Posts Tagged ‘half marathon’

The road to salvation: Jerusalem and Rome

February 8, 2015

TThe road to salvation goes through Jerusalem.  I am going to Jerusalem to run the a half-marathon on March 13.  Sound crazy, but I am.  As a pilgrim, I have never been to Jerusalem.

I have always wanted to go to the Holy Land.  My mom has been there on a pilgrimage tour many years ago with my aunt, so seeing the Holy Land has always been in the back of my mind.  My conviction to go was further strengthen by the uncertainty of living with cancer (see my previous post The Uncertain Furture).  If not now: When?

With the restrictive schedule of my chemo treatments, a window of opportunity is coming mid-March, when I have one-week break from treatment.  But it is not that simple, especially mine.  All the stars have to align to make this pilgrimage run happen.  First, while most marathon races around the world are run on weekends, Saturdays or Sundays, it is not in the Jewish state of Israel.  They have Sabbath, so March 13 falls on Friday or for the superstitious Friday the 13th.  I have treatment on March 11 and have to travel.

Then there is my injured foot, the still recovering left ITB injury, and I have not run outside or on a treadmill since October last year when I fractured my foot.  So why, you may ask, should that stop me from getting to the starting line of a 13.1 mile race in one of most sacred places in the world.  What have I got to lose? I already got cancer in my lungs, have lost half my liver and a gallbladder; I have an embolized spleen, and expect to change clinical trails soon to stop the trending growth of my lung nodules.  WTF.

I called my clinical trial nurse, LindaJ to “beg” and “pleaded” my insane case to go on a “holy” pilgrimage.

The company (that sponsors the trial) said it will only allow a one-day adjustment.  You can have your treatment one-day ahead.”  Done.  I’ll take it.  Thank you.

Next, I called my physical therapist JamieM of Novacare and told her of my idea of running the Jeruasalem Half.

What? Are you crazy?  That is so cool!  Do you realize we got less than six-weeks to work with?”  She did not exactly boosted by confidence.  I told her it is just one my moment of weakness and succumb to a dumb-ass idea, but I need help.  

We got to get you quickly on the Alter-G.”  Alter what?  And that we did.  Wow!  I am so in love with that machine I named her Alice.  You would not believe the immediate endorphin rush I got the first time I use it; especially after so many months of not running.  I felt so alive.  Oh, Alice I love you.

Since I am off on a pilgrimage or on the road to salvation, I might as well complete it by going to Rome to see the Pope on the way back.  If I don’t get to see the Pope, I would like to attend Sunday mass at St. Peter’s Basilica.  Like Jerusalem, it will be my first time to see Rome (but not Italy).  Also, like Jerusalem they will be running the Rome marathon on the weekend (March 22) my wife and I will be there.

Hmmm?  Is this a sign for me?  Are the stars aligning again?

Shalom.  Ciao.

P.S. My wife will be running the 10K in Jerusalem too.  This weekend we did 5.5 miles at the lakefront and it was beautiful.

Alter G running1

Getting high on life!


Training for Jerusalem Half on my new love, Alice.

Training for Jerusalem Half on my new love, Alice.

Beautiful weekend run.  We did 5.5 miles.

Beautiful weekend run. We did 5.5 miles.




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Back to the experiment: Round 3.
August 20, 2014


Over the weekend, I ran 14.5 miles (23.1 km) which is the longest run I have done so far. That’s a half marathon and a few. My wife was with me but she did only 11 miles (17.6) and did great.

I think I surprised her when I said that I was going 3.0 more miles as we headed back to the car. She did not object or discouraged me,but there was still a worried look in her face as I picked up my pace. I just want to take advantage of my one-week chemo holiday and log as much miles as I can. Plus, it is such a beautiful day to waste.

Now, I go back to treatment or back to the gerbil wheel. It will be another long day. I can’t complain; so far I have been responding to my treatment, manage to keep training, and enjoy each day that is given.

That is the secret: you take what is given and enjoy the moment. Similarly, I have had bad days but if you only hold on longer the moment will pass and things will be ok. Like running, there are times my legs refuse to take me the distance. Or my body just could not get up early to go the gym. These type of days are needed to balance things out, otherwise you don’t get to appreciate the good side.

Today, I will see Sammy again, along with Saray, Sonia, and others. I will sit in the waiting room and hear the interesting stories of my “friends”. I will get infused and take it all in with open arms. I will try to recover fast, shake it off, and set my mind for this weekend where I will be on the starting line for a half-marathon. With my chemo and training the race is appropriately called Half Madness 13.1: Mad to the Bone (It should have been called pure madness in my case). Yes!

Go number 5.


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Summer fun.

June 3, 2013

II was in my dentist office recently having my teeth cleaned.  As Tamara was cleaning my teeth all sorts of things were going through my head.  For one, I did not even flinch when she started cleaning a sensitive part of my teeth.  Pain has become my friend.

I have gone to the deepest part of my ability to tolerate pain for the sake of living, I no longer make a big deal out of it.  Sure there is discomfort but it is nothing compared to not having a chance to live again.  In fact, I am more aware of my surroundings lately, I even the crispy crackling sound of the dental suction removing water from my mouth.  The air is fresher to me, the grass weed and pollen still wreak havoc to my sinuses but they just remind me of summer is here.

