Karen's Page

Welcome to Karen's Page, a web page intended to keep Karen's family and friends informed about her cancer. Karen, age 40, has a rare form of cancer called Pseudomyxoma Peritonei. She and her husband Tom have 2 children ages 4 and 7.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Thank YOU

Tom and I have come to the conclusion that we are at a loss as to how to thank everyone who has helped us along this adventure. My list is long, starting from the very first doctor who ordered the first CT scan, to the surgeons who wisely did an awesome job during the first surgery, to my oncologist, friends, family, church family, and people we don't even know, but are part of the community helping to take care of us. I wish I could send a thank you note to everyone, but know that that is pretty impossible. Even if I could, I feel it would an ineffective way to truly express the gratitude I feel. I also wish to thank you all personally, but know that is also equally impossible. So, here I am, hoping and praying that this reaches many of you who I haven't been able to personally thank yet, and have helped us in so many different ways. My determination to beat this stems from the gratitude and love that I feel for all of you. The memories of the support and love I've received from so many people are going to keep me going and help me heal. So, here I go again - THANK YOU, from my very full heart.


Friday, October 28 - 13 Days to go

The day approaches. Last night, I catalogued some Plamobil toys that I ordered for the boys so that Bumpa and Grandma have a few nice things to give them from Mommy while she is gone. I remember when I was little and my parents were away for a long time my Grams would have little gifts every couple of days for my brother and me. I suppose partly for being good, partly because we love them very much, and a little bit because we are sad to have to be away from them.

All but one of the fundraisers are done, and I am glad for the families who worked so hard. You've taken great care of us, and I know that there is one big one to go. Get some rest, please.

We have decided to take the guys, Tucker and Hudson, to Disney on the 4th of November for a day of fun with Mom and Dad. This will give them a great day of fun that will still be fresh in their memories before we go away. We have not been there for . . oh . . . a year and a half? Two years? Hudson was pretty small then, and we had a stroller so that has to be a while back. At any rate, it will be a kick and although we have not told the boys about it, I don't know if they will be any more excited than I am right now. I love that place. So we will do a day trip and spoil them rotten while we ride the space rides, train rides, and regail the world with an unending chorus of "It's a small world."

Karen's Mom and Dad arrive for their extended stay next Saturday, and they will be taking care of the boys while we are gone and their dog, Button, will be taking care of Jack, the pinheaded dog. We are really glad that Button is coming along because Jack needs a lot of attention and an Alpha dog to follow, and Button can handle the job.

There may not be a whole lot of new news over the next few days, but I will update as anything interesting pops up. My main task was to get used to posting, and get the system up and running. Big West Coast props to Bro in law Mark for the assist on setting up the page. I think it will work out fine. Oh - and if from time to time you find pages of information stuck on the blog about aspects of the surgery, city, weather, or anything else - that's Mark. He does that. I am not that smart. Thanks, man!


If you have feedback on this site, please send email to mark_kepke@yahoo.com.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

The Hospital

Taken from the hostpital web site.

Washington Hospital Center is the largest private hospital in the nation’s capital. A member of MedStar Health, the not-for-profit Hospital Center is licensed for 907 beds and, on average, operates at near capacity. Health services in primary, secondary and tertiary care are offered to adult and neonatal patients. Founded in March 1958 when three specialty hospitals merged into one, the Hospital Center occupies a 47-acre campus in Northwest Washington it shares with three other medical facilities. In fiscal year 2004, 46,615 inpatients were served --including 4,441 births-- and 341,282 outpatients. The Hospital Center has a medical/dental staff of 1,592.

The Hospital Center employs one of the region’s most experienced surgical staff and is home to one of the nation’s top cardiovascular programs. The Hospital Center’s cardiac catheterization laboratory is one of the busiest in the country. A total of 18,527 cardiac catheterizations were performed during FY 2004. There were 2,102 open-heart surgeries and five heart transplants performed during the fiscal year. One of the Washington area’s first heart transplants was done at the Hospital Center on May 22,1987.

In addition to its cardiac-care specialties, the Hospital Center is respected as a top facility in other areas including cancer, neurosciences, gastrointestinal disorders, endocrinology, women’s services, transplantation and burn. U.S. News and World Report in 2004 named the Hospital Center as one of the best hospitals nationwide for heart and heart surgery and hormonal disorders. The adult burn center is the most advanced in the area and the Hospital Center’s intensive care tower combines the latest medical equipment and highly trained specialists to provide care following severe injury, major surgery or serious illness.

The Washington Cancer Institute (WCI) is the District’s largest cancer care provider, treating more cancer patients than any other program in the nation’s capital. The Cancer Institute diagnosed more than 2,600 new cases during fiscal year 2004. There were more than 82,255 outpatient visits and more than 3,145 inpatient discharges during that period. WCI provides comprehensive, interdisciplinary care including surgical, radiation and medical oncology services as well as counseling for patients and families, cancer education, community outreach program and clinical research trials. The Center for Breast Health saw an estimated 14,515 patients during fiscal year 2004.

