Posts Tagged ‘prayers’

Who’s counting?

Who’s counting?

October 8, 2015

We have been through this, right?  Tomorrow will be my sixth CT scan for the year.  Six!  I am a “walking glow in the dark” with so much radiation exposure.  Ha!  You can interpret this in many ways.

Let see:

  1. They could not get it right so they need to do many scans.
  2. They are making money off me and my insurance so they keep on ordering these expensive scan.  Ouch.
  3. They need it to see if I am responding.

All can be correct if you are a cynic.  However, picking number 3 would mean I am not responding to my clinical trial treatments, otherwise they will not keep on checking, right?  Previously, my last scan (5th) was considered good because it says my tumors were stable and I did not get kicked out the trial.

Tomorrow’s scan is another story.  You can’t compare or speculate on the results.  You just hope for the best, then either you jump for joy or sulk and curse, and then move on.  Good scan means I stay on with my current trial; bad means…er, not good.

I wish my cynicism would not take the best of me, but it gets to me sometimes.  It has been a long and continuous journey with no end in sight.  Oh, well.

You better let somebody love you, before it is too late – Desperado, Eagles



P.S.  This Sunday is the running of the Chicago Marathon.  Good luck, Elizabeth.  You know I will be watching.


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Thanksgiving 2013 and MD Anderson
November 29, 2013

YYesterday was Thanksgiving day.  It is my favorite holiday more than Christmas or Easter. I should not say that since I am Catholic.  But that’s the point of Thanksgiving, it transcends one’s religion or belief.

I have many things to be thankful for, especially after I was diagnose with cancer in March 2008.  This year was bad for me, and I have come a long way from having a bad prognosis January of this year.  I didn’t think I would make it to celebrate thanksgiving.

But I am here.  The turkey was good…burp!  My sister and her family arrive from Toronto and I was once again surrounding by family.  This year I even have my mother with me, which is always special.

I went back to Thanksgiving 2012 (see The Bald Truth posting) to remind me of what I went through.  Last year, I was bald and my wife cut her hair short to become bald as well.  Thanksgiving 2011 (see Happy Thanksgiving – Round 2 was the beginning of my new treatment and it was toxic for me.  It was then that my cancer went to my lungs from my liver: another relapse.  Thanksgiving 2010 (see My Thanksgiving posting) was a fulfilling year for running but I also had a liver resection that year.  Thanksgiving 2009 (see Happy Thanksgiving posting) was when I found out when my cancer came back after a year.  That was a hard news to take.  Lastly, Thanksgiving 2008 (see November 2008 posting here) was my first Thanksgiving with cancer.  Back then I did not know what lies ahead but I am still thankful.

Now, I still don’t know what lies ahead nor anybody else.  What is important is my time (or our time) is here and now.  Happy thanksgiving.

MD Anderson – Houston, TX

They say everything in Texas is big.  That’s an understatement.  MD Anderson is huge and is located in downtown Houston in a campus along with other hospitals, like  Texas Children’s Hospital, Baylor Clinic, and St. Luke’s Womens.

MD Anderson itself has several buildings within the campus.  The only thing I can compare it to is Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN, which is also big.  But one thing is common among all the hospitals I have been to, are the patients.  Big or small hospitals, patients need help.  As I sit there in awe of my surrounding, I still have the same anxiety of not knowing what is going to happen.

At MD Anderson, they specialize in cancer research and I see many patients of different ages and in different stages of their cancer.  It is normal to see some patients walking around as they drag their chemo infusion pumps along with them.  I have never seen so many cancer patients in one hospital.  It is a different world when you enter MD Anderson; different from Mayo, Northwestern or Swedish.

What I like about MD Anderson is their staff.  I think they fully understand the needs of cancer patients; how precarious their life is.  They get it.  And they are consistent in really helping you out; from the moment I called for an unscheduled appointment up to the way they welcomed me at the hospital.  They know how to take care of cancer patients.

My doctor is Dr. G, a Mayo-trained medical oncologist and educated in Dublin, Ireland.  He is a pleasant man and methodical in asking about my medical history.  He is also very generous with his time and would diligently try to understand my needs.  At the end of almost two-hour consult, he gave me all the options available to me.  There was surgery and experimental trials, which gave me hope.

Hope is a precious commodity when fighting cancer because there is no cure for it.  I am not short of hope or prayers, I just wish the cure comes in time for me to benefit from all the research.  As my wife would say, it will come but in God’s time.


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Reconciling two worlds.
August 12, 2013

Timeline:  Thursday, August 7, Doctor’s office.

IIt has been a while since I last saw Dr. M, my oncologist.  As promised he gave me a two-month break that started in June, now it is that time again: the reckoning.

“How do you feel?  You look great.”  He started.

“I feel good and strong.  My running miles are up.  I am training as if I have a marathon to run this fall but I am not entered into any race.  I am waiting for you.”  I let it hang.

