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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!

Cheers

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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Cancer-free for a day

March 22, 2010

Yesterday, my family and I ran the Chicago 8K Shamrock Shuffle (dubbed as the world’s largest 8K race) along with 36,000 runners. It was a cold start (31F) again, but compared to last year there was no 3” inches of snow on the ground. But who cares if there was. When you have cancer everyday is a beautiful day. Everyday is a gift.

As I stood there shoulder-to-shoulder with the multitude of runners, I could not help but think that for a moment in the cold, surrounded by my family, I am cancer-free. I was cancer-free for a day and I was racing again. I was dressed like a runner, wearing my Garmin, got D-tag timing sensor on my shoes, and have my bib number C 13145.

I was assigned in the first wave, or seeded, in C corral (I had a good finish last year, see my post ‘2009 Shamrock Shuffle’) but I decided I decided to move to the second wave start in the open corral to be with my family. It is the first-time for my family to run so I want to be with them. Besides, I am not even chasing personal records this time. I wanted to share the experience of a mass start similar to that of a major marathon. Your adrenaline is flowing, you forget it is cold, you hear the noise of the crowd in front as they cheer the start of the race.  Then the cheers reverberate like an echo, moving towards the back. It hits you and you cheer as well.

“Woohoo! Let’s go! Let’s go! Let’s break some world records!” I shouted. My kids cowered in embarrassment, trying to disown me. Kenya in the house!

The crowd was so huge it took us about 31 minutes to cross the starting line. By the time I get to the starting line, the winner (a Kenyan at 23:29 minutes) of the race should have crossed the finish line. Crossing the starting line, I saw the two boys bolt ahead. Rookies! I stay back. My wife and two girls were just up ahead trying to keep a steady pace. I catch up with Nat at mile marker 1, then Abby at mile marker 2, but where’s the wife?

I get to mile marker 3, still no wife. I increased my pace. I see the last water station up ahead.  It is “Kenyan-time!”  Ah…eeh…yah!.  I am a “Kenyan” powered with chemo juice.  Kawabanga! I grab the two water cups , crimp their tops, and downed it without stopping. Let’s go, Kenyan Bo! After passing mile marker 4, and nearing the finish line.  I see her. ‘Darr she blows.  Puff…puff…puff, her struggled breath sounded, then pausing to a stop.  I moved beside her and patted her familiar butt.

Let’s cross the finish line together.” I said.

Let’s do it.  It renewed her energy.  With one last effort and in full view of the finish line, we picked up our stride.  We can do this.  We can fight this cancer.  I was not going to be alone this time.  Holding hands, we raised it, and together we crossed the finish line.

Life is good.  Tomorrow, Tuesday, I start my sixth chemo cycle.  Life is still good.

Cheers.

PS:  All the family finished.  We all had a great time.  I was thankful for the moment.  Next time I will break the record. 😉

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Recovery Tuesday is here.

March 16, 2010

should be happy that recovery Tuesday is here; however, I am feeling a bit under-the-weather. My sinus problems has been bothering me and does not seems to go away. When you can’t smell the food it is hard to find the appetite to eat. I will be seeing my primary doctor, Dr. O, this Thursday to ask her opinion.

Last week’s chemo treatment was relatively uneventful. There was the usual nausea and chills but it was mild compared to the previous one.  Why?  Maybe it was the running I did the previous week to prepare for the coming chemo week.  I felt much stronger too and was focused in my yoga class.  So I tried the same approach this week in preparation for next week’s chemo. I ran 3.11 miles Sunday at 12:31 average pace, nursing my runny nose all the way. I felt good after. Monday came and I wanted to run but did not have the energy.

Today, I thought about running but I could not get motivated. I got to get going on my running!

Last January 1, 2010, I wrote about my hopes and plans for the new year. One of them was to run the 8K Shamrock Shuffle with my family. That day is looming close, March 21. I am looking forward to the race but I know it is going to be difficult for me.

“It’s an 8K for crying out loud!” Yeah, try running it with toxic chemo drugs in your blood and a runny sinus.

Last year, I did this in 54:10. It was my first race and I clearly remember that day. (See my previous post, “2009 Shamrock Shuffle – My first Race”). There was 3” of snow and it was cold. I hope the race conditions this weekend will be better.

No matter what, I will be there on the starting line with my family. As for the time, who cares. I will cross that finish line and claim my token moment that I will be cancer-free one day.

Cheers.

PS:  One more chemo cycle and I see to Dr. A (Transplant Specialist) on April 5 about liver surgery to remove the tumors.

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