New Year

Dear Friends,

So it’s 2015 and it’s good to be here. Somehow we’ve plowed through the shingles, though it lingers; got the holiday festivities under control; hosted a company Christmas gathering; visited the Coop clan in Maryland; and took care of our year-end business.

Throughout the holiday season, we continued to receive heartwarming support from our community. For example, a “Pay It Forward” team of volunteers appeared during November and put their backs into wielding power tools, carrying tree parts, raking 2 acres of leaves, and tearing down literal fences for no other reason than to help us get some work done in the yard. Can’t beat that with a stick, because they took them all! Then in December, twelve days of gifts were left anonymously at our door leading up to Christmas. Not sure how a partridge, turtle doves, french hens, calling birds, golden rings, laying geese, swans, milking maids, dancers, leapers, pipers and drummers came by without making a racket outside, but their transport remained undetected. On behalf of our family, thank you for these thoughtful gifts, and the gift of your friendship!

As for kicking that cancer in the pancreas, we continue to trust but verify… We’ve been watching for signs, and in their absence have been able to take a little break from focusing on it. In reality, it’s a bit problematic to focus on anything with shingles in your eye, as you might imagine. That’s been a slow recovery process and Sherri is still feeling the nerve pain and itchiness along the optic nerve on the right side of her face even though the “rash” itself has been cleared up. We have had a couple more follow-up visits with our UPenn team to review the residual effects of the CAR-T cell trial that finished in October. No scans lately, but based on blood parameters and observations, they’ve recommended that we accept a lull in the action and stay off the cancer treatments for the time being. Twist our arms…

There are a few interesting facets looking back at the last few months. For one, it seems that the pancreatic tumor, the source of all the turmoil, has gone missing! Starting with the September scan, and consistently since, radiologists have been reporting that “there is no focal pancreatic mass visualized.” Um, you mean you lost it? We’d like to attribute this to the immunotherapy treatments because the chemo didn’t seem to be changing that pancreatic mass. Unfortunately all its children have left the nest and seem to still be prospering in other organs.  Nevertheless, it’s a positive sign that makes us want to continue this course of action. Our team at UPenn has noted that the cancer seems to be indolent (slow to change), which gives us some runway for considering additional leading-edge treatments. There are quite a few promising immunotherapy trials coming up – it’s good to have options!

Another good sign is the continuing stability of one of Sherri’s cancer markers in her blood: CA 19-9. The last couple of months showed zero change in the parameter. Steady is very, very good right now. Many people have this shoot up immediately when they get off treatments. Here is a visualization for you data hounds. We think this is a very reasonable result and take encouragement from it!

Progression of Sherri's CA 19-9 cancer marker throughout treatments. Interesting and encouraging if you are a data nerd like us!

Progression of Sherri’s CA 19-9 cancer marker throughout treatments. Interesting and encouraging if you are science nerds like us!

There is reason to be optimistic, though we recognize a tough road lies ahead. There are still no magic bullets for pancreatic cancer, but there are some promising new technologies and we are happy to be part of pushing the edge!

It is our pleasure to wish each of you good fortune in the new year. And thanks again for checking up on us!

-Dave, Sherri, Zia and Anji

Thank you to the anonymous support group who provided us with a series of gifts left at our front door leading up to Christmas. It was a lift!

Twelve Days of Christmas. Your gifts provided a lift!