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Posts Tagged ‘Running’


2015: Resolutions and absolutions.
January 16, 2015
So far 2015 is starting out good.  There is always great expectations for new beginnings.  It normally begins with resolutions and absolutions for me.

For starters, I absolve or renounce the habit of counting how chemo treatments I have received (one to start 2015 last January 7th…sorry!)  I think this is a force of habit from my work.  I deal with data (lots of data), risks, likelihood, and impact.  That decisions should be based on data to minimize bias.  But sometimes you just have to throw away these things because it restricts your ability to…live.

I just had my CT scan today.  I normally get anxious for the results of my scan: good or bad.  There was a time I would hold my breathe when I see the caller id is from the office of my oncologist or radiologist.  Now, I get it by email that reads:
     “Scan looks stable.  One nodule increased and one decreased.  Dr. S said he would keep you on.”
That summarizes my world.  I am like a gerbil running on a wheel going nowhere.  I just keep on running until I am told to get off and move to another wheel (trial).  So why bother counting how many treatments I have received: it does not matter.  What matter is you are running on the wheel.  In fact, I would continue on any wheel they give me: big or small.

My wife notices my frustration of being stuck.
“Your nodules are stable and you are here with us.”  she admonishes.
Yes.  I am surrounded by people who love me.  There should not be any “if’s” and “but’s” about this.  That is why I am running on a wheel-to-nowhere.  Is there anything beyond love?  Thus, for 2015 I resolve to live beyond the numbers that define my cancer.  I resolve to fully embrace my new normal lifestyle and fully enjoy the experience of running round-and-round “the wheel.”I would still continue to keep fit, practice mindfulness, pray, help others, set goals, run, and have fun.  Does it matter how many chemo treatments I have?  Does it matter how many miles I have run?  There will be more treatments as much there are paths to run.  Just go and enjoy.

Cheers.

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Round 4: Wild by Cheryl Strayed

August 28, 2014

She wrote “I looked south, to where I’d been, to the wild land that had schooled and scorched me, and considered my options.  There was only one, I knew.  There was always one.  To keep walking.”

That was from the book Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cherly Strayed, who hiked the Pacific Crest Trail alone to discover herself.  A worthy journey but not for the faint of hearts.

It is a journey of redemption that she undertook on whim after her mother died of cancer.  I am sure some of us have had fleeting urges to undertake a self-induced journey of rediscovery, like retreat, yoga or hiking.  Maybe some don’t know where to begin.  Cheryl’s road to rediscovery started in Mojave, California and ended up at the Bridge of the Gods, east of Portland, Oregon.  It was more than a thousand mile hike alone in the wilderness.

As I read the book I could not help relate to it through my cancer journey.  Much like Cheryl, my cancer journey has shaped me to what I am today.  Whilst her journey has long finished, I am still on the trails of my redemption not knowing if, when, or where it will end.  I too have looked backed; have been schooled, scorched, joyed, and learned many times over.  Then there is the only option in front: to fight and survived.

There is only one difference between me and Cheryl, she chose to the PCT to discover herself while cancer chose me to make me see life, family, and relationships differently.  I have long stopped asking why I was chosen, instead I just accepted my faith willingly.  Thy will be done.

I still marvel at the people I meet along the way.  Yesterday was chemo day, Round 4, and my nurse was Marissa instead of Sammy.  She is from the Philippines and had worked with Edith, my other oncology nurse at Swedish Hospital.  There is LindaJ, the nurse research coordinator, the crochet ladies at the waiting room, other cancer patients, and many many other people who have touched me during this journey.  To write I acknowledgements to all would risk not naming all but I feel grateful and blessed.  Besides, this post would not end.

So, my journey continues and I am glad you are with me.  I am sure some are on a journey too or have had one e.g. divorce, sickness or just a redemption-seeking adventure.  Whatever it is (or was), there comes a point when you stop to rest and think.  You look back and you look ahead.  Whether it is a pain-numbing 26.2 mile race or an unplanned-system-shocking event that paralyze you to stillness, just block it and take the only option: Move.  Don’t give up.  Have faith.  Soon it will be your moment of self-discovery.

Cheers.

