Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Hooked on blogging

I have been enjoying my time as a blogger. I am really happy to say that the frequency of posts on this blog has been and I pray will continue to stay low. See Kay's post below as to how helpful it has been to her to have all your love and prayers coming her way.

I have decided to undertake a new adventure. I am starting a new blog, DrPullen.com where I hope to find a venue to keep writing, and to create a reliable and trustworthy medical blog for what I’m calling the “Informed Patient.”

You can follow me there in several ways, as I’ll have facebook and twitter feeds, and plan to have a lot of fun with this site.

I have put a page of what I think are the best on-line resources for trustworthy information on several topics on my Resources page, and will try to keep the posts relevant to many people yet light and fun enough to be readable. Enjoy. Today I made a post about an interesting possible New Year’s Resolution.


Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Merry Christmas! It is for us. PET/CT is clear!

On Monday I had my 3-month scan and the black blob from the August scan is gone that was around the place of my stent. So my doctors is thinking the extra chemo treatments were good. My scan came out really good. I have passed the three-month mark without cancer coming back, so that is a big hurdle. Now I will continue to get my monthly checkup with Rob, my oncologist and get the CA 125 checked (which is the cancer marker).

I really want to take this time though, to thank every one of you who have been following the blog for your support. These are friends of my children and their teachers, SFM friends, friends of my friends and their families and even their friends, friends of my brothers (Rick and Joe) and sister and mother and extended families on the Colmar, Pullen, Preece and McWain sides, my entire congregation of my church friends, my running buddies, my NYC friends (including Deb H.), my prayer pal, advertising/design friends, clients, neighbors, Hillman family friends, Mainiacs/Mainer friends, my birding friends, Mexican friends, (shout out to the East Cape folks), BL Book Club friends, Rotary Book Club friends, the Bloody Mary’s, Hawaiian friends. that’s you Krister and Monica, English friends, friends from China, Canadian friends, all the doctors and all their support personnel and many others, I am not mentioning because the web of love and encouragement and prayers really surrounded me and lifted me up and got me through this time. I am shedding tears of gratitude as I write this. I was posted on many prayer lists at many churches besides my own. I really felt all of your love even if I didn’t personally know you. I really can’t thank you enough!! More tears. The amazing meals, cookies, muffins and flowers we received really got us through that first few weeks. The presents from the heart did make me laugh (silly feathered chicken or bird scenery in the shape of a smile), inspirational (pink boxing gloves) and books, shawls, scarf, wigs, and music that entertained me. I received phone calls, visits in the hospital, visits at home and many cards and some I saved opening for my tougher days. I am grateful for the patience of my clients and Scott, Colleen, Shan and Kelly that just stepped in and ran my business while I was sick.

I could go on and on but know that I really do love you, but I will start to sound like bad poetry. Whoever you are, I received your messages however they were sent. People said I made this sickness look easy and really it was you all that made it easier for me to bear. I thank God for bringing you all into my life and feel like I was one of his miracles because of your healing prayers.

I can’t believe this illness seems like a distant memory and look forward to getting stronger and gathering some insight from it all. Most of all I want to thank my husband for writing this blog and loving me so much. Jean and Brett thanks for your unending patience in your care for me, I couldn’t have done this without you.

I pray that you all have a great and Merry Christmas!


Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Merry Christmas - Great News

This has been a great week for Kay with good news on her PET CT scan which came back completely negative. You may recall that the first PET CT came back with the one questionable area near where she had the stent placed. She had another scan yesterday, and met with Dr. McCroskey today, who gave her the great report that the scan was completely normal. No sign of cancer at all, and this makes for a great gift of health for Christmas.

We are home together as a family for the holidays. Jean got here from Portland today, and we are looking forward to lots of good time together. We always look forward to the Christmas eve outdoor service at Celebration Lutheran, and Jean's boyfriend Marc is coming up on the train Christmas morning to join us for dinner.

Prayers of thanks for Kay's cancer free news, for the joy of the season, and for the time for families to have together.


Sunday, December 6, 2009

Cabo San Lucas, BCS, Mexico

If the trip down the Oregon and California coast was a victory lap, then this is a relaxing celebration of life. We got to Cabos to stay in a time share here on Dec 3, and don't leave until Dec. 19th. So far we have worked out every day, had wonderful meals, lots of pool time, and enjoyed playing spades, reading, and napping lots. Jean has been the woman of the house, cooking, and just treating us like royalty, and Kay and I are having a great vacation.

Last night Marc's parents, Ray and Mel Hillman, came down to visit, and we went out to dinner near the marina in downtown Cabos. We feasted on lobster tails, NY Steak, shrimp, fish and fixings. This is apparently not a busy tourist time here, as even on a Sat. night, the area was not busy.

We have not explored at all yet, just relaxing and settling in, but plan to get up to Todos Santos, and over to visit Ray and Mel at their winter place on Sea of Cortez side of the peninsula.

Hope everyone is enjoying the time leading up to Christmas. If anyone wants a low key way to stay focused, Paul Freese, our pastor, is opening up his usual Wed. lunch bible study to on-line participants, with a blog to discuss issues. You can sign up by asking jill@celebrationlutheranchurch.org to add you to the e-mail distribution list. Paul is a great teacher, very knowledgible, and these are bite sized lessons 3 days a week. I'm looking forward to it, and it is a way to not let the hustle-bustle of this season (not that Kay and I are hustling at all :.) pass you by.

Prayers of thanks for Kay's remission, and to all in this season of joy.


Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thankful - Yes!

We celebrated Thanksgiving last Sunday with a nice turkey dinner at home with Brett, Jean, Marc and Ashley McLean. Today we had a low key day, went out to a buffet at the Ram with Brett. Maybe a movie tonight.

This has been a year where we would have had to have been not just blind but insensate to not feel overwhelmed by all of our blessings. Kay has come out the other end of chemotherapy feeling good and in remission, and we are thankful. Innumerable generous and helpful friends, terrific family, and prayers from around the globe have sustained us, and we are thankful. Jean graduated from UP, has a job, and is enjoying her life in Portland and we are thankful. Brett is fully engaged in school at the Seattle University, and we are thankful. I have passed off the Sound Family Medicine medical director role to Marc Aversa, and am having more fun practicing medicine than I have in a long time, and we are thankful.

Sometimes it is said whatever doesn't kill you makes you stronger, and though I am not sure I believe that, I in some ways feel that as a family, and family of friends we are stronger than ever. We are thankful.

Prayers of thanks to all who have helped sustain us and nourish us this past several months, and prayers of thanks to God for granting us this bounty of support.

Happy Thanksgiving.


Friday, November 20, 2009


Another good week gone by. Kay got her last CA-125 back this week and it remains really good, at 6. She is going to have another PET CT scan after we get back from vacation just before Christmas, which will be the next diagnostic test. She has had a very busy week, preparing a budget for 2010 for one client, and working through a new business proposal for another. That sandwiched around going Wed. evening with me to the Art Blast, a fast paced slide show and performance art show in Tacoma at the Rialto, book club Thursday evening, and tonight we go to the big annual hospital event "Tis the Season" at a local garden nursery. It is always fun to dress up, go out, and see lots of friends.

Then next week is a short work week with Thanksgiving, and the next week we leave on Thursday Dec 3 for 2+ weeks in Cabos San Lucas, Mexico to just relax, swim, get sun, and relax some more. What a year this has been. We're finishing strong and in style.

Pray for a great holiday season for all.


Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Veteran's Day

In some ways just another day of work for me, but all the current happenings, two wars, on-post terror in Texas, makes me pretty happy I served when I did.

I have not posted in some time, mostly because nothing is new regarding Kay's cancer, but also because it is nice to just feel like things are normal. Kay is starting to grow some hair again, and went to the YMCA this week for a all-around workout, was pretty sore for a couple of days. She tried to run, and finds the neuropathy makes her feet feel clumsy, like she might fall, so is planning to find what machines work best for her.

