A FOLFIRI 5k Turns 10

Everyone who reads this blog knows how much running is tied into my cancer story.  From its very beginnings as initially a fast-paced walk during my Stage 3 NED (No Evidence of Disease) days, to my first ever half-marathon length run the same day a PET-CT scan showed probable recurrence/Stage IV, to my post-Stage IV diagnosis team triathlons with the UCSD-Moores Cancer Center.  Just looking through the post titles on the right/bottom you can see many references to running.

As a patient I truly feel great doing it (mentally, emotionally & physically).

As a scientist I know that physical exercise is good for me in terms of many physiological pathways as well as the mind-body connection.

As an advocate, I love how it shows what can be physically achieved even while dealing with currently incurable Stage IV cancer.

As I returned to the relative harsh FOLFIRI chemo cocktail this fall, I knew keeping up the 10k run/twice a week pace I had been doing while taking Erbitux would be challenging.   It turned out to be more challenging than I expected.  The biggest side effect I have had from FOLFIRI is pretty significant fatigue.  The fatigue was not only too bad to realistically attempt frequent 10k runs – the fatigue rose to the point of nodding off most days.  Random nodding off and distance running simply don’t mix…

Boat in Calm Waters

Reentering Calmer Waters

The Stage IV world is interesting though.  When medically possible, patients can take chemo breaks around Holidays and vacations – family life goes on!  They also take breaks when their body simply needs a rest from treatment.  Life needs to adjust to a “new normal” during chemo treatment periods but then you have treatment holidays where life at least semi-reverts back to the “old normal”.  I always picture the chemo treatment time periods as standing on a boat trying to keep steady in the sometimes rough waves – and then when you stop treatment for a break, it feels like the waves have calmed & you have reentered more tranquil waters.


I took a FOLFIRI treatment break for the Holidays this year.  I am very glad I did – I have felt really good for Christmas (the kids proclaimed it the “best Christmas ever!”) and the fatigue has slowly but steadily faded.  Today it finally faded to a point where I felt I could realistically attempt a “FOLFIRI 5K”.

2015-12-30_FOLFIRI 10k_3

Running down the Point Loma peninsula at sunset – breathing in the fresh ocean air, I truly felt ALIVE.  It was a wonderful feeling.  The memories of recent chemo faded in the light of the setting sun.  In fact I felt so wonderful that my planned FOLFIRI 5K turned into a FOLFIRI 10K!

2015-12-30_FOLFIRI 10k_2 2015-12-30_FOLFIRI 10k_1

What a wonderful way to end 2015 on a physical high point, doing an activity I love! I know it is only temporary (I return to FOLFIRI on January 12, prepared to start nodding off again) – but today… today… I felt perfect, and that is all that matters today.

I hope all of you that are currently experiencing some rough waves in your life keep your balance and look forward to hopefully entering some calmer waters again too –  even if only temporary, even if only for a moment, to breath in that fresh air of LIFE.



23 Comments on “A FOLFIRI 5k Turns 10

  1. poetry here.
    Love that the kids are soaking it all up, too 😀
    H A P P Y N E W Y E A R !!! Can’t wait to see what miracles 2016 has in store for you!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Happy New Year Tom! So glad to see that the kids thought this was the greatest Christmas ever! You are an inspiration!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. It is so great that you were able to have a chemo break. I was Stage IV upon first diagnosis. It was only one met on the lung so I have had potentially curative surgery and am the 3-month check up routine. I don’t do 5K but I walked throughout my treatment and am back up to a 19-minute mile. The power of exercise is amazing, and you inspire me that this is a treatable disease. Miracles happen every day. 2016 can be your miracle year!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for leaving the comment Farmgirl. A single met Stage IV situation is certainly potentially curable so I send you the best of luck!! The power of exercise is amazing on multiple levels – I am glad to see you walking! I believe it is the level of effort made more than any pace or distance that really matters – so good job keeping up the effort! I believe miracles do happen including being lead to opportunities for science to work its wonders – I am hoping to run into some for my disease in 2016! Happy New Year!


  4. Thank you for always reminding me to be more optimistic in life, Pudge!! You are my biggest inspiration!!! Gotta plan a visit soon to see you, V, and the girls and to check out your renovations! Love you!!- CK

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Great run! I was diagnosed with Stage 3 RC this past June, at age 38 when I was in the best running shape of my life and on the verge of qualifying for my first Boston Marathon. I’m currently in what I hope to be my last stage of tx, Oxaliplatin infusions, and boy has the Oxi affected my running. I did 4 miles on New Years Day though, a way to bring in 2016 on my own terms. Your blog is an inspiration. I’ll keep running and reading.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Rebecca, running 4 miles during oxaliplatin is amazing – you are an inspiration to ME! I love how you started the New Year on your own terms. I actively felt somewhat similar with my ~New Years run & as a scientist with my Jan 1st predictions post – starting the New Year on my own terms too. Thanks for posting your comment, I’m glad you enjoy my blog! Good luck finishing up your Tx. Take care, Tom


  6. Pingback: A FOLFIRI Team Triathlon to Crowdfund a CRC Clinical Trial | AdventuresInLivingTerminallyOptimistic

  7. I am a runner not a fast one but it is my therapy ran on folfox no problem I have been advised not to run on xoloda or folfiri did you? how to avoid hand/foot syndrome ?


    • Hi Rochelle – I ran on 5-FU (similar to xeloda) but in general not on FOLFIRI. My oncologist advises exercise (even running) during FOLFIRI if possible. So my not running during FOLFIRI is not “by choice”, it is due to chemo side effects. Significant fatigue is my single biggest side effect of FOLFIRI – so in general I only run during chemo breaks now. I did make 2 exceptions though for special events. I ran 5k for a charity team triathlon in early May – and I ran a 10k to celebrate my 4-year cancerversary on June 4th. Although I have some hand-foot syndrome, it is mild enough that I am able to run. So… if you really want to run, check with another MD to get a second opinion re: your specific medical circumstances. There are 2 schools of thought “in general”. Cheers, Tom


  8. Pingback: 5 км на FOLFIRI превращаются в 10 | Приключения_безнадежного_оптимиста

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