Posts Tagged ‘NYC marathon’

Round 10: It’s a miracle.
November 1, 2014

Last Wednesday at the hospital:

“It’s a miracle. It is a miracle that I have been married to the same woman for 58 years.”  Then turns to me and my wife.  “I know you two are going to be married to each other…forever!.” Without stopping, he continues to fill the waiting room with his stories.  “I finished three degrees and done it all without a student loan. “

He’s back.  He is an old gentleman who comes regularly to accompany his wife for her treatment, and he talks to everybody. And I mean everybody.  You would think he is a politician or have made a career in radio but no, he is just folksy friendly.  This time around we were the closest one in talking distance of his booming voice. He had shuffled in pushing his wife in wheeled chair and sat near us.

“Good morning!  How are you?”

It was too late for me to move or put my coat in all the chairs around me. I was caught.  What do I do? I listen to his “talk.” Politely.  I try to keep a straight face and look interested while his wife just sat quietly across him.  She just watches him and most likely heard all the stories of his husband.  A guy next to me snickers and shakes his head because he knew I was caught.  Fresh bait.  Then, he pats me in the back for my bravery. Under his breath he says:

“No commercial interruption! Like a satellite.” Then chuckles.  Ha…ha.  Whatever.

Nonetheless, I love scenes like this. The conversations in hospital waiting rooms are so animated and at times, downright hilarious.  It is open and well-meaning.  Everybody is here for one purpose: to get well.  You learn a lot too, like cancer does not discriminate.  Also, you can find your sense of purpose by listening and seeing examples of enviable love.  Take this happy old couple.  They must be in their 80s having been married for 58 years.  She goes to her chemo and he goes with her.  Some cancer patients would just have given up when diagnose at that age, but not her.  She is here, wanting her chance at extending  her life.  Chemo takes a toll on you and yet she goes, and with her: her husband.

I am no match for this lady’s bravery; more so, for the dedication of the husband.  He is the miracle.  Both of them are.  They are amazing.  Then the nurse calls them, it is time for her treatment.  He bids goodbye then slowly shuffles along to follow her.


I should be in NYC now on the even of the NYC marathon.  I am feeling well, recovered from my last treatment, and would have run tomorrow’s race with my wife.  Instead I am home and will be watching the race tomorrow on TV.  I am still chained to my boot but healing well according to my doctor.  They took a comparative X-ray of my foot and it showed good progress, but I still have to wear the boot for three more weeks.

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Round 9:  Chained Six to Eight Weeks
October 26, 2013

Iam still saddened by the Jones fracture in my right foot.  It does not help that it came during my tapering period for the marathon and my movements restricted by a boot.

Athletes/runners taper or rest for a few weeks prior to competing to get maximum performance during competition.  It is normal to be restless during this period but to be restless and immobile does not help.  I have gone to the gym during the week and tried to work off a sweat on the hand-bike it is not the same.  You can’t do much when you are chained to a boot for several weeks.  No running, walking, cycling, or yoga.  I can’t wait to get back.

Last Wednesday, I went for my treatment.  My clinical trial doctor and nurse were surprise to see my foot in a boot.  I told them of my training accident (aka stupidity), and my missing the Chicago (October 12) and will miss out NYC (November 2) marathon.  That’s two for the price of one price of one penalty.  I showed them the X-ray of my foot, so now it is part of the study.  I wonder what will the clinical sponsor think of their guinea pig.  Tsk…tsk…number 5.   Fine mess you got yourself into.  Whatever.

So far I am doing fine.  I feel strong and I can shake of the side-effects faster.  I think it is due to my marathon training.  I totally believe that exercise or any physical activity and good diet can help in recovering from chemo or fight cancer.  I know it is not easy and it takes discipline.  What helps me is setting goals, like running a half or full marathon.  With a goal set, my behavior change and with it comes discipline.  I also think it is because of a curious mind: Can I do another marathon? Can I do an Ironman?  Can I do one mile more?  I want to know.

This year I may not have run any marathon but what I got is a fit body, stable cancer nodules, and a fresh outlook in life.  That is more than enough for me.  I am thankful.

With Speedy for my Round 9 treatment

With Speedy for my Round 9 treatment


P.S.  Round 10 coming up this week.  Oh…boy.


