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…
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.
The FOLFIRI 5K 10K
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”.
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!
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.