills, etc., but these are temporary and insignificant when measured against health and family.  My routines at the hospital allows me to see things differently.  I am glad I am given that opportunity and share this with you.

Thanksgiving is coming up in a couple of weeks.  I am looking forward to it because I will celebrate it differently this year.  If all goes well, it will be a special Thanksgiving.  One more round of chemo on November 19, which is also the birthday of my daughter Abby, then Thanksgiving week.  I will definitely write about it.

Cheers.
P.S.  I am still wearing a boot to help heal the fracture in my right foot.  Hopefully, the doctor tells me I can remove this thing.  Then it is rehab time.

 

 

Round 10: It’s a miracle.


Round 10: It’s a miracle.
November 1, 2014

Last Wednesday at the hospital:
I

“It’s a miracle. It is a miracle that I have been married to the same woman for 58 years.”  Then turns to me and my wife.  “I know you two are going to be married to each other…forever!.” Without stopping, he continues to fill the waiting room with his stories.  “I finished three degrees and done it all without a student loan. “

He’s back.  He is an old gentleman who comes regularly to accompany his wife for her treatment, and he talks to everybody. And I mean everybody.  You would think he is a politician or have made a career in radio but no, he is just folksy friendly.  This time around we were the closest one in talking distance of his booming voice. He had shuffled in pushing his wife in wheeled chair and sat near us.

“Good morning!  How are you?”

It was too late for me to move or put my coat in all the chairs around me. I was caught.  What do I do? I listen to his “talk.” Politely.  I try to keep a straight face and look interested while his wife just sat quietly across him.  She just watches him and most likely heard all the stories of his husband.  A guy next to me snickers and shakes his head because he knew I was caught.  Fresh bait.  Then, he pats me in the back for my bravery. Under his breath he says:

“No commercial interruption! Like a satellite.” Then chuckles.  Ha…ha.  Whatever.

Nonetheless, I love scenes like this. The conversations in hospital waiting rooms are so animated and at times, downright hilarious.  It is open and well-meaning.  Everybody is here for one purpose: to get well.  You learn a lot too, like cancer does not discriminate.  Also, you can find your sense of purpose by listening and seeing examples of enviable love.  Take this happy old couple.  They must be in their 80s having been married for 58 years.  She goes to her chemo and he goes with her.  Some cancer patients would just have given up when diagnose at that age, but not her.  She is here, wanting her chance at extending  her life.  Chemo takes a toll on you and yet she goes, and with her: her husband.

I am no match for this lady’s bravery; more so, for the dedication of the husband.  He is the miracle.  Both of them are.  They are amazing.  Then the nurse calls them, it is time for her treatment.  He bids goodbye then slowly shuffles along to follow her.

Cheers.

P.S.
I should be in NYC now on the even of the NYC marathon.  I am feeling well, recovered from my last treatment, and would have run tomorrow’s race with my wife.  Instead I am home and will be watching the race tomorrow on TV.  I am still chained to my boot but healing well according to my doctor.  They took a comparative X-ray of my foot and it showed good progress, but I still have to wear the boot for three more weeks.


Round 9:  Chained Six to Eight Weeks
October 26, 2013

Iam still saddened by the Jones fracture in my right foot.  It does not help that it came during my tapering period for the marathon and my movements restricted by a boot.

Athletes/runners taper or rest for a few weeks prior to competing to get maximum performance during competition.  It is normal to be restless during this period but to be restless and immobile does not help.  I have gone to the gym during the week and tried to work off a sweat on the hand-bike it is not the same.  You can’t do much when you are chained to a boot for several weeks.  No running, walking, cycling, or yoga.  I can’t wait to get back.

Last Wednesday, I went for my treatment.  My clinical trial doctor and nurse were surprise to see my foot in a boot.  I told them of my training accident (aka stupidity), and my missing the Chicago (October 12) and will miss out NYC (November 2) marathon.  That’s two for the price of one price of one penalty.  I showed them the X-ray of my foot, so now it is part of the study.  I wonder what will the clinical sponsor think of their guinea pig.  Tsk…tsk…number 5.   Fine mess you got yourself into.  Whatever.

So far I am doing fine.  I feel strong and I can shake of the side-effects faster.  I think it is due to my marathon training.  I totally believe that exercise or any physical activity and good diet can help in recovering from chemo or fight cancer.  I know it is not easy and it takes discipline.  What helps me is setting goals, like running a half or full marathon.  With a goal set, my behavior change and with it comes discipline.  I also think it is because of a curious mind: Can I do another marathon? Can I do an Ironman?  Can I do one mile more?  I want to know.

