Saturday, April 6, 2013

The Unexpected Start to the Journey

In Q4, 2012, life (healthwise) was great.  I was running 6-7x a week.  Weight was, well, on the heavy side (~190lbs) but I didn't worry about it too much as I was always exercising.  I felt I could do anything, run 3-5Km, walk through multiple airports in a day (which more often than not happened).  At the time, I was traveling about 3/4 of the time.  To HKG, China, Korea, India, Indonesia, Brazil, USA... 90,000 frequent flyer miles in 6 months.  Near the end of the year, I started feeling tired.  I dismissed it as due to the travel schedule and since I would be taking time off during the Xmas holidays, it would give me time to recharge.

On Dec. 23, morning, I twisted my back showing off to my son Luis playing basketball.  Case of pure stupidity as I obviously don't have the "moves" now that I did when I was 18.  I've thrown out my back before so I figured this would just take a couple of weeks and then I would be fine.

The back pain went away in January after a couple of weeks but I noticed that my hips were screwed up.  I didn't have any range of motion in my hips at all and I couldn't run anymore.  My usual 20 min. jog going 3K went to 20 min. jog barely reaching 1.5K.  At the end of the 20 mins, I couldn't breathe.  I went to a Chiro and he did some adjustments.  My back felt much better but my hips were still out.  Also, on an everyday basis, by 7pm, I was totally exhausted.  Something was wrong. Also, I had no appetite and was losing weight fast.  10 lbs after 3 weeks and 20 lbs after 2 months.  I'm now down to my high school weight, 170 lbs. 

I was still traveling, to HKG 2x and to Frankfurt Germany.  In Germany,  I had to walk around a # of large trade show venues.  I was able to walk a few hundred meters at a time and then I would need to sit and stretch or rest.  When I came back from Germany, I was totally spent.  Then, I had some internal bleeding issues.  My doctor (Dr. Ramy Roxas, cousin of Vinchy, Rissa, Rinna, Ria) said it may be a repeat of hemorrhoids that I had 4 years ago.  When he did the medical procedure, he said he found Petechiae (small ulcertative lesions) along the intestinal lining and suspected that I may have a bacterial infection.  After 1 week of very nasty antibiotics, the infection didn't go away.  He said I may have something systemic.  This was March 13.

For the past 3 weeks, we visited Medical City, St. Luke's, Cardinal Santos to have every possible test done.  Blood tests (30+!) CT Scans (with contrast), Ultrasounds, X-Rays, 2D Echocardiograms (with Bubble Contrast!).  My endocrinologist (my sister-law-law, Dra. Trinna Maningat), helped set up visits to a Pulmonologist (Dr. Kim Silos, also cousin of Vinchy, Rissa, Rinna and Ria) and Dra. Eternity Labio (Gastroenterologist).  Every report showed that I was within normal standards except for four items.  One of my creatinine tests showed muscle degradation and another showed I was anemic (low red blood cell count).  3rd, Dr. Dan Alonzo (ENT) found that I had Petechiae in the back of my mouth and throat.  The 4th anomaly showed I had a mild deformity in my L1 vertebrae.  We went to a Spinal Surgeon, Dr. Ryan Carnero (dad of Bianca's classmate) and he said he was worried about my lack of range of motion in my hips.  The CT scan only showed something in the vertebrae but it didn't show anything wrong with my hips.  He then requested an MRI.

I hated every minute of the MRI.  2 hrs of sitting in a torpedo like tube with loud knocking and vibrations.  My back cramped up after 30 mins but I wasn't supposed to move otherwise the imagery would get screwed up.  I was complaining that all the MRI was going to show was that I had this spinal problem and that I would need physical therapy.

We picked up the MRI results on Easter Sunday, March 31, my dad's birthday.  We had just spent a wonderful couple of days in Bali with Ria's family.  Ria picked up the results and read the MRI results for the spine.  It had the usual explanation about my L1 vertebrae problems but then Ria read the last line.  At the end, it noted "possible multiple myeloma, lymphoma, leukemia, metastasis" in the lower spinal area.  The same sentence was repeated in the MRI results for my hips.  I asked Ria "could you please read that again??"  We immediately scanned the results and sent it to Trinna.  She immediately Face Timed us with a worried look.  She said that this possibility matched all my symptoms.  In an instant, we realized that I may have a form of bone cancer.  I Skyped my parents later and when I read the results to my dad, I could see his jaw drop.  He read the results again after mom printed them and I saw the look on his face.  Can't forget the look on my dad's face.  He's seen thousands of preliminary diagnoses before but I guess he hadn't read one that said his son may have bone cancer.  We agreed then that we need to go to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester MN to further pursue this as they are the best in the world at this. 

Bone Marrow Cancer or Bone Cancer isn't fully confirmed yet as we still need to do a bone marrow biopsy and bone scan.  We met with a top Hematologist, Dra. Norma Ona and she said if this is done in Manila, the results may take a week or so to get the results back.  Also, she said that if we go to Mayo Clinic, they have the best doctors and the best advancements in technology to handle it.

We booked tickets for April 8, 2013 to head to Mpls.  Luckily, my parents live an hour north of Rochester MN so it will be easy to get to.

In the past week, I have received countless emails, phone calls, Skype calls, Facebook posts of support with offers of prayers, help, thoughts, everything.  Thank you to all of you for your prayers and your help.  I'm so thankful for the outpouring of love from all of you.

The journey has now started.  Whatever this is, bone cancer or whatever, it has picked a fight with the wrong person.  I am getting psyched up to royally kick it's a___.  I have the greatest family and support team behind me.  Stay tuned as Ria and I move on with this journey. 

1 comment:

  1. Armando! I am praying and believing and fighting with you. Thank you so much for your bravery and honesty in letting us know what you're facing. Please post frequent updates.