Sunday, May 4, 2014

Birdathon 2014

Thanks to any and all Tahoma Audubon Society supporters who have are plan to contribute in support of my 2014 birdathon effort to raise funds for the educational and conservation efforts of TAS.  From 3:48 PM on Friday May 2 until missing our last chance at Chestnut-backed chickadee while sharing a Bud light at my kitchen table to stay out of the afternoon rain at 3:48 Saturday afternoon Ryan Weise and I chased species from Ocean Shores to Thurston and Pierce counties while getting our highest ever total of 127 species. 
Weather mostly cooperated until the last hour or so Saturday, and tides at the coast were helpful.  We started at the Oyhut Game Range at Ocean shores with Rufous hummingbird (hyperlinks are to Cornell Lab Bird Photos) our first species as we walked into the tideflats.  The best bird there was a single Long-billed curlew.  As the 9+ foot high tide receded we found the rock-loving shorebirds, Ruddy and Black turnstones and Surfbird at the back end of the jetty along with two early Heermann’s gulls. We were surprised at the numbers of Rhinoceros auclkets (120) and Common murres (20) off the jetty, and found the expected salt water birds. Driving the open beach for a couple of miles explained where the numbers of shorebirds were, as we found thousands, including huge numbers, maybe 1000+ Semipalmated plovers.  At Bowerman basin in Hoquiam we found the Great Horned Owlets still on the nest platform where they had made the local newspaper for the Gray’s Harbor Shorebird Festival the weekend prior. The Barn owl was at it’s expected silo on Wenzel Slough Rd as the Wilson’s snipe winnowed all around us.
After a brief sleep in our own beds we met and started the day at Niszually NWR where ducks, warblers, tanagers, and a calling American Bittern posed for digiscoped iPhone photos,

bringing our list to 102 for the trip by 8AM.  We forged ahead to get a House Wren at the Mountain View Cemetery marsh in Lakewood, added a few species at Ft. Steilacom Park, and headed for Titlow Beach.  The highlight there was 7 Marbled Murrelets in their brown “marbled” brown plumage swimming not too far off the beach.  Bushtits and a drumming Downy Woodpecker brought our list to near 120 and we knew we’d get one at a time from there on.  The rest of the day we chased “stake-out” birds, adding the American Dipper at the Carbon River bridge in Orting, American Kestrel on its usual wire on Hwy 162, and  Hutton’s vireo at the Spanaway Marsh. 
We knew we had near 125 species but trying to e-bird, keep a list, drive and bird had our record keeping a bit iffy.  After a good night sleep this morning I audited our e-bird lists, and we say 127 species for the  trip.  As it seems always the trip was as notable for the birds we missed as the ones we got.  No Brewer’s blackbird, Chestnut-backed chickadee, Turkey vulture, Evening grosbeak or Pine Siskin.  This makes us excited about future trips and ways to find even more.  Still a great trip. You can contribute at if you want to support TAS.  Good birding.

Ed Pullen 

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

The Good Times Keep Rolling

Kay had her quarterly follow up visit with Dr. McCrosky today, and got really great results on her CA-125 tumor marker testing, a really great 25.  This was even better than we had hoped.  Kay is now just over a year after her last course of radiation therapy, and has been taking the curcumin for the last 4 months.  At her last visit we were really pleased that her CA-125 was down from 70 to the low 50’s, and were hoping for not much of an increase this time.  The 50%+ drop in the number was great news.  We don’t really know what to think of this.  Is it because the rising CA-125  after finishing her radiation was really a result of post-radiation inflammation rather than returning cancer?  Is the curcumin a strong anti- cancer drug in Kay’s case?  Whatever the reason, we are joyful and grateful for the results.
We’ve been having a great summer, the vacation to France, a visit to the Maine Pullen clan following a visit from Morgan, our cousin/niece, and then last week a trip with Ron and Linda Bahr to Glacier National Park.  This doctor’s visit result puts a cherry on top of what has been a wonderful summer so far. 
Jean is settling in at her new job at Nordstrom’s as a financial analyst, Kay continues to enjoy her retirement, and I am still enjoying work along with lots of vacation.  Our love goes out to all who rejoice in these great results with us.  Enjoy the rest of the summer.

Ed & Kay

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Best News in a Long Time

Kay has been in the hopeful waiting mode for a few months with her ovarian cancer.  She finished the three-stage surgery --> chemotherapy --> radiation therapy regimen we had hoped could possibly cure her cancer about a year ago, but discouragingly her CA-125 tumor marker started to rise steadily within a few months. After several consultation and a lot of thought we decided in agreement with both her local oncologist and the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance consulting oncologist to delay further treatment until Kay either started to feel ill-effects of the cancer or until there was demonstrable cancer progression on CT scans or other imaging modalities.  Her CA-125 steadily climbed from about 10 to 27 and 3 months ago to about 70.  (upper normal is 30)  Her doubling time was about 45 days for this marker.  On this projectile we were hoping for slowed growth in the number, maybe something less than 150-200 would have been on the good side of expectations.  Kay kept a positive outlook, feeling greatful for the year off therapy, but the expectation of starting treatment and its potential side effects was hanging over her head.

