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Archive for August, 2010


A Glimpse of the future.

August 25, 2010

caught a glimpse of the future yesterday.

Yesterday, was my first chemo maintenance treatment. It was no different from all the other chemo treatments that I have had since 2008, but somehow I expected this to be a different experience.   Why is that?

One distinct difference is that I did not come home with a portable pump attached to my my hip. My family calls it my personal “iPod.”  Before I was attached to my “iPod” for two-days.  You could imagine how difficult for me to sleep with it and go to the bathroom.

Another difference is the maintenance doze is suppose to be milder according to my oncologist, lower toxicity, but it will still be the same regiment of FOLFIRI plus Avastin. I don’t know about that. Perhaps, I have a different definition of what is mild.  I would rather not do this again.

But there I was bright and early at the hospital.

“Are we ready, Bo?” Nurse Edith greeted me.

“Uh..huh.” I replied enthusiastically.  (Maybe I would rather have a root canal).

I was alone this time around when normally my mom (in Canada) and wife (still at work) would accompany me.  I brought my laptop and plan to do some work or see if I can do some work, since the hospital has wireless.

Drip…drip…drip.  It started and I was out again.  Those darn happy cocktails always do the trick.  I started waking up three hours into the infusion with still two bags more to go.  My wife is beside me now sleeping occupying more than half of the bed. Poor girl, must be another busy night at the ER.  I did managed to get some work done while waiting for the rest of the treatment to complete.

Later at home, I experienced the side-effects.  First the runny nose, then the hiccups, and a queasy stomach bordering on nausea.  I tried working through it but later in the day I was wasted.

I even had a scheduled a conference call and the people on the call did not realize I was all buzzed up with chemo juice.  Chemo on the rocks, baby, shaken not stirred.

“Uh, huh. Sounds good to me. Ok.” I would hear myself say, but I did managed to say it intelligently and not barf on the phone. No sobriety test for me.

So this is how it is going to be from now on. Once a month, I am reminded of reality. Just when I am slowly building my confidence I have this once a month reality check.  I imagine myself living normal a cancer-free life, then the ‘pause’ button is hit.  This pause is long enough to shake my confidence.  Can I do this for the rest of my life?  How am I going to finish the marathon or much less complete the 18 mile training this weekend?

At the same time, it gives me periodic renewal of how I look at life.  It is precious.  Sometimes we get blinded by the success we have in life forgetting it is just borrowed time.  Then it happens, somebody hits the ‘pause’ button.  Why?  Because shit happens.

The future also tells me that I may need to lower my expectation of running future marathons. Marathon training is grueling as you get to double-digit mileage.  Now, I am entering a different phase wherein I have to manage the high mileage and chemo.  That darn ‘pause’ button.

Nonetheless, life is good.  I am still here given the chance to run and do my best.

Cheers.

First chemo maintenance. Working at hospital while nurse Edith infuses me.

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Anniversaries (eat), pray, and love.

August 19, 2010

ast Saturday, August 14, was my anniversary. Eleven years of blissful marriage. I was told that the anniversary gift, traditional and modern, for the eleventh year is steel. Hmm… This is complicated. I must admit I am a romantic but totally dumb at buying gifts to my wife. I think it is a phobia that my gifts are not good enough.

Instead, how about a 15 mile run at the lakefront? What better way than sharing the Chicago lakefront, watching the sunrise with your love one, drenched in sweat, and in pain. Three and half hours of quality time. Well, that is what happened. We take this time to talk or laugh, like building miles in a relationship.

Yup, it is all about building on something that is already there, but sometimes you run into a rut.  Your running is not working or you are not getting enjoyment from your relationship.  Perhaps, it is time for viagra or cialis…hehe. I have learned that it is not enough that you are running “for” something; to lose weight, get rip abs, for the kids, or for cancer. It like having sex just to get pregnant. Do it enough time and it will work (sometimes), then what?  The point is, it is about enjoying what you like and appreciating what you have.  In my case, I like to be with my wife and run because of the feeling of freedom it gives me. I have said it before, it makes me feel alive.  Alive in the company of those I love.

I pray, not as often compared to my mom, to give thanks for all my blessings. I prayed while I was running that day. I would look at my wife beside me;

You ok, babes? Happy anniversary.” Bam! I scored a three-point, touch down.

