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Third time a charm: A new clinical trial

June 14, 2015

TTomorrow I start my new clinical trial, my third.  Like before I have guarded optimism when starting new treatments.  I would like them to work on me but…  I think that is the point of a trial: to find out.  But each disappointment takes a lot of energy out of me.

I wish they would give out medals each time I finish a trial like in marathons, at least I have something to show for it.  What I have are images, CT and PET scan images, of my completion and…defeat.  (Sorry, maybe next time!)  But as the cliche goes, it is not about winning but how you finish.  That is how my wife would say it: I am still here and standing up.

If it was about winning nobody would even try to run marathons or pursue any challenge.  It is about the struggle, as in “the struggle is real.” – meme.  Cancer is real.  It is a representation of life: the other half of life.  I have learned to see and live my life in constant struggle between life and cancer.  

Today, we went to Holy Hill, WI to pray, give thanks, and hope.  It is the last item in my preparation checklist.  Since my last treatment (May 13) I have been busy taking advantage of the mandatory four-week washout period between clinical trials.  During the break I was able to:

  • Run the Soldier Field 10 mile race on May 23.
  • Visit colleagues in New York for a week.
  • Meet with Cyberknife specialists who gave me hope that they can  address the large tumors in my lungs should my next clinical trial does not work.  It is not a cure but a containment strategy.
  • Pass my pre-clinical trial checkup with my platelets holding now at 256 (100 is the qualifying count) but don’t ask about my CEA level or tumor count.
  • Order anti-nausea pills since this is the expected side-effect of the new drug.
  • Significantly up my total miles for this last week to 30, as if I was in full training.  

I have done what I can in preparation for tomorrow.  The only thing left is to do my pre-chemo ritual: an early morning workout at the gym before going to the hospital.  This new trial will be in pill form instead of infusion.  I have to take the pills everyday for two-weeks, except on weekend, then I rest for two-weeks.  This is my second time to take chemo pills, the prior one was to “bridge” between treatments while on business travel and running Berlin September 2012. The plan for this clinical trial is to do two cycles or two months treatment at least, then scan.

That’s their plan.  My plan is to keep running, avoid fatty foods, up my fiber intake i.e. hemp protein, edemame, kale or fruit smoothie, etc., rest as needed, and fully hydrate.  Stay the course and finish standing up.  I know there will challenging sleepless nights when chills and other side-effects happen but you are there.  

Cheers.

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Of science and faith.

September 10, 2011

thought about this as my teeth were being cleaned by my hygenist, Tamara, yesterday. She had asked an update on my health as part of their records.

“Anything new in terms of your health, Bo? Still on chemo?” She asked.

She knows my medical history and has a soft touch when cleaning my teeth. It has been a challenge keeping my teeth healthy with all the treatments I have been getting.

I paused to think and was reminded of the nodules in my lungs.

“My recent PET scan detected six nodules in my lungs.” I confessed to her. She looked concerned.

I gave her an update of the new findings, my latest chemo, and the minor mouth sores that I currently have as a side-effect from the last treatment. She promised to be extra careful and suggest a laser treatment to take some pain off.  No, thanks.  Its a wuzzy pain.

She picks up her instruments and starts.  Whiiiiiiiiiiiiinnnnng!  At-a-girl.  Get in there and have fun.

In between the whining of the high-pressure dental jets, my thought drifted to the six nodules. Hard data tells me it is there. And yet, I feel fine and I am able to run 18 miles unaffected. Understandably, one can be in denial of its existence until the day of reckoning. Yes, that day will be after the marathon. My faith tells me I must be strong to will this cancer out of my body. Faith, at times, is a hard commodity to find when challenged by science or hard facts.  In my case, the existence of those damn nodules.  It is a constant battle I struggle with: science and faith.  I believe both exists in need of the other.  Faith fills the void where science cannot explain things and vice versa.  A balance.

Tomorrow, Sunday, I hope to find some renewed faith. The family and I are making a trip to Holy Hill, WI, home to the Basilica of the National Shrine of Mary Help of Christians. Us, Catholics, has so many saints and shrines to go to for miracles and healing; more so in the Philippines.  It is as if we cannot solve our own problems.  I guess it is ingrained in the Philippine culture.  Beyond culture, I think I am no different from everybody.  Right now, I want to get rid of my cancer.   I have done many things to rid my body of cancer; change my diet, run marathons, undergo surgery, chemo, and now an offering for strength in my faith.

I know what will happen in my next scan. The empirical side of me knows. My body is prepared, my mind is at peace, and my faith is …what it is.

Cheers.

P.S. My wife and I did 14 mies of run/walk (3-minute run/1-minute walk) today. I got this new interval timer to help out and amazingly I ran faster and stronger. My new friend, the Gymboss.

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