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Archive for October, 2010

Rule number 1


Rule number 1

October 26, 2010

wore my 2010 Chicago marathon half-zip shirt for my chemo maintenance today. It is not only to take pride as a finisher, but it is comfortable too. It is warm, light, and opens widely at the chest for Edith, my oncology nurse, to access my port-a-cath. She gets mad if it is difficult for her to get to it. I learned my lesson.

Yup, it is that day again. Chemo day.  I am totally different on days like this.  The household treads carefully around me: quiet and no cooking (I get nauseated from smell of food cooking).  My mood turns sour as the afternoon progress into evening because the drugs to control the side-effects are wearing off.  I now need to manage them on my own.  Last month was hiccups, tonight will be nausea and chills night.   I had it coming to me, I took my nausea pills late, thinking I am ironman, now I may have to pay the price.

I was ok in the morning and early afternoon, then it was all downhill, even after a short rest. Don’t get me wrong I am still nauseated while writing this post, but I need the distraction. I think I may have a plan to conquering this side-effects, since I will be doing this routine on a monthly basis. I need to make it as part of my marathon training plan or program. I don’t think there is a book out there on how to mix in chemo as part of a marathon training plan, so I will make one as I go.

  1. Don’t forget to drink your nausea pills. If you can’t eat you can’t you lose energy.  If you get weak and lethargic, you lose muscles.
  2. Hydrate.  A page out of running journals, but for me it forces you to pee. The more you pee the faster you get rid of the chemo toxins in your blood.
  3. Eat greens, fruits, and protein-rich plant based food. When you take nausea pills, it makes you constipated. Take fiber rich food to move your vowel and get rid of toxins.

    My favorite protein-rich plant based food is edemane. I consume a bag a day while working, watching TV, and yes now, while writing. I have built my leg muscle memory for three weeks, I hate losing any of them.

  4. Avoid oily foods. For me, it makes my stomach queasy and bloated.  Plus, oily foods are harder to digest.  Plus, I don’t have any more gallbladder and I do not want to over-work my remaining liver.
  5. Finally, you got to move. Whether just to get more water, more edemane, and more trips to the bathroom. I sit in my medicine ball while watching Food Network. It stimulates my appetite.

There I have my plan. Oh, no. I feel a vomit coming. STOP! I swallowed my vomit back. (sorry, I hope I did not mess up your breakfast, lunch, or dinner by the visual).  Hmm…so that’s how digested protein and fiber taste like.

I got to stop now.

Remember rule number 1, drink the damn nausea pills.

Cheers.

PS:  I dedicated this day for my friend in Vermont stricken with liver cancer.  Remember everyday is a good day.

 

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The Chicago Marathon – Reloaded Part 2 of 2

October 24, 2010

he sweeper car finally passed us at mile marker 21, just before Chinatown. I was beginning to wonder what it would be like at the finish line. I have never been in this situation before. You were suppose to finish in 6 hours 30 minutes and we were not going to make that time. I sense the disappointment in my wife, but as always we make the most of it. It is what you have at the moment. Remember last year?

Waddle…waddle…breathe…breathe.

I miss Nessie (or the Lock Ness monster) from UK. She was being carried by three runners from Scotland. They run marathons in US and Europe to raise money against cancer. I was looking for her at the starting line and along the course but somehow she has disappeared this year. Nessie is real, ok!

With Nessie missing, Mr. Eiffel showed up with his tower. Le voir? Oui?

French runner in Eiffel tower costume.

Go, Bo, Go. I would hear my name being called out. Looking good runner.”

Some spectators would call me. I gain confidence and tell myself, we can do this.

It is the first time for my wife to see the sights and sounds at the marathon. At mile marker 8 (Boys Town area), the baton twirling ‘guys’ were on stage again. Twirl those batons, girls…er, I mean guys. She love that. Then there’s Elvis singing his heart out for you at mile marker 10. I remember all the sights and sounds from last year but it is so cool to share it this time with my wife.

