Archive for January, 2012

Biographies of life.

January 26, 2012

am currently reading the biography of Einstein: His Life and Universe by Walter Isaacson. He is the timeless rockstar of Physics, the father of the theory of relativity, and normally associated with a person of genius-like qualities. I love reading biographies because it shows the qualities of a person when faced with challenges and their weaknesses as well.

Einstein gave up his German citizenship early in life because he was rebelling against the government before WW I but accepted it again for a tenure at University of Berlin later in life. Steve Jobs rejected chemo treatments for seven months only to accept it again when his cancer has spread. Both based their decisions founded on the values they have acquired early on.

Similiarly, I am sure I can name a few of my own decision that led to good results and not so good results. I made them because I believe in them. The next couple of weeks will be a challenge and would test my steadfastness. I have completed six cycles of chemotherapy and need to complete six more. I will not have chemo this week, instead I will have my PET scan this Wednesday, February 1. A re-staging of my cancer to see if I am responding. A clear scan would mean I am responding but that does not mean I am cancer-free.

I have been in this situation before. A clear scan does not mean anything to my nasty ‘friends’ because they hide. I have asked my oncologist to give me everything his got for next half of my treatment. I believe I can win this and I know it will be more painful. Perhaps this my Einstein or Steve Jobs moment. I am not expecting to win a Nobel prize or revolutionize the digital world. I just want to be cancer-free.

Cancer-free or not, I have a piece good news. I will be running the 2012 NYC marathon November 4, 2012. Woohoo! For the past four years, I have been among the first to signup in the lottery to run NYC with no luck. Then it happened. I was stunned. Up to know I still keep looking at the notice of my entry because I could not believe I am in. Perhaps reality will set in when I am at the starting line along with 45,000 other runners and hear the boom of the canon to start the race.  It will be fun. To all my NY area friends and colleagues, I will be there…cancer-free or not.


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Half-way done (Round 6).

January 16, 2011

f this was a half-marathon, I am done this week. Tomorrow will be my 6th of the 12 cycle chemotherapy program. I’ve had my ups and down but somehow, I managed to get through it. I am still standing up and ready for whatever this disease throw at me.

Along the way, I came to understand myself and prioritize what is important. For instance, during my recovery week each food I take must be meaningful for quick recovery. Yes, meaningful is the key word and when applied across the board it takes a whole new perspective. A warm voice from my colleagues, a kind gesture to help me supplied with anti-nausea meds, or even a consoling hug from friends, gives new meaning for somebody thirsting for reassurance that things will turn out fine.

I guess there will always be uncertainty.  I understand that.  It is just that my foe (cancer) has taken many lives and I am not about to concede anything.

Which brings me to tomorrow. You have things to do and priorities. I have mine. All this will not matter if we don’t put meaning to each task, each relationship, or each day. It is not just walking to the store to buy something, it is about walking to the store and appreciating the sun, wind, or rain.  Ironically, for me tomorrow is all about the fresh taste of chemo toxins. Ha!

I will see you on the other side.


P.S. Did not do any running this week but did some chore work and cycling sessions.

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On the attack.

January 10, 2012

couldn’t believe the energy I had this morning at my 5:15 am spinning class. I was angry and was taking it out on the bike. I was imagining myself attacking a hill on the climbs, then pushing, jarring, and coaxing the bike for the last sprint to the finish.

I hate cancer!

That’s payback, sucker. I am still up after you gave it your best shot.

Saturday early morning:

I drink my anti-nausea pill, Zofran. Oh no, only two left. I need to have this refilled. Nausea woke me up from an unrestful sleep and it is threatening to take over my day. My chemo ended Thursday, as usual, and I got my usual dose of vitamin infusion right after (given by my wife) to help me recover. Then, an injection of Neulasta Friday to boost my immunity.  I thought I was set for normal recovery.

Wrong. Very wrong. Nothing is normal this Saturday early morning. The house is quite but I am very nauseated. Got to eat. I crawl to the fridge careful not to disturb the wife sleeping and started with yogurt. It kept for a while, then out it goes. Ah, nothing like the taste of vomit to perk up your morning. I struggle throughout the day of trying to keep food in my stomach with apples, soup, bread, grapes, cherries, smoothies, whatever. My normal recover diet is not working. Each time I thought I make slow progress, out it goes. WTF.

