Archive for February, 2015

Lenten Season: Journey to Calgary

February 18, 2015

TToday is Ash Wednesday, the officially start of the Lenten season for Catholics.  Yesterday was Fat Tuesday, pig-out day before the fasting starts, and it is Mardi Gras time in New Orleans and Rio de Janeiro.  My office-friend, Mary AnnG, told me she was going to go to her church’s Shrove Tuesday or Pancake Day.  That should be fun.

Looking back to last year’s Lenten season I marked it by attempting to become a vegan.  The experiment for Lent was to give up my favorite Japanese ramen but along the way ended up as a vegetarian.  I already gave up eating beef and pork long time ago, then I took out poultry meat and its associated products, and then the hardest was to give up because it was my favorite: fish and seafood.  As vegetarian I made an exception to cheese because of runner’s power food, pizza. Then of course, it would not hurt to indulgence once in a while on brie, camembert, and blue cheese.  Yum.

The intention then was to prune and grow.  Give up something to make room for new and better things.

Better things: it is relative.  It is anchored on what each of us value most.  My journey  with cancer puts me in a different category that only fellow cancer survivors would understand.  However, I must acknowledge I have bouts of “buyer’s remorse” or episodes of regrets.  I gave up many things, at times reluctantly but mostly willingly, for a long shot, a chance, a moment, to live life without cancer.  Then, when it does not workout as I expect it, I sulk.

Remind me again: Why I did gave up steak or fish or coffee or half a liver for what?”

Looking ahead, I am looking forward to our pilgrimage trip to Jerusalem and Rome.  It is not only for the chance to run a half marathon in Jerusalem, it is more solemn than that.  The trip coincides with my 7th year anniversary of being diagnose with cancer.  Thus, for this Lent I am not going to pledge or give up anything to grow; technically, I have been fasting by not eating meat for a long time now.

“You got to have an intention for your practice”, my yoga teachers would say.

For this Lent, the intention is to accept the cross I am asked to carry.  Do the 14 Station of the Cross or the via Dolorosa in Jerusalem by carrying my cross all the way to Calgary (Golgotha).  I want to experience the struggle of Jesus at the Garden of Gethsemane: Why was Jesus asked to carry the cross to certain death?  Why am I being asked this?  Perhaps after understanding it, I can shed off my agnostic feeling towards religion.  I am not perfect but I am being asked to do something I cannot fully comprehend or accept when others live fully without remorse.  It is not bitterness that I feel, perhaps anger, but in the end it just does not compute.


P.S. Today at the hospital, a chaplain came to my room to give me ashes on my forehead.  An ashen cross marks my forehead to start my Lenten journey.  Good luck! – a common meaningful greeting among cancer patients and survivors.

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The road to salvation: Jerusalem and Rome

February 8, 2015

TThe road to salvation goes through Jerusalem.  I am going to Jerusalem to run the a half-marathon on March 13.  Sound crazy, but I am.  As a pilgrim, I have never been to Jerusalem.

I have always wanted to go to the Holy Land.  My mom has been there on a pilgrimage tour many years ago with my aunt, so seeing the Holy Land has always been in the back of my mind.  My conviction to go was further strengthen by the uncertainty of living with cancer (see my previous post The Uncertain Furture).  If not now: When?

With the restrictive schedule of my chemo treatments, a window of opportunity is coming mid-March, when I have one-week break from treatment.  But it is not that simple, especially mine.  All the stars have to align to make this pilgrimage run happen.  First, while most marathon races around the world are run on weekends, Saturdays or Sundays, it is not in the Jewish state of Israel.  They have Sabbath, so March 13 falls on Friday or for the superstitious Friday the 13th.  I have treatment on March 11 and have to travel.

Then there is my injured foot, the still recovering left ITB injury, and I have not run outside or on a treadmill since October last year when I fractured my foot.  So why, you may ask, should that stop me from getting to the starting line of a 13.1 mile race in one of most sacred places in the world.  What have I got to lose? I already got cancer in my lungs, have lost half my liver and a gallbladder; I have an embolized spleen, and expect to change clinical trails soon to stop the trending growth of my lung nodules.  WTF.

I called my clinical trial nurse, LindaJ to “beg” and “pleaded” my insane case to go on a “holy” pilgrimage.

The company (that sponsors the trial) said it will only allow a one-day adjustment.  You can have your treatment one-day ahead.”  Done.  I’ll take it.  Thank you.

Next, I called my physical therapist JamieM of Novacare and told her of my idea of running the Jeruasalem Half.

What? Are you crazy?  That is so cool!  Do you realize we got less than six-weeks to work with?”  She did not exactly boosted by confidence.  I told her it is just one my moment of weakness and succumb to a dumb-ass idea, but I need help.  

We got to get you quickly on the Alter-G.”  Alter what?  And that we did.  Wow!  I am so in love with that machine I named her Alice.  You would not believe the immediate endorphin rush I got the first time I use it; especially after so many months of not running.  I felt so alive.  Oh, Alice I love you.

Since I am off on a pilgrimage or on the road to salvation, I might as well complete it by going to Rome to see the Pope on the way back.  If I don’t get to see the Pope, I would like to attend Sunday mass at St. Peter’s Basilica.  Like Jerusalem, it will be my first time to see Rome (but not Italy).  Also, like Jerusalem they will be running the Rome marathon on the weekend (March 22) my wife and I will be there.

Hmmm?  Is this a sign for me?  Are the stars aligning again?

Shalom.  Ciao.

P.S. My wife will be running the 10K in Jerusalem too.  This weekend we did 5.5 miles at the lakefront and it was beautiful.

Alter G running1

Getting high on life!


Training for Jerusalem Half on my new love, Alice.

Training for Jerusalem Half on my new love, Alice.

Beautiful weekend run.  We did 5.5 miles.

Beautiful weekend run. We did 5.5 miles.




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