Posts Tagged ‘Thanksgiving’

Happy Thanksgiving: 2015
November 25, 2015

HHappy Thanksgiving, everybody.  It is an American tradition but giving thanks is universal and is as basic as breathing.  One way or another we give thanks or acknowledge our blessing.

“Salamat sa Diyos” (Thank, God).

There is always something to be thankful for—always. Like:

  • smell of fresh baked cookies filling up the house
  • turkey roasting in the oven for Thanksgiving dinner
  • snore of your wife/husband/love one beside you
  • warm feel of the sun in your face and skin.

Simple. it tells you life goes on because you can feel, taste, and touch. And if you really look hard, you will see how beautiful life is.

Last year, I spent Thanksgiving in the Philippines, on business. It was wonderful because I got to surprise my mother and spent some time with family there. Although, I was far away from my family here in the US, I was happy to see they were together for our traditional Thanksgiving dinner. I am big on tradition. It establishes continuity and it is something you look forward to.

This Thanksgiving I am thankful for many things. Far too long to enumerate here. More importantly, I am still here celebrating it with my family, and with you. I sometimes reflect on the past but I do not dwell on it too long. I sometimes remember the races that I have run or the many place I have visited around the world, but what I reflect most are the memories it gave me. It is all about the feeling and completeness it gave me. It is also about the people I have met and shared the experience with.

I have stopped reflecting on the things I use to be able to do, life running or traveling, instead I just savor the moment on the things I am able to do or experience. Like the sweet taste of chocolate chip cookies in my mouth. Yum.

What I do reflect on are the blessings I have received, and they are many. As you know with certainty the limits of your life, the more blessings you see come pouring through. This Thanksgiving I am overwhelmed. I see it all with clarity and intensity. Perhaps it is because I am in constant pain that I am sensitized to any relief, sweetness, gestures, greetings, attention, or happiness I experience.

For this Thanksgiving make it special. If not a tradition in wherever you are, make your day special anyway.



P.S. 30 days to Christmas.

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Round 12: Surprises and blessings

November 26, 2014
Manila, PH
 This week is Thanksgiving week in the US.  It is one tradition that my adopted country has taught me to appreciate; that and Black Friday shopping (joke).  But seriously, Thanksgiving is one day that is specially dedicated for giving thanks and being surrounded by family.  Christmas evoke the same feeling in me, especially if celebrated in the Philippines.  
This Thanksgiving I am blessed to celebrate it here in the Philippines, where I am on business.  Although I will be celebrating it away from my wife, kids, and Ethan (my grandson), I could not pass up the opportunity to see my mom, brothers, and their families here.  It is my time to say thanks to them for their prayers and support.  It is about being with them sharing stories rather than a formal sit-down-turkey-eating-football-watching day.  Also, I wanted to see the look in my mom’s face when I surprise her by being here.
She did not disappoint me.  Picture this: Sunday, Nov. 23, I arrive early morning.  My youngest brother, Raul, picked her up and along my other brother, Rene, who suddenly arrived from southern Philippines a day earlier.  Rene gave the lame excuse he had to take care of some banking matters in Manila.  (My mom was already wondering why go to Manila when there are major banks also where he lives…hmmm).  Mom was unware of my arrival, so all three went to my hotel Sunday morning on some flimsy excuse.  Mom stayed in the car with Rene, while Raul got me.  My mom always has this infectious habit of praying the rosary to while passing time and she was deep in prayers as I saw her walking up to the car.  I walked to her side and knocked on the door and opened it saying.
Merry Christmas!
Light.  Camera.  Action.  To say that she was crying, shouting, flailing, in total disbelief, shocked, crying again and shouting (you get the picture) is an understatement.  It was a if I appeared in god-like manner as she was praying.  When she finally settled down and managed to speak she just hugged me, and I lost it.  I felt her warm love wash away the pain of cancer.  It was like being born again as a baby.  A mother’s embrace is so nuturing and enduring that it can give you back your life and fill up any emptiness.
My mom has already given me so much that I wanted to give back too by being here with her.  In that moment, my Thanksgiving was complete and was thankful.  Fate has somehow conspired and aligned everything just for me to be here with her: the unexpected business trip to Manila, the timeliness of being off chemo treatment during the week, the clearance from my doctors to travel, the stable scan results, the circuitous route I took due to flight delays and miss connections (Chicago/Tokyo/Guam/Manila), and the support of my family back in the US.  For all that and more I am very  thankful.
Unfortunately, there is no video of the Thanksgiving surprise to share, but you get the picture.  The moment is etched in my memory along the strong feelings that goes with Thanksgiving 2014.  It will become part of my cancer journey of Thanksgiving.  I read back on what I wrote last year and the message was still the same for me; be thankful for all all your blessings.  Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family.
Rene, Raul, me, and mom at Marriott Hotel lobby

Rene, Raul, me, and mom at Marriott Hotel lobby

With mom in car after she recovered from shock.

With mom in car after she recovered from shock.



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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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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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Happy Thanksgiving (Round 2)

November 21, 2011

Happy thanksgiving everybody. Although an American tradition, I am sure thanksgiving is celebrated in other cultures one way or another. Being thankful is always a good virtue.

This year I will be celebrating it differently. It is chemo week for me so my family will have to bear with my nausea at the dinner table, Thursday being the last day of my 3-day chemo cycle. I wish it was different but I hope my sickness does not suck up the life out of our dinner table. Nonetheless, I am still thankful. I will be sitting at the dinner table surrounded by love ones and my little one, Ethan (my grandson).  It will be Ethan’s first thanksgiving so my circle is complete.

I have nothing much to write about. My recovery week was full of ups and downs. I have an incessant cough that I was prescribed cough syrup with codeine to help me sleep.  I may have lost a few pounds due to diarrhea but I still have my hair…hehe.

That first round was definitely not like the other first rounds I have had before.  My nurse told me she would add more saline to the mix next time.  It was toxic.  Either my oncologist hates my cancer as much as I do or he has faith that my body can take it. I normally can still run on the weekend but this time around I cannot even do yoga. I am fine.

Tomorrow, is round 2. I have asked my friend, Noreen, to write for me once in a while so don’t be surprise. Today she completes the last of her six months chemo treatment and is looking forward to full survivorship.  I am sure she will do well.  Thanks, Noreen.



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