My wife never cease to surprise me. She just completed her goal for running her first half-marathon, now she is running with me as if she is going to run the October marathon. She is putting in the miles just to be with me. She works nights and gets clobbered with lots of patients (gun shot wounds, cardiac patients, you name it) at the ER, she builds her miles during the week, then do long runs with me. She tells me she is doing it for me.

Kapow! I am knocked out.

What can I say…except I love her. It is all about L-O-V-E.

Cheers.

P.S. 51 days to go to marathon day and 7 days to my first chemo maintenance session.  This weekend is 16 miles.

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Putting in the miles.

August 7, 2010

t is time to build my miles towards the marathon in October. It will be a short training period for me, two months. But I got to try. I have been running again; six miles last Wednesday at an average pace of 12:14 mins. per mile, then five miles Thursday at 12:17, and today 13 miles at 12:34.

Each time I run I visualize I am putting distance between me and my cancer. I wish I can out run this disease this time around. We will see. I try not to think about it but I know it is there, just asleep…zzz…zzz…zzz. I wish it was killed by all the chemo treatments I got but as my doctor said; there is no cure for cancer…yet.

So sleep or snore cancer cells, as you get lulled to the sound of my shuffling feet.  Shuffle…shuffle…shuffle.

I have often wondered what triggers this mutant cell to become cancerous. Genetics, food, environment; take your pick. It is devious disease.  Just sleep, ok?

Zzz.zzz…zzz

My first chemo maintenance is scheduled on August 26. I get zapped again with chemo drugs. These are sleeping pills to my cancer cells. If the plan works, it will keep my cancer at bay for the next two years. After which, perhaps I get weaned out of it.

It will be interesting to see how I react to it while I am in training. It will be a lower doze so I expect to have no or minimal side-effects. I suppose I will bear the pain no matter what.  The pain is no different from the pain I feel, when I run, from my left iliotibial band (ITB) problem.  (This is common among runners as they  in runners as their mileage).  I will get to the finish line.  I am thankful for what is given.  It is about what you have.

Man, I love life. I love my wife. I love my family. I love you.

Cheers.

PS:  I would like to thank LindsayF for dedicating her first half-marathon to me and her nana, Marge.  Hang in there, Marge.  Go ACS!

My wife, Irish, me, and Lindsay.

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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The epilogue.

August 2, 2010

just finished a kidnap-mystery book by Harlan Coben, titled “No second chance.” The epilogue told me what happened in the end when the main character got her daughter back. It reminded me of my own epilogue to my cancer story. For me it was a mixed ending; my regular chemo treatment has ended and now I begin the chemo maintenance phase.

Congratulations on finishing your treatment” Dr. M, my oncologist greeted me during our consult.

He tried to lift my spirits up because the last time I finished my treatment I was in a graduation toga. Don’t get me wrong, I am so glad I have completed my treatment with very side-effects and no hiccups along the way, but it is not the same.  Anyway, Dr. M explained to me the pros and cons of undergoing chemo maintenance. He concedes that there is no study to support chemo maintenance prevents recurrence of cancer. However, considering my case and the type of cancer that I have, he recommends it for me.

How did you handle your chemo treatments? Did you have many side-effects?” He asks.

I did not have diarrhea from Irinotecan (one of the chemo drugs). I had constant nausea and limited vomitting.” I replied

Based on this feedback, he created a plan for my chemo maintenance. The plan was to have chemo once a month with the same regiment FOLFIRI plus Avastin, but lower toxicity.  He said, the maintenance should not interfere with my lifestyle or work. If I have severe reactions to the lowered regiment, he will adjust it.

We do the chemo maintenance for the next two years and from there assess your progress, and perhaps stop it for good. Is this ok with you?”

What can I say? I thought we had a good plan and willing to try it. He has been very good to me and I trust him fully. He told me to coordinate with Edith, my nurse as to the schedule of my first chemo maintenance.

You know with this treatment plan, I will surely fail the drug test when I win the Chicago marathon this October.” I joked. Oh, well.

Cheers.

PS:  Over the weekend, my wife completed her first half-marathon she dedicated for me.  I am proud of you, babes.

She finished!

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