Archive for the ‘Diet’ Category

Sketches during sleepless nights
January 18, 2016

The new year greeted me with a four-day stay (January 7-10) at the hospital. I was having difficulty breathing and was coughing heavily. It was also the week that I started on my chemo pills again.

I think my body was just stressed out with all the pain meds I have been taking, then I added the chemo to bear. As with any unscheduled hospital visit, I went home with more meds to take like inhaler, antibiotics, and steroids. Thank you for all the prayers and support you gave.

Sleep is hard to come by late and I end up with so many thoughts streaming though.

Hospital food.
Have you ever wonder why nobody comes out with 5 star rating for hospital food? No cooking shows on how to prepare hospital food or judges “you’ve been Chopped”.

Hospital food is the right kind of food we all should eat, low salt, low fat, and nutritious. But nobody likes it. Our taste buds have been trained to good food laden with enhancers and treats but not good. Think about it.

Quality time.
There was a time when I plan for the next family vacation or races to run. This was meant to spend time with your love ones. We live in a busy world and it is not getting slower. We have apps to manage our time and family designed to provide quality time.

Lately my quality time is limited to spending meaningful time with my wife and family. Seriously, I need not travel the world to have my quality time. It was an indulgence when my wife gave me a bath or when Ethan fed me once. I marveled at the experience and was struck by the simplicity of the moment. I am honored by your presence as well.


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Unchanged but neutrophinic

October 13, 2015

YYesterday, was good news bad news day: my recent CT scan showed my tumors were “unchanged” or stable, and I can continue with my current clinical trial.  Woohoo!  But (there is always a “but” isn’t it?), my blood test showed I am neutrophinic.  It means I have low levels of neutrophils or white blood cells (WBC), essential for fighting infection.

Low neutrophils is common among cancer patients undergoing chemo treatments. The bone marrow, which produces WBC, takes a hit during chemo.  This is not the first time I became neutrophinic with my current trial; no worries, I just sit this one out.  My doctors expect me to bounce back after a week.

What to do?  Eat more green vegetables rich in vitamin B.  As you can see nutrition is really important when in treatment or just being healthy. Every green leafy vegetable counts.  They are critical in providing essential nutrients to the body.  I must admit I had poor eating habits before being diagnosed with cancer.  Then I made the change and transitioned to become vegetarian.  Now, I love fresh fruits and vegetables in all forms and organic: salad, smoothies, juice, raw, etc.  It takes time, like all good things, but it is worth it.

So eat your vegetables.  It is good for you.  Go Cubs!


P.S.  My doctors told me that the clinical trial drug I am currently taking, TAS-102, was recently approved by the FDA.  I am glad because others can benefit from this drug.

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Judgment day: Friday

May 13, 2015

TThis Friday, May 15, is judgement day for me: I will have my scan on that day.  I will know if this new immuno-therapy treatment is working for me or not.  A stable result or no tumor growth is good but a shrinking in size or reduction in the number of nodules would be awesome.  Worthy of a happy dance.

I have been in this situation many times and I still feel anxious each time.  Over the years I’ve had good news and bad news.  I have done the happy dance and have shed tears of anguish.  No matter what, I take what is given.  Just look at me now.  I have made it this far and still standing.  I am thankful.

Friday you might say is marathon day.  It is the day when you know you have put in enough to make it to the finish line.  The marathon gods always know if you cheated on your runs because it will be painful.  Pre-race jitters, like pre-scan days makes me anxious.  I makes me question: “Did I do enough (to rid myself of cancer)?”  Did I exercise enough?  Did I pray enough?  Did I eat vegetables enough?  Is there anything else I can do?

More kale?

Since March 10, I was preparing for this moment.  That was the time my wife and I left for Jerusalem, the start of our holy pilgrimage that included Rome.  It was a journey of self-discovery…and adventure.  In Jerusalem, I ran the half-marathon and visited as many holy sites as I can.  I prayed, knelt, asked, pleaded and wailed to all the holy places that would take my petitions.  It did not matter if it was of the Jewish or Muslim faith, I would go the distance to find a cure for my cancer.