This year I may not have run any marathon but what I got is a fit body, stable cancer nodules, and a fresh outlook in life.  That is more than enough for me.  I am thankful.

With Speedy for my Round 9 treatment

With Speedy for my Round 9 treatment

Cheers.

P.S.  Round 10 coming up this week.  Oh…boy.

 

Scans and Fractures


Scans and Fractures
October 20, 2014

LLife is always two-sided.  Yin and yan.  Good news and bad news.  Scans and fractures.

I recently had my CT scan (October 15) to see how my nodules are responding to the trial drugs.  This was pre-scheduled as part of the clinical trial.  Previous to this , my last scan was September 3, so after a month of treatment the comparative result was good: Stable impression.  Whew.  LindaJ, the nurse specialist, called right away to give me the results.  “Stable”, she said.  I was trying to fish for more details but there was none.  Then I saw the full report, it was all stable, stable, stable.

I was so happy.  Woohoo.  Another milestone pass.

Now for the “other” news.  I fractured my foot.  This happened two weeks ago Sunday, October 5, during a 10-mile tapering run along the lakefront.  At mile 7, I stepped on an uneven pavement and rolled my right foot.  Next thing I know I was on the ground.  My wife was not around since I ran ahead.  I had that sinking feeling of stupidity as I felt some swelling in my ankle.  My wife caught up with me and we walked back to the car.  I limped and prayed that my foot was ok because NYC marathon was waiting for us this November 2.  I trained hard the whole summer and I was almost there.

After some icing and rehab sessions with Noreen and Jamie of Novacare, and a consultation with Dr. Reilly of the Running Institute, this “Humpty Dumpty” could not be put back together in time to race NYC.  Sucks.  Arghhh….  Gone.  Just like that.

There is an official name for my stupidity: Jones Fracture.  It is similar to the recent injury of Kevin Durant of the Oklahoma City Thunders but in my case I do not need surgery (Thank, God.  My clinical trial doctors would have flipped).  What I need is 6 to 8 weeks of foot immobility, then rehab.  I try not to look back and play the “what if” game because I can be hard on myself.  Cancer and running taught me just to take what is given.  It is time to move on.  Chalk this up as another colorful adventure I look back to.

All is not lost.  My scans are good and there is always next year to look forward too.  Rejoice Kenyans.

Cheers.
Jones Fracture

 

P.S.  Next treatment is this Wednesday, October 22.  Never stops.

Round 8: Speedy Goes to Chemo.


Round 8: Speedy Goes to Chemo.
Yesterday: October 8, 2014

R

“Road trip! Woohoo. We are going to UofC to see my “fefol” (other guinea pigs) and get treatment. Number 5 is in the house, fefol. “

It is the first time for Speedy to be taken out since arriving in his new home.  He was thankful to be rescued and join the other toys like Moo, the cow (more on Moo in coming post).  Speedy arrives at the hospital and takes a peek from the backpack and surveys the waiting room area.

“Psst….hey lady. What’s up with the crochet? Who is it for?”
“Hey, mister. Do I need a mask too?  That is a cool chair with electric wheel?”  It is totally new environment for Speedy and just takes it all in.

It is early and the waiting room is slowly filling up again with patients coming for their treatment. Just another normal day for us cancer patients.  I brought along my new toy, Speedy courtesy of Mary Ann, for some selfies.

I like an early start because I get to finish early too, hopefully.  I was called already for my vital sign, they have accessed my port, and I gave them a urine sample (don’t ask why this is included..).  I need to be screened to check if I am healthy for another round of chemo.  They are normally concern about my platelet count which was a problem before.

This my world once a week: The world of clinical trials.  The world of cancer.  The rest of the week is spent coping and making the most of what life has to offer.

While my blood was being drawn, I overheard a patient next to me saying that her anniversary date is coming up this October. 15 years, she says. Wow. I am on my 6th year fighting cancer and she has more than double the years of my diagnosis.  She wears a hat to hide her balding head but is so cheery in greeting all the nurses  who has been taking care of her.  She knows all of them.  She has an admiring personality and perspective all brought or enhanced by cancer.

This is one thing I noticed in others as well as myself.  Cancer transforms you.  How deep is the transformation would depend how cancer is accepted.

