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Posts Tagged ‘American Cancer Society’


Almost but not quite…..

April 10, 2011

almost beat my son today: his time was 51:34, while mine was 54:16.  But, I really have nothing to complaint about. Many of my friends and colleagues are amaze that I am able run or complete a marathon last year inspite of having undergone chemo and still continue to have one on a monthly basis. I just want to out run my cancer and make the most of what is given.

It was my first race of the year and as a habit, I approached it systematically. Up at 5:00 am and short massage of my legs using a roller foam. Then, I meditated (a daily ritual) to center myself for 40 minutes. I really believe that you must first pay homage to your body before doing anything. It is like investing  in yourself first before taking something out.

After a light breakfast of yogurt, green tea, and wheat bagel, I donned my ‘superman’ outfit, my American Cancer Society shirt. Bam! We are ready.  Woohoo!  Weather was an ideal 65F but I would like it a bit cooler. After checking my gear at the ACS tent, we all (wife, son, and me) headed to the starting line. There I was again shoulder-to-shoulder with 40,000 other runners. This 8K race was billed as the largest 8K race in the world and is the unofficial start of the running season in Chicago. This is my third time to run this race and I am still amazed at the attraction it draws.

The mass start never fails to humble and amaze me. It is an awesome and exhilarating experience. I feel so alive standing there. Each runner standing there has their own story or reason for being at the starting line and I am no different. You can tell the first-timers by the anxious look they have. You will survive.

Honk! There goes the start. Running the first 2 miles was a blur. Powered by adrenaline, I was pacing at 9:00 min/mile, 1 minute above my target. I am going to pay for this at the end. Running is such an exact science that each second is accounted for. It is about spending your energy (glycogen) evenly along the race, you cannot waste energy so can still have enough kick to finish. I came prepared with my own water bottle to save on the stop. At the last mile, I tried picking up my speed but I was close to being spent and fatigue. Times like this they advise you to have a mantra: Cancer sucks! Somehow, that powered me home and when I saw the finish line it was just all adrenaline again. Ah….catharsis. A cleansing of my thirsty spirit.  Life is good.

For my first race, I have dedicated it to my dear friend DebbieD who passed away from liver cancer this January. I am sure she was cheering me on.

Cheers.

P.S.  Tuesday, April 12, is chemo maintenance day again.  But tomorrow (April 11), I have an early ultra-sound of the abdomen appointment.  During my checkup with my oncologist, he noticed the elevated and upward trending results of my liver function test since December.  Gulp, no more tumors please.  I am hoping for a clear result.

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There it goes again.

April 6, 2011

irst it was just a few strands of hair, now there are a bunch of them. In the shower, on my pillow, and in my shirt. It is my normal cycle of shedding as a side-effect from the chemo.

“Stop touching it!” My wife tells me. “Just leave it alone. It is just temporary and it will grow back.”

Yes, it does grow back. I get fresh set of hair when it does. Good thing is that I don’t go bald from this shedding. My hair just gets thin, especially on the side. Think of it as a self-cleaning oven or my very own self-trimming hair; only it gives me an uneven trim. I will leave it alone.

My first race for 2011 is coming up this weekend, April 10. It will be the 8K Bank of America Shamrock Shuffle. It has become a tradition to run this race since it is the closes thing to a mass start of a marathon. Imagine more than 40,000 people running a short race. By the time the last runner crosses the starting line the finishers are just about to cross the finish.  Last year my whole family ran with me (all six of us) and I was doing full-time chemo in between. This year, it will only be my wife and the youngest, Louie; the others did not make it.

For this year, the plan is to try beat my 19-year old son so I can have a year of bragging rights.  I am not getting any younger or faster so this year is my chance to beat him.  I also have been sabotaging his training plans by tempting him with food so he gains weight and give me fight chance…haha! Last year, he finished in 53 minutes, while came in waddling along in 1:06.  My oncologist is in it with me too because we scheduled my monthly chemo after the race.  I am at my strongest now.  All I need is a bit of luck.

I have been training a lot now, while I see my son has been sleeping and eating.  But he is strong.  This morning he ran 5 miles…gulp!  He did tell me his time.  I think he is playing mind games with me.  I need to run at a 10:30 minute per mile pace just to beat his time last year, assuming he did not improve this year.  My knees would surely complaint since my normal pace is 12:00 to 11:00.  I got to feed him some more fatty food.  Hello Chinese buffet!

Finally, I signed up again to be a charity runner for American Cancer Society – a DetermiNation runner.  I feel complete and have a sense of purpose.  Each year I am overwhelmed by the experience of being a charity runner.  I come across stories of people stricken by cancer or have survived.  I know you will be there with me to share the experience.

Cheers.

PS:  If you wish to support me and give a donation, follow the link above to my personal ACS site.

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Getting back to blogging…and running

March 29, 2011

t must be Tuesday. I normally post something on Tuesday.  It has been a while, so I am easing myself back slowly like my running.  It does not mean I have forgotten my blog.  I get reminders from friends and family.  Let the rest of you, I get busy with life and succumb to making excuses about priorities.  I am back again.

