AdventuresInLivingTerminallyOptimistic

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There is something deeply visceral about your brain… It is the center of thought… It is the center of your being… it is the center of who you are… All of those aspects of the brain came crashing down around me late last week.  I had gotten a PET-CT scan to see how my disease was responding to my current therapy and there was a surprise. A bad surprise.  There was a bright… Read More

What makes a hero? There is some debate in the cancer community… is it right to refer to cancer patients/survivors as heroes? A burning building/emergency responder argument is sometimes used.  If a person wakes up in a burning house and struggles their hardest to try to find a way out safely – that person may be a survivor but he or she is not necessarily a hero.  They found themselves in danger… Read More

Wow. What an incredible week it has been… I am tearing up now just thinking about it as I fly home from New York City (NYC) to my home and my family in San Diego. A lot of people have been wondering how I have been doing since the last medical update (In Case of Emergency Break Glass).  It is hard to believe that it has been almost a month since that… Read More

What invigorates me to fight the way I do?  Well beyond basic self-preservation for both me and for my family – it is the sheer amount of needless loss I see on a frequent basis.  Losses in the world of my fellow cancer patients, including close friends and including on some days, very special friends. A very special friend of mine died of early-onset CRC yesterday. Alex was only 26, diagnosed 15… Read More

I feel so extraordinary, Something’s got a hold on me I get this feeling I’m in motion, A sudden sense of liberty… I used to think that the day would never come, I’d see delight in the shade of the morning sun “In many ways 2015 was the most incredible year of my life.  Over 3 years into a currently incurable Stage IV colon cancer diagnosis, that phrase says a lot.” That… Read More

This is a blog post I had been hoping to write for a long time! The first published (today in the New England Journal of Medicine) “clinically disease free” success achieved via immunotherapy & surgery in an advanced Stage IV patient with the common “Microsatellite Stable (MSS)” subtype of colorectal cancer (CRC) – the kind of CRC that I and most CRC patients have! As of right now it is only a… Read More

As long time readers of my blog know – I have been in a quandary since I was diagnosed with (presumably cured) Stage 1 melanoma in January 2015.  That diagnosis, even though presumably cured by simple day surgery, with zero signs of recurrence ever since e.g. by monitoring with blood liquid biopsy, effectively blocked me from most colorectal cancer (CRC) clinical trials. Without clinical trials there is statistically an essentially 100% chance… Read More

Photo graphic courtesy of STAT News, Photo by James Cuevas I hear questions all the time for an update on my personalized “neoantigen” immunotherapy research project – a project I first wrote about in blog format last February. If you want to know a broader view (both historical background and current status) about our quest to cure both my own MSS-CRC & efforts to lead the way for fellow MSS colorectal cancer patients as… Read More

My latest column for the Philadelphia Inquirer newspaper published today.  I continue to be very thankful that they have given me an outlet for both sharing aspects of Stage IV cancer life to the general public as well as for me to publish creative writing (which I LOVE doing, I seriously look forward to writing these columns about every 2 weeks!).  BTW I now has an updated page on my blog with all my Philadelphia… Read More

Hope – it is such a simple, yet complex word. A short word that is easy to explain on the base-level but it can be incredibly complex to comprehend all the facets in which it can impact the human psyche. Hope can be rational or irrational – the human brain has trouble distinguishing.  Are we paralyzed in fear that we will not be alive for the next major Holiday?  No – we… Read More

I had my post-summer-chemo-break CT-scan on Wednesday.  Regrets & worry started to try to enter my consciousness.  They were unwelcome invaders and to be honest, rarely seen or felt in my psyche now days.  But here they were – as I laid on the CT-scan table getting scanned…. Laying there completely alone, unlike the constant buzz of comradery that had surrounded me throughout my summer. A scan to quantify how much my… Read More

Friends. Family. Brothers. Sisters. Those words get used a lot in my current Stage IV life and they’re not necessarily referring to the people you would expect.  They’re referring to fellow cancer patients and survivors, often especially those also with Stage IV disease. There is a special bond between fellow cancer patients and survivors that is the deepest bond outside of nuclear family I have ever seen. In general, friends are brought… Read More

Some people have the mindset that once you hit age 40, you are pretty set in your ways.  They think: You know yourself, you know your likes and you know your dislikes.  You have after all, had a couple of decades to figure these things out! Up until recent years, I think I also had that view.  Sure there were new experiences I had never done before that would enter my life… Read More

Last year I was lucky enough to be chosen as a Featured Survivor in the annual Colondar 2.0 magazine  that The Colon Club produces each year. As a part of being chosen, you are invited to attend a “Colon Camp” retreat in rural Tennessee.  Last year I wrote in the post “ELEVEN NEW SISTERS AND BROTHERS (AND MANY MORE COUSINS)”, that going to Colon Camp last June was an amazing life-changing experience for me. … Read More

