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.