Cowgirl Up!!! ... Does Horse Poop Cause Cancer??

Friday, October 4, 2013

Biopsy results and a Bucket List Baby Blue Bug!

B is for Beware, Because this Blog is Bubbling over in silly B-Babble :)
B is also for Blood cancer Biopsy results Below

B is for a cute Bucket list Buy I spied
B is for my 1970's Baby Blue Bug I happily sighed
B is for this Blast to the past Beetle I Bought in a flash

B is for this cute Beetle Being Brought to me
B is for Bursting with nostalgic excitement
B is for Blessings I'm here to Blab about

B is for this Bucket list Blue Beetle Bug
Blasting from West Palm Beach to me
B is for Miss Baby Blue, Bringing joy and silly happiness Beyond Belief
But C is for Cancer that's now suddenly Back
But this Bewitching Bug cheered and distracted me when
Bummer Biopsy news confirmed.... Boo-hoo, Blasted cancer is Back

Here's my Baby Blue Bug getting ready to leave

My new Beetle Buddies (L to R)
Ty and Randall 
Who have been so fun and helpful
with this special Bucket List Bug Buy!

Here's my sweet Baby Blue Bug loaded up 
and ready for her trek from Florida to California
Stay safe and sound, Baby Blue until
we meet for the first time next week!

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ 
Ok, time to switch "gears" (sorry, couldn't help myself)
 to the main reason you came to read this blog:


Below are my (brief) medical numerical details, which summarize my blood work and biopsy stats from diagnosis Dec 2009, to my current Sept 2013 out of remission stats. So dang it, after all my 2010 chemo, powerful crazymaking steroids, July 2010 high dose chemo, autologous stem cell harvest and transplant, and year and half maintenance chemo, all which gave me remission!!! ... until earlier this year, Myeloma decided to escalate and end my remission party

I've had 4 delightful, make that awfully painful, Bone Marrow Biopsies since late 2009, which show the level of Myeloma cancer in my blood plasma: 

Biopsy #1: Dec 2009 = 67% cancer, at shocking diagnosis
Biopsy #2: June 2010 = 10% cancer, after 6 months intensive Revlimid, Dex Steroids, Cytoxan chemo
Biopsy #3: Aug 2010 =  0% cancer, after hospitalization, high dose Melphalan chemo and auto stem cell transplant
Biopsy #4: Sept 2013 = 15% cancer, after being off maintenance Revlimid chemo for only a year :(

I am IGA Myeloma,  so one of the important Myeloma cancer markers is my Immunoglobulins: 

Normal range (measured by Kaiser/City of Hope) blood tests = 70 - 400mg/dL
Dec 2009 = 5600+mg/dL (wow! I was sure a sickie, and didn't know it!)
Aug 2010 - Oct 2012 = very low, sub normal #s as my immune systems battles back after transplant
Dec 2012 - Apr 2013 = FINALLY in the NORMAL range!!! (but sure short-lived!)
June 2013 = spiked out of normal range, but no panic yet
Aug 2013  =  spiked more, officially determined to be out of remission
Sept 2013 = edging close to 1300, which is over 3 times the high end of normal

Another important Myeloma marker is the M-protein, or M-spike via Protein Electrophoresis:

Diagnosis: Dec 2009 = 4.30gm/dL
During remission: Aug 2010 - early 2013, not detected at all!!
Official M-spike comes back: July 2013
Rising monthly: Sept 2013 = .96gm/dL