She also had two appointments since my last post. One a breast exam at the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance. She visited with a nurse practitioner there who is a breast cancer patient herself, and they had a good visit. One thing that Kay feels, whenever she meets with a health care provider, is that everyone seems fatalistic about her disease. Example: she sat beside a pathologist on the flight back from ME recently, and when she told him she was in remission from ovarian cancer, she could tell his eyes just said, "That's what you think!" Doctors seem to be just waiting for the next bad news. We are trying to be more positive than that, without being unrealistic, a fine line to walk. Right now all is good.

Kay did see Dr. McCroskey this week, and had a great visit. She remains anemic, explaining her dyspnea (shortness of breath) with exertion, but does seem fine otherwise. She will be getting another PET CT near the end of the year. Right after we return from Cabos on our early Dec. vacation.

Jean is home to take part 3 of the CPA exam, and we are enjoying her company now. I'm really enjoying taking Ken Brown's winter birding class every Tuesday evening from 7-9 PM, and right now the sun just came out and I got a short walk at lunch.

Pray for continued optimism, for no sign of cancer now or in the future, and for many good days to come.


Monday, November 2, 2009

What a trip

Ever wonder what happens when the president comes to town? We got a glimpse of that yesterday. USAF 1 was in NJ yesterday, delivering President Obama to a fundraiser, and so we sat at the Portland, ME airport waiting to take off for Newark from 1PM until about 4 PM, then circled for another 45 minutes, finally getting into Newark at about 6:20 PM as our flight to Seatac left on time at 6 PM. There were no seats to Seattle until this afternoon (24 hours later) so we decided to catch a flight to Orange County, CA, then an early morning flight this AM. That sounded not too bad, but after boarding a plane for that flight, it was discovered that a bird had been caught in the AC unit of that plane, so we all got off, walked to the far end of the Newark terminal, waited a while, then reboarded a flight. By then it was after the evening curfew at Orange County, so we went to LAX. We got there at about 2AM, got a hotel for a long nap, and got up at 6:15 AM to catch a commuter flight to Seatac. We got in just in time for me to hurry to work for my afternoon session. (AM session was cancelled)

Despite our adventure getting home we both feel we had a great visit. It was really good to see Mom and Dad, Bill and Carol, nieces Allison and Morgan, as well as a few other relatives and friends. Camp is such a special place to us, and Bill and Carol have it really nicer than it has ever been.

Kay did great on the trip, not even a sniffle, and is going on a walk with friends tonight. I'm just going to bed early.

Photos to follow.

Prayers of thanks for a safe trip and continued good health.


Thursday, October 29, 2009


We got into Portland this morning about 10:15AM after a red-eye flight. It was about as good as it gets flying across country, no delays, no oversize isle-mates, and slept well on the plane. Bill (my brother) took the day off and picked us up at the airport, and on the ride home we stopped to pick up lobsters for dinner and to visit Uncle Deck at the Augusta VA nursing home. Deck is about 9 years older than my Dad, and broke his hip, not for the first time. He also broke his clavicle, and is struggling, so it was really nice to see him.

Then off to camp, where Bill and Carol have things looking fabulous. The propane stove was burning, he has made lots of finish improvements, and Carol had a bouquet of flowers to make things really cheery. The leaves are past prime, but still beautiful. Morgan says they are now the "old ladies" colors of fall, browns, yellows, and lots of shades between. Some sunshine, just enough for a sunset tonight. The gas stove has camp warm, and we got a nap this afternoon. Then surf & turf Bill Pullen style, lobsters shucked and ready for homemade lobster rolls, with grilled steaks. A great apple crisp for desert. We are in a post feast stupor now, just feeling really good.

Mom was really tired today, she rarely gets out in the evening, and I think coming to Bills for dinner was a big effort for her. We left them early to get some sleep and rest this evening. We are really looking forward to the rest of this visit.

Dad has a new F-150 plow truck, so that makes this new truck, his older F-150 truck with the dump body, and the really old bronco plow truck plus the van with drive-on wheel chair access, so there is no shortage of vehicles. We are using the new truck, so getting about in style.

Kay and I got the H1N1 vaccine yesterday, and both feel great. Kay's white blood cell count was normal, and she is only mildly anemic, so we look forward to her feeling stronger every day. Soon I'll get you a photo of her in her new wig. Really stylish.

Pray for continued improvement and strength.


Monday, October 26, 2009

A new trick for an old dog & a concern we are facing.

The H1N1 influenza is in our area in a fairly big way. Lots of school absenteeism, colleges affected, etc. So far Kay and I have avoided this, though I am not sure how I am so fortunate, as I see several cases most days. We are flying to ME on a red-eye Wednesday night, and are a bit nervous about going on a germ filled airliner. Kay’s blood count should be up pretty good by now, but we are not sure. Tonight we decided to have her get a blood count tomorrow so at least we know what level of concern we should have. If her white blood cell count is back to near normal, she at least should be able to mount a normal immune defense against any illness she encounters.

That’s our plan anyway. It feels weird to be germophobes. Kay and I have always loved to travel, and have never thought twice about catching anything on airplanes. Having survived all of this chemo, it makes us feel really vulnerable.

On the other hand we are really excited about seeing the Pullens. We missed our usual visit this summer, and have not been back since Josh and Alison’s wedding last New Year’s Eve. That seems so long ago, and so much has happened since then. I really miss seeing everyone.

On a funny note, today we put in a special doggie door in our sliding glass door onto our back deck. This is where Simon goes to “do his business” several times a day. We thought Simon would really like having the ability to go in and out at his choosing, as he always seems to be on the wrong side of the door. Anyway, so far it seems to be just minimally less of a punishment to him than taking a bath. He just walks away when I try to get him to come back in through the little door flap. Doggie treats have not helped so far. I think he likes having us all come to his bark or scratch to let him in and out. He does have us trained pretty well.

Pray for no illness on the flight, and for an old dog to learn a new trick.


Friday, October 23, 2009

Kay & Ed's Blog

I have to say doing this blog has been very good for me. I have been able to communicate with a remarkable assembly of friends, family, co-workers, and others I had never dreamed would be reading along. In the process I have found a reason to stop and think about our journey through this cancer fight, rather than just race from day to day without much reflection. The posts have been a way to not just communicate our progress through this time, but to see each day, sometimes each hour as worth cherishing. We have also heard encouragement from friends, and been boggled by the number of people who have been praying, cheering, and working for us.

This week we feel like we are almost through this stage of the fight. Everything points to Kay having no detectable cancer at this time. We are 2 1/2 weeks out from the last of 8 courses of chemotherapy, and except for a mild peripheral neuropathy, a really short haircut, and some well healed scars Kay is pretty close to back to normal. We think in 2-3 more weeks she will have more energy, as her blood counts get back to normal. If her hair starts growing at 3 weeks after her last chemo like it did after the 6th course, she should be noticing a new crop starting within a month.

This weekend we plan to do more housework, go to visit Brett for lunch tomorrow, and catch up on more rest. Tonight we hung several paintings we bought from Jim Dahl on our recent trip to CA. We love them, and feel they add nicely to the art in the house.

I take Friday afternoon's off now, and today Kay and I laughed a lot at Partly Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, a new animated film out. It is pretty funny, and a spoof on almost everything from fast food to beautiful talking head news people.

Pray for no H1N1 for yourselves and us. (I've been seeing a lot at the office)


Monday, October 19, 2009

More good results

A quick post before bedtime. Kay got her breast MRI results and her last CA-125 results today. Normal MRI and CA-125 of 6. This is really good, and we pray sets the stage for a long healthy future.

Prayers of thanks for such news.


Sunday, October 18, 2009

Rain cannot drown our parade

Week 2 after Kay's last course of chemotherapy has been rainy, but otherwise uneventful. (excepting of course the traumatic last 5 seconds loss by the Huskies last night) Brett has recovered from his bout with H1N1 influenza, and Kay and I have avoided it so far. Kay had her first breast MRI done Thursday. As you probably recall Kay has the BRCA2 gene, and is a very high risk for breast cancer, so she is going to be getting breast MRI as well as mammography screening. The mammogram came back normal, the MRI we have no interpretation yet.