Half-Madness 13.1 medals

Half-Madness 13.1 medals

P.S. Over weekend, my wife and I completed a half-marathon in 2:57:23.  Not a PR but it met our target goal considering I had chemo during the week.  Next is to continue to slowly build the miles to 15, 18, 20, and maybe enter Chicago this October while on therapy.

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My Father’s Day
June 6, 2014

This is one holiday that I look forward to after Mother’s Day.  With all attention towards Mother’s Day, it is time that we Fathers take the stage.  Ha!  After all we are not only bread winners in a family, we are also keepers of the honey-do list: Honey do this…honey do that!

In my household, I rule.  Whatever I say goes.  If I say I am going to clean the bathroom, nobody opposes.  If I say I am gong to wash the dishes, I do not hear a word from the family.  I just have a wonderful family.

For this year, we celebrated Father’s Day early, June 6.  There is a reason for it is that I will be back at MD Anderson Houston, TX on Father’s Day weekend.  I need to consult my low platelet problem and undergo an embolization of the spleen (Note:  The spleen functions as a blood filter to the body).  They noted my slightly enlarged spleen and want to address this problem.

I would rather stay home but that is not the case.  I am use to this.  We celebrated our version of Father’s Day by having a picnic at the lakefront.  It turned out good too and I definitely enjoyed.  Ethan, my grandson, enjoyed the most because he has room to run and was playing baseball with the family.  I am definitely blessed.

At MD Anderson Houston, TX
June 14, 2014

It is Father’s Day weekend and I am here at the hospital.  It is a Saturday.  It is quite at the hospital, but there is still plenty of activity on this floor.   Cancer does not wait.  I am waiting to have my CT scan done.  They will be giving me my prep drink soon and I will have to finish that before the scan.  I know the routine having done this many times.

It is my first time to have a scan here at MD.  In my quest for a cure I have been to many places too like: Mayo, Northwestern, and University of Chicago.  All of them are different but the patients who go there are the same.  It is the look in their eyes that I always notice.  These medical facilities make an effort to make things easy for the sick and desperate.  I always get a jolt of reality when I sit in waiting rooms for test or consult.

It is a totally different world here compared to the outside in the “normal” world.  I straddle both worlds and am always in conflict between the world I want and what I was given.  I just ran a half-marathon two weeks ago and now I am here at MD Anderson.  Two weeks ago I was surrounded by runners aiming for personal records (PR) and now I am with patients just aiming for a chance of more tomorrows.  It is what it is.

There are fathers here in this waiting room.  They are surrounded by their families.  I know each of us wish we were not here but we also know why we are here.  Knowing that gives me comfort, I am in good company.

Drinking my prep drink at MD Anderson

Drinking my prep drink at MD Anderson

Cheers

P.S. Looking forward to seeing my wife tomorrow to complete my Father’s Day.

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The Chicago Marathon – Reloaded: Part 1 of 2

October 16, 2010

(Note: The title is a takeoff from Matrix 2 or The Matrix Reloaded since this was my second time to run Chicago)

You cannot tell if somebody is already suffering or in pain from the outside, much like cancer. I was definitely in pain. I have done this before but I don’t remember having this much pain. My legs and my knees were really angry at me. We have been having an argument since mile marker 15.

Stop running! You can’t make it. I will just give you more pain. Give it up. Why suffer? Think of how many more miles you have to go. It is hot and you still have a long way to go. Just give up.” Mr. Pain mockingly said to me.

Damm you, SOB. You pick the wrong guy to give cancer to and the wrong runner to mess with. I own you…bitch. I am running this marathon to bring you out of your cowardly hole. I am here with my friends, family, and ACS to tell you that the pain you give me is temporary and we will fight you.” I replied.

Waddle…waddle…breathe…breathe.

It was definitely hot (about 84F or 29C at mid-afternoon).  I have been hydrating at each water stop and would pour water on my head and neck to cool off.  The sun was beating down on you, so I just run silent and kept to myself.  Also, I was watching my heart monitor which reads 147 bpm at the slow pace of 15:53 min./mile.  Oh, boy.  I am in trouble.  My body was stressed out and we were just at mile marker 19.

Are you ok, hon?” my wife, Irish, asks.

