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Archive for September, 2010


Guess where I am?

September 28, 2010

ell, I am having my second chemo maintenance treatment now. Can you hear it?

Drip…drip…drip. The constant drip is regulated by the infusion pump and it would just beep noisily once a bag of chemo drug is finished. So far so good. Over the weekend, I had asked my oncologist, Dr. M, to taper a bit the toxicity of my chemo maintenance. With the marathon coming in two weeks, I wanted to have a faster recovery. Besides, I notice a significant weakening of my leg muscles when I am on treatment.

“Just tell them to lower it by 15%” he said to me.

“Thanks, doc.”

The deal was just for this month’s treatment, but for next month it will be back up again. Oh well. I’ll take it.

Since the 20 miler last September 19, my miles are slowly going down as part of the tapering for the marathon. I ran the 20 miler with my wife. She surprised me that she completed the 20 miler too. Both of us had sore knees but we did it.

My chemo is almost done. One more bag and I am done. Will write again.

“Wake up, Abby (my daughter)”.

You can’t find good caregivers now a days.  They sleep more than their patient and they crowd you in your bed.  What’s up with that!  😮

With this chemo drug in my system, I am certain to fail the drug test should I win the marathon.  Rejoice, Kenyans.

Cheers.

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Mowing the lawn.

September 17, 2010

I apologize for this delayed posting.  The verdict: the mass in my left breast was not malignant and did not warrant a biopsy. Whew! Another bullet dodged.

Let me repeat the good news, the test result was negative for malignant tumor. Woohoo!

The doctor said I should continue to be observant for any change in my body.  Cancer has me very aware of any subtle changes.  I observe any discoloration in my nails, pattern changes in my stool movement, any abnormal lumps, and pain in my abdomen.  They always remind you that early detection is key to fighting cancer.  Now, I know how to do breast self-examination.

It is like mowing the lawn.” Nurse Michelle explains.

She was tasked with educating me on how to do a breast self-examination.  This is embarrassing for me.  I feel like being let in on a dirty secret.

Use the flat pads of your three middle finger, in a bowing position, as you move up and down your chest. Like mowing the lawn.” She demonstrates the action for me.

“Now you do it.”

Breast exam

Oh..oh.  But I don’t do lawns, it is taken cared of by the condo association. I comply nonetheless. Using three levels of pressure (light, medium, and deep) I make small circles in a small area then move to the next area going up and down, up and down. So this is how women do it. This cancer has taken me to place I never thought I would experience. Okay, ladies, we have something in common now. I know how to do breast exams. Hehe…

My wife met me at the hospital’s waiting area and was very happy about the results of my exams. Thank you, Lord.  We survive another challenge.

Cheers.

P.S. What’s next? The last long run before tapering off, a 20 miler, this Sunday, September 19.  Then, my monthly chemo maintenance before the race.  What a life.

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Running in the rain.


Running in the rain.

September 13, 2010

Note: Play the music video below while reading.

ave you ever played in the rain? I have forgotten how good it felt to play in the rain, or and in my case, it was running in the rain. It brought my thought far enough to go sailing away…

“I’m sailing away, set an open course for the virgin sea, ’cause I’ve got to be free, free to face the life that’s ahead of me.” – Styx

It started out as a drizzle when my wife and I started on our Saturday morning long run. The temperature was about 60F at around 6:00 am. The goal was to do 14 miles but she was having knee problems, so she decided to do a 10 miles instead, while I completed the 14 miles.

Since it was drizzling, the pathways were less congested.  The pace groups were smaller too. Some runners and bikers may have bailed out. Chicken! What’s a little rain.

As always, we started slow (14 minute pace), ahead of the pace group so as not to hold them off.  We talked about my upcoming biopsy procedure. I could not help think about it and it is always good for me to get this out of me. With her nursing background, it gives me confidence that she will be there to take good care of me, as always.  I can see possible surgery for me to remove the mass in my left breast, whether it is benign or not.  I told her that I know I have been lucky but somehow I get this feeling that based on probabilities, my luck will run out.

“On board, I’m the captain, so climb aboard, we’ll search for tomorrow on every shore, and I’ll try, oh Lord, I’ll try to carry on.”

Nonsense, she said.  She does not like me to talk this way.

Well, I suppose I could not help it.  I guess this feeling is normal too. It is a manifestation of my anxiety when I am unable to control events or at their mercy. The irony is I don’t think I was ever in control of my destiny anyway. We are just here for the ride, for me, it is a roller coaster ride. Did I ever tell you I don’t do roller coasters.  Scary stuff, ya kno’.  Similarly, I don’t like getting wet because it messes up my clothes, soaks up my socks, and does not justice to whatever hair I have left. Who want to appear like a wet sod.

“A gathering of angels appeared above my head, they sang to me this song of hope and this is what they said.”

Loosen up, Bo.  Forget about destiny or the biopsy.  Feel the rain against your face. See the droplets trickle down the visor of your running hat. Drench your soul to fill the void of your anxiety. Splash the puddles to refresh those tired feet.  Taste the essence of life.  Soak it all in!

Splash…splash…shuffle…shuffle…come sail away your troubles…come sail away with me.

Alas, I felt like a kid running in the rain through mile marker 9, then 10… It was pouring and I was wet all over. It literally brought back memories of my childhood when I was playing in the streets of Manila during a heavy downpour of the monsoon rains.  Not a care in the world,  just pure enjoyment.  I was happy and soaked, soaked to my socks.

