Posts Tagged ‘birthdays’

Round 14: Advent journey
December 20, 2014

RRound 14 was two weeks ago Wednesday, December 10.  It seems a long time had pass and I have already forgotten it. Besides going to chemo treatments is already normal for me; it is like going out to eat or going to the gym.

However, my last treatment was memorable because it is Christmas time.  The infusion center was fully decorated for Christmas.  It was pretty amazing.  I was told that some nurses and staff came in over the weekend to decorate the waiting room, halls, and infusion rooms.  It changed everything.  I like it.  They did it for us, cancer patients.  I was told also, that a cancer patient, being treated there, would be coming the following week to sing Christmas carols at the waiting room.  She sings professionally and she is bringing friends with her.  I can only imagine the scene: Her voice permeating the rooms inside the infusion center while the hisses and beeps of infusion pumps try to drown the Christmas music.  Bravo, fellow cancer survivor, bravo!  Next time I will bring my minus one CD and sing too.  Ha!

Simbang Gabi: My advent journey.  

I have been on an advent journey that goes back when I was living back home.  Filipinos have this Catholic tradition called “Simbang Gabi”(literally translated as Mass in the Night), wherein early morning masses are held, normally at 4:30 am, for nine consecutive days before Christmas.  The tradition was started by the Spanish priests as way for the farmers to go to church to give thanks before going to work in the rice fields.  Simbang Gabi started December 15.

Back home, I have vivid memories of going to the early morning Simbang Gabi with my cousins and friends.  Waking up so early in morning as a teenager is not exactly easy, and you have to do it for nine consecutive days.  It takes effort beyond benevolent intentions.  I don’t remember ever completing it for the nine-day novena period but I do remember the early morning rise.  I remember it was cold (about 40F) and I would walk the empty streets on the way to my cousins house.  Each year my cousins and I would have a contest among ourselves as to who can complete the nine-day novena mass.  I would go the first few nights and would lose focus, not wake up, and not complete it.  Until now…

December 15 at St. Henry at 7:00 pm – Done.  

December 16 at Immaculate Heart of Mary at 7:00 pm – Done. 

December 17 at St. Matthias at 7:00 pm – Done.

December 18 at St Wenceslaus at 6:30 pm – Done.

December 19 at St. Ita at 7:00 pm – Done.

December 20 at St. Cornelius at 4:30 pm – Done.

We will have to wait and see.  Doing this nine-day mass have given me a new perspective, aside from the spiritual renewal it gives you.  I have never seen so many churches in my life and did not even know they existed here in Chicago.  Each Simbang Gabi is full of Filipino worshipers and of course, where there is a Filipino gathering there is Filipino food after.  I just wish they serve vegetarian dishes but that would be hard for any rice-eating Filipino.  I plan to continue this tradition.  Tomorrow I go to Toronto to visit my sister and guess what: They have Simbang Gabi there also….and of course food.  

I am enjoying this advent journey.  It has given me time to reflect where I have been and hopefully God has heard my prayer of healing.  I am even going to different churches to make sure my prayers are heard, and even as far as Canada…eh?

Today is special also.  It is my birthday.  I celebrated it with my family and even my youngest brother arrived today from the Philippines for a visit.  Life is good.  Join me in my journey of renewal and thanksgiving.


56th birthday

56th birthday with Irish 

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Round 11: Weekly routine.
November 16, 2014

AAt the hospital: Wednesday, November 12.

Hmmm….  Not very many people today.  The waiting room is not full and it is already the middle of the morning.  I checked in and sat to wait for my name to be called.  The normal routine is to get my vital signs, like weight, blood pressure, temp, pulse, and oxygen saturation.  Then they take several vials of blood for the study and lastly, they access my port.

This is my weekly routine unless I have a chemo break.  I practically have memorized my vital sign stats and at times I would play a game with the nurse tech to guess exactly my weight, BP, pulse, temp.  With the weekly blood test, I know the results my kidney function, blood work, platelet count, and other details enough to understand them.  Then I have monthly CT or PET scans to monitor my tumors.  I know every change in my body and the impact of my exercise and vegetarian diet as a result of these weekly tests.

These weekly routines give me a sense of stability or normalcy, and I am thankful.  Also, I have mentioned it before, it helps me be grounded with my priorities.  Outside the hospital, there is the hustle and bustle of life: the text messages, the email, conference calls, bills, etc., but these are temporary and insignificant when measured against health and family.  My routines at the hospital allows me to see things differently.  I am glad I am given that opportunity and share this with you.

Thanksgiving is coming up in a couple of weeks.  I am looking forward to it because I will celebrate it differently this year.  If all goes well, it will be a special Thanksgiving.  One more round of chemo on November 19, which is also the birthday of my daughter Abby, then Thanksgiving week.  I will definitely write about it.

P.S.  I am still wearing a boot to help heal the fracture in my right foot.  Hopefully, the doctor tells me I can remove this thing.  Then it is rehab time.



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More birthdays to come.

December 20, 2012

That is what we wish among cancer patients and survivors. I have attended and celebrated many birthdays in my life. It is always marked with joy, thanksgiving, gifts, parties, and sharing.

Among cancer patients and survivors, it is a more sobering moment, and it has special meaning beyond celebrating it the normal way. For me, it is a time when I look back to see how far you have gone (or survived), and hope I make it to my next birthday. I felt that way this morning. With a sigh, I said “I made it. I made it to another birthday. Thanks you!” I did not do this when I was cancer-free; I took it for granted. My birthdays are meaningful to me now. This is my fourth birthday struggling with cancer and I so grateful for each milestone.

You might say I am only four-years old but I have lost my hair from treatments. So far I have completed four of the twelve planned chemo treatments, but last week was a struggle. I almost ended up in the hospital again. This time around it was vomits; intense vomits. As in stomach squeezing, bad bile tasting, projecting liquids vomits. I could not keep anything down. None of my anti-nausea meds were working.

My wife had to cancel her scheduled night shift work to infuse liquids in me. It took her three tries before she found a good vein for the infusion. My veins would collapse because I was so dehydrated. Once I stabilized she infused an anti-nausea drug and I got a break. It was so easy to give up but I made it to my birthday.

Today was a simple day: mass early morning, beautiful spaghetti frutti di mare for lunch, and Life of Pi movie. Done.

Life is totally good.


P.S. Special thanks to my friends Vicky from Isle of Skye, Scotland who sent me soap and other things, and Carmela for the Lucky plant (I need this one…hehe).  Thank you to all who wished me happy birthday and the messages you sent from my wife’s FB account.

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I am home

I am home.
December 19, 2009

Just a quick note to say I am doing fine.  In pain , but very glad to go home today and in time to celebrate bday tomorrow, December 20.  Another milestone for me.  Small victories are greatest gifts.

Will write again.

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