Yes” was my short answer. I did not want to worry her.  I want this one so bad for myself and for her.

My day did not start this way.

Beep..beep…beep. The alarm goes off and the time reads 4:00 am. It’s marathon time. It was like Christmas morning. I have waited for this day to arrive, marathon day, 10-10-10. What an auspicious day. It is the time to find out what I am made of after all the treatments.

I went through my morning rituals of dressing for the run; nipple tape, body glide (to prevent rashes), shorts, shirt, socks, shoes, and bib. I also got my Garmin GPS watch, fuel belt, energy gels, id, and money.

My family gave us a nice send off at home. There will be three of us who will be running, my wife (her first time to run a marathon), my youngest brother, Raul, who came all the way from Manila, and myself. I am stoked.

 

10-10-10 sendoff

 

Concentrate on your pace, Bo. The first 18 miles was a blur now the hard work begins. There are more spectators now along the course than last year. The good weather brought them out but it is a bane for runners.  We saw my other brother, Rene (who also flew from Manila), my sister, Rubi (from Toronto), and my daugther, Abby, cheering for us.  The siblings were complete.

Oh, Mr. Pain is at is again. This time he brought the devil along to taunt me.

“Give it up, Bo! Do you see that car, about a mile, behind you? That’s the sweeper car. That car marks the end of the race.”

“Mother@#$!%&” I cursed.

I told my wife about the flashing car behind us displaying the course timer. The car was passing a lot of runners. There were still a lot of runners behind us, most of them walking now.  With a determined look in her face she said to me.

Come on, hon. We can’t let that car pass us. I want our medals.”

We picked up our pace. I did the math in my mind, with about 6 miles to go at our current 14:00 min/mile pace, it was not going to happen.  Not today.  Rejoice, Kenyans.  We lost a lot of time in this heat and Mr. Pain and his cohorts were really making their presence felt. I did not have the heart to tell her.

End of Part 1.

Cheers.

P.S. The 2009 Chicago Marathon winner and 2008 Olympic champion, Sammy Wanjiru (Kenya), won again in 2:06:24.  2008 Bronze Olympic medalist Tsegaye Kedebe (Ethiopia) came in second with a time of 2:06:43.  See the unbelievable finish.

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Message from the Messiah

December 7, 2009

St. Clement's Choir

Have you ever listened or watched Handel’s Messiah?  Over the weekend, my wife and I watched the oratorio as performed by the St. Clement’s choir.  My wife’s friend, Rose, recommended it and they have colleague who sings in the choir.  Of course, Handel’s most famous piece in the Messiah is the Hallelujah chorus.  You may have heard it played.  Tradition is you stand when this is sung and that we did.

It was a hair-raising  and uplifting performance for me.  The oratorio was performed in the church’s sanctuary surrounded by lighted candles.  Handel’s Messiah has a universal appeal because one can relate to its message of hope and redemption in the many verses that define each part of the libretto.  I claim the verse in part 1;

Chorus: ‘His yoke is easy, his burthen is light.’ – Matthew 11:30 (Part 1)

Yes.  He asks to carry my burden for his yoke is easy, his burden is light.  Many have come forwarded wanting to carry my burden but it will be with Him that I share my burden.  He and I will be ok as we journey together.  I am glad I went and heard the message of the Messiah.  This will be my companion during my chemo session.

Another message sent to me was from my radioligist, Dr B.

“Dr M (oncologist) and I discussed your treatment plan after we met (see November 28 posting, The long road ahead).  The original plan was to have the chemoembolization done in January.  Dr. M thought we should start your treatment as soon as possible.  If we postpone the chemoembolization to January, Dr. M would like to get you in to start your chemo infusion this December.  However, if your infusion cycle is started, there is a risk you might get weak for chemoemobolization so I would rather do your chemoembo first instead of  January.  With this change of schedule, we will just go with regular chemoembolization without the use of beads as previously discussed.  Also, I had consulted your case with a colleague at John Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore regarding not using beads and platinum based chemo for embolization, and they see no problem with this changed approach.”

I should get use to this change of plans.  This cancer is really putting a damper on my holiday plans or what’s left of it.  I also notice a sense of urgency by the changes in my treatment plan, but I trust all my doctors.  The chemoembolization is set for December 17 at 8:30 am.  D-day.