We really had a pretty full week. Kay and I went out birding for a couple of hours Thursday morning, looking for a rare gull on Commencement Bay (Tacoma) but came up empty on that attempt. Then Friday Kay went to her book club in the evening, and this weekend we have focused on fall cleanup. Yard work when not too rainy, and housework other times, fit in around an Autumnfest party at church last night, watching the Husky debacle with friends afterwards, and now off to see the Seahawks play and check our Clay Sprague's new surround sound system in his "man cave" (today a couples cave) and to try out my first attempt at making cheese cake. If it tastes good, making it was not a hard as I had always thought it must be. The butternut squash soup Kay made for the party last night was much more effort.

Well off to the game.

Pray for good MRI results, and continued health.


Wednesday, October 14, 2009


On the way to work today I was day-dreaming about this morning 25 years ago. Kay and I took a run in Central Park to ward off the jitters before our wedding that afternoon. It was a beautiful day and Kay was a beautiful bride. We have been blessed with 25 years of marriage, and feel especially blessed to have so much hope facing the future.

This past 1/2 year has been a roller coaster of emotions, and in many ways may have been the time where the strengths of our relationship have paid dividends. We have had really more time together than most of the prior 49 half-years of marriage gave us, and we have had family and friends rally around us in every conceivable way.

Kay is now 9 days after her 8th and final course of chemotherapy, and seems to be in remission. I want to shout for all to hear thanks be to God for all our blessings, friends, and especially for our love for each other and the time we have had together.

Pray for much more time for Kay and may each of you be blessed in your own ways.

Thanks to all for your support.


Saturday, October 10, 2009

The last first weekend after chemo

Kay had her 8th of 8 courses of chemotherapy Monday, so is on day 5 post chemo today. This is a bit frightening with all of the H1N1 influenza going around our area. Kay has been being pretty careful this week to try to avoid crowds and contained spaces. So far so good.

This weekend I am on a birding trip to the WA coast with my birding class, and Kay stayed home to enjoy a weekend on her own. Jean had planned to stay in Seattle this weekend visiting her good friend Ashley, but came home today after Kay went to Seattle and had a visit with Jean and Brett. Tomorrow Jean heads back to Portland on the train, and Kay plans a day around home.

I have had a really nice day, enjoying sunshine at the coast, some pretty good birds, and the company of a group of birding friends.

This week we pray for a week free of infection and then just for Kay to start her recovery and for us to start our post cancer lives. So far the only big problem has been Kay's peripheral neuropathy. Of note this does seem to be a bit worse after this treatment, but we hope that it will stop progressing and improve with time.


Monday, October 5, 2009

Surprise - Chemo #8 today

Kay called Dr. McCroskey's office this morning to figure out what day this week she had her 8th and final chemotherapy scheduled, and found out it was at 2PM this afternoon. After some minor logistic issues, Brett had Kay's car in Seattle and Kay had dropped me off at work this morning, all proceeded smoothly. Ever-helpful Cheryl helped Kay drop the car back for me to get home, and took Kay to and from the appointment. The infusion was uneventful, and so it is done. Now we just try to get through 1 more month of low blood counts without getting sick and the treatment is completed.

As usual Kay feels good tonight. We celebrated by going to Norm and Barb Aune's for a terrific grilled stir fry scallop meal, and to share our Yosemite experience with them before they leave Thursday for their trip there. It was fun to show them our photos, and give them our favorite places to see. Really at Yosemite all you need to do is not have your eyes closed. Everywhere you look is another vista.

Jean and Brett are visiting in Seattle tonight, with Jean's friend Ashley's birthday party as the cause to celebrate.

Pray for one more run through post-chemo low blood counts without complications, and then for this cancer to be cured.


Sunday, October 4, 2009

Home today

Kay and I ended our west coast trip this afternoon. We drove from Salem, OR to stop and visit Jean and Marc for a quick cup of tea, and then headed for home. We got in by about 3:30 PM and feel really good in that we are mostly unpacked.

We feel like this trip went better than we had even hoped for, and that after 25 years together we are still in love, enjoy time together, and know how to have fun together. This trip was a combination of a 25th anniversary celebration, a victory lap, a time to get ready to move on with our lives post this huge cancer treatment stage in our lives, and just a great time together.

Here are a few of the photos I took on the trip, though Kay was primarily the photographer, and I don't have her photos online yet.

This week Kay gets her last course of chemotherapy. It has been so out of our mindset that we cannot remember just when, and she is going to call in the AM to find out the appointment time.

On this trip we saw nearly our whole Colmar side of the family as well as several good friends, missing only Ken's son Alex, and Keith's daughter Heather (in NYC now so not available) and yet the trip was really not about visiting. It just came out this way largely due to very obliging friends and relatives who made time for us on our schedule.

Today we tried to figure out our favorite place, day, time etc. We just came to the conclusion that each day, each place, and each experience was a part of a great cumulative experience, and that all together it was a great trip.

Pray for this last course of treatment to go smoothly, and for us to both smoothly move back to our routines.


Wednesday, September 30, 2009


The big question is whether it may be more beautiful by moonlight than by daylight. This evening, after a great hike midday, and exploring the Yosemite valley in the daylight, we went for a sunset dinner at Glacier Point. The colors of sunset off the granite cliffs was spectacular, but on the ride home we stopped to see the strange and wonderful white cliffs by moonlight. It is awesome, in the God created this, he is an awesome God.

Kay held up really well today on a hike listed under the "strenuous" category, though we both thought moderate was more appropriate we felt pretty good when we thought, "we did a strenuous hike!"

Overall Kay is feeling stronger than she usually does in her third week post chemo, and we are looking forward to finishing this vacation with a few more great days and then putting the last course of chemo behind us next week.

Keep Jean in your prayers tomorrow as she takes a section of her CPA exam.


Monday, September 28, 2009

You can't take the California out of the girl

Kay and I had a wonderful SoCal day today. Slept in and then went to the beach. At Huntington beach we took a great barefoot walk in the wet sand, then went swimming and body surfing in the 65 degree El ninyo water. Then met Kay's nephew Matt for sushi lunch. After a leisurely lunch and a nice visit we stopped by Mary and Jim's in Fullerton. We love Jim's art, and bought some pieces to bring home, saw the kids, the chicken, and left for Fay's.

Fay, Vince, Kay and I enjoyed a nice bottle of wine Ken had given us when we saw him earlier this trip, and went out for a nice dinner. Now we are relaxing, packing for an early departure to beat the LA traffic. Plan is for breakfast somewhere north of LA.

Tomorrow night we plan to stop just shy of Yosemite and get there early Wednesday. Tonight we are finishing the Burns documentary on National Parks, which fortuitously starts with the story of Yosemite.

Wish us safe voyage and adventure.


Sunday, September 27, 2009

Colmars aplenty

Today we arrived at Fay Colmar's at about noon. This is our turn around spot on our trip, and a chance to visit with Kay's family, do laundry, rest up, and get a little more beach time. Today we had lunch at Fay and Vince's, then went to see Caroline, Mary and Jim Dahl's youngest daughter play a soccer game, and then met at Keith Colmar's for dinner with Mary, Jim, Michael, Christopher, and Caroline Colmar-Dahl, Vince and Fay, and Keith & Matt Colmar. It was nice to be with Kay's family again, and to see everyone doing so well.

Vince is struggling with low back trouble, but remains mobile, and is still as sharp as ever. Fay is doing some new art with melting acrylic photo holders and then air brushing and adding mixed media. They are really cool. Vince and Fay are also in an acting class, and entertained us at dinner with monologues. Matt, Keith's son, is a blossoming photographer, and it was nice to see him again. All-in-all it was nice to see everyone again, and renew the family bond.

Kay continues to do great. On this trip we have really had no Cecil related problems, and Kay's energy has been really good. Not even a sniffle, and we have been having a really great trip.

Tuesday we'll get an early start and will head north again, taking two days to get to Yosemite, spend two days there, and then stop at Scott and Erin Colmar's place for an overnight visit, then a two day ride home.