“In the meantime, inside the infusion room Speedy notices many things.

Hmmm…. fefol here are treated better.  They give you reclining chairs or bed in isolated rooms while us guinea pigs are kept in cages, carpeted by a bed of wood shaving to pee and take a crap, or sometimes croak on.  They even have individual TVs.  If lucky, we have spinning wheels to entertain us.  What’s up with that!  Talk about the have’s and the have-not’s.

Hello!  Class warfare.  Where is Reverend Al Sharpton?  I say we do a march for the oppressed guinea pigs.  Occupy UofC: We kick the ass of the human class!”

I bring out Speedy for a selfie and talk to him.  Listen Speedy: I am here receiving this trial drug because of your sacrifice.  You proved that this drug is safe enough to be tested on me, Number 5.  You have done your job and I will take it from here.  Thank you.

Speedy melts.  “Reverend who?”

Hello, fefol!  Speedy in the house.

Hello, fefol! Speedy in the house.

Cheers.

P.S.
This weekend is the Chicago marathon.  I found a bib to enter but had to pass.  Over the weekend I sprained my right ankle.   Depressed.  It would have been my test run for next month’s NYC marathon.  I am sure the Kenyans are rejoicing my absence.


Round 7: A Guinea Pig Called Speedy
October 2, 2014

YYesterday I had chemo after a one week break.  Today I am sluggish, recovering, but still standing.  I thought I pass posting something this week but couldn’t.  Somebody came through for me.

Arriving from the hospital yesterday tired, I was welcomed by a “care package” sent by MaryAnnG, a work colleague of mine.  I just had to smile.  Inside was a Beanie Ballz guinea pig with an inscription of number 5 at the front, like a bib number, and a card.  I have known Mary Ann for several years now and she is the only who can throw an inside joke on me like this on me.  It made me forget the days event at the hospital.

Wait there’s more.  She mentions in the card to read the tag inscription hanging on the guinea pig appropriately named Speedy, it reads:

Speedy:  You’ll only see a blur as I race on by.  No one can catch me, so don’t even try!

The silent metaphor blew me and today I am still smiling.  Thanks, Mary Ann.

Hi, my name is Speedy.  I am a guinea pig and a runner.

Hi, my name is Speedy. I am a guinea pig and a runner.

Cheers.

P.S.  Yesterday, I joke my clinical trial doctor when he check to see me; I said I think I need an Ebola test since I went to Dallas, TX (Note: First US case of Ebola was identified in Dallas over the weekend).  He saw my fit condition and said no with a smile.

Round 6 and the 20-miler


Round 6 and the 20-miler

September 20, 2014

A“A goal is just an awesome way to force growth on yourself.” –Deana Kastor

She is an Olympic bronze medalist (Athens 2004), a 2:19:36 marathoner, and the only American woman to break 2:20.  I paused when I read that quote from her in an article in the October issue of Runner’s World magazine.  She had put it succinctly what my running (and sacrifice) is all about: Growth.

For the past couple of weeks I have logged lots and lots of miles, and being a slow runner that means lots of time to think, contemplate, and breath.   If my Fitbit is correct, that means a weekly average of more than 100,000 steps, 52+ miles run/walk, and almost 20,000 calories burned.  However, what it does not tell you are the other activities I do or my almost daily 5:00 am start at the gym to cross-train, yoga, and stretch.

What gives?

That’s the point.  Why bother.  I know I will not win Chicago or NYC marathons or could even qualify for Boston.  I am a slow runner, who goes weekly to chemo treatment as a past time, a vegetarian by choice, husband, father, grandfather, and breadwinner.  And yet I push myself to get up early morning to hit the gym.

Well, I have grown just like what Deena said.  My training and change of lifestyle forced me to grow.  In return I like myself more.  I am able to fully appreciate life by earning it one mile at a time.  I don’t miss steak or pork or the late morning rise because I am able to see things differently.  Other people have notice the changed too.  It is all good.

Round 6 and the 20-miler

Last Wednesday, September 17, was my sixth round of treatment and tomorrow, Sunday, is our 20 mile run.  I have never done this before–short chemo recovery and 20 miles/32K–so we will see if I will still be standing up.  It is a prelude to the Chicago marathon in three weeks: October 12.  I feel good, anxious, and looking forward to it.  I try not to think of the distance because it can get to you.  All I know is I will be at the start and how I finish is the fun of it.  See you at the finish line.

Cheers.

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