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Archive for July, 2010


Our last dance…school’s out!

July 26, 2010

omorrow, July 27, is my last chemo treatment.

I have mixed feeling about tomorrow. I should be happy that my treatment which started January 12 (see related post ‘First day at school…chemo school‘) will soon be over. After 12 cycles of chemotherapy, a chemoembolization procedure (see related post ‘At the starting line with Dr. B‘), a right liver lobectomy, and many sorts of imaging scan and medical test, I am about to cross the finish line. The last mile.

Graduation day is almost here!

But how come I am not feeling elated?  I have this lingering feeling that after all I have gone through my cancer may comeback.  Nobody can tell me that I am cured or it will not be back. I try not to think about it and stay positive. I just need to focus on what is given to me and make the most of it.

I will not be wearing a graduation toga like before, instead I will make it an ordinary day. You see, cancer has taught me that ordinary days are special days.  It is what you make of it.  I may not be wearing my toga tomorrow but I know the importance of tomorrow. Tomorrow is a gift of life.

Let’s do our last dance tomorrow. Bring on the nausea, the chills, and the sweats. Let’s remember our moment together my demon-friends. Let’s make it special. Let’s do it for those who are no longer with us and for those who continue to hope for a cure.

I will run before our dance, go to the hospital, and I will be there waiting for you. After we are done, I will enjoy my special day.

Hit it Alice…let’s rock!

“Out for summer out till fall

we might not come back at all

school’s out forever….” – Alice Cooper

Cheers.

PS: My wife and I did 12 miles over the weekend (2:55:19@14:23 average pace).  Man, that was painful but sweet.  This weekend is 13 miles but may have to skip it until fully recovered from chemo.

To support me in my running for ACS, please follow the link below;

http://main.acsevents.org/site/TR/DetermiNation/DNFY10Illinois?px=10708728&pg=personal&fr_id=27163

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Oh dear! Oh dear! I shall be too late.

July 21, 2010

Oh dear! Oh dear! I shall be too late!” – The White Rabbit in Lewis Carroll’s book Alice’s Adventure in Wonderland.

I feel like that with this post. I should have completed this post yesterday , Tuesday, which is my normal habit, but now I am late. I can never be a newspaper man with constant deadlines. Oh, we all have deadlines set upon ourselves or by others. Those darn deadlines. They cause stress and misery.

But deadlines come and go, and we are still here. It makes you wonder if those darn deadlines really matter. I am still here after last week’s chemo and was able to post my my blog yesterday. It does not mean I am not taking mental notes, so here it is….

Oh dear!”

Tuesday, July 13.

n a whim, I decided to run before my chemo treatment.

I am going to run tomorrow, babes.” I said to my wife the night before.

But, you have chemo tomorrow.” She said.

I will run before my treatment at 5:30 am and still be in time for my chemo at 7:00 am.”

Ok, I will join you.”

With that we set off this morning not knowing where we were going to go or for how long. I trudge along in the direction of my hospital (NOTE: We live about 1.5 miles to my hospital). I have never ran before my treatment but since my running has been good to my chemo recovery, I wanted to prepare my body. What better way to open my blood vessels and pores to receive more chemo than running…ha!

It will be my fifth of sixth treatment. Normally, this time I am feeling the cumulative effects of all the chemo drugs that have been loaded up on me. But I am still strong and able to withstand the treatments. I am now a firm believer of exercise or any rigorous physical activity e.g. running, biking, yoga, swimming, etc., while on chemo. Livestrong, like Lance Armstrong.

Two years ago when I first got diagnosed with colon cancer, I did not do any physical activity while on treatment. I did not understand the beast before, I just let it take me where it wants to go. The result was I had a harder time recovering and had ended up in the emergency room once due to allergic reaction to my chemo drugs. (See my July 23, 2008 post ‘White Wristband Bracelet‘)

This time I around, sans right liver and a gallbladder, I feel the same nausea and vomiting but I am running in between treatments and the result is faster recovery.

MargeG

Lindsay taking time to visit during my treatment - July 13, 2010

This is LindsayF. She is also running for American Cancer Society and raising money for our charity (see her ACS website). I met her during my weekly group run and got to know her. She is running for her nana (grama) Marge who has pancreatic cancer, and is being treated in the same hospital as I am and we have the same oncologist. I normally see Marge early Tuesday mornings as we are about to get our treatments.

Marge is a retired nurse and is perhaps in her mid-70’s who can really brighten your day.  Amid our glassy-eyes on treatments, she and I have a certain bond.  Each of us know what we go through.  We feel sick and tired from taking our treatments but we hide it from our love one’s.

“Nana was admitted in the hospital because she was not feeling well after coming from Iowa” Lindsay told me.

I learned that she is still in the hospital recuperating. After I finished my treatment I told my wife I want to go and see Marge. I was feeling very nauseated but I just got to see her.

Marge showed to be in high spirit inspite the many infusion bags hanging to keep her hydrated and fight infection. She smiled through her oxygen mask.

Hello, Mr. Bo!” She greeted me with a warm smile.

I melted. This lady is in her hospital bed, very sick, and still manages to melt my heart. I held her hands and told her not too talk too much. She had changed from the last time I saw her. I began to hate cancer again because it slowly takes away your spirit until you have nothing to give. It nibbles at the edges of your life and does not stop. I hate cancer.