Pray for no infections related to close family contact with children in school, for continued happiness and smooth travels, and for a safe arrival back home next week.


Saturday, September 26, 2009

San Simeon - Hearst Castle

No photos, Kay's camera battery dead, but what a great tour. Today we toured this amazing place this morning. W. R. Hearst was a pack rat of the finest type. Apparently he collected over 200,000 objects in over 500 categories, including antiquities like ceilings, fireplaces, and what he called the "headlines of history" all over the walls of his home were ancient fabulous tapestries. The vistas were incredible, and the scope of the estate beyond vast.

From there we went for another lunch with a view, sitting on the very front of the Moonstone Beach Bar and Grill. An understated name for a pretty incredible place. Good food, but the view from the outdoor patio was killer.

Then a longer drive than we have been doing lately, about 170 miles to a small town Oxnard, basically a bedroom town as a place to stay without paying Santa Barbara like prices, and just a short dash tomorrow to Orange County to visit Kay's family for a couple of days. We decided to spend one less day on the coast, in order to make a two day drive to Yosemite instead of a long one day drive when we start north.

Kay remains well, is growing new hair, though we can't figure out why, as she is back on chemo. We'll see if it "sticks" of if she starts over again. Anyway, sunshine makes us happy, and we are having a great trip.


Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Pelagic Birding tomorrow

Tomorrow Kay and I leave early for a boat trip out of Monterey Bay on Shearwater Journey's, a pelagic bird watching tour led by Debra Shearwater, aptly named, who is one of if not the world's expert in pelagic birding. Pelagic birds are those who spend their lives at sea, come to shore only to nest. We hope to find several life birds each, and are hoping for calm seas and no motion sickness, but are going to be properly drugged to try to prevent this malady.

Today we toured the sights around Monterey, including the aquarium, "17-mile drive" seeing Pebble Beach, Spyglass, and other famous golf courses, as well as beautiful beaches and coastline. Lots of sea lions, birds, seals, and both sunshine and fog.

Wish us luck and lack of sickness tomorrow.


Monday, September 21, 2009

Bye Bye San Francisco

For the last 2 days we have really enjoyed visiting old friends. Today we got up late, after lots of good food and wine last night, and after a quick breakfast at the hotel went to Bodega Head, a high bluff overlooking the north side of Bodega Bay. Really nice surf and rocks.

Then we left Ann and John, and headed for San Francisco. We planned to go south on Hwy 1 to the Golden Gate bridge, but somehow missed a turn, ended up in Petaluma, and took a more direct route to the city. In doing this we missed Pt. Reyes, and a 30 mile or so segment of the coast, but did not feel badly as everything was pretty fogged in this AM.

We met up with Cecile Lozano, a longtime friend of Kay's from San Francisco and NYC, and of mine from NYC when Kay and I lived at West Point. We met Gary Clarion, Cecile's partner, and saw his art, had a nice visit, especially enjoyed looking at Cecile's old photos of our children as babies and young children, and then had a wonderful meal at a local favorite restaurant of theirs.

Then over the hills and on to Half Moon Bay, in the dark, so I'll tell you about this place after seeing it in the daylight.

The fun goes on. Kay is doing well, a bit tired as we are now on day 6 post chemo #7, but having fun, and on vacation.


Sunday, September 20, 2009

It's probably illegal in Sonoma

Drinking a nice French Cabernet in the hot tub with a view of Bodega Bay from a coffee mug. I broke our wine glasses a day or two ago packing the car, so until we get shopping, so be it. The wine is nice, the company terrific, and our trip is going even better than we could have hoped. Fabulous weather every day, vistas about every 1/4 mile, too much good food, and lot of rest too.

No Internet last night, so no post. Last night we stayed at Point Arena, in a nice old Inn overlooking the harbor. Fish tacos and a pitcher of local micro brew made for a great evening. The hot tub in the room, fireplace, and king size bed made for a nice night too.

The day was made extra special when in a brief interlude of cell connection I used the iPhone to see that the Huskies beat USC.

Today we drove only about 80 miles to Bodega Bay and had lunch with Ken, Kay's big brother. Now we are just resting by the hot tub and enjoying the wine and sunshine. Ann Heatley, Kay's lifelong friend, and her boyfriend are meeting us for dinner.

Overall just a beautiful day.


Friday, September 18, 2009

California or bust

At lunch today Kay said, "We are so lucky!" I asked why? She said, "That we met each other and have our lives together." I have to agree. Life has been pretty incredible for us. Certainly the last few months have been a challenge, but look at us now. We are together, and on a great adventure.

Today we got up and tried to track down some shorebirds at Coos Bay, OR. Not much luck, but found a pretty road along the river to check out. Then we drove south to Bandon, OR. a.k.a. Brandon by the Sea. We went there for two reasons, first to check out the Brandon Marsh NWR, a top shorebird spot. The tide was high, and the birds were so far away that even with good optics they were just shorebirds, without sharing their ID to us.

This left us with an hour or so before the other reason to visit Brandon. We found out on-line that the Brandon by the Sea Rotary Club met at at noon on Fridays, and the program was a wine tasting. Too good to pass up. Before the meeting we went to the Jetty at the entrance to the harbor, birded a bit, marveled at the beauty of the huge offshore rock formations, and enjoyed the sunshine. Then while looking for the meeting we saw vista after vista. This is truly a beautiful little town. The speaker at the meeting was the manager of the local pharmacy, and a wine aficionado. It turns out that his pharmacy is much better known for its wine selection than its medications. After the meeting we went there and chose two of the nice choices from the tasting.

Then off down the rest of the OR coast, into CA, and are staying the night at Arcata, CA. Tomorrow on south.

Another great day under our belts.


Thursday, September 17, 2009

Day 1 of our Adventure

Today we woke up at Cheryl and Peter's place at Cannon Beach, and started our first day of vacation. Our favorite breakfast place at Cannon Beach is Lazy Susan's so we had a nice breakfast there. Then a peek at the beach, and we were off. The day was beautiful, except for intermittent low fog on the beach, at times obscuring views. We stopped at too many beaches to mention, but as you can see, Kay stayed busy documenting each of them.

We got to Coos Bay, OR about 5:30 PM and I had a place all planned for us to go shorebirding. Unfortunately the road to the mudflats was chained closed, and so we settled for checking out a city park, having a nice dinner at a "Texas comfort food" place, and are pretty beat. Going to bed early, to be set for another great day tomorrow.

Pray for no problems from Kay's recent chemo and for a great trip. Enjoy this and every day.


Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Chemo #7

Kay had her 7th course of chemo today, and as is usual it seems everything went just fine. With the alternative to Taxol she received this time the infusion went much faster, and she was "only" there for 3 1/2 hours.

Tonight we are tying up loose ends, and getting ready for our great adventure. We leave after work tomorrow for a 17 day car trip from Puyallup down the Oregon and California coasts, then back up the highway with a 2 day stop at Yosemite. Neither of us have seen this whole route, and we are pretty excited. It was planned long ago as a 25th anniversary trip, and now doubles as an almost-done-chemo celebratory trip.

I'll plan to give frequent photo rich updates on this site.

Pray for no chemo difficulty on the road, and enjoy our trip vicariously with us.


Friday, September 11, 2009

Long Day - Change in Plans

Today was a very long and eventful day for Kay. We started by leaving early enough to miss some traffic and to be at the Seattle Cancer Alliance for an 8AM appointment. Actually we had 4 consecutive appointments. It is a very efficient, patient focused method. The flip side is that the way it works is Kay and I entered a doctors type exam room at 7:45 AM, and essentially stayed in that room until noon. (potty breaks allowed)

The first appointment was with a team of 2 genetic counsellors. They reviewed Kay's family history of cancer, the results of the BRCA genetic testing, and we talked about how to go about assessing Kay's family members for this genetic defect. I will pass on trying to explain this here, as Kay needs to discuss this with several family members personally.