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Scans and Fractures
October 20, 2014

LLife is always two-sided.  Yin and yan.  Good news and bad news.  Scans and fractures.

I recently had my CT scan (October 15) to see how my nodules are responding to the trial drugs.  This was pre-scheduled as part of the clinical trial.  Previous to this , my last scan was September 3, so after a month of treatment the comparative result was good: Stable impression.  Whew.  LindaJ, the nurse specialist, called right away to give me the results.  “Stable”, she said.  I was trying to fish for more details but there was none.  Then I saw the full report, it was all stable, stable, stable.

I was so happy.  Woohoo.  Another milestone pass.

Now for the “other” news.  I fractured my foot.  This happened two weeks ago Sunday, October 5, during a 10-mile tapering run along the lakefront.  At mile 7, I stepped on an uneven pavement and rolled my right foot.  Next thing I know I was on the ground.  My wife was not around since I ran ahead.  I had that sinking feeling of stupidity as I felt some swelling in my ankle.  My wife caught up with me and we walked back to the car.  I limped and prayed that my foot was ok because NYC marathon was waiting for us this November 2.  I trained hard the whole summer and I was almost there.

After some icing and rehab sessions with Noreen and Jamie of Novacare, and a consultation with Dr. Reilly of the Running Institute, this “Humpty Dumpty” could not be put back together in time to race NYC.  Sucks.  Arghhh….  Gone.  Just like that.

There is an official name for my stupidity: Jones Fracture.  It is similar to the recent injury of Kevin Durant of the Oklahoma City Thunders but in my case I do not need surgery (Thank, God.  My clinical trial doctors would have flipped).  What I need is 6 to 8 weeks of foot immobility, then rehab.  I try not to look back and play the “what if” game because I can be hard on myself.  Cancer and running taught me just to take what is given.  It is time to move on.  Chalk this up as another colorful adventure I look back to.

All is not lost.  My scans are good and there is always next year to look forward too.  Rejoice Kenyans.

Jones Fracture


P.S.  Next treatment is this Wednesday, October 22.  Never stops.

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Round 6 and the 20-miler

September 20, 2014

A“A goal is just an awesome way to force growth on yourself.” –Deana Kastor

She is an Olympic bronze medalist (Athens 2004), a 2:19:36 marathoner, and the only American woman to break 2:20.  I paused when I read that quote from her in an article in the October issue of Runner’s World magazine.  She had put it succinctly what my running (and sacrifice) is all about: Growth.

For the past couple of weeks I have logged lots and lots of miles, and being a slow runner that means lots of time to think, contemplate, and breath.   If my Fitbit is correct, that means a weekly average of more than 100,000 steps, 52+ miles run/walk, and almost 20,000 calories burned.  However, what it does not tell you are the other activities I do or my almost daily 5:00 am start at the gym to cross-train, yoga, and stretch.

What gives?

That’s the point.  Why bother.  I know I will not win Chicago or NYC marathons or could even qualify for Boston.  I am a slow runner, who goes weekly to chemo treatment as a past time, a vegetarian by choice, husband, father, grandfather, and breadwinner.  And yet I push myself to get up early morning to hit the gym.

Well, I have grown just like what Deena said.  My training and change of lifestyle forced me to grow.  In return I like myself more.  I am able to fully appreciate life by earning it one mile at a time.  I don’t miss steak or pork or the late morning rise because I am able to see things differently.  Other people have notice the changed too.  It is all good.

Round 6 and the 20-miler

Last Wednesday, September 17, was my sixth round of treatment and tomorrow, Sunday, is our 20 mile run.  I have never done this before–short chemo recovery and 20 miles/32K–so we will see if I will still be standing up.  It is a prelude to the Chicago marathon in three weeks: October 12.  I feel good, anxious, and looking forward to it.  I try not to think of the distance because it can get to you.  All I know is I will be at the start and how I finish is the fun of it.  See you at the finish line.