Then an aha moment!  We have stopped appreciating the beauty of rain or life itself. They are not an inconvenience. It is a nourishing gift.  It nourishes plants, trees, all living things, and if we allow it: it can nourish our soul.  I get it.

Cheers

Go ACS

P.S. Like before my treatments, I plan to run tomorrow before going to the hospital.  Bring it on, baby.

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Is it fibroadenoma or breast cancer?

September 10, 2010

(NOTE: Yesterday, September 9, I went to visit my oncologist unannounced for a consult.)

ell, you know breast cancer is better than colon cancer.” Dr. M, my oncologist, tells me with his usual directness but means well.  He tells me this as checks the lump around my left nipple.

For the past couple of weeks I felt this lump in my left nipple. At first I thought it was due to an irritation caused by nipple rash from running long miles. Since then I have protected my nipples with Body Glide (anti-chafe balm) and Bandaid. The irritation subsided but the lump stayed.

Let me feel your left armpit.” He instructed.

I feel a small lymph node in there.” He adds.

Oh shit, I thought. Not again. I saw the anxiety coming across the face of my wife. For a moment, I saw her spirit deflate then she tried to recover. I just came back from my trip, dropped my bags at home, and asked her to accompany me to Dr. M.

Don’t worry. We can treat this. Breast cancer in men are rare; about 2 in a million. In all my experience, you maybe just the second one. Let’s do an ultra-sound guided biopsy procedure done to rule this out. We need to schedule it as soon a possible.”

I am tired, doc. I need some peace.” I blurted out.

I know, Bo. It is in your genes.  Don’t lose hope.  We can treat this.” He said.

I love this guy. His is blunt but his warmth grows on you. I remember meeting him the first time in March 2008 and he used the C-word on me right away, not knowing I didn’t know that I had cancer. Ooops.

My mind is again trying to absorb the shock or the potential shock of this new finding. When will it stop? When? I try to minimize the risk of it coming back by eating healthy, run and exercise, and once a month chemo maintenance program.  How could this nightmare happen again?  Now, I am looking at a biopsy and perhaps more surgery to remove the lump in my left breast. Then what? More chemo? Radiation? Ugh. What the F@#$!

One at a time. One mile marker at a time, Bo.

Dr. M asks me if it is ok if his medical students come and checks me. I suppose this is their chance to diagnose a man with potential breast cancer. A rare specimen in front of them. Anything to help educate people on cancer. Two medical students feel my breast and armpits. Then they check my stomach with all my incisions. Now, I know how a cadaver feels.

Then I imagining myself should they remove my left breast. I would have so many scars; one from colon resection, another from liver resection, and maybe left breast removal. Now, I will really look like Frankenstein when bare-chested next summer. I also will have something in common with my friend LisaK, a breast cancer survivor.  Only, she had implants done when they removed her breast…hmm, I wonder if I can. Wow, strike that thought.

So what’s next? Right now, an ultra-sound guided biopsy this Tuesday, September 14. Another Tuesday date. Then the verdict. Fibroadenoma (benign) or breast cancer.  I am not taking bets.

Tomorrow is my group run, 14 miles. Quality time with my wife.  Peace and solitude.  Pain bonding time.  My happy place where nobody can touch me.  I just got to make sure my nipples are protected until Tuesday.

Cheers.

P.S.  Today, I watched Standup2cancer show.  I watch this every year and support it.  It brings home the message for those of us living with cancer.  Thanks.

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18 miles twice over.

September 5, 2010

“think I am going to do another 18 miles for tomorrow’s training run.” I said to the wife Friday night.

I don’t think it surprised her because she saw I was getting stronger in my runs. It was only last weekend, Saturday, August 28, that we did a painful 18 mile run. Runners are a glutton for pain. I came across this quote from Steve Prefontaine, an American running icon in the 70’s:

“of all the reason to run, it always comes to self-satisfaction and a sense of achievement.”

Yes, a sense of achievement.  It is when you feel the intense pain and push yourself not to give. Just one more stride, then another.  Difficult to understand but true. My last 18 mile run was awfully painful and it was just three-days after my first chemo maintenance treatment. The last two miles was just hard to maintain a 12 minute pace. My legs were cramping, and I was huffing and puffing as I waddle along, delirious of my surrounding. To get me motivated I imagined the chemo toxin coming out of my pores.

Oh pain…you and I have to be good buddies come marathon day. Come on let’s do some more bonding.

So I came back for more yesterday: another 18 miles (28.8Km). What’s up with that? It is for self-satisfaction, to find out if I can do it again. And I did it. This time around Mr. Pain and I were bonding. I finished faster and stronger. Although at mile marker 13, I thought my left ITB was going to give me a problem but it calm down after I stopped and stretch. A sense of achievement. Yes!

I got myself new running shoes or trainers (as others would say). It was a good time to break-it-in in time for the marathon next month. It is an Asics Gel Nimbus 12, an upgraded model of my old one. I love it. Also, the asymetric shoe lacing design (slanted) gives the toe box more room. After running 18 miles with it, my feet did not complaint which is good.

My work schedule is keeping me away from keeping up with my blog. Good thing I don’t do this professionally. Tomorrow, I am going to Austin, TX on business. My first business trip since coming back to work. Yee..haw, cowboy.

Cheers.

ASICS Gel Nimbus 12

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