Next we met with a medical oncologist who specializes in breast cancer treatment. We reviewed Kay's options for trying to avoid or detect early breast cancer. Unfortunately with this gene, Kay has a lifetime risk of breast cancer that is extremely high, maybe as high as 80%. Our plan is to screen aggressively with breast MRI and mammogram annually until we see if there is any recurrence of the ovarian cancer, and if none in a couple of years, consider a prophylactic bilateral mastectomy.

Next we met with a gynecologic oncologist. She reviewed all of Kay's test results, and we had a long discussion of the options from this point on. The good news is that there is no convincing evidence that Kay has any cancer detectable at this time, i.e. remission. The rest of the story though is that there is a better than even chance that the cancer will recur at some point. This leads to a discussion of whether careful watching and waiting, or some additional treatment is the best approach. After looking at several options, given that there is not any proof that any one of the options is best, and reviewing the advice from Dr. Safarri that Kay receive an additional 15 courses of the new drug Avastin, we decided that an alternative may be best. The logic for this change in plans is that:

First - there is no proof at all that the course of Avastin leads to a better chance of cure. All we know is that in some women with ovarian cancer that recurs, Avastin can give fairly long term help at stopping further progression of the cancer. The primary attraction of the Avastin is the hope that it may work combined with the relative lack of side effects. None-the-less life threatening side effects can happen, and it is not risk free.

Second - at the time of surgery Kay had a lot of cancer that could not be surgically removed. This cancer responded really well to the combination of Carboplatinin and Taxol that Kay got, even before we started the Avastin.

Third - the CA-125 level did not get down to the goal very low levels until after Kay's 5th course of chemotherapy, and this leaves concern that there is a high chance of tiny areas of residual cancer, too small to detect, but still present, that could possibly be eliminated by additional courses of the same chemotherapy.

Fourth - Women with the BRCA gene seem to respond especially well to platinum based chemotherapy, as their cancer cells which lack the gene for repairing the type of damage done by this type of drug are especially susceptible to this treatment. It seems that women with this BRCA defect who get a good response to chemotherapy may have a somewhat better chance of long term remission or cure than women with similar stages of ovarian cancer who do not have the BRCA defect.

After trying to digest all of this, we decided to go ahead with 2 additional courses of the traditional chemotherapy plus the Avastin, rather than the 15 courses of Avastin. The only change will be Kay will get a slightly different type of Taxol-like drug to try to avoid the nerve injury, peripheral neuropathy, she has developed. Kay will get her 7th course Monday. We will leave on our trip as planned Wednesday, and will be back 3 weeks later for an 8th course if the 7th goes well. The big concern will be whether the neuropathy gets a lot worse, and of course avoiding chemotherapy related complications like infection, bleeding, etc.

After all of this, we met briefly with a nutritionist, who had really good advice, but we were so overloaded with information by then we asked her to keep it really brief. Kay asked for a "lightening discussion". Basically she told Kay to eat more, and gain some weight, but once at ideal weight to not get fat.

From here we raced back to Puyallup, rested a half hour, then went to the GI office to get Kay's stent removed. This went very nicely, and after a brief scare in recovery where Kay "did not feel good" and had everyone concerned, she responded well to some juice, IV fluids, and lying down for an extra hour or so, and we came home.

Off to a quick dinner at Olive Garden, now home for rest and to give thanks for a full day done.

Pray for no complications of the additional two courses of chemo, for continued endurance and strength, and give thanks for great success so far. We thank you all for your prayers and support.


Sunday, September 6, 2009

A nice Lab or Day weekend

So far we have had a very nice 3-day weekend despite spring-like weather, with rain/hail/thunder etc rolling through each hour. We met with Dr. Safari, Kay's surgical GYN oncologist Friday afternoon. He is our back to earth guy, Kay almost always has tears at his visits, and though he is a really nice man, and seems very knowledgeable, he is not one to have us leave with undue optimism. He agrees that it appears the Kay has no sign of cancer at this time, but is very much the realist that this is not a stamp of long term success, rather a step in the process. He strongly agrees with Dr. McCroskey that we should go ahead with a fairly long course of Avastin, the tumor blood vessel antagonist, for 15 more courses, i.e. nearly a year of every 3 month infusions. Though this is considerably easier and less risky that the chemotherapy Kay has already completed, there are potential major complications of this therapy, and it makes us feel that if everyone wants Kay to get this course of treatment, that no one is very confident that the cancer is completely vanquished. It is a reality check, but we are really trying to flatten the highs and lows of this roller coaster of emotions. It is a challenge we are rising to: be in this for the marathon it is likely to be, while enjoying every step of the way to the fullest extent that we can.

This week we will mostly be trying to wrap up as many work and home loose ends as possible, in preparation for our big 25th anniversary trip. In addition we have a big day Friday. In the morning we go to Seattle Cancer Alliance for genetic counselling about this CA-125 gene and how to manage this for ourselves and our family, then back to Puyallup in the afternoon to get the biliary stent removed endoscopically. IN this procedure Dr. Moussan, a gastroenterolgist, will use a fiber optic endoscope to go through Kay's mouth, esophagus and stomach into the small bowel and pull out the plastic tube (aka stent) that was used to keep the bile flowing when the tumor was obstructing its flow. This should be a minor procedure, but all procedures have their issues, and we want all your prayers that this goes well too.

May you all enjoy this weekend, and enter the fall/ school season with joy and enthusiasm.


Thursday, September 3, 2009

Dr. McCroskey says remission

Today at her visit with Dr. McCroskey she asked what she should tell her friends when they ask her how the fight against cancer is going. He told her that he believes she is in remission, with no evidence of cancer at this time. Those were nice words to hear. Of course he was quick to say there is a possibility of recurrence, but still, nice to hear very positive news.

Kay is doing OK at this point, but is struggling with what Dr. McCroskey thinks is the cumulative fatigue of her courses of chemotherapy. He does think though that this should be the low point of her energy, and that she should start to feel better from here. For about the first 4-5 courses Kay really seemed to get stronger and feel better each cycle, but for the last few weeks she has been more short of breath, tired, and just worn down. We are hoping that just a break from toxic chemicals (a.k.a. chemotherapy) will be just what the doctor calls for, and she will regain energy and strength.

We are really starting to look forward to our 25th anniversary road trip, from here to Orange county via the coastal route, and back with a stop at Yosemite. About 17 days in total, so not a rushed trip at all, and lots of time together.

Pray for healing, strength, peace and continued remission.

Love to all of you, and immeasurable thanks for all of the support and prayers.


Sunday, August 30, 2009

Home Sweet Home

Brett and I got home today shortly after noon, and Kay, Jean and Fay had a birthday lunch for us, with ice cream cake for desert. This sure hit the spot after a road trip.

Kay looks great. It is hard to believe she has been in and out of the hospital since we left, and has been through the emotional roller coaster of results, more results, and then being plunked into the hospital while I was away. Anyway, with the love and help of family and friends she is doing great.

Not a lot to say. She is on antibiotics now, including metronidazole, an antibiotic with an antabuse (a medication for alcoholics to make them very sick if they drink alcohol) like side effects, so she is on the wagon for a few more days.

We hope for a week of healing, and normal life.

Pray for the same.


Thursday, August 27, 2009

Happy Birthday Brett

Today was a pretty great day. First, Kay got out of the hospital after an overnight stay because of a fever while her neutrophil count (the type of white blood cells that fight serious bacterial infections) was low. Shortly after Brett and I left for Yellowstone Kay developed a fever and after trying to make it at home her oncologist had her hospitalized for testing and starvation therapy. (just kidding about the starvation, she was just kept the dreaded NPO until after all the testing suggested that she did not have an infection around the bile duct stent, and so did not need the stent removed emergently.

This morning she got sprung just in time to pick up Fay from Seatac, and by all accounts has had a good day.

Brett and I had a huge marathon trek around Yellowstone National Park. There was a detour, requiring the long way around twice, so we saw nearly all the main roads, many of the side roads, and most of the prime sights in one day. We really liked Yellowstone Lake, the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone and Monmouth Hot Springs. We saw many bison, an elk, a large buck deer, Bald Eagle, Osprey, assorted birds, and were a couple of minutes late to see a Grizzly bear.