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Memorial Day

May 26, 2014

Today is Memorial Day holiday here in the US.  It commemorates the continued sacrifice of soldiers and veterans.  My wife and I started our holiday weekend by running the Soldier Field 10 miler last Saturday (Note: Soldier Field is a football stadium and home to the Chicago Bears).
This is my second time to run this race; the first (2011) one I cheated and did not even run the whole 10 miles.  I just had my treatment that week and was in no condition to run, so I just walked the course and turned back when I got tired.  This year I made it to the starting line and completed the whole 10 miles (2:15).  I felt good after and it boosted my confidence.  It is like breaking a psychological barrier since this is my longest run for this year.  From here on, it will be double-digit miles and the training gets harder.  All for NYC marathon this November.

November is still far away but it is a goal I have set for myself.  I don’t even know if I will be at the starting line, all I know I need to do something today to to be ready for tomorrow.  They say sports, any sport, is a metaphor for life.  It reflects all the challenges you encounter in life and lets you experience the rewards of your righteous efforts.  That’s what running gives me: blissful reward for my effort.  Unfortunately, running and my cancer share the same path as well; it is part of me.  I roll with each good run or any positive news about my cancer and struggle when I have a bad run or when things are complicated.

My world is a hodgepodge miles, platelet count, pace time, blood tests, etc.  I understand all these numbers, they are my life signals.  Lately, my life signals are showing positive: My platelet count is now 70K up from 55K and my tumor count is down to 9 from a high of 11.8 a month ago.  I am breaking barriers here too.  I am happy with this fragile progress but there is still work to be done.  I have to earn each day (or mile) towards the goal of one day be cancer-free.

What’s making it work this time?  Diet, exercise, and prayers; the same formula available to everybody.  I also think the difference is how to make it work and the effort you put in it.  When it works you are given a medal as a reward and if you are lucky, it will be given by a uniformed Marine .

At Soldier Field getting our medals.

At Soldier Field getting our medals.


P.S.  Next race is North Shore Half Marathon on June 1.

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Sense of urgency

August 15, 2012

ince coming back from Manila, I feel a sense of urgency. It is not so much to respond to the many work email that greeted me upon my return but, it is the sense that I have such limited time to do the important ‘things.’ I am sure some of you may have experienced this feeling too. In my case, it is about my precarious life of living with cancer.

I have a scheduled PET scan coming up next week (August 21), the result of which can change my life again. It can mean more treatments or surgery, or it can mean I run Berlin and NYC marathon as planned. So what can I accomplish in less than a weeks time?

Many…if I keep things simple.

I am sure I have already accomplished many things also, which can be the envy of others. However, this full realization of limited time and the after-glow of spending precious moments with my mom gave me resolution to try something new.

Like writing a book about my mom and life itself: A Sense of Urgency.

Gulp!  There I have committed. How I am going to do it? I wouldn’t even know where to start. All I know is just like running, I do it with one-step-at-a-time. Perhaps in writing, it is all about one-word-at-a-time.

When you think about it I got this far with a pair of well-used running shoes, wobbly legs, tired feet, and chemo-battered body, so what could be worst.  Writing definitely is less painful compared to running or undergoing chemo, so I am ready for what surprise awaits me as I start this new adventure.

Moreover, I do not like to experience regret in the future. I think this is what motivates me just to even try: running a marathon, finishing all my treatments, or just for the sake of trying. In this instance, I don’t want to have to say ‘I wish mom was here to read this tribute.’

Hopefully, it is also a tribute to those who try to beat cancer like my cancer-survivor friends, ChrisB, NoreenK, and others. Or it is homage to those who have tried and are no longer with us, like my cousin Manuel.  It can be your story too if you think about it.


P.S. I am nursing a nagging plantar fasciitis on my left foot. I know I should rest it but I have an ‘urgent’ commitment to be on the starting line for the Batavia (IL) Half Marathon on August 26.  It is dubbed ‘Half Madness’, which is my kind of race.


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The last mile (Round 12)

April 16, 2012

  had to look it up. The last time I was on this road was on July 27, 2010; almost two years ago. I am talking about my last blog posting on the eve of my last chemo therapy (Our last dance… school’s out!).

Alice, as in Alice Cooper, was good enough to grace my ‘graduation day’. Back then I had that lingering feeling that my cancer may comeback, and it did: From my colon (2008) to my liver (2009) to my lungs (2011). I wrote back then:

“… I have this lingering feeling that after all I have gone through my cancer may comeback. Nobody can tell me that I am cured or it will not be back. I try not to think about it and stay positive. I just need to focus on what is given to me and make the most of it.”