Now, we are really sharing the pain at mile marker 22. My wife tells me that her left plantar (forefoot) is bothering her. We are almost there with 4 miles to go. I was relieved that there is still water and gatorade at water stations we pass. I was spent.  It is just too hot.  They were giving out energy gels for runners but no more bananas, oranges, or water sponges. The Chicago Fire Department started opening up the fire hydrants along the way and sprayed mist to cool off the runners.

Just 4 miles. I was heads down and ignored all the cheers coming my way. Come on legs, move with me. Don’t walk just put one foot forward.

How can this last 4 miles can be so painful? It also means one more hour of agonizing running in the heat.  One more bleeping hour of punishment. This last push is all mental. Let’s see what I got left. Oh, I hang on like I hang on waiting for my chemo to finish. I hate chemo. This one is for you, Marge (she passed away from pancreatic cancer).  I am here because of your sacrifice.

My wife is already silent too but she does not stop. She can be stubborn and funny.  I remember several hours ago when we were at the starting line.

You did what?” I said.

The lines in the bathroom was long and I could not hold it anymore, so I pee’d in the bushes. I saw this one lady doing it, so I said, to hell with it. I found my spot and let go.” My wife said, visibly relieved.

The visual was so funny; an exposed ass (or arse for my UK friends). Well, after this she is a seasoned marathoner. I made a mental note to include sanitizing gel in my pack next time. Who cares!

The crowd went silent as the national anthem was played. It was wall-to-wall people. The corral was so full of people that you cannot move and there were still many more runners trying to get into the corral. I was standing there drowned among 45,000 runners who does not even know my story. I am sure they have their own story as to why they are running.  I love it.

Then, I hear the starting horn blast and it electrified the crowd.  The excitement surged from the front to the back of the corral. My adrenaline was pumped and the crowd started to move forward to a slow crawl.

I feel like I am really crawling now. My adrenaline was spent many hours ago, even whatever reserved glycogen I have left. My wife is getting impatient because each mile seems to be taking longer. Most runners are just walking now. We have been running for more than 6 hours. Where is the next mile marker? What is it now? 23? 24? 25?

There were still people in the street cheering you. Who knows how long they have been out here too, cheering for their family, friends, or stranger. I think that is how my cancer journey feels like. I have met people who have cheered for me and gave me hope. Nameless faces who want me to succeed in finishing the marathon and fight cancer. They have lined up the course, like you have lined up for me and cheered.

Go Bo go. You can beat this cancer. You are inspirational.”

My wife and I pushed on. We are almost there. We just passed mile marker 26, we turn right towards Roosevelt Road and it is an incline. My legs feel the strain of the uphill but my wife does not. She surge forward ahead of me and I try to stay with her.

The crowd surge forward to the starting line. We walk slowly trying avoid discarded clothes, water bottles, energy gels in the corral. Loud music was playing…’Start it up’ by Rolling Stones. Sign boards being waved by spectators while trying to look for friends or family. They call out their names.

I hear somebody call my name. I turn to see my colleagues (Art, Jim, Rodney, and Ravi) from work where there cheering for me, all holding a camera to capture my run to finish line or me being left behind by my wife. What a moment. I wave to acknowledge them and turn to chase (or beg my wife to slow down). Let’s go, Kenyan.

Wait, babes!” I called out instead.

I see the starting line. We were so far back from the starting line, that it was taking us almost 30 minutes just to get there. I see the TV overhead cameras now. I hope they capture my start.

The start

Come on, babes, we are almost there.” She calls to me.

She is all adrenaline now and I am all in pain. My hamstring seized up from the uphill. We turn left to Columbus Drive and we are 200 meters from the finish. I don’t remember the start or how long we have been running.

I see my brother, Rene, in the spectator stands patiently waiting for us near the finish line. I wave and smile but it hid the fact that I was all cramping up. So close and yet so far. My wife heard my desperate call.

I have leg cramps. I need help.”

I hope Mom is watching the start at home but knowing her she might still be in church. I told the wife to look at the overhead cameras and we might be seen in TV. Our fleeting 5-seconds of fame. We raise our hands to wave. Hello, world.

Woohoo! Timer reads 7:55:35. The race officially started at 7:30.

She stopped and waited for me. She held out her hand. I felt your confidence, your cheers, your joy, and your support. I strain to the finish line, afraid that I might fall over from cramps.  That will be my youtube-moment.  I will my legs to move.  I grip the hand of my wife tightly as my left calf seized up.  One last gasp from Mr. Pain.  Damm you, Mr. Pain.  My wife and I held hands crossing the finish line and with my other hand…I raise a finger.  Up yours, Mr. Pain.  Not this time, bitch.  We finished in 6:53:08.

The Finishers with medal

 

 

 

Thank you. Thanks for being there for me.

Cheers.

 

 

 

 

Epilogue:

I was tired and sore. As we walked pass the finish line I was looking ahead if they were still giving out medals. We did not make the cut-off time but we got our medals together with all the unforgettable memories of 10-10-10. We met up with my family back at the ACS tent and exchanged war stories and got some goodies, then headed home where Mom prepared a seafood banquet for us.

Will I do it again? In a heart beat, yes. I would take the pain of running again and again. Each mile I run is a victory for life. Each mile gives me hope that some day they will find a cure of cancer. I still shed tears for those lives claimed by cancer. They remind me how fragile life can be.  I will continue to run and tell their stories as well.

P.S. I have fully recovered.  Today, my wife and I ran 7 miles but on Tuesday, October 26, I will have my chemo maintenance again.  Cancer sucks.

 

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The Chicago Marathon – Reloaded: Part 1 of 2

October 16, 2010

(Note: The title is a takeoff from Matrix 2 or The Matrix Reloaded since this was my second time to run Chicago)

You cannot tell if somebody is already suffering or in pain from the outside, much like cancer. I was definitely in pain. I have done this before but I don’t remember having this much pain. My legs and my knees were really angry at me. We have been having an argument since mile marker 15.

Stop running! You can’t make it. I will just give you more pain. Give it up. Why suffer? Think of how many more miles you have to go. It is hot and you still have a long way to go. Just give up.” Mr. Pain mockingly said to me.

Damm you, SOB. You pick the wrong guy to give cancer to and the wrong runner to mess with. I own you…bitch. I am running this marathon to bring you out of your cowardly hole. I am here with my friends, family, and ACS to tell you that the pain you give me is temporary and we will fight you.” I replied.

Waddle…waddle…breathe…breathe.

It was definitely hot (about 84F or 29C at mid-afternoon).  I have been hydrating at each water stop and would pour water on my head and neck to cool off.  The sun was beating down on you, so I just run silent and kept to myself.  Also, I was watching my heart monitor which reads 147 bpm at the slow pace of 15:53 min./mile.  Oh, boy.  I am in trouble.  My body was stressed out and we were just at mile marker 19.

Are you ok, hon?” my wife, Irish, asks.

Yes” was my short answer. I did not want to worry her.  I want this one so bad for myself and for her.

My day did not start this way.

Beep..beep…beep. The alarm goes off and the time reads 4:00 am. It’s marathon time. It was like Christmas morning. I have waited for this day to arrive, marathon day, 10-10-10. What an auspicious day. It is the time to find out what I am made of after all the treatments.

I went through my morning rituals of dressing for the run; nipple tape, body glide (to prevent rashes), shorts, shirt, socks, shoes, and bib. I also got my Garmin GPS watch, fuel belt, energy gels, id, and money.

My family gave us a nice send off at home. There will be three of us who will be running, my wife (her first time to run a marathon), my youngest brother, Raul, who came all the way from Manila, and myself. I am stoked.

 

10-10-10 sendoff

 

Concentrate on your pace, Bo. The first 18 miles was a blur now the hard work begins. There are more spectators now along the course than last year. The good weather brought them out but it is a bane for runners.  We saw my other brother, Rene (who also flew from Manila), my sister, Rubi (from Toronto), and my daugther, Abby, cheering for us.  The siblings were complete.

