Wayne Joseph’s Blog

Running with the Big Dog

Grey Matters at M.D. Anderson Hospital

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 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 the 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 twist 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 Queens Hospital 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 3 days to 5 weeks depending on how functional I was.

We were there for a total of 2 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 3 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 number one 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.

(wear a grey ribbon to show support for brain cancer survivors and their families)

September 24, 2012 Posted by | Health and Fitness | , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Big Island Marathon – Race Director Going Strong despite battling Stage IV Glioblastoma

The following article was published in the Hawaii Tribune-Herald on March 18, 2012

Race director still running strong

 By KEVIN JAKAHI                             Tribune-Herald sports writer

Wayne “Big Dog” Joseph is always running — whether it’s his five-mile daily morning jog or scrambling to tie up a loose end for the Big Island International Marathon.

Judging by the numbers, the three-pronged event — 26.2-mile marathon, half-marathon and 3.1-mile run/walk — is as popular as ever. The half-marathon, introduced two years ago, is a big hit among participants.

“Everybody wants to do the half-marathon,” said Joseph, the race director. “I’d like to keep it at 300, but we oversold it at 338. It’s not the full marathon and you don’t have to put in as much training, and you get to see the beauty of the race, which, to me, is the first eight to 10 miles.

“For the entire race, we’ve almost the same as last year. We’ve got 909. It’s in the same ballpark.”

In his Running with the Big Dog column on Feb. 20, the 64-year-old Joseph wrote that he had surgery for a malignant brain tumor, and credited his quick recovery — he was slowly up and moving the day following surgery — to being healthy and fit, his life’s motto and the message in almost every column.

“I’m doing well. It’s a rare brain disease (glioblastoma),” he said. “I feel good. I’m trying to be as normal as can be. I’m still managing to run. I jog five miles every morning, something I take pride in doing. Every afternoon, I go on a two or three mile walk. I love people, love doing things and try to keep life normal as possible.”

According to a rundown on wikipedia.org, the prognosis for stage IV glioblastoma is pretty grim. The survival rate for ages 50 and over is less than 50 percent, with numbers shrinking to single-digits after three years.

“Stage IV is gloomy, but I’m not buying into that kind of stuff,” Joseph said. “To me, they caught it early, took it out early and I’m getting treatment early. I’ve got no choice but to stay optimistic. I bought a book and a guy with the same disease lived for 16 years later.

“Laughter helps and the outpouring of the Hilo community after I wrote that story was incredible. I can’t tell you how many people emailed me out of the blue, giving me positive advice. I was truly overwhelmed. Hilo is a very supportive place. It’s a wonderful place. And there are a lot of wonderful people who make me feel good.”

He started chemotherapy and radiation sessions on March 12. He said he has no nausea, noting it’s “mind over matter.”

“The radiation is easy. There’s nothing to radiation,” he said. “You lie on a table and they blast you with radioactive beams. Hopefully, they kill the little critters.”

He’s taking steroids to deal with the swelling in his brain. The side effect is he’s eating more than ever and gain

ed 14 pounds. The steroids also affect his sleep, but not his disposition.

His mood remained on an enthusiastic wavelength at all times, while talking about his health and especially the work of the BIIM volunteers.

“The volunteers make me look good. I just coordinate,” he said. “We get 300 to 400 people to make the Hilo marathon look good. We don’t advertise it. It’s the beauty of the marathon and it sells itself. It’s a really beautiful marathon with the people here. When people come here to race, they’re overwhelmed.”

Then Joseph talked about the popularity of the half-marathon, which, symbolically will be a tie-in to his longevity.

“If we let it go, the half-marathon could easily go to 500. But I believe in being environmentally sensitive and meeting the needs of the quiet community,” he said. “As long as I’m around, it’s going to small. We’ll keep it around 300. And I plan on being around for a while.”

Related Link:  https://waynejoseph.wordpress.com/2012/02/20/staying-healthy-and-fit-helps-in-times-of-adversity-brain-tumor-removal/

March 18, 2012 Posted by | Running on the Big Island | , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Jessica Kirkwood living and playing well in Paradise

Jessica Kirkwood

 I wonder if James Michener realized what a profound impact his book “Hawaii” would have on people more than a half century later.

 For Jessica Kirkwood, her mother and grandmother the book would bring a life changing experience.

