Archive for February, 2014


Giving up an inch is like giving up on hope

February 19, 2014

It moved again.  My CEA (tumor) count went up again—slightly, as my nurse told me.  True.  An incremental .10 increase is small compared to a full point increase so I should not be worrying.  (Note:  I had another blood test a week after when my platelet were low to check if I have recovered and if there are any CEA activity).

If you follow the Sochi Olympic or any world class events, the difference between a gold, silver, bronze or a world record is measured by centimeters, inches, or micro-seconds.  At this level of competition it requires years of dedication and sacrifice.  Everything must be perfect the moment you step on the ice or the starting line of an elite marathon event.  You don’t give an inch, a micro-second, or a goal until it is time.

Similarly, I may not be a world class athlete but each time I give up an incremental increase in my tumor count, I feel robbed.  I hate it.  I have made many sacrifices and my cancer still manage to shave off something out of me.  It is slowly thinning out my hope for cure.  Besides I don’t have anything to spare especially when my CEA count is more than 100% beyond the normal threshold.

I am not giving up.

Today, I consulted with doctors at the University of Chicago (U of C) Hospital to see what are the possible cancer trial programs open for me there.  I am now looking at experimental drugs that might fit me.  Like all consultations I have done from Mayo to MD Anderson, and now U of C, there are only possibilities and hope.  This is the nature of cancer: there are many elements to consider.

They believe that my immunity is strong that I am able to co-exist with my cancer or that my cancer is weak.  They also believe that the CEA tumor count can be misleading.  To settle matter, they recommend a CT scan for comparative analysis. This way it will be conclusive if my CEA count is giving me false positive readings.  A growth in my tumor means my CEA count is giving me the right signal; otherwise, they are treated as noise.

They also believe I can fit into an immuno-therapy trial because of my profile.  It is like weaponizing my immune system to target my cancer.  Or I try this other chemo pill.  So, there are options and possibilities which is all what I can hope for.

It also means I have just broaden my team to help me beat my cancer at world class level.  I willing to do the work and make any sacrifice to take back that inch I was robbed.  It starts tomorrow, when go back to my unfinished chemo.


P.S.  A surprise “care package” came in yesterday from my German friend FrankH.  I appreciate it.  Thanks.  (I wrote about FrankH in a post dated November 7, ‘I am ready.’)

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Snow day for me.
February 7, 2014

Y“You make it to February there is a good chance the change or resolution will be lasting.”  I wrote that in my previous post due to optimism brought in by a new month.  I should have added new challenges too.

Yesterday, I got sent home early from my “chemo” school.  I was far into my drug-induced dream and have received several CCs of chemo, when my wife woke me up and said:

“ The lab called and your platelets are low.  They are stopping your chemo.”

Low platelet counts mean I am prone to bleeding.  Chemotherapy can cause your platelets to go down, there is a certain threshold that they don’t cross and I just crossed it.  I sometime have nose bleeds before and my body can still take it, but this time it is risky.

My first thought was now, with a skip in my heart beat, was my CEA (tumor count).

“How is my CEA?” I asked my wife.  “Not back from the lab only the platelet count was called ahead.”  In a testy voice, I said. “Are you sure you are not hiding anything from me?”

My nurse, Edith, assured me the CEA count has not come in yet and that my doctor is coming to talk to me.  These talks make me nervous but he just told me the same.  We stop for now, rest, and re-schedule.  It’s a snow day for me.

Later in the afternoon, my nurse called to tell me the results of my CEA count: high.  It went up.

February just turned cold.


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January is the month of change
February , 2014


February is the month of lasting change.  That came from the article by Marc Parent of Runner’s World magazine.  January to me is an important month; I was given a bad prognosis January 2013.  I look at January as a month of renewal, and for some a month of resolution.  It is also littered with failures past.

That’s why February is the month of lasting change.  You make it to February there is a good chance the change or resolution will be lasting.  Recently, one of the change I made was to give up coffee again, and this time tea.  My relationship is with coffee is like a recovering addict.  I have given up coffee long ago (2010), then I fell off the wagon.  I know the comparison is not the same as drugs or alcohol but I can relate to it as a wildly available temptation.  But I try my best not to give it, even when I am in Starbucks.

I have these experiments in my mind.  Can I make it this week without coffee or tea?  Yes.  Then, I ask the question again the following week, and the following week until it is a habit.  Most often, my decision to give up something is based on whether it will increase my chances of being a cancer survivor.

Coffee, and maybe tea, dehydrates me specially during my chemo days.  There was a time when my kidney functions was affected and that was enough for me to stop.  Instead I drink water and lots of it.  I am hoping that this time it will be for good.

Let’s see come January next year if I fell “off the wagon” again.

fell of the wagon











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