Such pretty cells for such a deadly cancer

 So what does all this mean?
1- I am not a happy cancer camper
2- I am shocked Myeloma came back so soon
3- I am a very happy babyblue bug owner :)
4- I am a very very happy mom, wife, horse-dog-cat-reptile, Birdie Momma, college counselor!
5- I am very grateful to have had all the fantastic medical treatments I have had, that saved my life!!
6- I wrongly assumed I would have remission status for years and years and years and years and years and years
7- I am extremely grateful and happy beyond words to still be here and have the amazing life I have, even though my energy and ability to be "me" is a fraction of what it used to be
8- All those medical stats mean -----> I will be back in treatment asap, back on chemo most likely this, or next month
9- All those medical stats mean -----> I am still partially dominating Myeloma, and fortunately my Doctors continued to monitor me very closely, and my out of remission status was identified FAST!
10- Even though the cancer has come roaring back, and much quicker than we anticipated, at least it was caught this time, in the treatable stage!
11- Very grateful for so many and so much, that is good in my life!
12- If you love me, don't share your germs and cooties with me! No hand-shaking, no kissing; "air hugs" only please! Myeloma is a cancer of the immune system, which means... duh... I'm "immune compromised", and can get sick easily
13- lucky #13... Myeloma is an incurable cancer...
Myeloma looks like little monsters
coming to gobble me up!! LOL

And finally, you may be wondering, what is my "sudden" interest and excitement in an old 1974 VW Beetle?
It's a fun bucket list blast to my past, as my first car was almost exactly like this one, only a 1972. I always thought it would be super groovy to find a replica of my beloved baby blue bug, and so when I found out I was fully out of remission, and the cancer was back with a vengeance... that truly was a huge wake up call to me. That "NOW" is of the essence, and I could no longer put ANYTHING off.. previously thinking I still had all the time in the world!!! Ha! My new motto: Think it... Do it... Now!!!

Next blog, I'll post a picture of me with my BabyBlue, driving to chemo treatments!! ahahahaaaaa.....


  1. Julie, I like your blue beetle. It reminds me of our refrigerator. You should drive it to some CASINOS!!


  2. I also had a first car, it was a 1971 Nova, drove it for years until 1986 when it stopped along the road! Wished I had kept it now, no matter its condition, all Nova engines had the same sound some now when one passes me, it brings back such memories.....enjoy!

  3. What a creative, fun post making lemonade from lemons! Love all your B's and especially your Baby Blue Bug! I learned to drive in the 70's in a little yellow bug just like this so I totally relate. Thrilled beyond words that you found one and it will soon be in your possession!! Of course it will make driving to treatment much more pleasurable. Thank you for taking the time to share your joy, and concerns, with us. You know we are in your corner cheering you on all the way as you beat the beast back once again! Can't wait for the pic of you in your bug (and Carolina Blue to boot!).

  4. I can't wait to see you with your Baby Blue Bug. My first car after college was a beige bug - The Turtle. How I loved that car. All of us out here in your blogosphere are pulling for you. Lovey

  5. Hello Jullie,

    I do not know if this would help, but I was amazed by this movie so I thought it might give you some new options. I hope you will get better and will keep you in my positive thoughts.

  6. Hi Julie,
    Thank you for a deligtfully funny post! I am so disheartened that you are out of remission, and I will keep you in my daily prayers now and always. Take good care, and know that you are so loved! I am always here if you need ANYTHING. Love you, Leslie C. xoxo

  7. I'm so happy you got baby blue :). But everything else makes me worry!!!!! I am so relieved they caught it early!!!! I know that for cancer time is of the essence!!!!

  8. Can't wait to take a ride on baby blue bug!!! Love you!!!!

  9. Julie,Still so amazed at your attitude and love for life.I must read again how
    you found the car-perfect color for you.Continue your zest for life.Still think
    better times ahead for you.


My Story... How my MM was diagnosed

October/November/December 2009...

Most of my life I was VERY presumptuous about being healthy, taking my (mostly) GOOD health for granted...
I was committed to annual check-ups for all of us, and so late October 2009, Alissa and I went for our annual physicals.

Surprise, surprise... my routine blood tests revealed Anemia, White and Red Cell issues, low Platelets, and a variety of other CBC red flags! I was (stupidly) not worried when my GP doc left repeated phone messages to contact him and when we did speak, I (stupidly) requested postponement his referral appointment to the Hematology Dept until the end of the Fall term.
Arriving for my first appointment Dec 14, 2009, I was confronted with the check-in sign that read: "Hematology/Oncology"!
What?? Nooooo! not me... I must be in the WRONG place!
And so my diagnosis journey began with vials and vials of blood drawn "stat", urgent Dr consultations, a suprise and painful Bone Marrow Biopsy, a full body Skeletal Scan, more blood tests stat, and then... on 12.30.2009... THE revealing meeting... the "huh-what" moment ... the confirmation diagnosis that I, Julie, have CANCER!!!

Happy New Year to me, I just learned a new vocabulary word:
Multiple Myeloma!!! MM, Multiple Mye-what-loma!!!

January - June 2010

My medical metamorphosis began.
I read, and read, and read and researched and researched MM. I trusted my expert Oncology team, Dr Lee and Nurse Jalee at Kaiser PC, and Dr Spielberger and Dr Kogut at Sunset Kaiser/City of Hope hospital.
I began to formulate a new reality and accept my "New Normal".
My treatment plan was developed to include powerful Dexemthesone steroids paired with Revlimid chemotherapy, with the plan to be hospitalized for an Autologous Stem Cell Transplant July 2010.
I began living "one day at a time" like never before.
Jim was a wreck. Alissa and Scott were stunned; family and friends shocked.

Me... Cowgirl Up! I got back in the saddle and knew I was in for the ride of my life!
I've done remarkably well these past months on my pill-form Chemo, "roid-rage" Steroids and other supportive meds. I am forever deeply grateful and appreciative for all the love and support from everyone in my personal and professional life! I thank all of you for working along with me, and allowing me to continue to lead a semi "normal" life!
YOU have helped save my life!

And now... the trail ride forks to City of Hope hospital as I will saddle up beginning June 9, 2010 for a new rodeo called an Autologous Stem Cell Transplant!
Ye-Ha, let the adventure begin!

Chemical Warfare...

January 2010 - May 2010:

So you've all wondered why I still can lead a semi "normal" life, with more good days than not-so-good-days.
It's because I've been on the following chemo regimen:

Pill form Chemo= Revlimid (.10mg capsules), and I still have (had) hair
Pill form Dexamethasone Steroids (20-40 mg!) paired with Pepcid
Mepron (looks like yellow finger paint!)
B-12- to build those cells!!
.81 Aspirin to prevent Revlimid complications

What the Heck is Multiple Myeloma?!

Multiple myeloma is a cancer of your plasma cells, a type of white blood cell present in your bone marrow. Plasma cells normally make proteins called antibodies to help you fight infections.
In multiple myeloma, a group of abnormal plasma cells (myeloma cells) multiplies, raising the number of plasma cells to a higher than normal level. Since these cells normally make proteins, the level of abnormal proteins in your blood also may go up. Health problems caused by multiple myeloma can affect your bones, immune system, kidneys and red blood cell count. Although the exact cause isn't known, doctors do know that multiple myeloma begins with one abnormal plasma cell in your bone marrow — the soft, blood-producing tissue that fills in the center of most of your bones. This abnormal cell then starts to multiply. Because abnormal cells don't mature and then die as normal cells do, they accumulate, eventually overwhelming the production of healthy cells. In healthy bone marrow, less than 5 percent of the cells are plasma cells. But in people with multiple myeloma, more than 10 percent of the cells may be plasma cells. Because myeloma cells may circulate in low numbers in your blood, they can populate bone marrow in other parts of your body, even far from where they began. That's why the disease is called multiple myeloma. Uncontrolled plasma cell growth can damage bones and surrounding tissue. It can also interfere with your immune system's ability to fight infections by inhibiting your body's production of normal antibodies. Researchers are studying the DNA of plasma cells to try to understand what changes occur that cause these cells to become cancer cells. Though they haven't yet discovered the cause of these changes, they have found that almost all people with multiple myeloma have genetic abnormalities in their plasma cells that probably contributed to the cancer. For example, many myeloma cells are missing all or part of one chromosome — chromosome 13. Cells with a missing or defective chromosome 13 tend to be more aggressive and harder to treat than are cells with a normal chromosome 13. ~ From the Mayo Clinic