Monday, June 29, 2009

Chemo #4 tomorrow

Kay's blood counts were all fine today, and she is set for her fourth round of chemotherapy tomorrow. It is pretty cool that Kay actually looks forward to her chemotherapy days. I think she feels like those are the days when she fights back, and is really doing something to get well. The doctors and staff have been just terrific at managing her medications to avoid side effects, and tomorrow is going to be a good day.

Pray for another successful session.


Saturday, June 27, 2009

Dr. Safarri & Relay for Life

Yesterday Kay and I went to her follow up post operative appointment with Dr. Safarri, her GYN oncology surgeon. It was a good appointment. He smiled. Last appointment Kay was in tears as he seemed very pessimistic about her whole situation. We thought that might be in part because he did not have her latest CA-125 lab results and was still discouraged after her surgery. Yesterday we had all her results summarized in a neat table, and he was very encouraging.

Last night at the luminary ceremony part of the local American Cancer Society Relay for Life, Kay met Kristen Hill, the ovarian cancer surviving wife of Craig Hill the journalist who wrote the TNT article about Kay and her running church group. They had been communicating by e-mail and it was really a joy to see them meet. Kirsten had a very different type of ovarian cancer, the much less common 'germ cell" cancer, while Kay has the more common "epithelial cell" cancer. None-the-less much is in common, both are young, active, beautiful mothers and wives. Both are determined to beat this cancer. Both are strong Christians. They chatted, hugged, and traded stories. I managed not to cry. It was emotional, but a really nice meeting of warriors.

Today we are enjoying sunshine, we made our maiden attempt to make freezer jam, and are going to Charles Krippahne's 90th birthday party at church in a few minutes.

Chemo #4 on Tuesday, and then a 4 day weekend camping over the 4th.

Pray for fun.


Thursday, June 25, 2009

Good news of another sort

So far Kay has just been a chemotherapy superstar. Her CA-125 counts have been plummeting, she has had no infections, bleeding problems, significant nausea, or other chemo related problems.

Kay had hoped to qualify for a clinical trial using a new drug, avastin, but was not eligible because of all the issues with the bile drainage, liver enzyme elevations, etc. Some of you may remember those issues what seems a long time ago now. We researched this medication, and decided to use it anyway, expecting that we would have to pay for the medication ourselves, as there was no assurance that it would be covered by our insurance. Today we found out that the insurance company paid for the first dose or Avastin. This is great news, as it means we will really not have much in the way of additional costs for Kay's treatment this year as we are well past our maximum out-of -pocket stop loss limit. Kay will have completed her chemotherapy initial 6 courses well before the end of the year.

We were committed to proceeding on this course of treatment, but it is really great news to not have to free up the kind of money it was going to take to pay for this medication.

Prayers of thanks are in order.

Tomorrow we see Dr. Safarri, and then have a weekend to enjoy before chemo course #4 on Tuesday.


Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Long time

No posts is good news. Kay and I have settled back into some semblance of normal recently. Kay is feeling really strong. She went for a 75 minute walk last evening with several friends. She is starting to do some core exercises, and feels good. No complications so far from course of chemo #3. She sees Dr. Safarri, the GYN oncologist who did her surgery, on Friday. I plan to join her for this visit, as she was really upset after her last visit with him. He seemed so pessimistic, and really got her spirits down. I hope to be able to interpret and mitigate any surgeons comments.

I got away this last weekend, spending Friday thru Monday in the NE corner of WA camping and birding with my birding buddy Ken Brown and his birding class. It was the first time I've been away from Kay since her diagnosis except for one night in Portland before Jean's graduation. Kay had Ann Heatley, a long time friend, visit and had a nice time with her.

We all are doing well.

Pray for a nice low CA 125 and good blood count next Monday, and an uneventful chemo #4.