So now it has come to this.  No amount of prayers or exercise is going to change the outcome this Friday.  I know you are praying for me.  Whatever the results, all I know is I cherish each day I am given.  I have put the “miles”, and would readily put in some more for a chance to see tomorrow.  I have savored each moment and I would openly take what is given because life, minus the noise, is just so beautiful.  L’Chaim.


P.S.  I ran four miles this morning, went to my treatment, and will be back tomorrow for another round.  Then, an early CT scan Friday: Judgement Day.  Drum roll, please.

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Round 13: Back to reality

Round 13: Back to reality
December 4, 2014
Circa: December 3, 2014, Wednesday.
I must be dreaming.  I hear the drip of the chemo pump as it infuse toxins in my body.  “Drip…drip…drip.” I am no longer in Manila.  I am back to reality having chemo at UofC hospital.  I just got back from Manila, where it is warm and the air is full of the festive season of Christmas.

The streets of Manila is also packed with cars, trucks, jeepneys, and people.  You cannot escape the traffic and congestion.  It is part of the normal life in the city.  Even local residents complaint about it.  So when my friends and family would take time to see me I really appreciate their gesture.  Time is often the most valuable gift to give or share.

Time also passes quickly.  I was just in Manila and now I am back having chemo.  My day started early in the hope it would end early too, but that was not to happen.  Earlier my blood test showed my phosphate level was low, not enough to get my infusion started.  They consulted my clinical trial doctors and decided to re-run the test again.  On the re-test, my phosphate level came back normal.  Why?  I don’t know, I was just glad it did.

Sometimes you just have to accept things as they are.  Once in a while I still get catch myself wishing I don’t have cancer.  In fact I like to believe what others people are saying when they see me.  “You don’t look like you have cancer!  You look good.”  I wish that was true.  The reality is I hear the drip of the chemo toxins, smell the sterility of the room, and see other cancer patients getting treatment.  That’s reality.

Another dose of reality: Linda, my clinical trial nurse, gave me my next chemo schedule up to end of January.  The way it goes I expect to be on this program all the way to Easter next year.  La…la…la.

La...la...la.  I hear nothing!

La…la…la. I hear nothing!


P.S.  While in Manila I got to spend time with a good friend and fellow cancer survivor, ChrisB, who is doing well.  Keep your spirits up!  I am cheering for you, mate.  More chemo this Wednesday.  Oh, well.

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Round 6 and the 20-miler

September 20, 2014

A“A goal is just an awesome way to force growth on yourself.” –Deana Kastor

She is an Olympic bronze medalist (Athens 2004), a 2:19:36 marathoner, and the only American woman to break 2:20.  I paused when I read that quote from her in an article in the October issue of Runner’s World magazine.  She had put it succinctly what my running (and sacrifice) is all about: Growth.

For the past couple of weeks I have logged lots and lots of miles, and being a slow runner that means lots of time to think, contemplate, and breath.   If my Fitbit is correct, that means a weekly average of more than 100,000 steps, 52+ miles run/walk, and almost 20,000 calories burned.  However, what it does not tell you are the other activities I do or my almost daily 5:00 am start at the gym to cross-train, yoga, and stretch.

What gives?

That’s the point.  Why bother.  I know I will not win Chicago or NYC marathons or could even qualify for Boston.  I am a slow runner, who goes weekly to chemo treatment as a past time, a vegetarian by choice, husband, father, grandfather, and breadwinner.  And yet I push myself to get up early morning to hit the gym.

Well, I have grown just like what Deena said.  My training and change of lifestyle forced me to grow.  In return I like myself more.  I am able to fully appreciate life by earning it one mile at a time.  I don’t miss steak or pork or the late morning rise because I am able to see things differently.  Other people have notice the changed too.  It is all good.

