Posts Tagged ‘life’

I finished the Jerusalem Half.

March 13, 2015.

Ashort note since many wanted to know how I did.  It was painful, very hilly, memorable, and most exhilarating experience of my life.  My time was 3:16:45 and each moment was worth it.  I struggled especially on last three miles, which was mostly uphill, but I did it.  I am happy with the time and I thought it was good considering my condition, training, and terrain.

I had to abandon my run/walk strategy because it was not working.  Instead, I took what was given: run the downhill and flats, then walk the uphill climb.  Dig deep and enjoy the pain and suffering.  L’Chaim.

Tonight is Shabbat.  The markets are full and all the Jewish families prepare a special meal, then a day of rest.  It is a celebration of life by the food taken in order to nourish yourself.  I am fully nourished, rest is what I need.  I will write again.


3:16:45 finish

3:16:45 finish


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Round 11: Weekly routine.
November 16, 2014

AAt the hospital: Wednesday, November 12.

Hmmm….  Not very many people today.  The waiting room is not full and it is already the middle of the morning.  I checked in and sat to wait for my name to be called.  The normal routine is to get my vital signs, like weight, blood pressure, temp, pulse, and oxygen saturation.  Then they take several vials of blood for the study and lastly, they access my port.

This is my weekly routine unless I have a chemo break.  I practically have memorized my vital sign stats and at times I would play a game with the nurse tech to guess exactly my weight, BP, pulse, temp.  With the weekly blood test, I know the results my kidney function, blood work, platelet count, and other details enough to understand them.  Then I have monthly CT or PET scans to monitor my tumors.  I know every change in my body and the impact of my exercise and vegetarian diet as a result of these weekly tests.

These weekly routines give me a sense of stability or normalcy, and I am thankful.  Also, I have mentioned it before, it helps me be grounded with my priorities.  Outside the hospital, there is the hustle and bustle of life: the text messages, the email, conference calls, bills, etc., but these are temporary and insignificant when measured against health and family.  My routines at the hospital allows me to see things differently.  I am glad I am given that opportunity and share this with you.

Thanksgiving is coming up in a couple of weeks.  I am looking forward to it because I will celebrate it differently this year.  If all goes well, it will be a special Thanksgiving.  One more round of chemo on November 19, which is also the birthday of my daughter Abby, then Thanksgiving week.  I will definitely write about it.

P.S.  I am still wearing a boot to help heal the fracture in my right foot.  Hopefully, the doctor tells me I can remove this thing.  Then it is rehab time.



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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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Life does not stop.
April 6, 2014

I still don’t have any news if I am going to be accepted in the University of Chicago Medicine clinical trials.  It has been a couple of weeks now.  While waiting I have been keeping fit.

Yesterday, my wife and I did 5.7 miles and the previous week we did the 8K (5 miles) Shamrock Shuffle with my oncologist, Dr. M.  He was such a trooper, inspite of having little or no training, he completed the race.  He was tempting me to take a shortcut at the halfway point,  but I just laugh it off.  (“Let’s take a cab.  I’ll pay.”)  LOL.  I am sure he was sore after that experience.

I am totally amaze at the new experience I am having as I am getting weaned off my chemo toxins.  The food taste better, the air is fresher, and life is much sweeter.  As I gain my strength back I am able to run longer too.  It feels like I am putting distance between me and my cancer.

But alas, that may not be so.  Last Thursday, I went back to the hospital to have my chemo port flushed (it gets clogged when not in use).  I also had my blood test.  My CEA level (tumor count) still show elevated and it moved a few points again.  Nothing significant, but it is still a reminder that I am not cured.

Lift does not stop whether you have cancer or not.  It works the same for any other disease or problems.  Since life does not stop, it is best just to get up, move, and make the most of it.  Doing nothing is not an option for me.  There are new things to do and many things to learn for cancer to stop me.  It may slow me down, but it will not take away my thirst for what life has to offer.


Quinoa pasta with garlic and vege sauteed in olive oil.  Bam!

Quinoa pasta with garlic and vege sauteed in olive oil. Bam!


P.S.  I would like to thank my friend and cancer-survivor, Noreen, for treating my IT band problem.  I love her.  Lastly, Palm Sunday is coming up.  Can you say “Aloha?”

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Going vegan.
March 26, 2014

It all started as a Lenten challenge: on Ash Wednesday to be exact.  The idea was to give up something for the Lenten season, as a sacrifice or offering.  I love ramen and my wife would be easily tempted with tonkatsu (breaded chicken breast) from our favorite Japanese place, Santouka at Mitsuwa market place.  So that will be our sacrifice.  Prune and grow.

My daughter, Talia, heard about our plans and decided to join.

 “For Lent, I will just eat vegan food” she declared.  Wow.

She does not eat red meat like me but she love cheese.  To go vegan, you have to give up all dairy, animal, and seafood products.  Only plant-based food products, like beans, nuts, soy, grains, etc., are allowed.  For bread or any bakery products, they must not contain eggs or cows milk.  What?  So you can imagine how strict of a diet it is but others have done it.  It is a lifestyle change.

I thought I join her on her journey.  I was already going in that direction before when I started giving up red meat and substituting tofu.  I prefer eating salads and vegetables already, but I still was eating eggs and cheese.  The no red-meat diet helps me during chemo when I get constipated or have my vomit episodes.  I had to strike a balance on eating nutritious food to sustain me and comfort food (ahem…like ramen).

Nonetheless, I saw the vegan lifestyle as an opportunity.  For one, it will be only for the Lenten season (I think) and it would further strengthen my immune system.  Remember my next challenge is an immuno-theraby treatment using clinical trial drugs to fight my cancer.  So I am off on my new adventure.