Yes, I will enjoy this summer.  I still have one more chemo treatment to do (June 4) and then I will have a two-month break.  Two months of no doctors, no treatments, no hospitals.  I am sure other if given a break will plan for travel and relaxation, not for me.  I plan is to use my two-month break to train for a half-marathon in August 10.  I like being out in the sun.  I like eating too after a hard workout.  Food taste better when you work for it.  It is the same concept as fasting and pigging out…hehe.  Running allows me to control pain and I like to see how far I can tolerate them.

In between training, my wife and I will take a short trip to Manila to visit family.  I will definitely enjoy every moment of my summer.

I hope you have a good summer too.

summer fun

Dr. J, the hepatologist

Last week I met with Dr., J, hepatologist (doctor of the liver) to consult about the cause of my ascites.  Although, it is no longer bothering me I still want to find out what cause them.  He the most common cause is disorder of the liver, but it can also be the heart.  A SAAG test can definitely determine the cause but requires a sampling of the ascetic fluid.  Since my stomach is no longer distended a sample cannot be taken for the moment.  Should it come back, he recommends performing the SAAG test.


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Two worlds: cancer and life

June 7, 2012

was recently reminded of the world(s) I live in: the world of cancer and the world of life. My cousin who was diagnosed with esophageal cancer early this year is no longer responding to all types of chemo treatments. In fact, they have stopped all treatments and has move to the final stage of care: hospice care at home.

Hospice care is a trigger word for cancer survivors. It means the end-of-life stage and the focus now is making you comfortable. I have seen people enter this stage of life and it is not pleasant. You know what is coming. More so, it unnerves to me that it is happening to a family member, who have been supportive of me when I was first diagnosed four years ago. Now, it is I who have to give them comfort.

I can imagine what is going through the mind of my cousin.  He has taken cared of this family all his married life, now he is and will not be able to take care of them.  Sucks. For the family left behind, it will be difficult.  I had sense this in my call to them.

“Hi, Ate (Elder female family member). How is Kuya (Elder male family member)?” I asked when I called recently.

“He is doing fine now. They stopped all treatments last Monday. Right now he is eating well and doing his walks. We brought him home from the hospital and he will be receiving hospice care here at home.” She replied.

Our conversation was thick with over-hanging emotions. No tears but I sense the underlying sentiment as we talked: I am doing fine while my cousin is entering hospice care. Why? It was the unanswered question that neither of us dare bring up, but it was there like an elephant in the room.

I was more worried about her but she seem to accept the reality of cancer taking her husband, my cousin. We danced around to find an easy conversation about the kids but there was no way of ignoring the inevitable. Promises were made and I hang-up with a heavy heart.

Damn you, cancer. How many more lives do you have to take and leave families empty with grief.

Two worlds colliding in me. As a cancer survivor, I straddle both worlds knowing that either side can tip the balance. I bid you good memories, Kuya. You paid my dues for being here and I will do my best to honor the legacy of our family.


P.S. This weekend my wife and I will be running a half marathon (13.1 miles) event locally, the North Shore Half Marathon. This one is for you, Kuya. So far, our longest training run was 16 miles, which we did last weekend (June 2).

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I thought I escaped.

October 27, 2011

n my mind I thought I escaped by leaving for Atlanta, but in the end I think it was just taking a detour to the same destination: chemo treatment. The results of the CT scan still bothered me so I called up Dr. B, the radiologist who read my July 28 PET scan.

I had gotten to know Dr. B when he did my chemoembolization(or targetted chemo) December 2009 (see related post ‘At the starting line with Dr B‘).  He is a very warm and caring doctor who is thorough with his work. He said he was disappointed when he saw my July 28 PET scan showing the suspicious nodules in my lungs.  I told him the reason for my call.

Dr. B, can you tell me which of six nodules discovered last July 28 grew when compared to the October 20 CT scan?  The October 20 report just said ‘representative nodule’ measures 1 cm,” I asked nervously.

He ticked off the growth of each nodules with a professional tone:

6 mm to 7 mm

8 mm to 10 mm

9 mm to 11 mm

3 mm to 5 mm for the nodule on the right.

Each time he gave me the comparative results, it felt like a stab to my heart.  Breathe. I lost count.  It was like pounding nails sealing my faith, forcing me to accept reality: it is back.

It is conclusive, Bo.” He solemnly said. I thank him for his openness. Also, he does not think another PET scan will be helpful.  He just advised me to have a discussion with Dr. M on my treatment plan.

It is back to chemo for me. It is like, I am being told to go back to the back of the line because you have not learned. I maybe missing the point of this lesson this time or it maybe just hard to see it at the moment. Do you get it?

What my muscle memory tells me is just to stand up, move, and never give up until I finish this challenge.  But chemo treatments are not marathon races.  They are unique by itself. There are no endorphin highs or no medals to show.  There are even no winners or finishers, just survivors. In the end, there are just those who are with us or those who are not.

I will commit myself to this again.  What else is there to do.  I will be at the starting line again on November 8.  Please come with me again.


P.S. I entered a half-marathon race this Saturday, October 29, here in Atlanta.  It is called the Silver Comet.  Let’s see what they have here in Atlanta besides peaches.

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