“You are gong to make me sweat for this one, Bo.”  He sees that I have become strong and fit, and he will have to rein me back to the reality of cancer.

I live in an un-reconcilable world: the normal world where everybody lives and the cancer world where each day is borrowed.  I meet people who are amazed that I can do many things that pales in comparison to them, but I know what the reality is.  I have cancer and have been fighting it since 2008.  Normal activities, like running, yoga, work, even laughter, etc., gives the illusion I am well and cancer-free but that is not so.  They mask the real world I am forced to live in.  To my doctor, that reality means back to chemo treatments for me.

Here is the plan: we start my treatment again with a four chemo drugs combination delivered by infusion at the hospital, plus a seven-day chemo pill regiment at 1500 mg dose.   I was expecting the chemo pills part,  but I did not expect it to be combined with infusion.  He warned me about potential side-effects of this new combination and had asked that I level or taper off my running.  Now that hurts.

I also need a CT scan of the chest to establish a baseline before the start of the treatment.  We planned for six-cycles or chemo sessions every two weeks.  There you have it, a new beast that I have to carry on my back for the next three-months.  It also means the end of my marathon training but will be limited to short runs.

How do I feel?  Nothing.  I am already numb to all this.  I have heard all the bad news in many different ways, so what’s the point?  My world is different.  I just have to work harder to earn a day.

A new journey.
Timeline:  Present (August 12)
Over the weekend, I went to the hospital to get the results of my CT scan of the chest. I had one done last Friday, August 9, in preparation for my treatment.  It had confirmed the previous what my previous scan results showed last June 6: The pulmonary metastases have worsened since the previous study.  They have increased in size.

What is there to say?

Tomorrow, I will start my new three-month regiment.  It will be six-hours of infusion at the hospital then 7-days on chemo pills, then we repeat every other week until I have complete 12 sessions.  Like always, I kickoff my chemo day with a 5am spinning class at the gym before going to the hospital.  Nothing like oxygenated blood cells to accept chemo toxin, I always say.  Ha!

I have done everything to get rid of this cancer but it just keeps on coming back.  I have no problem in accepting the shackles of my world.  I am beyond rationalizing or asking “why”.  I have gone deeper in to my prayers and harder into my runs just to purge myself of this disease, and it still brings me back into full circle.

Last Saturday, my wife did 13 miles, a half-marathon.  I told my wife I am going to empty out on this ‘last’ run.  I want to feel all the pain, all of it.  I want the cleansing pain from running my heart out.  I didn’t care about injuries or worsening my plantar fasciitis problem.  There will be no fall marathon or 20-mile training for me anyway.  It was my last chance to feel completely alive, and I did.  I love it.  I am at peace.

I will be back.


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Life has a way of changing you.

January 13, 2013


inally, it is here.  I could get my Downton Abbey Season 3 fix.  If you are one those who follow this TV drama in PBS you know the feeling.  It is unfair that First Lady Michele Obama got to see the whole season ahead, oh well.

I don’t watch too much TV but I make an exception to Downton Abbey; besides it is commercial-free in PBS, which is home to Big Bird…if you know what I mean.  (Note: For my international friend, during the debate on tax cuts, the Republicans threaten to cut funding to PBS, home of Sesame Street: Big Bird and his friends.  Don’t touch Big Bird was the cry).  The TV drama series has a huge following here in the US.

I am a history buff and this was set during the Eduardian and post-Eduardian era.  It follows the lives of the aristocratic lives of the Crawley family.  The one thing that held my interest in this TV drama is the crisp, subtle and meaningful dialogue; and the intriguing character.  So when the butler Mr. Carson said in one of the episodes (in monotoned English clip):

 “Life has a way of changing you.”  It hit me.

Life has force me to changed.  I, at times, would look back at my long journey and compare my life before cancer and my present one.  I have definitely change for the better inspite of the things I have given up, like red meat.  You have to change to get better and find out more about yourself.  Sometimes you have to fears in order to improve or get the most out of life.  It is like jumping out of an airplane to face your fear of height, right?

My fear is my mortality.  I get tested with it every other week during chemo, which I cannot get use to.  However, when you look at the long road I have taken since March 2008, I have survived them all.  I have made so many friends along the way.  I have discovered myself and I think you have too with the stories I tell.  I am glad that I have changed because I am able to appreciate life more fully now.

I have another milestone coming: re-staging my cancer.  This Thursday, January 17, I will have my CT scan to verify if I am responding to my current treatment using the new chemo drug, Zaltrap.  Oh yes, I have done many scans before and I also have received good news and bad news from the results  This time, I am hoping for good news that my nodules are gone or at least have shrunk.  What can I say, except thanks for your support and prayers.  Will let you know.  Onward with my real-life drama.


P.S. NYC marathon have opened up the registration for 2013 for those who were not able to run the canceled 2012 marathon.  I will decide if I will run 2013 after my scan results.

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