A great aspect of my current life is that I get to meet some incredible people doing incredible things.  Doing things that they never would have done without cancer entering their life – done both in spite of cancer and because of it. Many of these people are incredible in quiet and unassuming ways.  Others make big impacts in more public sorts of way.  Lee Silverstein is in the latter group. I… Read More

A very brief medical update! Being hit by a FOLFIRI chemo infusion today only 48 hours after running the team triathlon truly feels bizarre… But that is one of the crazy aspects of Stage IV life! You swing from doing the absolutely “normal” (commuting to work, dinner out with the family) to being knocked out in an infusion chair and crawling into bed “bowl handy” as soon as you get home afterwards…… Read More

My alarm went off at 3:30 this morning.  I was not expecting what ended up being my first thoughts.  They weren’t of me running the run leg of this morning’s Spring Sprint Team Triathlon per se.  Instead, intermingled with run thoughts were also thoughts of fellow colorectal cancer (CRC) survivors I know who currently aren’t doing too well. Survivors I know that aren’t physically able to run right now. Those were the… Read More

Surfing the AACR Waves of Science What a day.  I just woke up from a drug-induced nap that wasn’t particularly long but it was deep.  For the second FOLFIRI chemo infusion in a row, I fell into such a deep sleep when I got home, that when I woke up it felt like I had slept for many hours.  Looking over at the clock, it said 4:37.  That felt about right –… Read More

It’s hard to believe that it has already been almost 12 months since I last ran a UCSD-Moores Cancer Center Team Triathlon, which I wrote about last year in my post THE ULTIMATE TEAM SPORT: “A big part of being a cancer patient is trying your hardest to not give up in the face of adversity.  In that way it is very similar to endurance sports.  This is what makes the Moores… Read More

You know those moments in life when something so unexpected, so exhilarating & so meaningful (all wrapped up in one) happens – that each time you think of it you get the chills all over again? I had one of those moments a few days ago in the basement of the Congressional Rayburn House Office Building.  It was such a special meeting, even Katie Couric, a big CRC and cancer advocate, tweeted about… Read More

In conjunction with the start of Colorectal Cancer (CRC) awareness month, I’m excited to announce that the 2016 Colondar 2.0 annual resource magazine was released today! I LOVE the page from my section pictured above (all Colondar 2.0 photos taken by the incredible Mark McCarty & courtesy of The Colon Club!).  Note the caption they chose to use, I think they captured my mindset and philosophy perfectly. “Incurable… For now… The lung spots… Read More

My friend Lindsey Motley died of colorectal cancer (CRC) today.  She was 29 years old. She was very special in many ways to an incredibly large number of people – including to me. Lindsey was many things…  Too many things to list to do justice.  I think most of all she was a loving wife and mother to a young daughter. At the end of the day what matters more than that?… Read More

  You have probably thought to yourself “Wow, I’m having a bad day”  Or maybe “Whew, that was close”  Or perhaps even “I’m not sure if I’m going to make it…” I ask you to imagine being the cosmonaut Boris Volynov.  His story as cosmonaut on the Soyuz 5 mission in 1969 isn’t well known in America but it is simply incredible. I’m not an astronautical engineer (or even play one on… Read More

First of all, don’t worry – this blog is not turning in to a celebrity news site.  But the news of David Bowie’s passing is a story not so much about a celebrity.  Instead it is one of the more amazing stories I have ever heard of a cancer patient beating cancer that should be inspirational to many in the cancer world. David Bowie holds a special place in my heart, as… Read More

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… Read More

In many ways 2015 was the most incredible year of my life. Over 3 years into a currently incurable Stage IV colon cancer diagnosis, that phrase says a lot.  Of course, the most incredible moments in my life were my kids’ births and my marriage day.  But in terms of almost continuous meaningful things happening….. as a year, 2015 took the cake. I had ZERO guess that any of this was coming… Read More

I thought this would be a great way to conclude a 3 post cycle centered around Thanks and Giving before we head into the home stretch of the end of 2015 and the end of my first year of blogging… And since I have written a few posts abnormally close together, I promise only a few hundred words this time, just slightly longer than an @CurrentIncurSci tweet 🙂 (although I admit I am a more… Read More

As I planned my next blog post to be tied into Thanksgiving, I started to think through the various things I am very Thankful for this year.  I started to make up a list of things to mention.  The list started to get very long, at which point I took a pause…  The list was great and heartfelt – but I didn’t like how the post was turning into a list.  This… Read More

I wanted to expand the normal scope of my personal blog in today’s post. Not just for the sake of expansion but importantly because I believe strongly in today’s topic!  After a bit of introductory science, I will be profiling two fellow CRC patients currently in immunotherapy clinical trials – to illustrate the preliminary signs of immunotherapy success of checkpoint PD-1 pathway inhibition in a significant percentage of patients with MSI-high CRC…. Read More

THANK YOU to all the donors to my runathon first announced back in July!  114 Miles later it raised a whopping $4766 for the national colorectal cancer patient advocacy group The Colon Club.  In particular, I’d like to thank a Novartis colleague who dollar matched all pledges which had a huge impact on the amount of money raised! I will be in touch directly with donors this week. I hope my runathon successfully… Read More