Mailing Address:

Washington Hospital Center
110 Irving St. NW
Washington, DC 20010

Lodging Information

See Washington Center for more details.

Patient & Guest Services

Washington Hospital Center offers special accommodations for family members of patients on the hospital campus. This area, Guest Accommodations, was specifically designed for the use of patients’ families while their loved ones are being treated in the hospital. The 30-room hotel is equipped with all the amenities of a standard hotel, in addition to accessibility and convenience to the Hospital Center. Guest Accommodations is located on the 5th floor in the Physicians Office Building (POB), North Tower and is just a short walk indoors from the Main Hospital. It is closest to the Pavillion II Parking Garage. We validate parking for both garages.

Features include:

  • Private baths with showers
  • Daily housekeeping
  • Parking validation
  • Cable television, refrigerators and coffee makers in rooms
  • Internet access and 24-hour Fitness Room
  • Guest lounge and balcony area
  • Safe deposit boxes available
  • Laundry and vending facilities
  • Evening room service, cafeterias discount
  • Rollaway beds and baby cribs
  • Special handicapped shower chairs and toilet seats
  • Wheelchairs, hair dryers and other amenities available by request

Rooms have either one queen size bed or two double beds. Room rates are $99.00 per night plus tax = $113.36. Check-in time is 3:00 p.m. and checkout time is 1:00 p.m. The check-in/out time can be amended for guests if needed.

If possible, it is best to make reservations in advance. This is a strict non-smoking facility. We are unable to accept discounted rates from third-party organizations or offer special rates. Major credit cards accepted.

In the event the Guest Accommodations area is fully occupied, WHC has negotiated a special patient rate of $99/night with the Courtyard Marriott/Scott Circle, in downtown DC. The Courtyard Marriott is just two miles away and has all the features of a traditional Marriott.

For more information or reservations, Please contact Guest Accommodations directly at (202) 877-2300
Or 1-800-WHC-GUEST or 1 -800-942-4837

Thursday, October 27 - 14 days to go

As we count down to the day of the " big cruise", things are in place. Support from family and friends has been great. The saddest part is that I can think of no adequate way to thank everyone for all they've done. Words can't cover it. I hope that having Karen around for a good while longer is enough for people to understand how they have helped. If they take a look at Tucker and Hudson as they continue to grow and thrive, that is a direct result of Karen and ultimately of their efforts. That's pretty cool.

But I will also do a Christmas letter.

I am going to update this site regularly both before and during the entire procedure and follow up. It's the least I can do, and I know if I tried to email everyone that I would forget most people. I would prefer not to do that.

So, this concludes the first posting/test blog. Stay tuned!


Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Barbeque Fund Raiser

From 10/23/05 Desert Sun article.

Barbecue throwing support to 3 families
Fundraiser aims to aid in coping with rare cancer

Karen Pendleton has cancer, and is fighting it with the love and help of her husband, Tom. The two say the amount of support from the community has been tremendous.
Jay Calderon, The Desert Sun

If you go
What: Benefit barbecue and picnic for three area cancer patients and their families.

When: 12:30 p.m. today. Where: Southwest Community Church, 77701 Fred Waring Drive, Indian Wells. Cost: $10 adults, $5 children under 12. A silent auction and raffle will also be held. All proceeds from the event will be split evenly among the three families. Information: 567-4873.

Alison Sachs of Lucy Curci Cancer Center at Eisenhower Medical Center in Rancho Mirage offers the following advice for parents explaining their cancer diagnosis to their children:

  • Be age appropriate. "Get a good child development book," she said, "to find out what your child will and will not understand."
  • Be honest and open. "The unknown is much more frightening," Sachs said. "Openly say, 'Daddy's sick, but we've got the best doctors to take care of him, and we're going to love him a lot.'"
  • Dealing with death. If a child asks, "Is Mommy going to die?" the answer Sachs recommends is: "We don't know, sweetheart, but we're going to do everything we can to make sure that doesn't happen."

    Other resources: Kids Konnected is a nonprofit organization based in Laguna Hills that provides education and support for children ages 3-18 with a parent who has cancer. For more information, call 949-582-5443.

  • K Kaufmann
    The Desert Sun

    "Mommy had an owie."

    That's what Karen Pendleton of La Quinta told her 4-year-old son earlier this year when she had her first surgery for a rare form of colon cancer and the doctors her insurance plan allowed her to see gave her a five-year prognosis, 10 years tops.

    "There was no point in telling him (more)," she said. "He's in a 4-year-old world. He's concerned about playing."

    Pendleton is about to have a second "owie," an aggressive and expensive treatment not covered by her insurance that she and husband, Tom, hope will give the 39-year-old mom and aerobics instructor a better chance at seeing their two sons, 4 and 7 years old, grow up.

    Fundraiser today

    The couple will travel to Washington, D.C., for the operation in early November. Today, Karen Pendleton, two other cancer patients and their families will be treated to a community barbecue to help raise funds for treatment.

