Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘marathon’ Category


 

 

Third time a charm: A new clinical trial

June 14, 2015

TTomorrow I start my new clinical trial, my third.  Like before I have guarded optimism when starting new treatments.  I would like them to work on me but…  I think that is the point of a trial: to find out.  But each disappointment takes a lot of energy out of me.

I wish they would give out medals each time I finish a trial like in marathons, at least I have something to show for it.  What I have are images, CT and PET scan images, of my completion and…defeat.  (Sorry, maybe next time!)  But as the cliche goes, it is not about winning but how you finish.  That is how my wife would say it: I am still here and standing up.

If it was about winning nobody would even try to run marathons or pursue any challenge.  It is about the struggle, as in “the struggle is real.” – meme.  Cancer is real.  It is a representation of life: the other half of life.  I have learned to see and live my life in constant struggle between life and cancer.  

Today, we went to Holy Hill, WI to pray, give thanks, and hope.  It is the last item in my preparation checklist.  Since my last treatment (May 13) I have been busy taking advantage of the mandatory four-week washout period between clinical trials.  During the break I was able to:

  • Run the Soldier Field 10 mile race on May 23.
  • Visit colleagues in New York for a week.
  • Meet with Cyberknife specialists who gave me hope that they can  address the large tumors in my lungs should my next clinical trial does not work.  It is not a cure but a containment strategy.
  • Pass my pre-clinical trial checkup with my platelets holding now at 256 (100 is the qualifying count) but don’t ask about my CEA level or tumor count.
  • Order anti-nausea pills since this is the expected side-effect of the new drug.
  • Significantly up my total miles for this last week to 30, as if I was in full training.  

I have done what I can in preparation for tomorrow.  The only thing left is to do my pre-chemo ritual: an early morning workout at the gym before going to the hospital.  This new trial will be in pill form instead of infusion.  I have to take the pills everyday for two-weeks, except on weekend, then I rest for two-weeks.  This is my second time to take chemo pills, the prior one was to “bridge” between treatments while on business travel and running Berlin September 2012. The plan for this clinical trial is to do two cycles or two months treatment at least, then scan.

That’s their plan.  My plan is to keep running, avoid fatty foods, up my fiber intake i.e. hemp protein, edemame, kale or fruit smoothie, etc., rest as needed, and fully hydrate.  Stay the course and finish standing up.  I know there will challenging sleepless nights when chills and other side-effects happen but you are there.  

Cheers.

Read Full Post »


 

Taking things for granted.

April 23, 2015

 

YYesterday, I started the cycle 2 of my treatment.  You might say I started the second set of the same immune-therapy treatment I started March 30.  So far I am doing good other than the mild facial rashes that looks like acne.  It is not too pronounced because I have been taking antibiotics to control it but it is there alright.

With this regiment I am unable to run but I am able to go to yoga and do a few exercise.  I tire easily and have been coughing.  I miss running.  It helps me find peace and it gives me a sense of normalcy.  When I run, especially on a beautiful day, I hear my rhythmic breathing, I feel the crisp air and the warm sun against my skin,  and I start to perspire.  Lately, I have been sluggish and unable to run, which makes me bitter at times.  That’s when I really have to dig deep to put things in perspective.  I may not be able to run but I am still here.  Life is such a tease.

Last Monday, April 20, was the 119th running of Boston.  Lelisa Desisa from Ethiopia won the race in 2:09:17.  He was also the winner in 2013 during the bombing.  I watched it online and tracked a friend (TimU) who finished to qualify again for next year.  What an achievement.  Boston is always a dream for me because of the challenge.  Unlike other marathons, you need to pass a qualifying time based on your age to enter, and that’s the challenge.  I am too slow for this race but there are other races to join.

The trick is to make the most of the opportunity.  I need to tattoo this in my forehead.  I need to hear this when I don’t feel like getting out of bed after a miserable night from chemo rebound.  Also, I need to take things in perspective.  I am still here.

Cheers.

P.S.  Former Archbishop of Chicago, Cardinal George, passed last Friday from cancer.  My wife and I tried to go to the viewing but missed the time slot.  I mourn his passing.  He was also treated at University of Chicago, where I am being treated.  He paid it forward for me.