After all that off to the hopping nightlife of West Yellowstone for Pizza and bear to top off a pretty nice father and son day for Brett's 21st birthday.

Now off to zzzzz land.

Pray for Kay to stay well.


Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Positive news today

We met with Dr. McCroskey today. There are advantages and disadvantages to having a doctor as a husband. One of the disadvantages is that your physicians try to be really prompt in giving you results, and sometimes this can mean you get preliminary results, before you get final results. The PET CT scan done yesterday is a perfect example of this phenomenon. The radiologist looked at the PET CT, made a preliminary interpretation, called Dr. McCroskey, who called me and Kay as he know we were anxious to hear right away. This morning Dr. McCroskey met with a second radiologist, and then with the first radiologist who read Kay's scan yesterday, to review the scans, compare them to the CT scan she had before surgery. It appears that the area of activity seen on the PET scan is actually fairly faint and small, and is in an area of the liver above the stent, not very near where the cancer was noted prior to surgery. In addition there is no mass, or tumor seen on the CT part of the scan. This is the beauty of the PET CT process, where in the same scan both tests are done, so an area seen on one part of the test can be accurately compared to the other part. Their conclusion after this comparison is that there is a high likelihood that the area seen on the PET scan is an area of inflammation from the insertion of the stent through the liver, not residual cancer. He thinks Kay is in remission at this time, and recommends that she have the stent removed, and easy procedure, and that she have her CA 125 followed monthly, and the PET CT repeated in 2 months if the CA 125 remains low, or sooner if it increases.

We are really pleased with this news. It leaves the possibility of a cure at this time, and at least gives Kay a chance to recover from all of this therapy.

We are going to enjoy the rest of the week, Brett and I at Yellowstone; Kay, Jean and Fay at home visiting and playing.

I'll keep this brief as I have an afternoon of patients to attend.

Prayers of thanks for God's greatness and healing power, and for a time of rest, healing, and regaining strength for Kay are in order.

Thanks for all of your support.


Monday, August 24, 2009

Not the best of news

Today Kay had her PET CT scan done, and this showed an area near the stent that she has draining her biliary duct, with increased uptake of the glucose marker on the PET scan. This area is where she had the large mass of tumor at the time of her original surgery which made it impossible to surgically remove all of her cancer. There is a high probability that this area is residual cancer.

The good news is that there was no evidence of cancer in any rest of the body.

The plan is really TBD, to be determined, but we have an appointment tomorrow with Dr. McCroskey to discuss where to go from here. She probably needs an laparoscopic evaluation to see if this area really is a cancer, and if so we will need to decide what is the best direction to take from here to continue our quest for a cure.

Certainly this is not the best of news, we had been hoping, and praying along with all of you, for no detectable cancer at this test, but it is not the worst of news either. Most of the cancer, and there was a lot, has been killed off. There are additional therapy options left, that have the possibility of a cure. We will be looking at our options, getting expert advice, and making choices from here. Kay cannot have any surgery for at least another couple of weeks, as it was only 2 weeks ago tomorrow that she had her last course of the avastin. No non-emergent surgery should be done until the avastin is completely out of the system, so wound healing can happen.

Keep up the prayers, I'll post more when I know more.


Sunday, August 23, 2009

Kay without carbohydrates

Not a pretty sight. In preparation for her PET CT scan tomorrow Kay has been on a zero sugar diet today, to include starchy veges, fruit, milk products, and really anything but eggs, meat, and some green vegetables. By afternoon she was on her knees pawing through the freezer scolding Brett and me for the disarray of everything there. What she really meant I think was nothing there that sounded good to her to eat that she was allowed. It turns out that a part of her PET scan is the injection of a radioactive labeled glucose IV, which needs to be selectively taken up to metabolically active cells. Avoiding dietary sugar makes any possible cancer cells more active in the uptake of this injected glucose, as she has not eaten any for a day before. Anyway, those of you who know Kay know that she is usually thinking of her next meal part way through the one she is eating. We will both be happy after this test is done, not just to hear hopefully good results, but to get Kay back to eating her favorite foods again.

This should be a fun week for all of us. Brett and I head to Yellowstone after work Tuesday evening. Fay, Kay's mom, arrives on Thursday, and Jean is coming home Wednesday to spend some time with Kay and Fay.

Pray for great news tomorrow. I plan to post tomorrow evening with news after we get test results.


Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Seattle University

Brett got great news today, he is accepted to Seattle University for the fall quarter. We have been hoping and praying for this to come through. He finished his 2 year community college courses in a week, and we have been waiting to hear from Seattle University, the college Brett has really been hoping to go to, for a while. He got the "thick envelope" in the mail today, and I was excited to pass it to him to open when I got the mail after work today.

Now Brett can move on with his studies, and he is really excited. Actually we are all excited and happy for him.

Kay had a really busy day at work today, putting more progress on the Sound Family Medicine website upgrade behind her, and Jean went back to Portland. She and Marc are going camping, to Crater Lake and Bend, OR for a 5 day weekend trip.

Overall a great day for the Pullens, and one more step toward one of our goals, Brett at a 4 year university.

We have no doubt about Brett's ability and now that his focus is centered on academics, he is going to thrive there.

Enjoy the rest of the summer, and give prayers of thanks.


Saturday, August 15, 2009

A Great Saturday

We had a great day today. Kay seems to be over this course of post chemo fatigue, and today we had fun until anyone would have fatigue. For Kay and Jean the day started with not such a tiring task, the got their toes "done" at a pedicure shop. They got home just in time for us to leave for the Rotary Flotilla. We joined Roger and Gloria Hunt on their yaught near Brown's Point in Tacoma and cruised from there to Gig Harbor. There we met up with several other Rotary members and boats and had Pizza at the Tides tavern. Several beers on the boat, more at the tavern, lots of sun, good conversation, great views of the Puget Sound, and then we raced home to go to the still 50 party of Colleen Wise, a church friend. Apparently she had not celebrated her 50th birthday, and turns 51 tomorrow (or soon?) and so she had a party tonight. More good food, and we expect to sleep well t0night.

The house seems quiet without Maeby, Brett's dog, who went back to Arizona with one of her other owners today. It will be interesting to see how our dog Simon reacts to being the ruler of the roost here again.

Tomorrow is supposed to be sunny too, so more fun is expected. It's nice to have Kay back feeling good again. Hope everyone has as good a weekend as we are.


Thursday, August 13, 2009


The good news again this course is that Kay's CA-125 after her 5th and next to the last course of chemotherapy was 9. This is down from 11 last time, and is into the goal range of less than 10. This is excellent. Now we wait for the PET CT scan on Monday August 21st. We are really hopeful that this will not show any sign of Cecil.

On another note last night was a nice evening for the Pullens. Jean and Kay went to a movie neither Brett nor I had any interest in seeing, something about a summer with 500 days. They enjoyed themselves. In the meantime Brett and I decided at 6 PM to go to the Mariners vs. Chicago White Sox game at Safeco. We drove up, bought cheap tickets, sat in nice seats as the game was only about half sold out, and watched a classic pitchers duel between two all-star pitchers, Felix Hernandez of the M's and Mark Buehrle of the CWS who has a recent perfect game on his resume. The game was tied at 0-0 with two outs in the bottom of the 14th inning, runners on 2nd and 3rd bases, and Ken Griffey Jr. came up to pinch hit for the M's catcher. He hit a 2 strike pitch deep into the right field corner to win the game, and set off the M's ritual "beating" where the hitter of a walk off winning hit gets chased down and pummelled in good nature. It was a great game to watch.

Jean is home for the weekend, planning to take her second part of the CPA test Monday, and Brett is visiting his old UA roommate to whom he has to give Maeby (his time-share dog) back to Saturday. We'll miss Maeby's energy, loving, and constant fun, but we'll miss the dueling barking at everyone who even drives or walks near the house less.

