Category Archives: Bicycling


Bicycling in January

Today a friend of mine called and asked if I wanted to go bicycling.  It had not even crossed by mind.  It is easy to fall into a rut and think the winter weather will be too cold and uncomfortable.  Also, it’s easy for me to think that with carcinoid tumor and atrial fibrillation that I should not do it in cooler weather (not true unless perhaps I am having active symptoms).

I went with him this afternoon and we rode 20 miles.  He is 7 years older than I am and could ride the hills faster.  Going to the gym and riding stationary bikes does not prepare you for outdoor riding on a real bike very well.  The temperature was around 52 degrees fahrenheit and there was a chilling breeze, but I have gear for much colder so I can ride fairly comfortably.  We  rode around Cherry Creek Reservoir to the top of a hill where we could see the front range partially (because it was mostly cloudy).

Very nice.  I am lucky to have friends who ask me to participate which reminds me that I can and should do the things that make me happy.

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Heart in the Mountains

I have just had two wonderful days in Frisco, Colorado. I stayed with my friend in his condo and we fly fished, walked, attended evening concerts.  The weather was good, the fishing was good and one of the free concerts was fabulous (Queen Nation which is a Queen tribute band).

I had no atrial fibrillation symptoms at all in Frisco which is about 9,000 ft. altitude.  The last time (before the cardioversion) that I was there I was very sick and felt I could not breathe.  Even fishing a stream at over 10,000 ft., my breathing was probably no worse than a person who was not accustomed to the altitude.

The cardioversion is working!  I now need to try bicycling more.

I had a followup EKG on Monday and there is no difference from where it was after the cardioversion two weeks ago.  Let’s hope that it sticks for a while.

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Walk Don’t Bike

Well, I’ve been ordered not to bicycle any significant distance. So now I simply walk 45 minutes to an hour every day.  More boring, but it gets me outside.

As I reported in “Atrial Fibrillation” I have been told to wear a heart monitor (holter monitor) 24/7 for two weeks. I have one day left. It’s amazing technology. Whenever I have a “symptom” (ordinarily dizziness, woozyness, difficulty breathing), I press the SYMPTOM button on the device and it records a few seconds of history of my heart. It also monitors my heart and records any time that it thinks things are not right. Whenever I have recorded symptoms or if none, whenever it tells me to, I dial a number and transmit the recorded information to the business which specializes in this. There is always a specialist on the phone who could help me if I were having real cardio problems.

My cardiologist logs on every day and monitors my symptoms.  Last week, after 4 days of monitoring, the cardio nurse called and told me not to do any very strenuous activity including long bike rides.  She also had me make an appointment with a pacemaker specialist.  I have that Monday.

The monitor has shown that I definitely have afib and that it is pretty constant.  It also has shown that I have episodes of racing heart (tachycardia) and slow heart rate (bradycardia).  This means that they cannot just give me drugs to slow down the tachycardia.  The drugs could make my heart go far too slow.  Maybe the solution would be a pacemaker to keep my heart from going too slow and drugs to keep it from going too fast.  This is not decided or recommended yet.

This week I also had a few symptoms of light pain or heaviness in the chest.  The monitor did not show anything going on.  This made the cardiologist concerned that I might be having little heart attacks but they later decided that it was probably a form of heart burn.  None-the-less, I am now scheduled for a cardio stress test on the 9th. Lucky me.  The carcinoid cancer symptom of acid stomach has been recurring more lately than at any time since I had the chemoembolization last August.  This worries me a little.  The blood tests that I have every two months do not show an upward trend in gastrin in my blood, but with carcinoid, we can get symptoms without the blood tests reflecting more activity.  It’s actually pretty common.  No one has been able to explain that to me in a way that I could understand.

On the link between carcinoid tumor and atrial fibrillation, my oncologist still thinks it’s possible but my cardiologist does not think so.  It’s likely the treatments would be the same either way.

All of this troubles Laurie and me a great deal of course.  Pema Chodron, a famous America Buddhist nun and prolific writer, advises us to embrace our feelings, not avoid them.  I work daily on meditation to help maintain a sense of serenity.  Not being a Buddha myself, it does not always work but it helps.  Laurie is also a rock in these times.  I know this is very difficult for her but she keeps moving forward and being her practical self.

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Early in February, I decided to try Lance Armstrong’s LiveStrong organization for information on clinical trials in progress for carcinoid tumor or neuroendocrine tumors (NETs). Their rapid response, helpfulness and all around friendliness was amazing. was founded by the Lance Armstrong Foundation which Lance founded after his famous battle with cancer to serve as an online resource for cancer survivors. It offers information and advice and help for the cancer survivor and loved ones.

They offer the following services and more:

  • Free, confidential support through education, referrals and counseling services.
  • Fertility preservation and information assistance.
  • Financial, insurance, and job concern assistance.
  • Counseling and local resources.
  • Cancer diagnosis and treatment concerns assistance.
  • Find clinical trials.
  • Treatment decision support.
  • Tools for the health care professional.

When you sign up with them, you get a free packet of information and guides to help you navigate through your cancer experience. I wish that I had contacted them earlier. We cannot do this alone. With help from organizations like, the cancer patient and their loved ones can find the road to cancer survivorship easier. is supported by donations and by various events throughout the United States. I have twice been in the bicycling event during the Ride for the Roses in Austin, Texas which is held in October.  There are rides, runs, walks, triathlons and fundraisers across the country. I encourage you to get help there and participate if you can.


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A Good Day for Biking

I have just returned and cleaned up from a 31 mile bike ride.  It is the longest ride this year.   I have been worried that I was physically well enough and fit enough to do over 30 miles without undue pain or symptoms. And the answer is… No problem!  No sign of the light headedness or the getting winded, difficult to recover kind of thing.

The ride took 2 hours 45 minutes.  5 years ago when I was preparing for Ride the Rockies, I would have been disappointed at anything more than 2 hours on the easy trails of Denver.  But now my carcinoid cancer has progressed and I will be 65 years old in 4 days.  I’m working toward being in better shape this summer.

I am inspired by Tracy Krulik and her blog: I Have Cancer. And I’ve Never Felt Better.  She is a professional author and her blog features articles about cancer, about healthy living, healthy recipes and about exercise.  She is an avid biker.

Certainly for me, biking, the weight room, walking, and  fly-fishing keep my feeling better (physically and mentally) and even looking better than people expect.  I hope to keep surprising them.

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My Carcinoid Heart

Yesterday, April 17, I met my new oncologist.  She is very impressive and easy to deal with.  I am glad that I was assigned to her.

After getting to know each other, she did a quick check up and discovered that I have atrial fibrillation (afib). She ordered an ECG and got the Cardio department to check it and make sure. Now I have an appointment on Friday to see my Primary Care Physician and he will decide what to do from there. It is interesting that I have seen doctors every month for the last 12 months (including a heart specialist last summer) and this never came up before. Also interesting, the light-headedness and shortness of breath that I have complained about might be attributable to this. She checked me because of those complaints I think.

I knew the carcinoid tumor can cause Carcinoid Heart Disease (40% of midgut carcinoid with metastasis to the liver – that’s me folks – get Carcinoid Heart Disease which is a deformity of the heart valves which might show up initially as afib). That is not afib. Yesterday I found out that the injection I get every month causes afib in 3 to 10 percent of the patients.  I have sleep apnea which may increase the likelihood of afib. I used to smoke which increases the chances of afib. I am perhaps 20 pounds overweight which also increases the chances.

How serious is it? Atrial fibrillation is the most common form of heart arrhythmia (erratic heartbeat).  The chief danger is stroke. It increases the likelihood of stroke by 5 or 6 times. It is usually treated readily with blood thinners or sometimes by shocking the heart to get the muscles working properly again. Perhaps worst case would require a pacemaker.  However,  if it were Carcinoid Heart Disease there would be much bigger problems which we would have to tackle. I don’t know for sure yet, but I think the ECG would have shown if it were Carcinoid Heart Disease and the oncologist does not seem to be considering this.

On the bright side,I was not ordered to quit exercising. Today was another beautiful Colorado day and I rode my bike 20 miles with a friend. I took it easy and had only a little light-headedness and breathlessness (and I took an aspirin before the ride).

More to come on this topic.


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Bike Ride

In Denver today the weather started a bit foggy, then blossomed into a beautiful Colorado day.  I went for a 20 mile ride around Cherry Creek Reservoir. It was a beautiful, uplifting ride.

No dizziness!  Only normal breathlessness when I pushed hard and I recovered quickly. So now I have to think that I was blaming carcinoid unjustly for my discomfort on the previous rides.  I am probably just more out of shape than I thought. The other rides were tougher with headwinds and a bit higher temperatures.

It’s very easy to blame all of our discomforts and ills on carcinoid. Noids like me need to take care and try to solve normal health issues a normal manner!

Yesterday, I was back in the weight room lifting. That exercise went well also. As I stated about exercise in an earlier post, all this makes me feel good.

Like many good habits, I have to keep reminding myself that I will feel better if I just get up and do it.

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My Own Fitness

I should have mentioned in the last post about fitness that when I took the twenty mile bike ride last Friday, I had several attacks of dizziness and also got severely winded. I am sure the dizziness is due to the prescription drugs and the Sandostatin injections. The losing of my wind may be just not being as fit as I think.

I just got home from a twenty five mile ride today. The dizziness hardly appeared at all. This could be because I am further in the injection cycle since the last injection so my Sandostatin blood level is lower or it could be other things that I am unaware of. In any case, I’m glad not to have that. It’s a bad feeling, especially while riding a bike or simply standing at a rest stop.  Some mild dizziness occurred when I was showering after this ride.

I did however get severely winded again, especially in the last ten miles of the ride. I know that the carcinoid neuroendocrine excretions can cause constriction of the bronchial tubes. This is why wheezing is one of the common symptoms of carcinoid syndrome. It makes me wonder whether I am just out of shape or is it a noid symptom or both? This seemed to be worse than the normal out of shape kind of thing and it was much more difficult to recover my wind.  Total recovery did not happen until I was home for an hour.   As a complication, I have mild sleep apnea which could also have something to do with this.

I meet my new oncologist in a couple of weeks.  Perhaps she can help me understand what is happening.

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