My patience is getting short. My wife has never seen me this way before; struggling to cope, balled up in front of a plastic basin, nose dripping, mouth frothed with saliva and stomach mucous. She warns me if I keep this up she will bring me to the hospital. I snap and stubbornly said “NO!” I am so tired of being sick and I do not need another place where there are sick people. In solitude, I bear the pain staring blankly in front of the TV. I should not be hard on her. In all honesty, she is my life. I need her. A hospital bed would keep me from feeling her warmth beside me.  That’s the truth.

My meds are not working and it is almost gone. She calls the pharmacy for refills, then of course nothing is simple. Insurance problem. I have new insurance for the year. From the pharmacy she calls me, do have the new prescription card, babes? I don’t know, I replied in even tone holding down the frustration in my voice. The pharmacy is about to close too. Not my day, I guess. She pays the full price.

She tells me she will go to her hospital and get some saline solution for me. By now it is night-time and she finds me in the sofa recovering and have not eaten. Armed with two liters of saline solution and a paraphernalia of tubings and needles, she arranges everything as if I am in the ER. She is on a mission. She dismantles the curtain rod that was tied to our headboard, which we use to hang my vitamin infusion, then ties it to the back of the dining chair that she dragged beside the sofa in our living room. She hooks a liter of saline and connects all the tubings.

This is going to hurt, she tells me as she surveys my left hand for a good vein to stick. She ties a tourniquet, steadies my hand, sticks the needle, aims for the vein but it rolls. She pushes and chases the vein, then it collapse. That hurts. You are dehydrated, she tells me. You veins are rubbery and apologizes for hurting me more since I am already suffering. She moves to my right hand, surveys it, and feels something. She uses a smaller needle, since it is deep, and goes after it. I close my eyes expecting the worst. Success!

Back to present:

As I spin away, I look back at the events after finishing two liters of saline solution. I thought my agony had ended when I started to stabilized and got some intermittent sleep that night, but then comes diarrhea. I managed to contain it through the weekend. I gained back my strength and even made to a yoga class with mask on for protection. Now, I am attacking this hill in my spinning class . Push. Push. Push. I want to punish this cancer for putting me through the painful meat grinder. It even made me lashed out to those who love and care for me. I am going to kill this SOB. FU, cancer! It is payback time and I am also giving it to you full price. I HATE CANCER!

It was a good workout this morning. The sun was just rising when I finished too. New day. Another chance on life.

I lost 3.4 pounds. I need to gain it back by Tuesday. My stomach has shrunk from all the vomit contraction but I am slowly eating my way back. Today, after that hard workout, breakfast was a pancake along with a three-egg cheese omelette, then later I snacked on half a bag of edemame pods with green tea while working. For lunch, baked mac n cheese I made with egg wide-noodles, fontina, mozzarella, and parmessan cheese, then I snacked on apples and edemame again. For dinner, a bowl of lentil vegetable soup with toasted garlic bread and finish off with fresh avocado with milk as dessert. But wait…as I was writing this I craved for pasta, Maggiano’s spaghetti marinara and some calamari fritos. Done. After posting this, I think I will have ice cream before going to sleep.

Whoa is me. I am going to do this eating again tomorrow…sucks (joke). Life is good.


P.S.  I think I have used up all my allotted profanity for the year.  Sorry, mom, I promise to go to confession this Sunday.

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Here we go again. (Round 5)

January 2, 2012

m almost to the half-way mark. Tomorrow will be my fifth round of chemo. I need to complete six rounds of chemo treatments after which we re-stage. This means I need another PET/CT scan to see if I am responding to the current treatment. We are looking for the shrinking of the six nodules in my lungs, at best no nodules at all. Yes!

But as they say, we take it one step at a time and perhaps enjoy the moment. Last Saturday, my wife and I did six miles at the lakefront. It was a beautiful sunny but cold day. There were other runners taking advantage of day but I think most of them are Boston-bound (Boston marathon April 16). I can only dream of qualifying for Boston or maybe I run use Frank’s qualifying time (see related post ‘I am ready‘)…hehe.

Another dream is running NYC marathon. Well today they opened up the lottery registration so I signed up. This is my fourth time to enter the lottery and hopefully I get lucky this year. If not, there is always next year. Yes, one must never lose hope, like I will be cancer-free some day. Not today, definitely not tomorrow, but one of this day.


P.S.  The plan is to attend my 5:15 am spinning class then go to the cancer center to ‘gas’ up.  🙂  Have a good day.

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