Posts Tagged ‘CEA’

A beautiful day for a run.
March 9, 2014

TThe lake was still frozen.  The morning air was cold at 26F (-3C) but the sun was out.  The sky was blue so I just got to go out and run.  It is my first-time to run outside and I was excited.  I have been exercising (spinning and cross-training) indoor but when there is an opportunity to run outside I take advantage.  Life is beautiful.

As always my wife, training partner, and nurse was with me to make sure nothing happens to me.  Lucky huh?  It was wonderful to be out there.  Trails were clean.  There were a few runners, but mostly it was peaceful.  I run without music.  It is so soothing to hear the steady cadence of my foot as it hit the ground.  I got lost in the moment.  The air was brisk and very refreshing to my cancer-riddled lungs.

I wonder too how the 14 nodules in my lungs still enable me to run.  I’ll take what is given.  That’s three miles at 13 min-mile.  Done.  What a wonderful after glow feeling.  Intoxicating.  Only 23 more miles to go.



CT Scan Result and Cardinal George.
I had my CT scan last Thursday.  I did not expect much of it since my CEA tumor count was trending up.  Depending on your outlook; the good news is that the number of nodules is stable, still 14, or you can view at as three months of chemo which did not even kill one.  There was also a slight increase in size in a few of the nodules.  The bonus was there was no other metastasis to other organs.

I try not to read too much to news like this.  I can’t change it.  I just accept it and move on.  But there are certain news that stops me, like the cancer relapse of Cardinal Francis George  Archbishop of Chicago.  I can relate to his journey.  It is his third time also and he will have to undergo aggressive chemotherapy.  He is the leader of our church and helps many lost souls.  That is so wrong.

Cancer changes you, and for it to touch (again) a man of great conviction and belief is a humbling experience.  He has the courage to ask for prayers when I look up to him to pray for me.  Also, I wish I have the same ounce of courage he has.  His braveness and acceptance of his fate is reflected in his word that I dare not even whisper.

“While I am not experiencing symptoms of cancer at this time, this is a difficult form of the disease, and it will most probably eventually be the cause of my death.” —Cardinal George.

God bless out, Cardinal George.


P.S. I meet with University of Chicago doctors this week to discuss chemo trials.

Read Full Post »


Giving up an inch is like giving up on hope

February 19, 2014

It moved again.  My CEA (tumor) count went up again—slightly, as my nurse told me.  True.  An incremental .10 increase is small compared to a full point increase so I should not be worrying.  (Note:  I had another blood test a week after when my platelet were low to check if I have recovered and if there are any CEA activity).

If you follow the Sochi Olympic or any world class events, the difference between a gold, silver, bronze or a world record is measured by centimeters, inches, or micro-seconds.  At this level of competition it requires years of dedication and sacrifice.  Everything must be perfect the moment you step on the ice or the starting line of an elite marathon event.  You don’t give an inch, a micro-second, or a goal until it is time.

Similarly, I may not be a world class athlete but each time I give up an incremental increase in my tumor count, I feel robbed.  I hate it.  I have made many sacrifices and my cancer still manage to shave off something out of me.  It is slowly thinning out my hope for cure.  Besides I don’t have anything to spare especially when my CEA count is more than 100% beyond the normal threshold.

I am not giving up.

Today, I consulted with doctors at the University of Chicago (U of C) Hospital to see what are the possible cancer trial programs open for me there.  I am now looking at experimental drugs that might fit me.  Like all consultations I have done from Mayo to MD Anderson, and now U of C, there are only possibilities and hope.  This is the nature of cancer: there are many elements to consider.

They believe that my immunity is strong that I am able to co-exist with my cancer or that my cancer is weak.  They also believe that the CEA tumor count can be misleading.  To settle matter, they recommend a CT scan for comparative analysis. This way it will be conclusive if my CEA count is giving me false positive readings.  A growth in my tumor means my CEA count is giving me the right signal; otherwise, they are treated as noise.

They also believe I can fit into an immuno-therapy trial because of my profile.  It is like weaponizing my immune system to target my cancer.  Or I try this other chemo pill.  So, there are options and possibilities which is all what I can hope for.

It also means I have just broaden my team to help me beat my cancer at world class level.  I willing to do the work and make any sacrifice to take back that inch I was robbed.  It starts tomorrow, when go back to my unfinished chemo.


P.S.  A surprise “care package” came in yesterday from my German friend FrankH.  I appreciate it.  Thanks.  (I wrote about FrankH in a post dated November 7, ‘I am ready.’)

Read Full Post »

Snow day for me.
February 7, 2014

Y“You make it to February there is a good chance the change or resolution will be lasting.”  I wrote that in my previous post due to optimism brought in by a new month.  I should have added new challenges too.

Yesterday, I got sent home early from my “chemo” school.  I was far into my drug-induced dream and have received several CCs of chemo, when my wife woke me up and said:

“ The lab called and your platelets are low.  They are stopping your chemo.”

Low platelet counts mean I am prone to bleeding.  Chemotherapy can cause your platelets to go down, there is a certain threshold that they don’t cross and I just crossed it.  I sometime have nose bleeds before and my body can still take it, but this time it is risky.