Chorus: ‘He trusted in God that he would deliver him: let him deliver him, if he delight in him’ – Psalm 22:8 (Part 2)

I should look at December 17 as the starting line of the race I am about to embark.  My personal marathon, wherein I was drafted to run.  I claim victory.

Recitative (Alto) ‘Then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written:  Death is swallowed up in victory’ – 1 Corinthians 15:54 (Part 3)

What else is there to say, except ‘amen’ in a glorifying crescendo of chorus, harpsichord, trumphet, oboe, cello, and violins.  Can you hear it?

Cheers.

PS:  If you are interested in listening to Handel’s Messiah, here is a link to National Public Radio broadcast of it.  I have written this post listening to it.  Enjoy.  On my way to Miami, FL for business and some sun.

Handel’s Messiah by NPR

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His name was Anthony

November 10, 2009

He does not remember me.  By this time we should be buddies.  Anthony is the PET scan technician who did my two previous scans.  For this third one, I reminded him that he did my two other scans.

He is a nice guy, in his mid-twenties I think, and cute if I was a girl or gay.  Nonetheless, he was very professional.  He when through his checklist of questions e.g. did I eat or take any medication, etc.  He then proceeded to prick my finger for blood.

“Got to check your blood sugar”, he said.  With a gadget, he adds “91”.

“What’s normal?” I asked.  “Between 90 and 110.  Perfect”, he replied.

Then he gets serious with this IV needle looking for a vein in my left arm.  This time around he is not cute anymore.  He managed to find a good vein.  Funny how you notice these things the third time around.  He proceed to move this lead panel beside me and went in the back.  He came back with a cylinder he held with a thong.  Good stuff, baby, at least it is not bubbling.

The metallic container contains a syringe holding the radiated glucose.  He stays behind the lead panel protecting his waist-down and reached over.  Something is wrong with this picture, he is behind the lead panel and I am exposed.  With swift movements, he gets the syringe and injects it in the line he got.  Bam!  Dinner time cancer cells…klang..klang…klang (banging pot sound).

“Try not to move for the next 45 minutes.  We want the glucose to circulate and be absorbed.  If you move, like stand or walk, the glucose goes to the muscles, and we don’t want them there.”

“Got it.”

After 45 minutes he brings me to CT scan room, a massive magnetic contraption.  I lie down and told not to move for the next 45 minutes.  I think, that is about 4 miles of running at 12 minute pace.  If you are claustrophobic this is one place you do not want to be.  They try to make it comfortable with neutral colors and flower prints in the ceiling.  For me, I just meditate and concentrate on even breathing, before long it is over.  Not bad, really.

As I leave, Anthony, bids me goodbye.  Well, Anthony, you did good by my book but I hope this is the last time I see you.

Now we wait…..

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Waddling Tales: Stories of a slow runner.

November 3, 2009

My inaugural post.

Hello world.  That was the first greeting I got when I signed up for a blog in Worldpress.  I understand where the greeting came from, having a technical background.  But the meaning of it is not lost on me.  As a cancer survivor, I am always thankful that I am given this opportunity everyday to welcome the world.  So, hello to you too.

This is my second blog that I started.  The first one was called Journey to the Finish Line, which I first started in September 2007.  It was suppose to share my experience towards my goal of running my first marathon.  Last October 11, 2009, I completed that journey and since that time I have not updated my blog.  I could not bring myself to add another post to my first blog.  The experience was so powerful and surreal and I want to preserve it as written in my last post.  I also have completed that journey and it is time to turn another page in my life.

So I started this one.  Like the first one, I don’t know how this would turn out.  I only have one wish.  I wish it would be uneventful or have no ‘drama’, like a cancer recurrence or more chemo.  This blog is about not about me, it is about you and stories I learn from you while sharing my new passion: running….er, I mean waddling.

Let’s face it.  I will not be a Boston qualifier.  I know my limitation.  I started running late in my life.  I can’t drink water while running and I got to have my bathroom breaks.  So don’t wait up for me.  I will waddle soon enough to the finish line.  And when I do, it is when I say….thank you, world (I am still here)!

Cheers.

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