I did make the most of it back then. I ran the 2010 Chicago marathon two month after my last chemo; then again in 2011. This year, I hope to be given a chance to run Berlin in September, but will definitely be running the NYC marathon in November. Boom!

In preparation, with the help of my wife, I have been building my miles. Over the weekend, we did 10 miles. During the run I felt the leg cramps, the muscle fatigue, and the exhilaration of giving my best. I enjoyed every moment of it. Our run was confidence-builder in preparation for the Wisconsin marathon, of which we will be doing only the half-marathon portion on May 5, 2012. Dubbed as ‘the cheesiest’ race, I am sure it will be fun.

I always have fun and always look at the bright side of things. I could be rolling in deep mud or having chemo: It is all about how you look at things. I always give my best and hopeful that my cancer does not comeback again.

I am so ready to get on with my life. I made the most of things during my treatments but after 12 rounds of chemo, and many more before that, it gets old.  School will be out again but for me it has been a continuous cycle in learning the lessons of life.

So for my last chemo tomorrow, I have Adele: Rolling in the Deep to help me get through. Enjoy.

“…you have my heart and soul in your hands, and you played it to the beat.”


P.S.  Congratulation to my friend, FrankH, who is a father again with the arrival of his second child, Mila Fiona.

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Biographies of life.

January 26, 2012

am currently reading the biography of Einstein: His Life and Universe by Walter Isaacson. He is the timeless rockstar of Physics, the father of the theory of relativity, and normally associated with a person of genius-like qualities. I love reading biographies because it shows the qualities of a person when faced with challenges and their weaknesses as well.

Einstein gave up his German citizenship early in life because he was rebelling against the government before WW I but accepted it again for a tenure at University of Berlin later in life. Steve Jobs rejected chemo treatments for seven months only to accept it again when his cancer has spread. Both based their decisions founded on the values they have acquired early on.

Similiarly, I am sure I can name a few of my own decision that led to good results and not so good results. I made them because I believe in them. The next couple of weeks will be a challenge and would test my steadfastness. I have completed six cycles of chemotherapy and need to complete six more. I will not have chemo this week, instead I will have my PET scan this Wednesday, February 1. A re-staging of my cancer to see if I am responding. A clear scan would mean I am responding but that does not mean I am cancer-free.

I have been in this situation before. A clear scan does not mean anything to my nasty ‘friends’ because they hide. I have asked my oncologist to give me everything his got for next half of my treatment. I believe I can win this and I know it will be more painful. Perhaps this my Einstein or Steve Jobs moment. I am not expecting to win a Nobel prize or revolutionize the digital world. I just want to be cancer-free.

Cancer-free or not, I have a piece good news. I will be running the 2012 NYC marathon November 4, 2012. Woohoo! For the past four years, I have been among the first to signup in the lottery to run NYC with no luck. Then it happened. I was stunned. Up to know I still keep looking at the notice of my entry because I could not believe I am in. Perhaps reality will set in when I am at the starting line along with 45,000 other runners and hear the boom of the canon to start the race.  It will be fun. To all my NY area friends and colleagues, I will be there…cancer-free or not.


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Here we go again. (Round 5)

January 2, 2012

m almost to the half-way mark. Tomorrow will be my fifth round of chemo. I need to complete six rounds of chemo treatments after which we re-stage. This means I need another PET/CT scan to see if I am responding to the current treatment. We are looking for the shrinking of the six nodules in my lungs, at best no nodules at all. Yes!

But as they say, we take it one step at a time and perhaps enjoy the moment. Last Saturday, my wife and I did six miles at the lakefront. It was a beautiful sunny but cold day. There were other runners taking advantage of day but I think most of them are Boston-bound (Boston marathon April 16). I can only dream of qualifying for Boston or maybe I run use Frank’s qualifying time (see related post ‘I am ready‘)…hehe.

Another dream is running NYC marathon. Well today they opened up the lottery registration so I signed up. This is my fourth time to enter the lottery and hopefully I get lucky this year. If not, there is always next year. Yes, one must never lose hope, like I will be cancer-free some day. Not today, definitely not tomorrow, but one of this day.


P.S.  The plan is to attend my 5:15 am spinning class then go to the cancer center to ‘gas’ up.  🙂  Have a good day.

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