Many things have happened. Let see:

  • I am still religiously doing my monthly chemo maintenance. Lately, I have been obsessed with my carcinoembronic antigen (CEA) count or tumor count from my monthly blood test. It is on the decline. Woohoo! The threshold is 2.5. For January it was 1.9, February was 1.7, and March was 1.3. I got to keep this steady.
  • My wife and I went on vacation back to Manila. It was our winter break since this winter has been brutal. We visited my mom and family, and did some running too to keep the pounds off. By the way, on the way back from Manila we transited through Tokyo-Narita and it was the weekend (March 13) right after the earthquake on March 11. We were glad to be able to pass-through without an incident. Whew!
  • On the running-front, my wife and I have the following races lined up for 2011
    • April 10. 8K Bank of America Shamrock Shuffle – confirmed
    • April 16. Novacare Lakefront 10 miler – confirmed
    • May 18. Soldier Field 10 miler – confirmed
    • June 19. 5K Rock n Roll run – confirmed
    • August 14. Rock n Roll Half-marathon – confirmed
    • October 9. Chicago marathon – confirmed

Looking at the schedule, I think that is a lot of running with rigorous training in between.  Of course, my monthly chemo maintenance does not stop amid all this running and training.  This year I feel my body takes longer to recover and my knees are starting to complain each time I build my miles.  I can’t stop or my cancer will catch me.

Also, I am committed to raise money for American Cancer Society again and I will keep on doing this as long as I can.  I owe it to those who are no longer with us, like my friend Debbie.

Cheers.

P.S.  Happy birthday to my brothers, Rene (March 30) and Raul (March 29).

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Oh dear! Oh dear! I shall be too late.

July 21, 2010

Oh dear! Oh dear! I shall be too late!” – The White Rabbit in Lewis Carroll’s book Alice’s Adventure in Wonderland.

I feel like that with this post. I should have completed this post yesterday , Tuesday, which is my normal habit, but now I am late. I can never be a newspaper man with constant deadlines. Oh, we all have deadlines set upon ourselves or by others. Those darn deadlines. They cause stress and misery.

But deadlines come and go, and we are still here. It makes you wonder if those darn deadlines really matter. I am still here after last week’s chemo and was able to post my my blog yesterday. It does not mean I am not taking mental notes, so here it is….

Oh dear!”

Tuesday, July 13.

n a whim, I decided to run before my chemo treatment.

I am going to run tomorrow, babes.” I said to my wife the night before.

But, you have chemo tomorrow.” She said.

I will run before my treatment at 5:30 am and still be in time for my chemo at 7:00 am.”

Ok, I will join you.”

With that we set off this morning not knowing where we were going to go or for how long. I trudge along in the direction of my hospital (NOTE: We live about 1.5 miles to my hospital). I have never ran before my treatment but since my running has been good to my chemo recovery, I wanted to prepare my body. What better way to open my blood vessels and pores to receive more chemo than running…ha!

It will be my fifth of sixth treatment. Normally, this time I am feeling the cumulative effects of all the chemo drugs that have been loaded up on me. But I am still strong and able to withstand the treatments. I am now a firm believer of exercise or any rigorous physical activity e.g. running, biking, yoga, swimming, etc., while on chemo. Livestrong, like Lance Armstrong.

Two years ago when I first got diagnosed with colon cancer, I did not do any physical activity while on treatment. I did not understand the beast before, I just let it take me where it wants to go. The result was I had a harder time recovering and had ended up in the emergency room once due to allergic reaction to my chemo drugs. (See my July 23, 2008 post ‘White Wristband Bracelet‘)

This time I around, sans right liver and a gallbladder, I feel the same nausea and vomiting but I am running in between treatments and the result is faster recovery.

MargeG

Lindsay taking time to visit during my treatment - July 13, 2010

This is LindsayF. She is also running for American Cancer Society and raising money for our charity (see her ACS website). I met her during my weekly group run and got to know her. She is running for her nana (grama) Marge who has pancreatic cancer, and is being treated in the same hospital as I am and we have the same oncologist. I normally see Marge early Tuesday mornings as we are about to get our treatments.

Marge is a retired nurse and is perhaps in her mid-70’s who can really brighten your day.  Amid our glassy-eyes on treatments, she and I have a certain bond.  Each of us know what we go through.  We feel sick and tired from taking our treatments but we hide it from our love one’s.

“Nana was admitted in the hospital because she was not feeling well after coming from Iowa” Lindsay told me.

I learned that she is still in the hospital recuperating. After I finished my treatment I told my wife I want to go and see Marge. I was feeling very nauseated but I just got to see her.

Marge showed to be in high spirit inspite the many infusion bags hanging to keep her hydrated and fight infection. She smiled through her oxygen mask.

Hello, Mr. Bo!” She greeted me with a warm smile.

I melted. This lady is in her hospital bed, very sick, and still manages to melt my heart. I held her hands and told her not too talk too much. She had changed from the last time I saw her. I began to hate cancer again because it slowly takes away your spirit until you have nothing to give. It nibbles at the edges of your life and does not stop. I hate cancer.