Some of you may have seen a crowd-sourcing post on my medical blog Crowd Source Help Requested:  Curcumin - Turmeric for Ovarian Cancer.  Kay started the supplement Curcumin C3 about 3 weeks ago in hopes that it might slow the progression of her cancer.  Today when she saw Dr. McCrosky to hear the results of the CA-125 drawn yeasterday she was flabbergasted to hear that it has DECREASED from 70 to 50.  They rechecked this to see if it was a lab error, but the repeat was 55.  So for some reason, ? curcumin response? Kay's ovarian cancer tumor marker that has been so discouragingly accurate and predictable in the past has dropped instead of increasing as expected. 

Kay continues to feel really good  She is working hard in her garden, and it looks great.  We are all grateful that she feels strong and is enjoying this hard work.  Her energy is near normal, and we both are really excited about not needing to recheck the CA-125 for another 3 months.  Having the summer off treatment and feeling strong and well is a blessing we had hoped for but not really dared to expect.  

We do have lots of fun planned. We are vacationing in France for the first half of June.  We have a vacation to visit the Pullens in Maine in July and hope to soak up the predictably wonderful sunshine here in WA for the rest of the summer.  Three months of fun, sun and no chemo is really exciting. 

Join us in prayers of thanks for the gift of this respite from therapy, for continued regression or at least lack of progression of Kay's cancer, and for joy and fun in this coming summer. 

Thursday, April 25, 2013

3-Month Update

As many of you know we found out that Kay's ovarian cancer seemed to be recurring at her follow up visits after finishing her surgery-chemo-radiation therapy regimen last year, and she had her 3-month follow up visit with Dr. McCroskey last Thursday.  The news is decidedly mixed.  The good news is that Kay continues to feel well and life is good.  Some of her local friends threw her a party for her 59th birthday and they went to a ceramics painting place and painted a set of marine-theme plates.  We also had a family party in Seattle and she had a sleep-over with Jean and Brett at Jean's place. The medical news is just OK.  Her tumor marker, the CA-125 continues to rise, from 30 about 3 months ago, to 72 now.  This unfortunately confirms that her cancer is growing, but not terribly rapidly.  She is going to get a CT scan soon to look for any measurable bulk of tumor, but the plan for now is to carry on, live our lives and recheck the tests in 3 months again.  This will give her another period of time without chemo and the attendent side-effects.
At that time there is a good chance she will need to go on treatment to keep the cancer from spreading, and there are some not-too-intolerably-difficult options.  Most likely is seeing if an oral PARP inhibitor prevents works.  Other options may include a tumor-immunization trial being done at the University of Pennsylvania. We will learn more about the options as the time for treatment approaches.  For now it's time to live as normally as possible and cherish time off treatment.
This is all pretty much in the mid-range of our expectations, not great news, but not a big setback either.  We are committed to living fully and normally

Happy Valentines Day

Happy Valentine's Day!

Kay and I want to shout out to all Happy Valentine's Day.  We love each other and want to sent some love out to all of our friends and family too.

This year is off to a pretty good start for the the Washington Pullen family, and if this sounds like a Christmas letter that's because we didn't get a Christmas letter done.  For details on Kay's cancer see the post immediately prior to this.  That's the last I'll mention of cancer in this post.

Kay and I have been busy having fun for the last few months.  We had a great 2+ week vacation in Cabos prior to Christmas, half with friends the half with Jean, Brett and Keith Colmar, Kay's brother.  This was a really nice trip, and as usual the sun, water and Mexican environment were much enjoyed.  Both kids were home for Christmas and that was low key and enjoyable.

For the first half of 2013 we have fun planned with a fair amount of birding adventures coming up soon and a possible big trip if we figure out the details.  Maybe Paris.  Kay is getting more active in her painting getting together with an old friend Stephanie regularly for inspiration and creative exchange.  She has wound Pullen Advertising down to functional retirement, and that is great too.

I am embarking on a new stage of my career at Sound Family Medicine.  I've recruited two very good young physician assistants to work closely with me to care for our patients.  The expectation is that this will allow me to stay in practice longer, take more time for travel and enjoyment, and still have my patients get strong continuity care.  I'm excited about this and so far, in the very early stages, it seems to be going well.
Jean continues at Blue Nile, the online diamond and jewelry retailer based in Seattle as a senior accountant, and if finding the company a good place to work and balance work-home life.  Life in Seattle has been great for her and she gets home regularly as well as our frequent trips to the city where we often meet up with her and Ryan, her boyfriend.