The title to this post is “Adventures in Living Terminally Optimistic” in Chinese. It should also have a subtitle “First, an Introduction… Part 2”. Aka “Oops”. Seeing my blog title in Chinese still gives me the chills!  I had mentioned previously  that I had written a preface for a new Chinese mass market cancer book written by my colleague Zhizhong Li called “Cancer Insights”.  His book contains a mixture of scientific information… Read More

Some posts are closer to my heart than others.  This one is very close – it shows what made me the patient-scientist-advocate I am today… and it comes down to Mom. My Mom and I were abnormally close – so much so, I could have been called a “Mamma’s Boy” in my younger years.  In fact I was called that (on more than one occasion) but it didn’t bother me because I… Read More

I’m thrilled to let you know that my surgeon has agreed to give me another Lung Radiofrequency Ablation (RFA) surgery on August 27th! The second half of this post focusing on the Postive Power of Hope is quite meaningful to me & the meat of the post, so I hope you decide to read that far in!  He hopes to remove another 2-3 more tumors.  I already wrote extensively a few months ago on what the… Read More

68 miles, $2,788: That is the amount of miles I have run since July and the amount of money my runathon has raised so far for my colorectal cancer non-profit charity of choice, The Colon Club!  I have reached the halfway point of the fundraiser & I wanted to thank everyone who has contributed! In addition to raising money for a great cause I hope it has illustrated that being a “currently… Read More

There is no new medical news to report – which in the case of someone with Stage IV cancer is a good thing!  I’m continuing my weekly Erbitux infusions (with appropriate Mad scientist amendments 😉 ), the side effects are manageable,  my new runathon for the Colon Club is off to a great start and I continue to feel great!  The next CT scan to confirm things are continuing to go well is… Read More

Just a quick update on run sponsorships for the non-profit CRC charity for The Colon Club : This morning I received a VERY generous pledge match offer: ALL RUNNING PLEDGES WILL BE DOLLAR-MATCHED up to a $2500 cap! WOW! So a quick & easy way to double-your pledge impact & the impact of your blog link shares to others! Please see the link below for details on my running fundraiser for my CRC… Read More

As most of you know, I became a distance runner (for the first time in my life) after my cancer diagnosis.  I loved it!  It was mentally cathartic to have that time alone in thought, I achieved a “runners high” and there are a number of studies showing the beneficial effects of significant physical exercise after a CRC diagnosis including in Stage 3 patients (my original diagnosis) for example here and here.  I… Read More

Earlier this month I felt like the luckiest guy in the world.  The Colondar 2.0 colorectal cancer (CRC) patient retreat, interview and photoshoot was quite simply one of the absolutely most amazing experiences I have ever had.  It was truly a life-changing event. Inspiring, invigorating, emotional, empowering… I was so blessed to be able to participate in this…  You are going to read about and see 11 other AMAZING SURVIVORS when the… Read More

Back on June 4th I celebrated my 3rd Cancerversary, based upon when I was first diagnosed Stage IIIC CRC in 2012.  As someone who is recurrent Stage IV, technically I have two Cancerversaries – the second one is in about a week, when I was diagnosed Stage IV last June.  This post is not directly about that though – it is about a truly incredible thing which happened the same week last… Read More

A person’s “Cancerversary” stirs up a lot of emotions and every patient approaches it differently – but it is never forgotten.  For patients who had their cancer caught early & cured – it is a date that may remind them of hitting the state of absolute terror, only to be redeemed and saved.  For Stage IV patients it is even more complicated, since it is the date when most of them were… Read More

Just a quick post to say that the “Spring Sprint” Team Triathlon (my participation was organized by UCSD Moores Cancer Center) was a great experience this morning!  Patient/Moores Cancer Center triathlon teams have been organized for years now and I think it is a wonderful experience for everyone involved! A big part of being a cancer patient is trying your hardest to not give up in the face of adversity.  In that way… Read More

If you have hit the link to the “Favorite Cancer Books” page in my blog, you know I am a big fan of both of Tami Boehmer’s books: “From Incurable to Incredible; Cancer Survivors Who Beat the Odds” and “Miracle Survivors: Beating the Odds of Incurable Cancer”         Tami writes about specific Stage IV cancer patients that have dramatically outlived their initial prognosis (including herself!), often overcoming unique situations… Read More

Here’s some exciting positive news to share from the personal side of cancer! I have been selected to be one of the 12 “models” for the 2016 Colondar 2.0 annual magazine (to be published in March 2016) which annually features the stories of 12 young CRC patients from across the nation who were diagnosed under age 50 (the age when screening is recommended to start). I’m very excited to take part in a… Read More

Although it was a long way to fly for a 3 day trip, Barcelona was a WONDERFUL trip on many different levels! My talk went really well – I got a standing ovation (at least I could see the front row – I actually was really blinded up on the stage ha) and many people came up to me afterwards saying I had brought tears to their eyes & I had inspired… Read More

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