The first step is buying all these exotic sounding food, like chia, spelt bread, quinoa, almond milk, etc.  My new friend now is Trader Joe’s or TJ.  I was surprise that switching to vegan food was not too difficult, perhaps because of the new taste.  I have now tried or switched to: eating spelt bread, steel-cut quinoa oat meal (this is good) for breakfast, edemame nuggets (looks and taste like chicken nuggets), tofu sausage, soy-based cheddar cheese (great for grilled cheese sandwich), and awesome vegan desserts.  I even made myself scrambled tofu for breakfast and dinner.  Bam!  Look!


Scramble tofu with tomato, onions, sweet baby bell peppers, and parsley.  Yummy!

Scrambled tofu with tomato, onions, sweet baby bell peppers, and parsley. Yummy!

Now, let me clarify things first about the vegan lifestyle.  You can still gain weight eating vegan food, especially with their wicked desserts.  While healthy, vegan food does not automatically equate to organic food, vegan just means no animal products.  Beans and nuts, depending on portion size, has high caloric content.  So there’s vegan food and organic food: two different things.  For me, if it is a choice between vegan food and organic food in the grocery aisle, I go for organic.  I don’t need more chemicals or toxins in by body.
The point is to stay healthy and strengthen my immune system, and I would do anything to stay healthy.  Bye…bye…Santouka ramen, hello Chicago Diner.  OMG!


P.S.  This Sunday is the 8K Chicago Shamrock Shuffle race.  I will be running it again with my wife and my oncologist.  Dr. M is already getting stressed out for he has not run this far, so it will be fun.  The forecast is 60F and sunny.  Perfect.  I love life.


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Sayings we live by.

Sayings we live by.
January 25, 2014

Have you notice all the sayings or beliefs we live by consciously and unconsciously.  Some of them borders on superstitions or myths.  Growing up in the Philippines I remember many of them, for example:

Nasa Diyos awa, nasa tao ang gawa (God is merciful, but man still has to do the work).

Kung may tiyaga, may nilaga (If you have patience, you will will be rewarded).

It sounds better in the vernacular because it rhymes.  These are a few of the sayings I grew up with.  I normally hear these things from elders who wishes to drive home a point to my stubborn head.  There are some truths to them.

Marathon runners have a few of their own (that’s an understatement).

No pain no gain.

Pain is only temporary.

Needless to say, these sayings, mantras, or beliefs only matters if you believe in them.  If you don’t believe in them you will not be able to embrace the fundamental foundation of its teaching: You will not change, be patient, or endure the challenges.

You got to believe that there is a cure for cancer, as much as the sun will shine tomorrow. That’s a tough one.  In my case, my belief fluctuates no matter what I believe in.  It comes in cycle; it is strong when tested during chemo and weak when I am off.

Life always gets harder near the summit – Chinese fortune cookie.

I think you need every kind of motivation when you are down.  It is the ability to connect with yourself and you believe…(fill in the blank).

Songs make you connect, that’s why we love music.  Images and pictures (religious one’s included) connects us where we are at peace.  There is my grandson, Ethan, who always puts a smile in my face.  He makes me believe.  I know the place where I need to be when I am in doubt.  That place is here with you.  It makes me believe that:

“I can walk that mile, until the end starts.” – Adele 21, One and Only.


P.S.  Fourth cycle tomorrow and I am now bald again (see related post “The bald truth“).  Then there is this unforgettable date when I given a bad prognosis, January 25, 2013.  Believe me when I tell you the “bald” truth: I am grateful for the day, tomorrow, etc.

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Carrying the beast.

Carrying the beast.
August 25, 2013

Last week I was in Dallas, TX on business.  It gave me the opportunity to take this “beast” on a road trip.  The “beast” is the new chemo regiment I am on which is a combination of a full-day infusion at the hospital and a seven-day oral pill.  I started this regiment last August 13 and finished it while I was in Dallas.

Well, I would not say it was easy or hard.  My body is so use to the side-effects of chemo that it has become part of my routine.  Although I notice some tiredness, diarrhea, and nausea after finishing the pills, it was not bad.  I just move on.   What I like about taking the pill is it allows me to be more mobile and able to travel.  People at work did not notice I was on the pill…chemo pills that is.

So round 1 is done.  I have a week off then I do it again this Thursday, August 29.  I have to complete six cycles of this new regiment,  which will bring me to November.  My life now-a-days are in increments of chemo cycles.  I could not even plan what I will do next year or even the next five-years but I still go through the motion.  It helps me cope.  For now, the plan is  to get to November.  To get to November, it will be series of mile markers or chemo rounds.  Then I am sure there will another scan to see if my lung tumors are shrinking.  Increments.  A life of increments.

Two things happen when you plan for the short-term:

  1. You get impatient.  I notice that I have been direct with my thoughts and very impatient with long winded explanations.  The result is a tendency to be selfish and biased.  Big problems to others can come across as small problems when seen from a life or death perspective.  That’s when I stop myself and breathe.  I need to listen and be patient.  Omm……
  2. Clear appreciation of the present.  Since tomorrow is like a lifetime of wait, or sometimes  may never come, you get to appreciate what you have at the moment.  I enjoy the sun in face, the conversations I have with friends and colleagues, or even the traffic which allows me to be alone with my thoughts.  Then there is the running part when it becomes “quality time” with my wife.

Over the weekend, we completed six miles.  She prays when she runs while I set the pace.  I normally pick up the pace on the return as it has been my habit to empty out.  She tries to keep pace but eventually tires.  I felt good inspite of carrying the “beast”.  I am sure he enjoyed the run too.  The lakefront was extra busy with the  kids triathlon event and  their parents.  With the six-miles done, that completes round 1.  See you in round 2…..


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