I think Marge and I understood each other. She could have been the one visiting me and I could have been the one in the hospital bed. Such is the case when you see one is in suffering and the other is not, we just accept what is. Such is the bond among cancer patients. We see the fragility of life that threatens us. We see it and try to pretend at times it is not there.

I know you travel on a difficult path, Marge. I know it is difficult but hang in there long enough for others to accept what is. We will be fine. Our paths have crossed and you have given me strength to remind myself and others of the beauty of life.  Thanks.

Cheers.

To support me in my running for ACS, please follow the link below;

http://main.acsevents.org/site/TR/DetermiNation/DNFY10Illinois?px=10708728&pg=personal&fr_id=27163

PS:  This Saturday, July 24, is my mom’s 78th birthday and the group will be running 12 miles.  Woohoo.  Bring it on!

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10 miles and beyond.

July 11, 2010

oy, that was painful.  I managed to finish the 10 mile group run, at an even slower pace of 15:36 min/mile, but I hurt this time around. Who am I to complain about pain after a long run. I’ll take it anytime of the day compared to vomits and diarrhea after chemo treatment “runs”.

I felt good running out there. The pathways were crowded as usual but that is expected. We are now in the thick of marathon/half-marathon training season. But, I love it when I am out there, even if it is crowded with runners, bikers, or people just enjoying the lakefront.  When I am running out there, I feel so alive; the lakefront breeze is crisp, the morning sun radiant, and the sound of my steady breathing comforting.

I don’t even mind being passed by the other runners or groups. It is like being passed by cars with their radio or CDs playing. You hear their conversation as they pass you by;

“You got to try this gel because it gives you energy but no caffeine….”

“I told my husband that it is his turn to take care of the baby…”

“Huh?  I thought you two broke up…”

“It’s a draft! Get it?  Did you get the joke?”

“Woohoo.  Looking good runner.  Go ACS!”

I just smile when I hear snipets of these conversation.  “On your left!” shouts a passing biker. Go ahead.

I wish I can run faster to hear the rest of the more interesting conversation. It is like live reality TV. Who needs music to keep you occupied.  I love it.

Beyond 10 miles.

Once again chemo week is coming up again. It will be my fifth of sixth treatment this Tuesday, July 14.  To keep my spirits up my family tells me it is almost “graduation day” for me. I don’t about that.  (NOTE: I wore a graduation toga on my last treatment October 2008.)  You see my chemo treatments might be over soon but I still have to undergo chemo maintenance for life.  This will help in keeping my cancer from recurring again.  It will be like being in “school” for the rest of my life.

October 2008 chemo graduation. Graduated with honors. My wife, oncologist, and me.

Oh well, I need to figure out something just to mark the end that chapter of my life. I will definitely be thankful for completing my treatments and will continued to celebrate my blessings; including being in “school” for the rest of my life.  I guess it is a way for me to continue and learn the secrets of life.

Cheers.

PS:  Sally, congratulation to Spain for win the World Cup.  Goooal!  Total miles for the week is 19 miles.  Next week zero miles…drip…drip…drip.

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The 9 mile challenge

July 7, 2010

oday I ran 9 miles. I have ran 9 miles before, in my previous life or when I was on remission. This 9 miles was tough especially coming off chemo last week. I found a new vocabulary on the way, shuffle. I use to waddle now I shuffle. I am really slow now but I did it. You have to respect the distance (no matter how short), like cancer. Otherwise, you don’t finish your run, get injured, or in cancer’s case it comes back after a year. Sucks.

During these long runs I am in my contemplative state of mind. It is just me alone on the trail paths of Chicago’s lakefront. Much like during my chemo sessions. I bear the burden alone during my chemo treatments, and running through the pathways in the midmorning sun I am alone in my thoughts. No music for me.

I contemplate on the drip…drip…drip of chemo drugs which was replaced by shuffle…shuffle…shuffle steps of my tired feet. Each drip brings me closer to the end of my treatment, and my slows steps brings me closer to the finish line.

Drip…drip…drip…shuffle…shuffle…shuffle.

Two different worlds I live in for the moment, and for the rest of my life.  I wish the other one (cancer) did not exist but I would not be who I am now without it.  I am far more patient and appreciative of what I have.  The world is moving so fast and we are surrounded by gadgets and things we think to help us managed our lives.  To make it easy or simple.  This I often wonder if really does, convenient; yes.  Easy or simple, try to explain that to my mother who still could not figure out the digital camera the family gave her.

I get way laid with my thoughts when I am running, as you can see.  Until I get distracted or hear…

On your left!” Shouts a cyclist coming from behind. Whoosh! And he/she is gone.

I get passed a lot when running at the lakefront, mostly by these bare-chested athletic runners. Whatever. Sometimes I am passed by old runners and big ones too.  Then there are the roller bladers, occasional skateboarders, runners with baby carriage and runners with dogs. Most have their iPod/iPhone plugged in their ears. There is this one full-bosomed runner who tucked her iPhone in her sports bra. That is so wrong!

So I shuffled toward the end of my run after 2 hours, 12 minutes, tired but happy. My Garmin reads: 9.08 miles at an average pace of 14:54 minutes/mile. Done.

Next challenge, 10 miles this Saturday with the group.

Keep on shuffling. Maybe I should change my blog to Shuffling Tales.

Cheers.

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