I think Marge and I understood each other. She could have been the one visiting me and I could have been the one in the hospital bed. Such is the case when you see one is in suffering and the other is not, we just accept what is. Such is the bond among cancer patients. We see the fragility of life that threatens us. We see it and try to pretend at times it is not there.

I know you travel on a difficult path, Marge. I know it is difficult but hang in there long enough for others to accept what is. We will be fine. Our paths have crossed and you have given me strength to remind myself and others of the beauty of life.  Thanks.

Cheers.

To support me in my running for ACS, please follow the link below;

http://main.acsevents.org/site/TR/DetermiNation/DNFY10Illinois?px=10708728&pg=personal&fr_id=27163

PS:  This Saturday, July 24, is my mom’s 78th birthday and the group will be running 12 miles.  Woohoo.  Bring it on!

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The verdict and consequence

May 16, 2010

ell, the verdict is in. I start chemo again this Tuesday, May 18, or 28-days after my liver surgery. I had a feeling that this was coming when I saw my oncologist (Dr. M) last Monday, May 10 for a checkup.  Dr. M is a good guy and really wants me to beat this cancer. During my visit, he checked my incision wound, which was healing well, except in two places where I am still ‘leaking’.

We need to complete your chemo treatment. You need to do six more cycles of chemotherapy.  Let’s start it next week, May 18, which is almost a month after your surgery. We will go with the same regiment of FOLFIRI (a combination of three chemo drug), but we will leave out your fourth drug, Avastin, for next week.” He suggested.

(Note: Avastin prevents blood vessels, which supplies cancer cells, from forming which my harm the growth of my liver or cause a rupture. Nice!)

Ok” I replied.

After the six-cycles, I want to put you on chemo maintenance.”

He let it hang for a moment, as if looking for my reaction, then added.

There are two schools of thought regarding chemo maintenance. Those who believe chemo maintenance is a way to keep the cancer cells from activating again and those who believe against the practice. There are no current studies to backup either protocol but there are leading scholars in oncology arguing for both. In the end, it will be between you and I, and what is best for you.” He counseled.

Ok. Let me get this right in my mind. Either I wait for my cancer to metastisize again to another organ like my lungs, and maybe give up another lobe, or I have chemo maintenance every two weeks for the rest of my life. Hmm….

I am sure there a people out there who would argue about this. In my professional life, I have been trained to look at business risks, and give my opinion and assessment. I am sensitive to probabilities, impact, and likelihood but this one is over the top. How can I be objective in assessing my own life? Do I risk not celebrating another birthday or see my kids grow? Do I miss out being a grandfather?

Oh, Antonio (Shakespheare’s Merchant of Venice), what have we gotten ourselves into? Shylock (my cancer cells), may ask for more than a pound of my liver. Ha! What sayst thou?

No more! I shall drink the cup of chemo maintenance and thy will be done!

Chemo maintenance is not too bad.  We have other patients who comes in for their chemo maintenance.  The important thing is it should not interfere with your quality of life. Instead of receiving three or four chemo drugs, like you current regiment, this time we limit it to two. You do not carry a pump home and this can be done around your work schedule. We can even arrange for a chemo holiday if you go vacation.” Dr. M assures me.

The consequence.

I will cross that bridge when I get there. Right now, my mind is on Tuesday, May 18. I got to make sure I have enough nausea pills, stool softners, ice chips, pain meds, and a clean vomit bucket.  Who knows which chemo demon will come and visit me this time.

However, I could not help think of the other consequence of chemo maintenance. Specifically, I signed up to run the 2010 Chicago Marathon for the American Cancer Society (ACS). I signed up not knowing if I will be able to train for it after six-cycles of chemo and now with chemo maintenance thrown in to make my life exciting. Oh, you lucky Kenyans! It is useless for me to win the marathon because my blood will be so tainted I would be disqualified when I win it. It is not if I win it, but when I win that race. Ha! Darn, it means winning Boston or NYC is out of the equation as well.

I just read the blog of my friend VickiM (aka Skye_Trekker) from UK. Due to scheduling problems, Vicki was not able to start the Etape Caledonia bike race, an 81-mile bike race in Victoria Park, Aberfeldy, Scotland. Now, she has a DNS (did not start) attached to her resume. Don’t fret, Vicki, who knows I may get a DNS for the Chicago marathon also. I would not mind getting a DNS or a DNF (did not finish) attached to my name but not a DNT (did not try). I refuse that one.

This I will commit. I will be at the starting line of the Chicago Marathon with my brother, Raul, on October 10, 2010 and pray I will finish.  It will be a battle between me and the marathon sweepers (race officials telling runners they will not make it and the course will be closing soon).  And, I will raise money for ACS because they are there for me and for all the other cancer patients.  To us, it is all about the birthdays or other milestones.  Happy birthday! May we all have many more to come.

Cheers.

PS:  If you wish to support me as ACS Charity Runner, please follow either link below.  Thank you for your generosity

My personal page.

Team D’Waddlers’ page.

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