Wednesday, August 21, 2013

The Good Times Keep Rolling

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

Ed & Kay

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Best News in a Long Time

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, April 25, 2013

3-Month Update

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

Happy Valentines Day

Happy Valentine's Day!

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

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

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

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

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

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