Posts Tagged ‘FOLFOX’

Earning my day

March 8, 2013

SSince my prognosis, I have been back on chemotherapy.  So far I have completed three treatment cycles using Avastin and a regiment of three chemo drugs referred to as FOLFOX.  That makes four chemo drugs I take each cycle or session.

Among the chemo drugs is Oxalyplatin, a platinum-based drug which, ironically, I am allergic to.  Yup, it gives me hives.  In 2008, I took this drug as part of a study and ended up in the emergency room.  You might have guessed I must be scraping the bottom of the barrel to take something that I am allergic too.  Yes, that’s right, Oxalyplatin is my last hope due to the DNA structure of my cancer.  Cancer patients most often don’t have many choices when it comes to their treatment and in my case it is a matter of: take it or die.  However, to minimize the risk of allergies, I load up on steroids and antihistamine the day before of my treatment.  What a life, I hate cancer.

I think I am responding to my treatment; my feet are no longer swollen, my abdomen is relatively smaller, and my tumor count is down.  Last week I had a paracentesis done, or removal of fluids from the peritoneal cavity in the abdomen, and they got 1.1 liters of water.  These are good signs but I hesitate to be optimistic.  My enthusiasm is tempered because I know it is temporary.  I know I should be thankful but this is hard for me.  The fleeting nature of my predicament is real and in the moment.

Normal people don’t have to do anything so they can have another tomorrow.  They are healthy and in all likelihood tomorrow awaits them with open arms.  It is a given, until they have a wakeup call.  For me,  I have to earn each day given to me by having chemo treatments, I bear the pains of its side-effects, and do it all over again…and again until my body can take it.

Once I have earn my day or week, I get busy; I prioritize which task is most important.  Not all things are important.  Often on top of the list is my family, then perhaps friends, colleagues, etc. and then I think of ways on how to give back or make a difference to them.  I had just earn my day or week and I am not going to waste it.  After all the sufferings from chemo, each day must have a meaning: that’s how I decide.  I often make it simple by calling, texting, email, etc., but the point is I make it a point to acknowledge them to say that they made a difference in my life.

This blog has made my life fuller.  It started out as a journal of my marathon adventures, now it is providing you front-row seat to my roller coaster cancer ride. Keep this in mind, earn the day given and spend it with meaning … you are better off than me.


P.S. A family friend, AnnieG, came in from Florida for a visit.  She is cooking me lots of my favorites dishes.  Thanks, Annie.  Another shout out and a big thank you to my dear friend Mary AnnG from Connecticut for giving me my own DVD copy of Downton Abbey.  Double cheers.

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Chemo pills: Done.

October 14, 2012

Basel, Switzerland.

nother milestone done, this time in the cancer world. I completed the chemo pills regiment, my oncologist prescribed to me while here in Basel, with few side-effects. I started taking it a day after doing Berlin (no rest for the weary). It was one of the conditions of my extended travel. Oh well.

I can never get very far from cancer reality but I am still very thankful for the blessings I have. I have learned that it does not matter where you are; in Manila, Basel, NY, or Chicago, it is about the people you meet along the way. Each day and each place provides an opportunity to learn, interact, and deepen relationships with people. Here in Switzerland, my wife and I had that chance of renewing friendships with JimmyB from Geneva and establishing new ones with JanetG from Zurich.

Relationships brings new meaning to a favorite dish or a new place. The sculptures and tourist spots of Geneva are meaningless when compared to the home-made lunch prepared by Jimmy. Rhine Falls may just be a waterfall outside of Zurich but when shared with Janet its significance is memorable.

People tell me they are inspired by my journey but the irony is I get my motivation from you. I get energize when I am out and intoxicated with life.  It is true what Forrest Gump said ‘life is a box of chocolates you will never know what you get until you open it.’ It makes me look forward to the next time I melt into the warm kindness friends and people, and I respond with great blessing.

Another week here in Basel and I go home. What awaits be back home is my family….and my oncologist. I go back on full chemo treatment on October 23 with a different regiment, stronger one: Oxaliplatin with a new drug called Zaltrap. The former is a platinum based chemo drug that I had an allergic reaction to and it makes me sensitive to cold things: I had to wear gloves when getting things from the refrigerator or not go there at all. The plan is to load me up with steriods and antihistamine before introducing Oxaliplatin with a slower rate of infusion at the hospital. After the hospital, I bring home my portable infusion pump for more chemo that usually last for 2-days or until I empty the bag. I get a week to recover and do it again to complete 12 cycles of this regiment.  I am not exactly excited about going back to full chemo treatment. I hate it and its crippling side-effects, but I need to do this to see you again…or for the chance to run the NYC marathon next year.

This is when I say ‘life is like a marathon, you will never know how you will finish until you stand at the starting line.’


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