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Happy Easter.


Happy Easter.

April 5, 2015

Happy Easter, everybody.  Our day started by going to mass.  The church was full and everybody was in their Sunday’s best.  Christ rose from the dead; a day of renewal.  It is a beautiful spring day too and I am grateful to have come this far.

Last Monday, March 30, I started on my new clinical trial which consisted of two drugs: one to suppress the growth my tumor (given Monday) and the other to “weaponize” my immune system to attack my cancer (given Tuesday).  They gave me a loading doze and I really felt it.  I had chills, nauseated, and was just wasted that Monday night.  I don’t know how I made it back to the hospital Tuesday to receive the immune-therapy drug, but I made it.  Then there was the never ending blood tests Wednesday and Friday.

I have recovered now.  Tomorrow is the second cycle of my treatment which is going to be a lower doze.  It does not matter, I will take whatever they give me.  That’s how it is.  They gave me my schedule all the way to end of May so there will be no travel for me for a while.

That’s ok.  Chicago is beautiful during springtime and there is the lakefront for running.  Unfortunately, I cannot have too much sun because one of the side-effects of this treatment is skin rashes.  The sun aggravates the rashes.  I will survive and adjust.  That is the key to this madness, just take what is given and appreciate your blessings.  It’s all good.  We will see the initial results of this treatment next month when I have my next scan.

Cheer.

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My Weekend in Chicago

February 18, 2013

(NOTE:  I had ask my friend Ria from Houston to cover for me while I am on treatment, as you can see she “gladly” indulged my request.  Thanks, Ria)

Two weeks ago,I went to Chicago to say hello to my friend, Bobet (aka ‘Bo’ to most of his North American friends and colleagues) . For those who have never been, Chicago is a great metropolis by the beautiful Lake Michigan. In February, patches of ice adorn the streets and architectural arches while people, unmindful of the cold, leisurely skate in the park’s ice rink. It is beautiful. You must visit.

We met Bobet and his wife, Irish, for dinner in his favorite Thai restaurant. I am happy to see him – we greet each other with long lasting hugs to cover all those years of missing each other.  I am sad to see what the cancer has done to him. He moves slowly. He is a little thinner and his stomach a little swollen. The edges of his fingers are black (from the chemo, he says). He eats in nibbles. He speaks in short phrases, while Irish attends to him diligently with tender care.  She smiles beside him and serves the soup to us, then sneaks the extra shrimp into his bowl.  What love!

After dinner we hunt for coffee (it is his bucket list, he says). The first cup he has had in years. He savors the first sip. Ahhh!  This is good. Irish is worried. She tells him “it’s late”. He shakes his head – not yet. I’m enjoying myself, he says. I smile.

The next day Bobet and Irish pick us up and we drive to where the city meets the lake. Everything sparkles. It is breathtakingly cold and beautiful. Someone takes our picture – tourists, they think. Obviously. We pick up fried rice, eggs, and bangus (marinated milkfish) from Ruby’s Restaurant, a local Filipino restaurant that had been visited by Food Network’s Bizarre Foods fame. I see Andrew Zimmern’s, the host of the show, photo on the wall. I am a fan. I am thrilled.

We go to Bobet’s home and I meet his peeps (family). His mother-in-law – Nanay, his daughter – Talia, his other daughter – Abby, Maggie the beagle and his grandson Ethan.  Whew!  So many!  The table is set we take our seats in anticipation. Grace was said first – then pass the vinegar!  In between mouthfuls I look around. Ethan is happily shoving fried rice into his mouth. Talia and Abby tag-teaming Ethan. Nanay fetching things from the kitchen, Irish passing food around making sure Bobet is eating. Smiles and laughter all around. More troop in! A nephew and a son. They have come from the gym. Big strong boys. They live here too!

I look at the family that Bobet and Irish have built; an army protecting them. He is well guarded. In the tradition of a role-playing game we used to play in college, Dungeons and Dragons; Irish is the lead elf-vanguard of the army.  However, she is not a tall, cold Tolkien elf but more like an agile pixie. Even with her new spiky hair-do, Irish can whoosh under a five foot high limbo bar, without stooping. In the die roll for Love and Courage she rolled an 18. +3.  Also, she runs marathons so that she can run beside him. She will run beside him all the way, I know, and if possible not let go. He is in good hands.

Time for a last round of pictures at the door. He blows a kiss.

Don’t let this be good-bye, they said. Come back again!

I will.

Ria Locsin from Houston, TX

From left: Rene, Ria, me, Irish the Elf and Ethan

From left: Rene, Ria, me, Irish the Elf and Ethan

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E’s World: All roads lead to Chicago
February 6, 2013

20130207-202737.jpg“No Mack truck today, Ethan!” My mom called out. Lately, the house has been awfully busy with guests and visitors coming to visit. I thought they were coming for me but instead they came for my Ampa.

First was Lala’s college friends from Connecticut (Auntie Cecile) and Philadelphia (Auntie Tina). How we have become blood related, don’t ask me: It is complicated. Apparently, among Filipinos everybody is an aunt (“Tita” in Filipino) or uncle (“Tito”), you just don’t address them by their first name. No…No.

Then there is the ritual of kissing their hand which my Ampa imposes as a mandatory greeting of elders. Being the smallest you could imagine how many hands I have to “bless”, of course, I could throw a tantrum which always works. Boy, I am good.

There is Uncle PeterP and his family who came to visit, also. They are close family friends and they brought some of Ampa’s favorite food. Food and Filipinos are synonymous; there is always food around. There is so much foot traffic in the house that I am unable to drive my Mack truck.

For the this weekend, I hear more visitors are coming. There’s Auntie Ria and her husband Uncle Rene from Houston, TX. I hear Auntie Ria is Ampa’s college friend back in Manila and had insisted on visiting. Wait there’s more: the following weekend it will be Ampa’s sister and her family from Canada, and his brother coming in from Manila. Full house! I just hope they bring some goodies for me. Yes!

Friends and family are what makes you. They bring you love and strength when you need them. They are always there. I thank God I was born to this family. Moreover, I am glad my Gramps is with me.

Cheers.

PS: Ampa had his stomach drained again and they got two liters. Wow.

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My abnormal world.

March 13, 2012

“Don’t let the is bus pass you, babes.” My wife says to me as we wait for the stoplight to turn green. We were on our way home from dinner and some quiet time.

“What’s the hurry?” I replied.

Everybody seems to be in a rush. They say patience is a virtue. I consider myself patient but not enough to be canonized as a saint. I think you have to work on being patient. The irony is, you have to be patient to work on patience. Ha!

Personally, if there is one thing I learned from my journey is that to be patient. I have been transformed (I even have the ‘transformer’ button that E always press). This is my third time to be treated for cancer in four years. I don’t want to count how many hours I have logged in chemo treatments but all I know they were all long and hard.

I’ve had my moments when I questioned the pain and was on the brink of letting go. Then, I just breathe and take in the moment. This is my abnormal world.

I will be going in the “hole” again tomorrow and it will be my 10th chemo cycle. It feels like another day at the office but this time I know I will have a bad week.  Just bring it on, baby.  I am still standing.  Give it your best shot again.

I use complain about not having enough time but now I make time for what is important: my health and well-being. It is only when I am centered that I am able to help others too.

“So what’s the hurry?”

On the running front, with the help of my wife, I have been building my miles to stay fit and be able to run a half-marathon in May.  Over the weekend, we did 7 miles by the lakefront. It was a beautiful day. I was able to empty my heart out during the last mile and I thoroughly enjoyed the pain from running. Life is good.

Cheers.

 

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