    The event runs from 12:30 to 3 p.m. at Southwest Community Church, 77701 Fred Waring Drive, Indian Wells.

    The outpouring of community support for the Pendletons and other families involved in the fundraiser highlights what Alison Sachs, counseling coordinator at Eisenhower Lucy Curci Cancer Center in Rancho Mirage, sees as an increasingly common phenomenon.

    More adult cancer patients are being diagnosed at earlier ages, she said, and they often have spouses and young children.

    "Cancer is not a diagnosis of an individual," she said. "It is a diagnosis of the family."

    Sachs did not have exact figures on cancer cases in the Coachella Valley, but nationwide figures from the American Cancer Society show that the probability of an invasive cancer diagnosis for Americans 39 and younger is about 1 in 60. For those older than 40, the probability of a cancer diagnosis jumps to about 1 in 12.

    And in many cases, a parent fighting cancer must also contend with extraordinary financial and emotional pressures.

    Paying it forward

    Skip Osgood of La Quinta, the man behind the fundraiser, was 41 and the father of three girls when he was diagnosed with a brain tumor two years ago.

    The family took a hit financially because Osgood, who sells real estate, was unable work, and their two oldest daughters, who had been home-schooled, were sent to public schools for a year.

    "Our middle child was 6 then," he recalled. "We had moved, (and) she wanted to go back to our other house because everything had been OK at that house. She got very adamant."

    The 6-year-old settled in over time as he and his wife, Linda, adopted a policy of telling the kids "everything," Osgood said.

    But he said: "We had to guard our reactions. What I wanted to impart (is that) bad things are going to happen in your life; what matters is what you do about it."

    In fact, Osgood was inspired to organize today's event by a similar fundraiser friends held for him last year. Learning to accept help has been another challenge, he said.

    "When (people) find out you've got a sickness, they always say, 'Is there anything I can do,'" he said. "We're conditioned to say, 'No, everything's OK.'"

    Ric Letzerich of La Quinta, another of the barbecue beneficiaries, did not have health insurance when he was diagnosed with lymphatic cancer at the end of June. The self-employed house painter, 51, and his wife, Kelly, also self-employed, had never felt they could afford it.

    Premiums would have been $1,000 to $1,200 per month, he said. "We needed that kind of money," he said.

    And even after his diagnosis, he said, he did not qualify for state-funded insurance under Medi-Cal. He and Kelly quickly depleted their savings, but he said help has "come out of the woodwork."

    Most of his treatment costs have been paid by a special "scholarship" from the Comprehensive Cancer Center in Palm Springs, he said, and checks continue to come in from friends and family - he has three adult sons from a previous marriage.

    Cancer center staffers were not available for comment.

    Letzerich said that when Osgood first contacted him about the fundraiser, he was hesitant about accepting more help.

    "You're kind of humbled," he said, "but there's a need."

    The third family receiving funds from the event has asked to remain anonymous. Osgood and the three other families are all members of Southwest Community Church, but the church is not sponsoring the fundraiser.

    Karen and Tom Pendleton say the offers of help they've received continue to overwhelm them. The couple has a Blue Cross plan through Tom's job with an area construction firm, but because her cancer is so rare - the medical term for it is appendiceal adenocarcinoma - the plan does not cover the $35,000 operation she will have on Nov. 10.

    Her parents are coming to stay with her sons, and the 7-year-old is worried about the two to three weeks she will be away.

    Pendleton has told him she has cancer, but she said, "He doesn't know people die from it. We try to keep it simple and positive."

    Chef Fund Raiser

    From the Desert Sun article published on 10/24/05.

    Area chefs cook up cancer benefit

    K Kaufmann
    The Desert Sun
    October 24, 2005

    Fifteen area chefs are teaming up to help La Quinta resident Karen Pendleton, who has a rare form of colon cancer, raise funds for an operation not covered by her insurance.
    The event is scheduled for 5:30 to 9 p.m., Nov. 8, at Sammy's Woodfired Pizza at the Agua Caliente Casino, 32-250 Bob Hope Drive, Rancho Mirage.

    Led by Herve Glin of Sammy's Woodfired Pizza, top chefs from across the Coachella Valley will whip up a tapas-style dinner.

    The event also will include a live auction, in which each chef will offer his or her services for a specially prepared dinner for eight, either at the chef's restaurant or at the winner's home.

    Pendleton and her husband, Tom, have two sons, ages 4 and 7. She was diagnosed early this year with adenocarcinoma of the appendix, a rare form of cancer, and will be traveling to Washington, D.C. in November for the operation, which costs $35,000.

    Pendleton's story, highlighted in a story in The Desert Sun on Sunday, has generated an outpouring of community support for her and her family.

    The fund-raiser is being sponsored by four area business, Service Master of the Desert, Enviro Pure, Harmony Design and Universal Pest Management.

    For more information: 202-6157.