My first thought was now, with a skip in my heart beat, was my CEA (tumor count).

“How is my CEA?” I asked my wife.  “Not back from the lab only the platelet count was called ahead.”  In a testy voice, I said. “Are you sure you are not hiding anything from me?”

My nurse, Edith, assured me the CEA count has not come in yet and that my doctor is coming to talk to me.  These talks make me nervous but he just told me the same.  We stop for now, rest, and re-schedule.  It’s a snow day for me.

Later in the afternoon, my nurse called to tell me the results of my CEA count: high.  It went up.

February just turned cold.


Read Full Post »

Checkups and realities

July 16, 2013

II had a doze of reality from living with cancer.  One of the things my oncologist want to do before leaving for vacation was to have an ultra-sound scan of my abdomen to check on something he felt.

Well, I had that done that last Friday, July 12.  I got the results and they were good.  “Hernia or ascites as questioned is not identified…” (Thank you!)  Then early this morning I had my blood test to check on my CEA level (tumor marker count) to see if there is any cancer activity.  I will know the results later.

While these test are necessary, they are at times a nuance when compared to how others live.  Recently, my wife told me of a patient she attended to: a healthy 34-year old male who slipped and accidentally hit his face in the kitchen cabinet.  What is interesting about this is not so much the accidental fall, but the current medication he is taking.  At 34, he is already on blood pressure pills for maintenance.  (Tsk…tsk…tsk.  Dude, do you these things affect your libido?)

I am 20 years older than him and I am not taking any maintenance medication, but my body is battered with chemo toxins and tatooed by surgical scars.  What would I give for that 34-year old body!  I think about the many marathons I could have run and personal records broken.  Blood pressure problems are preventable.

Back in 2007, I took up running to wean myself of blood pressure pills.  The irony is I got rid of it but got cancer instead, but the point is you can still enjoy life (or food) and still take care of your body.  Mine involves periodic checkup, scans, blood work, exercise, and diet.  I treat my body with respect, like a sanctuary or a blessed altar that one pays tribute to.  It allows me to be here with you.

This summer I see car or motorcycle enthusiasts cleaning their cars and bikes with enviable diligence to show off their proud work.  If you think about it, it is the same effort and diligence when translated to maintaining healthy bodies.

I am no doctor (nor your mother) but each time you take a swing at that beer bottle or eat unhealthy food, just think of me.  I wish I had that 34-year old body with blood pressure problems instead of cancer.


P.S. Over the weekend, we did 6 miles for our long run.

Read Full Post »

Facing reality: Lung CT scan.

October 18, 2011

short posting.  My oncologist’s office called to say that I have been schedule for my chest and abdomen CT scan Thursday morning, October 20.  Gulp.  We will now find out if the six nodules in my lungs has grown or multiplied when compared to my last July 28 PET scan (see related posts ‘Its not there‘ and ‘The plan‘).  All bets are in.  Should there be any cancer activity, I am sure the verdict will be six-months of hard chemo.  I am hopeful, and praying for the best.  My blood test last week showed my CEA (tumor count) level is stable at 1.7, which is under the 2.5 threshold.

“Be sure to pickup the barium sulfate contrast so you can drink it the night before.” I was instructed.

“Ok.” I grudgingly replied.

Great. Just in time for Halloween, I am my own ‘glow in the dark’.


Read Full Post »

Happy Valentine’s

Happy Valentine’s

February 14, 2011

checked if I created a posting last year for Valentine’s Day. The only entry I found was this: ‘I am almost out of the hole again‘ dated February 15, 2010. Ironically, I find myself on the eve of ‘entering’ the hole again. Tomorrow is my monthly chemo maintenance treatment.  I don’t let it get to me anymore. It is part of me or until my doctor and I decide to stop my maintenance.

There are competing feelings on this: My mom prays that it stops while my wife hesitates because she is afraid of my cancer coming back for the third time. Both have good intentions and both I dearly love. This Valentine’s I feel their love intensely and it helps me to continue on. I know my cancer is just lurking and hiding, waiting to let my guard down. Where are you?

So I called up my oncologist’s office to find out my CEA (carcinoembronic antigen) level or tumor count from my last blood test, January 25.  (NOTE: They look at CEA as an indicator of cancer activity)

Its 1.90” Brenda said.

Thanks. Can you fax me a copy?” I replied.

Whew. That’s a relief. The threshold is 2.5, so I am within the limits. I have been wondering about my CEA level for sometime now. The news gives me temporary relief. Temporary because trending is more important. I know how this works because of my experience when it came back the second time in 2009.  It took less than a year.  It needs to stabilized until August on my one-year anniversary.

Tomorrow I will find out when I have another blood test before my chemo. Do I feel lucky?

Yes…at least tonight. It’s Valentine’s Day, right? Honey, I am home! 😮

Happy Valentine’s everybody.


PS: I have been running not consistently and only have 12 miles to show for the week.  This week is practically shot out since it is chemo week.

Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: