Archive for July, 2011

Its on!

Its on!

July 27, 2011

have a date with destiny tomorrow. In preparation for my one-year anniversary from my last full chemo treatment, I called my oncologist to ask for a PET/CT scan referral.  It was this time last year that I was completing my sixth and final chemo cycle (see my July 26, 2011 post “Our last dance…school’s out!”). Since then, I have been having monthly chemo as a maintenance treatment.

I can’t believe it has been a year.

Hi, Mr. Alvarez. This is the hospital calling. Your insurance approved your PET scan procedure and we are ready to schedule you. Are you available tomorrow?” called the hospital.

Oh baby…it is on!

I have been waiting (and dreading) for this day. It will mean the success of the program my doctor put me through, giving me hope that I maybe released from the shackles of monthly chemo maintenance.  I do not mean to sound ungrateful but cancer and the treatments that goes with it…sucks.  Tomorrow will validate that I got this far because of my doctors, my family, and you.

I am looking for a clean scan.

That means I have to skip my early morning run tomorrw. That’s ok, I managed to put in 7 miles today. Hopefully, that is enough to get me through the scheduled 13 mile group run this weekend. I will give it my best, and for tomorrow, I can only hope for the best.


Hit it, Ricky!



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The marathon of cancer

July 19, 2011

he July issue of Runner’s World magazine is special to me. It is their Outrunning Cancer  feature issue which profiles cancer survivors along with their stories and struggles; prominent among them is Lance Amstrong, who will be running the Chicago marathon this October.  Welcome to my town, Lance.

I was delighted about this issue because it gave me a sense of belonging. To me it is about the stories of the ordinary people, not famous ones. Its is about their passion for running and the daily struggles of fighting cancer. There is John Tomac, a graphic artist, who found renewed passion for running and his solemn acceptance that cancer has no cure. It is part of him, he says. Dawn Viar, cancer survivor from Portland is set to run her first marathon.  She took up running to give her a ‘sense of control’. Or Christine Cottey, breast cancer survivor, who found it liberating when she took off her scarf that covered her bald head as she ran a race.  You go, girl.

Others, who are not survivors, tell the story of their motivation to honor those who have cancer by running for the cause. I know the feeling. I know a couple of people who are highly motivated to do something for their love one or a dear friend. Some would volunteer their time if running is not their interest. I think it heals them as much as it heals us, cancer survivors. Indeed.

Whatever the reason, it is all about taking your life back. It is about making us whole again inspite of our fragility, weakness, or disease. Running does that to me…a sense of being complete and alive.

So now, I have been slowly building my miles. I am now up to 22 miles for my weekly totals. My knees are holding out (thanks to Jamie, my PT) but I still have a long way to go. The thing about running is you have to suffer now so you will not suffer during and after the race. Sounds counter-intuitive but that’s the way it works. You got to put in something before you can take something out. If you take this to heart, your life can be easier.

Lastly, I need help raising money for American Cancer Society.  If you can help, follow the link above.


P.S.  Noreen, I am thinking about you.  Stay strong.

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Back to reality.

4th of July

ometimes I make it too hard for myself. It is all because of being caught up with life. I was just back from a business trip in Manila, where I saw my mom and siblings. It has been a wonderful one-month trip. Of course, there were long hours due to work, but it was all worth it.

On the long flight back to Chicago, I had all sorts of things I was thinking of to tell you about my trip. There was a 21k race my brother and I ran as ‘bandits’ wherein I got lost and ended up in a different race event at their 8K finish line. Or the rain soaked weekend at a local beach resort due to a typhoon. Or the traveler’s diarrhea I endured and a trip to a doctor for some tests and meds. Sounds disastrous?

Nope. It was all about the moment. The blessing. Or the chance to spend some time with my mom and family. It is…what it is. I was suppose to have chemo, as part of my monthly maintenance, but I skipped it. Don’t worry, I had permission from my oncologist. The point is: I was given a chance to work for the first time in the country of my birth and at the same time spend some time with the family. How cool is that?

If I was not given that chance, I would still be happy because I am here: still among you.

Tomorrow, I take my seat among the other cancer patients at the hospital who will be there for their chemo treatments. And, as the first drop of that chemo toxin enter my blood stream, and lull me to sleep, I will remember the wonderful time I had in Manila. I will remember the people I met, worked with, shared meals and laughter. Tomorrow will be a good day.


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