Sunday, June 14, 2009

Good weekend

Yesterday seemed like normal. Kay felt good, we got up early to meet our good birding friend Ken Brown at 6:30, and went off to chase a vagrant. We drove to North Bend and at 3 Forks Park found both of the eastern birds we targeted quite easily. In this case we just had to find the several other birders who were looking at the bunting. The area is really nice, a beautiful place to walk around, quiet, pastoral, and very birdy. We got nice looks at both the Indigo bunting and the Least flycatcher. Also heard a Red-eyed vireo. We had such satisfying looks quickly that we decided to drive on to Stillwater natural area, just about 15 miles away, to look for an American redstart reported there. We looked longer for the parking area than we did for the bird. Once we found the parking area, we easily followed directions to the bird's location. Maybe even more unique than the bird was the walk through the field to get there. The grass was at least a foot taller than any of us, and walking maybe 100 yards down a narrow footpath, using our arms to separate the tall grass, swooshing along, was really cool. When we got to the area another Seattle top birder whom we had seen at the bunting site earlier was already there, and we got great looks at the redstart (see link above for an Internet photo, and also a Red-eyed vireo.

Then we were home by 1 PM, got a nice nap, and went out to a local Mexican place for dinner with Brett,

Today has been less exciting, but the last choir performance of the season, a choir breakfast between services, and another nap, lots of garage cleaning, and a graduation party tonight for a Heather Reynolds, a church friend, have made for a relaxing and fine day.

This week should have no news re Kay's cancer. Just a week to let the chemo do its job, for Kay to recover before the next course, to avoid infection while her blood counts are low, and enjoy the early summer. We hope you can all enjoy also.

On another note, I found out today my Dad, Horace, has pneumonia. He managed to stay out of the hospital, and seems to be recovering, but is pretty weak. Bill and his new son-in-law Josh mowed the lawn for Dad yesterday. If you could see their lawn, you'd appreciate that this is a half day job with a tractor, riding mover and a hand mower. Mom describes Josh as having "nice muscles". Dad commented that doing the hand trim he can have a whole area done faster than Dad can turn the mower around. Much thanks to both of them for getting this concern allayed.

Pray for a great week, for Dad to recover quickly, and for no infections or Kay.


Friday, June 12, 2009


I got home early today, and everyone was hungry, so we went to the Olive Garden at 3:30 PM for dinner. Just before we left we were trying to figure out what to do for the weekend when Ken Brown, a good friend and our birding buddy, called. I had noted earlier today on Tweeters (a bird watchers bulletin board for the Pacific NW) that an eastern bird, an Indigo Bunting was found on the way to Snoqualmie Pass, and Ken was calling to see if I wanted to chase this down tomorrow AM. Kay feels really good, so if she sleeps well tonight and feels good I think she will join us. You've come a long way baby.

Really, Kay is feeling remarkably well. She started to work out harder yesterday, and I think she must be out on a walk right now. I just got back from a nice ride on the Orting trail. I biked a nice hard hour. She is starting to work on strength as well as getting walks.

Jean is off to visit a friend at Leavenworth this weekend, and Brett is studying for his finals.

Pray for continued good spirits, no infections, and good blood counts. Have a great weekend too.
We plan to.


Thursday, June 11, 2009

Surprisingly good day.

Today was day 2 post chemotherapy for Kay, and in the previous two cycles this has been probably the most difficult day for Kay. She has had bone aching, fatigue, and just not felt well. Today Kay had a very good day. She has not had the overall malaise and her bone pain has been minimal.

More good news was the CA-125 done Monday came back at 42, down even more from 52 a week ago. At this rate Kay should have a normal value about the time of her third course of chemotherapy. Dr. McCroskey did not think Kay had any ascites (fluid in the abdominal cavity)when he examined her Tuesday. He assured her that he is confident that the feelings she is having in the third week of each cycle is not due to the cancer regrowing. He said that is just not the way it works.

Kay is really anxious to start to regain her strength, and called Dr. Saffari, her surgeon this week. He gave her the go-ahead to start to exercise and regain her strength. She went on a 2.5 mile walk this morning with Colleen Wise, and last night we did some pool exercises to start working on her abdominal strength. She is going to be getting stronger daily with her workouts.

We are hoping Kay's blood counts hold up well this cycle, and that Kay continues to feel well and strong.

Pray for good blood counts, no infections, and good spirits.


Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Chemo 3

Today was chemo session 3 and the first infusion of the additional agent, Avastin. This went as uneventfully as the first two sessions, and Kay is home and feeling fine. She is a bit anxious about how the Avastin is going to alter the course of this cycle, but the infusion was uneventful. It's been a long day, so I'll make this a brief post.

Pray for high effectiveness of this course, for no new untoward effects, and for rest and recovery.


Monday, June 8, 2009

Plenty of neutrophils

Kay had her blood count done today and has plenty of neutrophils to fend off infection, so we are all set for chemotherapy session 3 tomorrow. Kay has been trying, as directed, to avoid uncooked foods to avoid possible bacterial infections while her count was low, so was happy to enjoy a good salad today at lunch with Jean. I made a cameo to share an ice tea with them on my way from my clinical session at Sunrise Medical Campus to the administrative building for the afternoon.

We updated our hypnotic suggestion for another uneventful chemo session this morning, and are all set to kick Cecil (Kay prefers not to think of the other C word as being in her) out of Kay tomorrow.

Pray for successful therapy and no side effects again.


Saturday, June 6, 2009

Together again

Well, for the weekend both children are home, Marc, Jeans beau is with us too, and we are enjoying the weekend. We had steaks on the grill last night, breakfast together this morning and are looking forward to a nice weekend. Kay continues to do well. Her lymphedema is much less bothersome recently, and so her ability to be active is MUCH more. She is near her old level of energy, and it is nice to have her functional level so good.

Long ago I agreed to host a Rotary fund raiser today, a charity poker tournament, and so Kay is helping with that. We got a local hotel to donate a conference room, a young Rotarian friend, Ryan Hart, to be the tournament director, and I just bring some food, drinks, and play the role of host. We expect to raise $2000.+ for scholarships for displaced workers to study at Pierce College, the local community college. It is going to be fun, and we're excited.

Tuesday is Kay's third course of chemotherapy, and we are excited to put Cecil down again. Kay does not like talking about the "C" word in her own body, so we call it Cecil. We feel like he is struggling for his existance now, and are anxious to finish him off.

Pray for good blood counts Monday, and a good round 3 on Tuesday. Enjoy the weekend


Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Good news when we needed it

A brief bedtime post. Shortly after the earlier post Kay got a call from Dr. McCroskey's office. Her CA-125 that was drawn Monday came back at 52. This is continued dramatic improvement, now only about twice the upper normal range, and down from over 150 last check a week earlier. More evidence that the chemo is working nicely.

Sleep tight.


A new view on weeks 3

This is Kay's second cycle of chemotherapy, and we have been expecting that week three of each cycle is going to be her "good week" where the effects of the prior course of chemo are wearing off, and she is strong, has some fun, and gets ready for the next cycle. Last course in week three she started to have more abdominal swelling, and it felt to her like "the cancer was winning again." This cycle it feels similar but not as bad. In week two, Kay seems to get past the bone pain and fatigue of the chemo. She feels pretty good, but by week three she starts to have more abdominal pain, more swelling and fluid retention, and it feels like the cancer is regrouping to attack again after the poison is gone.

When she saw Dr. McCroskey Monday she found out that her white blood cell count was quite low. The neutrophils are the primary infection fighting kind of white blood cell, and at least 1000 neutrophils per cubic millimeter of blood is needed to have confidence that bacterial infections can be kept at bay. Her count was only 900 Monday, and she is concerned we may have to put off the next chemo treatment if the count does not recover.

All this combined, the ascites accumulation, the low WBC count, and the abdominal discomfort are reminders that this is going to be a long fight, and that there is lots more treatment needed. We had been feeling so confident after the last CA-125 level came back so good that it was easy to feel confident. This makes us fall back on our love, faith, and friendships.

Pray for good WBC counts, next chemo on schedule, and feeling better the rest of the week.

Enjoy the sunshine.