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Unchanged but neutrophinic


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!

Cheers.

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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Who’s counting?


Who’s counting?

October 8, 2015

We have been through this, right?  Tomorrow will be my sixth CT scan for the year.  Six!  I am a “walking glow in the dark” with so much radiation exposure.  Ha!  You can interpret this in many ways.

Let see:

  1. They could not get it right so they need to do many scans.
  2. They are making money off me and my insurance so they keep on ordering these expensive scan.  Ouch.
  3. They need it to see if I am responding.

All can be correct if you are a cynic.  However, picking number 3 would mean I am not responding to my clinical trial treatments, otherwise they will not keep on checking, right?  Previously, my last scan (5th) was considered good because it says my tumors were stable and I did not get kicked out the trial.

Tomorrow’s scan is another story.  You can’t compare or speculate on the results.  You just hope for the best, then either you jump for joy or sulk and curse, and then move on.  Good scan means I stay on with my current trial; bad means…er, not good.

I wish my cynicism would not take the best of me, but it gets to me sometimes.  It has been a long and continuous journey with no end in sight.  Oh, well.

You better let somebody love you, before it is too late – Desperado, Eagles

 

 

P.S.  This Sunday is the running of the Chicago Marathon.  Good luck, Elizabeth.  You know I will be watching.

 

All in


All in
September 20, 2015

Ihave been eating salad, soup, crackers, and hummus for the past few days since I started my third cycle of treatment again. It helps me balance my system to minimize the chemo side-effects of nausea and constipation.

Sometimes I get tired of it especially after coming from our Alaska cruise where the food was non-stop and the service was excellent. I still ate vegetarian meals during the cruise but it is different when it is being prepared in different ways by culinary chefs and served by attentive servers.

I still have the Alaska hangover after two weeks. Alaska as been described as magnificent and majestic, and it is true. The place is like being in the presence of God. Perfect. Peaceful. Blessed. The natural beauty of Alaska makes you pause and appreciate what life has to offer. You see the bounties of life represented by whales, bears, glaciers, eagles, crabs, mountains, etc. You can also see the fragility of life too; that all this beauty could end.

As I continue to masticate the earthy taste of kale salad in my mouth, I keep on thinking back to Alaska and wishing that I was back there or some place else. Any place than being in the chemo hole again. I should be use to this but life is such a tease. It forever torments you of the things you don’t have or could have after making you experience the beauty of life.

Why eat kale or hummus, when there is steak and lobster.

Life can be experienced even if you are eating kale or broccoli. Some have found a way to fully embrace what others could not. It is a matter of acceptance and being all in.

Munch…munch…munch.

I have found a way to appreciate life during chemo. It is hard. You just have to have faith you can do it.  Think positive.

Travel Notes:  The majestic and magnificent Alaska

These two words are the most over-used words to describe Alaska. I could not help use it myself in seeing the (magnificent) glaciers and (majestic) mountains.

Wait there’s more: there’s the whales, salmon, crabs, eagles, bears, otter, shrimp, etc. Then there’s the people themselves: the natives, fishermen, loggers, artists, transplants, and Sarah Palin.

I came to Alaska as a tourist with every intention of enjoying the place. Also, it does not hurt that cruising to Alaska is the way to complete the experience. Cruising primes all your senses by getting pampered and fattened on board, and then see Alaska. Boom.

We took the ms Amsterdam by Holland America Lines from Seattle, WA with about 1300 passengers on board. It is a relatively medium-size boat with a crew of about 600. Most of the passenger were retired but active. This boat does not cater too much to kids, which most passengers like since it is quite. I belong to that group. The idea is to relax and see kids running around. If you want fun for kids, go for Disney cruise or Carnival.

The service staff were mostly from Indonesia and the Philippines. I got to meet fellow “kababayans” (countrymen). The trip was smooth except when we hit the open sea going to Sitka, AK. There was strong winds and I vomited in my room. I am use to vomits but there goes my dinner.

Here are some pictures we took.

Cheers.

No boundaries


No boundaries
September 5, 2015

TThat was the title of the last chapter of the book “My Brief History” by Stephen Hawking, the English theoretical physicist. I love this book. It is short but revealing in his humorous outlook in life and intellectual evolution.

For movie buffs, there is a movie (The Theory of Everything) about his life wherein Eddie Redmayne won an Oscar for best actor. Superb acting.

Hawking is still making news lately. At 73, he is an inspiration. At age 21, he was diagnose with ALS a slow progressing decease and was given two years to live.

“When you are faced with the possibility of an early death, it makes you realize that life is worth living and that there are lots of things you want to do.” Taken from the book.

I relate to that. He is still around and I am still around. He is an intellectual giant, sitting on a wheel chair, fully dependent on others to live, and yet managed to have three kids: all grown. He has written books and if you think he did it typing three words a minute.

He is an inspiration to me. It really shows that there are no boundaries to what you can do. No cancer, no ALS, or physical limitation exist when it comes to life. It is only you who can see beyond your limitation. The trick is not to measure yourself against others. 26.2 miles (42 km) is daunting if you thing about. Or, how about writing a book at two to three words a minute on cosmic black holes. How about several books?

Stories like these moves me. I struggle with my disease and it has been a burden lately. However, there is no point to pity parties so I just move and check off things in my buck list, like going to Alaska.

Alaska:
Tomorrow, my wife and I are cruising to Alaska from Seattle, WA. I am so excited about this. It is like on the eve of our trip to Jerusalem, which was memorable. Jerusalem and Rome was about running and spiritual renewal. Alaska is about the majestic beauty of nature or life. That and grazing the buffet table on board.  All aboard!

Cheers.

Banquet of life: It is free.


Banquet of life: It is free.
August 15, 2015

At mass, the priest told the story of an immigrant family on a ship bound for the US.  The father and his family kept to themselves in their cabin with their food and belongings.  Until the son ventured outside and found himself in a banquet of food, eating to his heart’s content.  The father found the son and was worried how he was suppose to pay for all the food his son ate, and the possibility of jail sentence.  The son saw the worried look of his father, and said:

Father, it is free.  It is part of our passage.

Life has many things to offer and it is free for us to enjoy.  Everyday we wake up is a gift, as many have said.

That gift was recently enhanced by the news that my CT scan last August 7 was good and I can remain in my current clinical trial.  I know I should have written much earlier as some of my friends have already sent messages asking for news.  I am sorry but I was busy in a banquet.

Stable was in the medical impression.  It means my current clinical trial is containing the tumor growths in my lungs and liver.

Unfortunately, my white blood cell (WBC) count took a hit, and I was not allowed to started my third cycle last August 10th, Monday.  A low WBC makes me susceptible to infection and further treatment would make it worse.  My doctors delayed my next cycle for a week to August 17.

So I have been busy eating any thing that will increase my WBC.  I can almost hear my mother prescribing the latest herbal diet she heard of to increase white blood counts.  Stop it, Mom.

There are drugs out there that can boost your WBC, like Neulasta, which is injected under the skin.  It is painful, expensive, but it works.  However, I am in a clinical trial program and cannot take it.  Instead, I am eating my way like a rabbit: kale, spinach, broccoli, hemp., etc.  More kale, spinach, organics, etc.  You know what I mean.  I am also keeping active by walking and yoga.

Living with cancer, and restricted by the clinical trial rules, is not exactly easy but I am not complaining.  Right now, this drug has given reprieved in the growth of my tumors and gave me another week of chemo holiday.  However, I am not naive to say I am cured only that I am still here.  I know how this works.  It is a matter of time that my cancer will adapt and I myself would have to adapt as well.

In the meantime there is the banquet of life to partake of, and it is free.  Come and enjoy it with me…in appreciative moderation.

Cheers.

P.S. My doctors warned me that they might have to reduce the dosage of my treatment to help maintain my WBC.  Huh?  This is like winning fight by a draw resulting from a stable scan but next time they tie one hand to your back because your WBC is low.  WTF.  Later in the week they double-checked the counts and said, there was no need to reduce my dosage.  I was .02 above the limit.  Whew.  I am glad .02 is not the alcohol-limit test otherwise I would have been in jail for drunk driving.

Judgment day version x.x


Judgment day version x.x
August 6, 2015

I lost count on how many CT scans I have done. All I know none of them were good except for one or two, which was several years ago.

Tomorrow’s scan is to verify if I am responding to my current clinical trial, which I have been taking for two months now. I use to be anxious on the eve of my scan but now I seem to be more at peace. The outcome of tomorrow’s scan is already pre-destined, meaning I cannot change it. Just like tomorrow; ready or not it will come.

I am ready. If the scan is good, I continue with treatment; if not, I look for another treatment.

No matter what the outcome is, I will celebrate tomorrow. Maybe take the day off and take my BFF Ethan to the water park. Soak up some rays and chill out floating around the lazy river. Yeah!

Cheers.

 

Summer fun.


Summer fun.
August 2, 2015

Lately, I have been enjoying my summer hanging out with my wife and Ethan. Instead of my normal summer that is about marathon training, this year it is all about Ethan.

I am not signed up for any fall marathon and I cannot run much now a days, but I still keep active, mostly walking and yoga. I miss running.  My mom had reminded me that I should remain positive. She laments that at her age (83 years old) she no longer go to the mall or crowded places; however, that does not mean she does not go out.  She still regularly plays mahjong with her friends. She says it prevent alzheimer …ha…ha!

She is right about keeping a positive attitude. It is about the things you can do, not about the things you can no longer do. More importantly, I am still here.

So now, my wife and I have our long walks and we go visit water parks with Ethan. That is his favorite activity aside soccer. He loves water parks. Fortunately, we have many water playgrounds and district water parks so we go when we can. He can play until he is wrinkled and blue, while I like to hang around the lazy river.  Fun.

Next week Friday, August 7, is judgment day again. I have my CT scan and we will find out if I am responding to my current clinical trial. I am hoping for the best. Good or bad I will not stop it to have a wonderful summer hanging out with Ethan.

Enjoy your summer.

Cheers.

Summer fun with Ethan

Summer fun with Ethan

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