Daniel 3:17-18

Daniel 3:17-18 "If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O king. But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up."

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Mile 17

Hello. My name is Steve.

(I haven't written in awhile, so some of you may have forgotten my name. :-))

I think part of the reason for the gap is because how I'm doing seems trivial at times compared to how others are doing. Who am I to complain or have a tough day? I haven't looked at my own blog in days and then when I do, I find out that David's journey is over.

I loved you, David, just because we were comrades in cancer. I knew you through your blog for only a few short months and you likely never knew me. But I know this, the world is now short a truly gentle man among men. My prayers continue for your family.

As for me, I'm dealing with my own journey through cancer. The intellectual part of me knows not to compare my journey with others. We each have to travel our own road, though none of us really travel alone. I'd say at the very least we have angels at our side. (My personal favorite angel is my wife, Carla.)

All right, then. Here's my update on how I'm doing.

I'm doing.

That's about it, really. Round 4 finished OK. The week off went faster than it should have. That or it's getting harder to recover between rounds.

We started round 5 a bit concerned for my feet (hands too, actually). Three days in things got a bit scary. That was Sunday night. My hands and feet turned a very angry red and threatened to split into open soars in several places. Each of my big toes got infected around the toe nails which hurt with the slightest pressure. My oncologist has always asked me to watch for any open wounds. This is the closest we've ever come.

I went ahead and took my Xeloda the next morning and drove in to work. Carla got on the phone with the nurse who got word to my oncologist. They stopped my chemo immediately. Three days off, no questions asked. If things calm down we will start again Thursday night. That's tomorrow night. Things are calming down, sort of.

Carla has slathered my hands and feet with plain yogurt for the last two nights. Interestingly effective at sloughing off dead skin and removing the heat. My skin actually returns to its pre-chemo white for a time. So my hands are back to their normal, poorly chemo condition, and my feet have made some healing progress.

The second thing my oncologist did was reduce my dosage. Music to my ears. I completed round 1 on eight pills a day (4000 mg). It kicked my butt. I started round 2 on seven pills a day and finished on six. Rounds 3 and 4 were both done on six pills a day. Round 5 (the one I'm in the middle of) started on six, took a three day break, and will finish on five (2500 mg).

There is also the part where cancer and cancer treatment just wears you down over time. I've managed to work partial days for the last three days.

Tomorrow night it's dinner with a serving of chemo for dessert. Must keep fighting cancer.

Now, let's explain the title for this post - Mile 17.

I have completed 34 marathons over the last 18 years. That's 26.2 miles each (42 k). One of my favorite courses is in northern Utah. It's called the Top of Utah marathon. For ten consecutive years I found myself at the starting line up Blacksmith Fork canyon. Absolutely gorgeous.

By mile 14 you reach the mouth of the canyon where you see your friends and family for the first time during the race. Exhilarating. Then the course flattens out for three miles while it winds through a tranquil neighborhood. You pop out at mile 17.

For 14 miles you feel the excitement of the race, enjoy the fall colors blanketing the canyon walls, talk with other runners along the way, and look forward to seeing the fans at mile 14. For the next three miles your legs adjust to the flat course. Still a bit of talking between fellow runners. I see my family again at mile 17 and then things begin to change.

At mile 17 the course turns due north and heads for the finish line in Logon, Utah. At mile 17 I have completed two thirds of the course. My body begins to assess what it has left in the tank. There is little or no talking with other runners. It is the most quiet part of the race for me. I focus on my pace, my posture, my breathing, the next water station, the next mile marker.

Marathons have a notorious wall at mile 20. Many runners fade quickly at this point in the race. Often sooner. Hanging on to the finish begs for true endurance. I actually love this part of the race. It humbles you every time. My focus becomes the next corner, the next telephone pole, the next runner to try and pass.

Gently, ever so slowly you creep up on another runner and pass them by. The only words exchanged are words of encouragement. "Looking good," says the runner being passed. "You've got this one," says me.

And then I finish the race. I turn the last corner just after the mile 26 marker, giving one final burst of energy up the street to the city park. I cross the finish line having left it all on the course. I'm exhausted, pert near dehydrated, and completely happy. It's awesome.

My cancer diagnosis came on July 30, 2010. My final surgery will be in mid June. I am two thirds of the way through my protocol.

I am currently receiving adjuvant chemotherapy. I have completed 4 of 6 rounds ending on May 11. That means I am two thirds of the way there.

Two thirds in either case puts me at mile 17.

Mile 17 - Boston Marathon