So far no problems after Chemo session #6, and we all pray for any remaining cancer cells to be destroyed.

Have a great weekend.


Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Chemo 6 - completed

Today Kay sat with two of her good friends, Patty Freese and Cheryl Weiderspan, and got her final course of chemotherapy. It went as uneventfully as the previous 5 courses, and tonight is home and resting nicely. We are feeling a great relief that this has gone so well. Not really a lot to say tonight, just a heads-up that all is well, and now we just get through these few post-chemo days and then await the post treatment evaluation later this month.

Pray for good tests.


Sunday, August 9, 2009

Chemo #6 Tuesday

Well it is finally here, the last planned course of chemotherapy is set for this Tuesday. Kay is excited to put this stage of this process behind her, and we are excited, anxious, and have just a huge collage of feelings about the upcoming testing and decisions on where to go from here.

Tomorrow, Monday, Kay will see Dr. McCroskey, get her labs drawn to assure she can get this last course of chemo, and then at 10:30 Tuesday she goes in for the infusion. We are happy that this is her last course of Taxol, as her peripheral neuropathy is quite noticeable to her, and we pray that it does not get a lot worse. This is an anticipated adverse effect of the Taxol, and is not usually reversible, so Kay feels this is just the price for a chance at life, and she is not too upset about it, though it is a factor she has to consider when she tries to do major activities. Example: on our Mt. Rainier hike a couple of weeks ago, this was the thing that bothered her most, her feet just got really uncomfortable.

On a lighter side, this weekend Kay and I picked blackberries Sat. AM on the Orting hiking trail. It is an early year for berries this season, we guess all the sunshine and heat. We picked about 3 gallons in <1 hour, and have gorged ourselves on berries all weekend.

Pray for an uneventful chemotherapy session, for continued good results, and for no sign of cancer on the upcoming testing. We have felt all your prayers and support throughout this process, and are grateful.


Sunday, August 2, 2009

T-9 days

It is hard to believe that a week from Tuesday Kay will get her 6th and hopefully last course of chemotherapy. In April that seemed like a distant thought, but now we are focusing on getting past this stage of therapy, and getting ready to deal with the results of the post treatment testing. Kay will be getting a PET CT scan (a fairly new technology where in one scan a CT scan is done to look at her anatomy ina 3-D way with a computerized x-ray called Computerized tomography i.e. CT and her physiology is looked at using Positron Emision Tomography i.e. PET scanning. By doing them at the same scan, it is possible to compare the anatomy and the metabloic activity of body structures.) This anatomic and physiologic imaging plus the biologic tumor marker CA-125 will be the primary indicators as to the status of Kay's cancer. We are all praying for no sign of disease when this testing gets done. We should know a lot about this by August 24th when she has the PET CT scheduled.

We know that just having the 6th infusion of chemo is not the end of chemo, rather after her body recovers from that infusion is really the end of chemo, but it still is something put behind her.

This weekend has been very pleasant. Warm in Puyallup, near 90F daily, but not the >100F of earlier this week. Yesterday we mostly relaxed, and today the highlight was a family trip to the Sound Family Medicine softball game. This year for the first time I am playing, and Brett and Kay came to cheer us on. Kay and Brett had a lot of fun in the stands, Brett talking smack to the opponents in a light-hearted way, and we all had fun. I managed not to get hurt badly (a minor quadriceps strain running to first in my first at bat, but I'll survive to play another day) so it was a success. In addition we actually won the game 15-13.

This should be a no-news-is-good-news week regarding Cecil, so just continue to pray for the chemo to do its work, for no complications, and for every day to be lived to its fullest.


Thursday, July 30, 2009

A/C at the library

Kay and I are spending the afternoon at the Puyallup Public library. It was 106 F in Puyallup yesterday, and is down to 98F today, but still too hot for our heat pump to do much more than keep indoors from getting hotter than outdoors. We decided to spend the afternoon at the library, soaking up the AC and using there free Wi Fi.

Kay is on the phone now making an appointment at the Seattle Cancer Alliance for a case review and second opinion after her final chemo appointment and follow up testing, hopefully in the first week of Sept. We hope to meet with several specialists including a genetic counsellor re the BRAC2 gene, and to discuss prophylactic mastectomy for Kay, as her risk of having a breast cancer is so high, given the genetic situation.

We also are planning a 25th anniversary road trip after this is done, and are excited to get going on setting that up.

Overall just having a nice summer, enjoying the heat as much as we can, and hanging in tough as this chemo does its work.

Hope all of you are having a good summer.

Thanks for all your prayers and support.


Saturday, July 25, 2009


Kay and I joined Ken Brown and a Tahoma Audubon group on a hike out of Paradise Mt. Rainier National Park today. As you may know Kay is on day 4 after her 5th course of chemotherapy today, a time when she gets fatigued and has more pain than usual. I was a bit concerned about how Kay would do on this hike, and we planned to just go as fat as she felt good, and trun back early. Here is Kay at Panorama Point, elevation 7100 feet http://www.visitrainier.com/index.php?&gigpag=hike&id=15

As you can see Kay completed the whole hike in fine form. She only whined for a minute or two when we got to the lower Skyline trail and found it snowed over, and had to take the upper Skyline trail up an additional 3-400 feet of elevation and adding over half a mile to the hike. She snapped out of this quickly, and finished strong. In addition she got a new bird for her life list, White-tailed ptarmigan. http://www.mbr-pwrc.usgs.gov/id/framlst/i3040id.html

The flowers on this trip were great, and we had a terrific day. We'll sleep well tonight, and feel blessed to have had such a nice day when we had low expectations.

Hope everyone has a great weekend.


Thursday, July 23, 2009


Kay got her CA-125 result today and it is great. 11 is well down into the normal range for this test, and is very exciting for us. I think this may mean that Kay is either in a full remission, or close to that, with two courses of chemo after this test was drawn.

I wish I had a photo of the smile on Kay's face when she took the call from Dr. McCroskey's office. It was really nice to see. Almost a jubilant smile.

We had a great evening today too, pizza at the Aversa's home. Marc Aversa is one of my partners, and the doctor who took on my prior medical director position. He built a 3+ ton outdoor wood burning pizza oven at his prior house, and moved it to his new home a couple of years ago. The story of the moving feat was worth hearing. The pizza was great as expected. Broccolini and feta cheese was my favorite. They cook at about 7-800 degrees F in about 3 minutes.

Kay is starting to get her post chemo achiness tonight.

I appreciate all the love and support you have all been through this process, and appreciate all of your prayers.

Pray for continued great response to therapy, for no infections of complications, and for no worse pain.


Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Chemo #5 done

Kay is home after a walk with one of her exercise groups tonight. This after spending the day at the infusion center getting her fifth course of chemotherapy, and then coming home and cooking dinner. (I was planning to do this, but she had it done when I got home from work!) What a woman.

Jean and Brett accompanied her to chemo today, Jean took the first shift while Brett went to school, and Brett finished up. I worked all day and was really happy the kids could cover this. Kay says she does not need someone there, but we all feel a lot better when one of us goes with her.

It was really hot here today, high 80's. and we are enjoying the summer. Jean is moving back to Portland tomorrow, as we are doing well enough for her to get back to her life a bit. All well on this end. Pray for good blood counts, no infections, and continued success fighting the cancer.


Sunday, July 19, 2009

Mayfield Lake

Kay and I just got back from Mayfield Lake, a reservoir on the Cowlitz river in SW WA. We stayed at the home of Cathy and Earl Vernon, and it was a delightful weekend. Sun, fun, and rest reigned. We went down Thursday after I finished my FP board exam, and had the evening and Friday to ourselves. Saturday morning Patty Freese and Mary Rose and Clay Sprague joined us for a blueberry pancake breakfast, and at lunchtime Peter and Cheryl Wiederspan brought lunch, hot dogs for the grill and we all relaxed, talked, and had a great day. Peter and Cheryl left late, but the rest stayed until this AM. We got home for dinner at the taco bus with Brett.

