By WAYNE JOSEPH
HOUSTON, Texas — After being referred to see a team of doctors at the leading brain and cancer research center in the nation, my wife Randee and I were off to M. D. Anderson Hospital which is operated with the help of the University of Texas.
The idea was if we could get medical advice or treatment to slow down the progressive growth of the glioblastoma, a brain tumor that has now grown from my right side to invade the left. It’s always good to get a different view and never accept what you are told by one or two doctors.
Despite a lifetime of exercise and a healthy diet I found my body being invaded.
Yes, I have done over 40 marathons and well over 500 races from the 5K to the half marathon and I couldn’t understand how this could be happening to me.
Cancer can affect anyone, regardless of how well they take care of themselves. So why exercise and eat properly you might ask?
Yes, recovery, from those unexpected twists that life presents.
Since finding out I had brain cancer I have continued to exercise. Of course, I can’t run or jog like I used to, but I’ll walk as much as I can. Some days 3 to 4 miles and on others 6 to 7 miles.
Walking is just as good as running, in fact, it might be better as it doesn’t impact your joints as much.
I’ve been told by doctors that if it weren’t for my conditioning I would not have been able to recover from the initial surgery at The Queen’s Medical Center on Oahu so quickly.
This is why I continue to walk, do pushups and stretch on a regular basic.
While embarking on my trip to Houston I was told to be prepared to stay anywhere from three days to five weeks depending on how functional I was.
We were there for a total of two days and told future surgery to the left side of my brain was not an option as it was too dangerous.
I saw people that were in wheelchairs and walkers that needed assistance by family or friends, and a wide range of others that were being cared for by the medical staff. I was one of the few that walked into the hospital that had to pass a battery of mental and physical examinations that was put to me by an entire group of doctors.
The team of doctors decided that I was in a category called “highly functional” and I attribute this to taking good care of myself.
Even while on the short stay in Houston we walked and tried to keep everything as normal as possible.
We were invited to start my next phase with a clinical trial where treatment could be done from an oncologist in Hilo using a new combination of chemotherapy drugs. The Houston team felt I would do better being at home with friends and family and since both drugs are FDA approved, I could receive my treatment here.
Not knowing the city of Houston didn’t prevent us from exploring and walking to various places. We walked from the hospital back to the hotel some three miles away. To get dinner we walked to the mall and back. Exercise is good for me, it reminds of whom I am and it provides me with a positive attitude and the belief all will be well. Being as normal as possible is important to me and nothing should ever interfere with that feeling.
I believe in exercise and will do it to the day I die
It has not failed me and I am a better cancer patient for it.
Granted, some days are easier than others, but I will do what I can and as often as I can.
One thing that I did notice in the Lone Star State is there are an awful lot of large people and that must contribute to the No. 1 health care problem in the country, “obesity.”
With obesity comes a host of preventable disease such as high blood pressure and Type II diabetes, things people could do something about with diet and exercise.
We all have choices and should we make the right ones it will come back and help you when you most need it.
I’ve made mine and never regretted it as it has paid big dividends most of my life.
Our quest for finding the best treatment available may bring us to Cedars Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles where they are doing other clinical trials as I am not soon to give up!
But one thing is a given, as long as I pack my pair of shoes you can be certain I will walk and exercise everyday because I truly believe in it.
With the support of many friends and family I am prepared for anything, but one thing for sure I will never give up!
And someday should you happen to see a blessed walker/jogger coming through the streets of Hilo, smile and “Never Shy Away from Running with the Big Dog.”
Email the Big Dog at firstname.lastname@example.org.