Round 6 and the 20-miler

Last Wednesday, September 17, was my sixth round of treatment and tomorrow, Sunday, is our 20 mile run.  I have never done this before–short chemo recovery and 20 miles/32K–so we will see if I will still be standing up.  It is a prelude to the Chicago marathon in three weeks: October 12.  I feel good, anxious, and looking forward to it.  I try not to think of the distance because it can get to you.  All I know is I will be at the start and how I finish is the fun of it.  See you at the finish line.


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A different world: Part 2 of 2
May 5, 2014

The easy part was signing the document.  I did not realize that to get the trial started was the harder part.  To get started I have to do a blood test and EKG.  Sounds, easy.  I thought so until they saw my low blood platelet count and slight EKG irregularity.

I had my blood test another blood test and EKG done last Friday, and the results were the same: Platelet is 60K (normal is above 130) and the EKG, still slightly elevated.  My blood platelet problems has been an ongoing thing since last year but we did not address it due to other concerns during my treatment.  Beside I was asymtomatic, meaning I showed no signs of bleeding, nose bleeds or noticeable bruisings.  I should have recovered by now being off chemo since end of February, physically active and  practically a vegetarian now.

At the moment, I cannot do anything about my EKG for the meantime but I am currently taking high dose steroids to correct my low blood platelet count caused by ITP.  I should be done with it by tomorrow, then another blood test to verify results, and a discussion with my clinical trial doctors on Wednesday (May 7).

Needless to say, I am disappointed.  Call it clinically interrupted.

My choices are limited and I can only control so much of what is happening around me.  I should have started the chemo trials today, instead I have to wait for the verdict.  I can understand clinical trials are different, it is after all a controlled study where everything has to be the same.  However, this can be mutually beneficial if they see it that way.  To them it is a study, to me it can be a life changing event.

Oh well, why bother.  I am not going let a beautiful 55F (12C) day go to waste by worrying.  Instead, my wife and I just turned it around and completed 7 miles at the lakefront.  Bam!  A no chemo day turned beautiful.  How was your day?



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Life does not stop.
April 6, 2014

I still don’t have any news if I am going to be accepted in the University of Chicago Medicine clinical trials.  It has been a couple of weeks now.  While waiting I have been keeping fit.

Yesterday, my wife and I did 5.7 miles and the previous week we did the 8K (5 miles) Shamrock Shuffle with my oncologist, Dr. M.  He was such a trooper, inspite of having little or no training, he completed the race.  He was tempting me to take a shortcut at the halfway point,  but I just laugh it off.  (“Let’s take a cab.  I’ll pay.”)  LOL.  I am sure he was sore after that experience.

I am totally amaze at the new experience I am having as I am getting weaned off my chemo toxins.  The food taste better, the air is fresher, and life is much sweeter.  As I gain my strength back I am able to run longer too.  It feels like I am putting distance between me and my cancer.

But alas, that may not be so.  Last Thursday, I went back to the hospital to have my chemo port flushed (it gets clogged when not in use).  I also had my blood test.  My CEA level (tumor count) still show elevated and it moved a few points again.  Nothing significant, but it is still a reminder that I am not cured.

Lift does not stop whether you have cancer or not.  It works the same for any other disease or problems.  Since life does not stop, it is best just to get up, move, and make the most of it.  Doing nothing is not an option for me.  There are new things to do and many things to learn for cancer to stop me.  It may slow me down, but it will not take away my thirst for what life has to offer.


Quinoa pasta with garlic and vege sauteed in olive oil.  Bam!

Quinoa pasta with garlic and vege sauteed in olive oil. Bam!


P.S.  I would like to thank my friend and cancer-survivor, Noreen, for treating my IT band problem.  I love her.  Lastly, Palm Sunday is coming up.  Can you say “Aloha?”

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