Probably a few pounds heavier, definitely much more relaxed, and feeling good we are ready to face the week. Kay has chemo course #5 on Tuesday, after seeing Ron Goldberg, a longtime friend who took a hospital sponsored trip many years ago to Hawaii with Kay and me, who is retired but is filling in for Rob McCroskey this week. Kay hopes to pin down dates for her end of chemo testing, and allow us to plan our end of chemo celebratory trip. It was originally going to be our 25th anniversary trip (still is really) but now will have extra meaning.

Brett stayed home with the dogs, Jean will be getting back from North Carolina where she has been visiting a college roommate, and we will be back in our routine this week.

Enjoy the summer, pray for an uneventful and safe course of chemo, and make every day a great one.


Monday, July 13, 2009

Kay's sore after a Jetty walk

Yesterday after church, and after Kay went to coffee with some girlfriends, Kay and I took off for the coast in search of a King eider, an Alaskan duck that has been seen for the last week near the base of the jetty at Ocean Shores. We got there about 1:15 PM and headed straight for the spot, and as it was part way on an incoming tide, we walked to near the base of the jetty to scan to area. No luck on the eider (others saw it in the morning, but we could not in the PM) but we enjoyed nice looks as several species of shorebirds on the jetty. We turned to leave, and noted that the tide has blocked our direct walk out, so we had to walk back on the jetty for a ways, always awkward hopping rock to rock. We got out without difficulty, and spent a the rest of the afternoon looking in the area, before heading home. Today Kay is pretty sore from use of muscles not used in a while. We think she may be more anemic than in prior courses of chemo, as she is just more tired and short of breath with activity than usual. Nothing serious, just her body telling her to take it a little easier. A week from tomorrow is course of Chemo #5.

Later this week we are going to stay a long weekend at the second home of Rotary friends Cathy and Earl Vernen at Lake Mayfield. They donated the stay at the Rotary auction, and we were the successful bidders. Several friends are joining us and we hope to have party central for a few days.

I take my Family Practice board exams Thursday and plan to head down after that.

Enjoy the summer while it is here.


Saturday, July 11, 2009

A very nice visit

Group at the Thursday bar-be-que on the deck.

Brother & Sister & spouses

Bye Bye

Scott, Erin, Haley, and Ethan headed south this morning, after what was considered by all a great visit. Yesterday we all went to see the Mariner's lose to Texas after Scott and family spent the earlier part of the day at NW Trek. Both Safeco and Trek were big hits.

Prior to leaving Jean created some memories with her Macbook and the videos are posted to YouTube
The big news of the week re Cecil, is that Kay's genetic testing for the BRCA gene came back positive for a "deletarious mutation" of the BRCA2 gene. I won't try to go into a lot of detail, but this is one of the genetically inherited genes for a tumor supressor function in cells. People with this gene have a much higher incidence of certain cancers, especially breast and ovarian cancer. See the details on the http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/factsheet/risk/brca link at the Cancer.gov site.

We have all been a little meloncholy after Scott's family left, and are going to a movie tonight to relax and not think too much.

Pray for negative testing for relatives, and peace of mind knowing that as Kay says, "Knowledge is power."


Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Scott, Erin, Hailey, and Ethan

Kay's younger brother Scott and his family are visiting this week, and we are enjoying ourselves and their company. Our kids are enjoying playing with their kids, and so far a great visit. They all got in last night, and today Kay took everyone to a polarnic (a picnic when it is far too cold to be outdoors to eat) at Ruston Way, Tacoma. Then off to the Glass Museum where they got there just in time for the glass artists to take a lunch break. None-the-less they had a nice day, and tonight our kids offered to keep the young ones (Hailey pre-3rd grade, and Ethan pre-1st grade) while the older adults went out to Toscano's for dinner.

Now everyone but Brett and I are watching the "Batchelorette" one of the most decadent of the new breed of "reality TV." Turns out it is a show both Kay and Jean, and Scott and Erin watch together. Me, I'd rather blog. Actually I'd rather do almost anything.

The best part of the week so far though is that Kay feels good today. After our weekend of camping, she developed abdominal pain. It was pretty intense, and though we both thought it was an abdominal muscle strain from overdoing it last weekend, I was concerned it might be a complication of the avastin therapy. This drug can cause all sorts of nasty things like wound dehiscence (falling open), bowel fistula (abnormal connections between loops of bowel, or the bowel and the abdominal wall) and bowel perforations (leaks). These are all bad things, and e are happy that today her pain is gone, and she is back to normal.

So far the only complication Kay has developed is a mild peripheral neuropathy from the Taxol drug. It can cause damage to nerves, making her fingers and toes numb. We hope the next two courses do not make this much worse.

Scott's family is here for another day tomorrow, and leaves Friday. We look forward to a great day together and a weekend to follow.

Pray for every day to be positive, and for continued healing.


Monday, July 6, 2009


Kay's CA-125 drawn before her 4th chemo, at 20 Normal is considered less than 35, and this continues her excellent biologic marker response to her treatment. This is really promising for a complete remission and hopefully a cure. This level is after 3 of 6 courses of chemotherapy. Dr. Safarri told us that when the level drops but stays in the 30's it is worrisome, but when it drops lower that is better.

Pray for continues effectiveness and lack of side effects from treatment.


Sunday, July 5, 2009

July 4th at Cape Dissapointment

Cape Disappointment, at the mouth of the Columbia River, was apparently named by the Lewis & Clark Expedition because of the lack of game to hunt, leaving them to eat oysters and salmon. For us this weekend there was no disappointment at all, terrific weather, a wonderful day-long picnic, and a nice 4 day weekend camp out.

I took Thursday off, and our office closed on Friday July 3. Kay, Jean and I drove down to Ilwaco, WA Thursday afternoon, set up camp at Ft. Camby State Park in a site just over the dunes from the beach, and then dropped off Jean to stay with the Hillman family, Marc Hillman is Jean's boyfriend, at their vacation home in Seaview, about 5 miles from the campsite. Then Kay and I went to a wonderful little restaurant for dinner. We slept well on our double thick foam pads, then got up to go to Jean and Marc's favorite breakfast place called 42nd Street Diner, for a gourmet breakfast. Note the hardship of camping this style. Then off for a nice bike ride on the Discovery Trail, a paved biking/ running trail behind the dunes along the beach. (Kay is still sore from this ride, new muscles to rehab.)

We napped and read the rest of the day, and then joined the Hillmans for a wonderful ribs, home baked beans and Greek salad for dinner. Brett arrived with the dogs and more "stuff" in time to join us for dinner.

Another nice sleep, then we staked out the best picnic spot in the area for our 4th of July celebration at Waikiki Beach. (Named by Captain Gray in honor of two Hawaiian sailors who were killed trying to scout the area) Kay and I stood guard on the site, while enjoying bacon, eggs, French toast, sunshine, reading books, watching Brown Pelicans, Caspian terns, 3 species of cormorants, and more share the cove. Marc and Jean, Brett, Marc's Mom & Dad, sister and her boyfriend and 4 dogs joined us for Brautworst, macaroni salad, chips, brownies, watermellon, beer and gin & tonic as the afternoon became evening. We also got to enjoy our neighbors, a 4 generation Hispanic family, progress through at least 6 courses of food.

Then a lie-down to read and get a load off, before going to town to watch fireworks, and to bed. The evenings were perfect sleeping bag weather, mid 50's. We also learned the on July 4th a no-fireworks- allowed state park may be the quietest place you can find to sleep. When we got back for bed about 10:45 it was completely quiet, everyone alseep already, and we just crashed. Simon especially appreciated this, as he has spent one prior July 4th night at the dog pound after escaping our fenced back yard in terror from fireworks.

The trip home today was uneventful, and we are fully satisfied with the weekend. Kay did all this on days 2-6 after course #4 of chemotherapy. We are so pleased that she is tolerating this treatment so well. No news yet on the CA-125 from prior to course #4, but we should hear this week, and will post it when we know results.

Pray for a low number.

Kay's brother Scott and his family are visiting this week, and we look forward to seeing them for a few days.

Enjoy your summer.