Read Full Post »


I finished the Jerusalem Half.

March 13, 2015.

Ashort note since many wanted to know how I did.  It was painful, very hilly, memorable, and most exhilarating experience of my life.  My time was 3:16:45 and each moment was worth it.  I struggled especially on last three miles, which was mostly uphill, but I did it.  I am happy with the time and I thought it was good considering my condition, training, and terrain.

I had to abandon my run/walk strategy because it was not working.  Instead, I took what was given: run the downhill and flats, then walk the uphill climb.  Dig deep and enjoy the pain and suffering.  L’Chaim.

Tonight is Shabbat.  The markets are full and all the Jewish families prepare a special meal, then a day of rest.  It is a celebration of life by the food taken in order to nourish yourself.  I am fully nourished, rest is what I need.  I will write again.

Cheers.

3:16:45 finish

3:16:45 finish

Read Full Post »


L’Chaim: To Life.

March 10, 2015

First, a piece of good news from last week.  I qualified for a new trial, an immunotherapy trial at that.  Some how during the pre-qualifying EKG test for the PRI parameter was good, as well as my blood test.  So I am in for now.

The doctor explained to me how it works.  This new trial involves two drugs: a chemotherapy agent that suppress the growth of tumor and an immunotherapy agent that boost my immune system at the cell level to attack cancer.  Picture this: two wrestlers, one holding the cancer cell in a grapple hold and the other, pumped up with steroids, beating the sh*t out of the cancer.  Hopefully, it works because the chemo drug to be used is for colon cancer, which fits my profile.

I still have to do a final test (CT scan, EKG and blood work) again before starting the treatment which is scheduled on March 30 and 31.  By then I have been weaned out of my previous trial drug and ready.  I pray I pass.

Speaking of prayers, what better place to pray than in Jerusalem and Rome.  I leave for the Holy Land today and I have been looking forward to this trip.  A new journey of self-discovery and prayers.  I am also going there to run the Jerusalem half marathon on Friday, March 13.    Am I ready?  Hardly.  This is one race I am full of anxiety.  Since being “booted” out the trial, my mind has been filled with tumor growths, things to do, and ITB rehabs resulting in half-hearted training.  My longest run so far was 8 miles on the Alter-G at 60% my full weight.  Normally, you need to hit at least 10 miles with confidence for a decent 13.1 (21k) mile finish at full weight.  We will see.  I don’t do well with hills too and that’s Jerusalem for you.  Full or half, marathons are unforgiving; like life.  You take what is given and you just have to have absolute faith to carry you over.  Faith is what I need.  Peace of mind is what I seek.  Prayer is my mantra.

Here is my prayer.

Lord, I am in your ‘hood.  You have walked the well worn trails of Jerusalem and its country side, or perhaps have tried to out run your Roman captors.  I have come far to run, pray, and seek peace within.  If you are there, just carry me across the finish line this one last time.  I carry a big burden in my chest much like the cross You carried on your shoulders.  I asks you keep me safe so I bc can be with my family (for a while longer).

L’chaim! (To Life!)

 

L'Chaim

Cheers.

P.S.  JamieM (Novacare), this one is for you…and Alice the Alter-G.

Read Full Post »


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.

 

 

 

Read Full Post »


Scans and Fractures
October 20, 2014

LLife is always two-sided.  Yin and yan.  Good news and bad news.  Scans and fractures.

I recently had my CT scan (October 15) to see how my nodules are responding to the trial drugs.  This was pre-scheduled as part of the clinical trial.  Previous to this , my last scan was September 3, so after a month of treatment the comparative result was good: Stable impression.  Whew.  LindaJ, the nurse specialist, called right away to give me the results.  “Stable”, she said.  I was trying to fish for more details but there was none.  Then I saw the full report, it was all stable, stable, stable.

I was so happy.  Woohoo.  Another milestone pass.

Now for the “other” news.  I fractured my foot.  This happened two weeks ago Sunday, October 5, during a 10-mile tapering run along the lakefront.  At mile 7, I stepped on an uneven pavement and rolled my right foot.  Next thing I know I was on the ground.  My wife was not around since I ran ahead.  I had that sinking feeling of stupidity as I felt some swelling in my ankle.  My wife caught up with me and we walked back to the car.  I limped and prayed that my foot was ok because NYC marathon was waiting for us this November 2.  I trained hard the whole summer and I was almost there.