Brett continues his career in internet business development and management. He is working really hard, making progress and we are proud and supportive parents of our entropreneur son.  It is amazing how many young adults we know now whose careers are focused on internet marketing, managmenet and related fields.  Brett is going to do great in this field as he is focused and determined.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Looking Back at 2012

Kay and I were reminiscing about 2012 yesterday and we were surprised that we both remember mostly the good parts of the year.  2012 has been an incredibly eventful year for our family that roughly speaking involved two parts.  The first part involved Kay’s no-holds-barred attack on her ovarian cancer recurrence.  From Jan through July she went through first surgery to try to remove the known remaining tumor, then an aggressive and very difficult combined intra-peritoneal and intravenous regime of chemotherapy, and finally a course of whole-pelvis radiation to shoot for  a long-term remission or even what Dr. Swisher hinted at, a cure.  The emotional highs and lows involved in this undertaking were tough at times. First the surgery where no cancer was seen in the abdominal cavityà great news, followed by news that the surgical margins where the cervix was removed not being cancer free à bad news.  This shift in prognosis came in just a few days.  On the tail of that came the realization that the intraperitoneal chemo was going to be much tougher than any chemo Kay had faced yet, while the whole time dreading the unknown of radiation to follow.  The discomfort of the chemo and the fatigue of the radiation seemed to drag on forever.  Kay really hates feeling like she has to just rest and not be able to do much more than just make it from day to day on these treatments.
In late July Kay finally started to get some energy back and we started planning more fun, travel and higher energy activities. We even took a hike at Sunrise on Mt. Rainier, getting close up looks at mountain goats and spectacular scenery. We took our summer trip to Maine and made plans for a fall trip to the mid-Atlantic area and our December trip to Cabo San Lucas. Then just 2 months after her last radiation therapy, and before our east coast trip, we learned that her tumor marker, the CA-125 level, was starting to climb, and hopes of a long remission or cure were dashed.  All of this led to yet more doctor appointments, consultations with Kay’s Seattle Cancer Care Alliance surgeon, and looking at options from here. 
The consensus is that Kay should not hurry to more treatment and that the primary goals of treatments in the near future need to be to prevent progression of the cancer to an advanced stage while trying to minimize side effects of treatment.  The goals of long term remission from an aggressive course of combinations of chemotherapy have not been very effective and Kay needs to instead focus on living with cancer and managing this with the least toxic regimens available. There is always the hope of a breakthrough in treatment that could give better results at some time, but currently available treatments have not done more than less toxic options may provide. We have tentative plans for relatively easy treatment when the cancer starts to progress to a stage where Kay feels less well, or there is evidence of cancer progression other than just the CA-125 marker.
Despite all of this Kay feels strong, healthy and really good right now.  Her spirits are high, and physically she is near 100%.  We just got back from a great 2 ½ week Mexican vacation, half with friends then half with family. We are home for the holidays and life is good.  We don’t anticipate further treatment for some undetermined number of months and are enjoying life.  Looking back at the year we both are amazed that we feel like it was a pretty good year, mostly fond memories, some great times, and the difficult times seem like a hazy distant memory.  We joke that this is the remarkable ability of the human mind to block out the bad memories and focus on the good ones.
Both of our children continue to thrive, Jean working at Blue Nile diamond in the accounting department and Brett running his own company of web assets while both live in nearby Seattle.
We are grateful for the continued love and support of all of our friends and family, for the joy and peace of Christmas, and for these months of feeling strong and good. Thanks for all of your love and prayers.
Kay & Ed

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Kay Rocks the Orting Trail

Kay is having a great end of summer.  Today we went for an hour bike ride on the Orting Trail, a converted rails to trails bike and multipurpose trail, and she even impressed herself.  She rode hard the whole hour, felt great doing it, and has continued to be an energizer bunny while Brett and I played couch potato and watched the whole Seahawk's domination of the Cowboys today.

For at least a couple of weeks Kay has been really about back to normal with her energy levels.  She had been really concerned that this last course of surgery -->  Intraperitoneal + IV chemotherapy --> Whole pelvis radiation therapy that lasted from Jan through the end of July of this year was going to be something she survived but was never really the same.  Her energy levels and strength were just so beaten down that she questioned her ability to fully recover.  She and we can put those doubts to rest.  Kay is herself again.

That is super good news and we plan to take full advantage with lots of fun planned for the rest of 2012, starting with a 2+ week east coast vacation in late Sept --> Oct birding at Cape May, NJ and then touring dead presidents estates and the Shenandoah Valley and other regional attractions.

Thanks to all for all of the support we have received, and I'll keep posts coming once in a while for updates. For now, hooray, and hopes that I can keep up with Kay in her real self mode.