Oh, Mr. Pain is at is again. This time he brought the devil along to taunt me.

“Give it up, Bo! Do you see that car, about a mile, behind you? That’s the sweeper car. That car marks the end of the race.”

“Mother@#$!%&” I cursed.

I told my wife about the flashing car behind us displaying the course timer. The car was passing a lot of runners. There were still a lot of runners behind us, most of them walking now.  With a determined look in her face she said to me.

Come on, hon. We can’t let that car pass us. I want our medals.”

We picked up our pace. I did the math in my mind, with about 6 miles to go at our current 14:00 min/mile pace, it was not going to happen.  Not today.  Rejoice, Kenyans.  We lost a lot of time in this heat and Mr. Pain and his cohorts were really making their presence felt. I did not have the heart to tell her.

End of Part 1.

Cheers.

P.S. The 2009 Chicago Marathon winner and 2008 Olympic champion, Sammy Wanjiru (Kenya), won again in 2:06:24.  2008 Bronze Olympic medalist Tsegaye Kedebe (Ethiopia) came in second with a time of 2:06:43.  See the unbelievable finish.

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We did it.


We did it.

October 10, 2010

just want to make a short note that my wife and I did it.  We crossed the finished line together.

It was painful but totally worth it.  Unofficial time was about 7 hours.  My legs was so painful and cramping.  Oh pain, we really had a major argument crossing the finish line but you did not win.

I will write again.  Thanks for being there.

Cheers.

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10-10-10

October 4, 2010

y journey is almost over–again. This Sunday, October 10, I will be at the starting line of the Chicago marathon. This time I will be there with my wife.

We had our tapering run this morning and we began to recollect all the things that have happened to me. All for the opportunity of standing at the starting line one more time. A gift given to me.

It all started with my PET scan results in November 2009 (see posting ‘It’s back’), a month after I finished the Chicago Marathon. I learned that my cancer had metastized to my liver. From there, I went through chemoembolization in December 2009 (see posting ‘At the starting line with Dr. B’), six-months of chemotherapy from January to July 2010, and a liver resection in-between treatments in April 2010 (see posting ‘Right liver lobectomy, Part 1 of 2 -The morphine button‘ and ‘Right liver lobectomy, Part 2 of 2 – The fart‘). I gave up part of my colon (colon cancer March 2008) and right liver fighting this cancer, plus my gallbladder as a “collateral” victim (see posting ‘Dude, where’s my gallbladder?‘).

You went through a lot this year, hon. Your body took a lot and it is amazing you are still standing up.” She said to me as we ran.

It was a perfect morning for a short run. Morning mist was covering the ground. There was a morning chill but it was refreshing.

Waddle…waddle. Breath…breath.

And on Sunday, you are going to run the Chicago marathon.” She adds.

Well, let’s not forget you also. You are about to run your first marathon too.” I replied.

It is amazing where my journey has taken me. I practically wrote off running Chicago this year when I found out that my cancer was back. I did the math. Six-months of chemo means two months left to train for 26.2 miles. I know I have Kenyan blood but I don’t think it will work. If I can’t finish it, I would like to stand at the starting line and soak it all in, surrounded by 45,000 other runners. Yeah, baby!

But that changed along the way. I am going to give the Kenyan runners a run for their money this Sunday. My cancer came back but I am back as well. I am back because of you. You help me with your prayers, shared tears and joy, encouragement, dedication, medical advice, nursing and rehab care, surgical skills, and never ending faith in me.

I am running again because of your help. I know you will be there for me. You are with me now. Feel the exhilaration and the energy of anticipation. Like Christmas morning or getting the keys to your new car but in a much simpler terms. As simple as a new breath, which we take for granted. The gift of breath. That’s the gift of life.  Live well and run well.  Thanks for cheering for me.

Cheers.

PS.  My bib number is 21211.  You can track me by text messages to your mobile phones in US, Canada, and International.

http://www.textinterface.com/pls/text/tf_bacm_dt

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