After some icing and rehab sessions with Noreen and Jamie of Novacare, and a consultation with Dr. Reilly of the Running Institute, this “Humpty Dumpty” could not be put back together in time to race NYC.  Sucks.  Arghhh….  Gone.  Just like that.

There is an official name for my stupidity: Jones Fracture.  It is similar to the recent injury of Kevin Durant of the Oklahoma City Thunders but in my case I do not need surgery (Thank, God.  My clinical trial doctors would have flipped).  What I need is 6 to 8 weeks of foot immobility, then rehab.  I try not to look back and play the “what if” game because I can be hard on myself.  Cancer and running taught me just to take what is given.  It is time to move on.  Chalk this up as another colorful adventure I look back to.

All is not lost.  My scans are good and there is always next year to look forward too.  Rejoice Kenyans.

Cheers.
Jones Fracture

 

P.S.  Next treatment is this Wednesday, October 22.  Never stops.

Read Full Post »


Round 8: Speedy Goes to Chemo.
Yesterday: October 8, 2014

R

“Road trip! Woohoo. We are going to UofC to see my “fefol” (other guinea pigs) and get treatment. Number 5 is in the house, fefol. “

It is the first time for Speedy to be taken out since arriving in his new home.  He was thankful to be rescued and join the other toys like Moo, the cow (more on Moo in coming post).  Speedy arrives at the hospital and takes a peek from the backpack and surveys the waiting room area.

“Psst….hey lady. What’s up with the crochet? Who is it for?”
“Hey, mister. Do I need a mask too?  That is a cool chair with electric wheel?”  It is totally new environment for Speedy and just takes it all in.

It is early and the waiting room is slowly filling up again with patients coming for their treatment. Just another normal day for us cancer patients.  I brought along my new toy, Speedy courtesy of Mary Ann, for some selfies.

I like an early start because I get to finish early too, hopefully.  I was called already for my vital sign, they have accessed my port, and I gave them a urine sample (don’t ask why this is included..).  I need to be screened to check if I am healthy for another round of chemo.  They are normally concern about my platelet count which was a problem before.

This my world once a week: The world of clinical trials.  The world of cancer.  The rest of the week is spent coping and making the most of what life has to offer.

While my blood was being drawn, I overheard a patient next to me saying that her anniversary date is coming up this October. 15 years, she says. Wow. I am on my 6th year fighting cancer and she has more than double the years of my diagnosis.  She wears a hat to hide her balding head but is so cheery in greeting all the nurses  who has been taking care of her.  She knows all of them.  She has an admiring personality and perspective all brought or enhanced by cancer.

This is one thing I noticed in others as well as myself.  Cancer transforms you.  How deep is the transformation would depend how cancer is accepted.

“In the meantime, inside the infusion room Speedy notices many things.

Hmmm…. fefol here are treated better.  They give you reclining chairs or bed in isolated rooms while us guinea pigs are kept in cages, carpeted by a bed of wood shaving to pee and take a crap, or sometimes croak on.  They even have individual TVs.  If lucky, we have spinning wheels to entertain us.  What’s up with that!  Talk about the have’s and the have-not’s.

Hello!  Class warfare.  Where is Reverend Al Sharpton?  I say we do a march for the oppressed guinea pigs.  Occupy UofC: We kick the ass of the human class!”

I bring out Speedy for a selfie and talk to him.  Listen Speedy: I am here receiving this trial drug because of your sacrifice.  You proved that this drug is safe enough to be tested on me, Number 5.  You have done your job and I will take it from here.  Thank you.

Speedy melts.  “Reverend who?”

Hello, fefol!  Speedy in the house.

Hello, fefol! Speedy in the house.

Cheers.

P.S.
This weekend is the Chicago marathon.  I found a bib to enter but had to pass.  Over the weekend I sprained my right ankle.   Depressed.  It would have been my test run for next month’s NYC marathon.  I am sure the Kenyans are rejoicing my absence.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

%d bloggers like this: