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

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.

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 link at the 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.


Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Chemo #4 done uneventfully

Kay got course #4 of chemo yesterday, and it was as uneventful as the first three. Hooray.

Today is a big day for us as it is my first day of not being the Medical Director at Sound Family Medicine. As some of you may know, over the last couple of years Marc Aversa MD has been attending the UW MBA in health care administration program in preparation for assuming this position. I am changing back to seeing being a nearly full time clinician. I am looking forward to this change. It will make for a smooth transition for SFM in terms of leadership, and it will allow me to focus on patient care, which for me is considerably easier than the administrative and leadership role I have been working at for many years. Tonight we are having a party at SMC for SFM staff to commemorate the change, and today I am seeing patients all day. Interesting the stages of life.

Tomorrow Kay and I pack for our weekend camping trip, so this is likely the last post until next week.

Pray for sunshine. :)