 “My grandmother was a world traveler and an avid reader and writer,” Kirkwood said.  “Her favorite book in the entire world was Michener’s Hawaii and it was her goal to visit here someday.”  

 Unfortunately for Kirkwood’s grandmother she was diagnosed with uterine cancer and passed away within one month of the diagnoses at the age of 72.

 When Kirkwood learned that her own mother was diagnosed for the third time with cancer she decided to raise money to help pay the cost of sending her to a healing retreat.  

 “My mum was first diagnosed with Hodgkin’s at age 20, and then cervical cancer in her thirties and this last one was stomach cancer at 50,” Kirkwood said.  “She developed into stage 4 stomach cancer and was undergoing six months of chemotherapy.”

 Kirkwood, a gifted triathlete was exposed to a variety of physical activities at an early age through her mother’s urging.

 “My mum put me in softball, swimming, dance and figure skating as a child and gave me a few years to choose which one I wanted to dedicate my time to,” she said. “Swimming was the one sport that stuck and my coaches were so much fun I began racing at age six.”

 Kirkwood went on to have a stellar youth swim performance from ages 6 to 18 that she even made the varsity swim team for Simon Fraser University in her home Province of British Columbia.

 “I was awarded the title of ‘All-American Swimmer’ and raced in the NAIA division in Backstroke,” Kirkwood said.

 It was through her athletic background that Kirkwood first visited the Big Island when she was invited to do a training camp with the Canadian National Triathlon Team in Kona.

“I had been so naïve and thought that this island went as far as Waimea and Captain Cook,” she said.  “But when I drove down the Hamakua Coast I felt something I had been needing to feel for a long time.”

Kirkwood claims that she became alive, awake and aware through visiting East Hawaii and wanted her mother to experience those same feelings.

“I had been raising money back in Victoria for my mum and the total amount raised was $3,500,” she said.

 While riding her bike in lower Puna, along Red Road, Kirkwood discovered a retreat called Kalani Honua and immediately called her mum.

 “I told her I had found a place on the Big Island and how breathtaking it was,” Kirkwood said.  “My mum was going through such a scary and exhausting time that I wanted her to feel the same things I was feeling.”

Kirkwood made a deal with her mother saying that if she would battle the cancer and won she would be bringing her to Hawaii to spend two weeks.

 “It became part of her motivation to make it through those months of chemo,” she said.

Not only did Kirkwood’s mother get to visit East Hawaii she also continues to return each year to spend time with her daughter that lives in Hawaiian Paradise Park.

 My mother is now in remission and doing quite well and I decided that this is where I want to live, go back to the University and explore,” Kirkwood said.

 Kirkwood has become well know in the running, biking and swimming scene as this 28 year old competes on a regular basis.

 On a whim Kirkwood decided to enter one of the most grueling road races on the island, known as the Hilo to Volcano Ultra Marathon.  The race is all uphill, starting at Coconut Island and ending at Cooper Center in Volcano Village.

 “I won the women’s division of the 31 mile race in 4 hours 36 minutes,” Kirkwood said. 

Kirkwood is also a regular participant of the Joe Wedeman Decimal Man triathlon that is held in HPP. 

 “We swim in Joe’s pool and will bike the perimeter of HPP, then run around the block,” Kirkwood said.

The young Canadian also dabbled in kids triathlon races in Ontario.

  Now she has honed her running and biking talents and is a serious competitor is all facets of triathlons and who at one point raced professionally, competing in 4 world championships.  

“I might do the Honu Triathlon next year,” she said.  “My goal is really just to do what feels right, to stay happy and healthy on a day to day basis and not to set too high of expectations on myself.  It’s more for my peace of mind now, to experience myself and this island, and to get my friends involved too.”

 And Kirkwood is quick to reflect on her grandmother not being able to experience Hawaii.

“My mum and I like to think that grand mum is enjoying the islands through us,” she said.

 With October being Breast Cancer Awareness Month we should all help in the effort for research into its cause, prevention, diagnosis, treatment and cure.

And someday should you happen to see a happily married retired teacher enjoying the many blessings of living in East Hawaii remember to smile, say “woof” and never shy away from “Running with the Big Dog.”

Happy Birthday to my darling wife, Randee!   You are my life, my wife :))) .  Love you,  Big Dog

Email the Big Dog at waiakeabigdog@aol.com.

October 24, 2011 Posted by | Running on the Big Island | , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments