June 30, 2016

I report that after my 3rd Chemotherapy session yesterday, following my gut reconstructed Whipple’s surgery on 4/1/2016, I am doing well TODAY.  Thus far with all the prep medications given me yesterday, I have more energy than the previous 4 days.  Last night, after the infusion session at Virginia Mason, we went to Kim and Bishop Kirby Unti home for dinner and a pre-convention caucus to plan our delegations logistics in New Orleans this August.  (I am timing my treatments and am looking forward to this Church-wide experience.)  We had a lovely time; and met and got better acquainted with the other new fellow voting delegate from our WA NW ELCA Synod.  It was most gracious of the Unti’s to do this for all of us.  We offer Kirby and Kim our deeply felt thanks and appreciation.

As most of you know, last year I bid and won a 14-month VIP Premier Golf membership with privilege to invite 3 others to play together with two electric golf carts at Pt Ludlow via a fund raiser event for Martha and Mary.  Subsequently I assembled quite a group of duffers and we all enjoyed our outings tremendously.  Unfortunately, due to my illness, I did not play as much as I had hoped since October.  But the golf director at Ludlow was gracious and kind enough and allowed me to pass my membership to Steve Stenberg who continued my objective to collect reduced green fees from all players but donate all the proceeds back to Martha and Mary.  Sad to say, today the membership expires.  Moreover I cannot be on the course!  But Steve and 3 others are there and I am sure they are having fun for me.  I am also pretty certain that our final total contribution to Mary and Mary through this bid will exceed $4500.00!!

Not too many more treatments to go.  I’ll have a repeat CT scan in 4 weeks, and we’ll go from there.

Thanks All for visiting, showing and sharing your care and concerns.

God’s Peace, Grace, Love and Blessings be upon all humanity and all His creation.

June 18th, 2016

I started my second round of the adjunct post Whipple Chemotherapy of Irinotecan (euphemistic known as ‘I ran to the can’,) Leucovorin, and 5-Fluouracil on Wednesday, 6/15.  The 5-FU is infused slowly over 46 hours, thus I carry a pump on my shoulder connected to my access port under my clavicle for 2 days.  The GI combination side effects of nausea, vomiting, constipation and diarrhea are all present and occur totally unpredictably.  Accompanying these are fatigue and sleepiness, although these may be amplified be the anti-emetics used frequently to control the GI symptoms.  Though not entirely disabling, I don’t feel as energetic as before, but still able to cope through all these.

Yesterday Mom, Sister Elizabeth, Son David, Linnea and I attended the 2016 Pancreas Cancer Symposium, a seminar jointly presented by the Seattle Cancer Alliance, including the UW and the Virginia Mason Hospital.  They delivered ‘the 2016 latest opinions re: pancreatic cancer.’

New take away I got yesterday:

Pancreas cancer grows insidiously.  It may multiply clandestinely over ten or more years.  As it matures, it makes and delivers a certain protein into the blood stream to promote and prepare possible future metastatic sites particularly in the lungs and the liver to be more receptive of new colonies.  Surrounding the primary cancer, (as well as future sites,) it forms a dense stromal barrier, poorly penetrable by anti- cancer chemical agents.  Much like a citadel against most of the chemotherapeutic agents we use today.  Hence we experience the very low rate of cure for pancreatic cancer.

But, progress is being made.  Hyaluronic acid, (an enzyme we used to employ in cataract surgery to dissolve the lenticular zonules for intracapsular cataract surgery) has been resurrected as an agent that may soften this connective tissue barrier.  One would suspect that given systemically, this medicine would cause havoc and may/will destroy the entire human body structure!  However, through mice studies, with appropriate dosage, it had been shown/proven success in its selectivity towards pancreas cancer stromal ‘meltdown’.  It is now ready for clinical stage 3 human trials with patients in metastatic stages.

The goal of the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network is to more than double the survival rate of patients with localized pancreatic cancer.  (Hopefully, I am among this group.)  Secondarily, through palliative care, to increase the quality of life for those with metastatic disease.  I encourage those interested to check out the Pan Can Action Network website for updates.

Thanks again for your care and concern in visiting this site.  I’ll try to be in touch.

June 3, 2016

Wednesday 6/1 was a busy day at Virginia Mason.  We left Bainbridge to get to the clinic by 8:30, went up to the oncology short stay to establish open access to the Power port for blood test and for input for the dye during CT scan.  Then we went upstairs for a repeat CT of the chest and the abdomen.  After a short walk around the premise and lunch, we consulted with Dr. Picozzi.  He revealed to us that the blood and CT studies were all very acceptable and asked if I was ready to begin post Whipple surgery Chemotherapy.  We concurred that that is the plan.  We then met Kelly, the RN coordinator, going over the pros, cons, and side effects of the new chemo regimen.  Basically, I will receive two infusions in clinic and go home with a ‘ambulatory’ pump filled of 5-fluouracil to be infused over 46 hours.  While I was receiving the infusion, Linnea and I were interviewed by the VM ‘patient satisfaction ombudsman’ and we expressed our genuine gratefulness and offered a few patient education suggestions.    

I am writing now because I just finished the first completed dose regimen.  Thus far my only symptoms are unsettled stomach and nausea feeling, barely controlled by 4 different medications.  Food taste is slightly altered.  Salt tastes slightly bitter.  Sweet is off, like artificial flavoring.  But I am eating.

We have maternal cousins visiting from Hong Kong and they are overly concerned that they are causing us ‘bother’.  I told them that if I feel tired or sick, I’d be in my room, and I won’t hesitate leaving them suddenly.  Mom is also here ‘entertaining’ them with family story/history that they’ve missed after leaving China post the Chinese Cultural Revolution.  We’ve not met for 9 years and yet it seemed like yesterday.

Bottom line, thanks to all, I am doing well.  Keep your prayers and good vibes coming my way!

God’s Peace, Grace and Blessings to us All.