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

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Thank You Revlimid!

So I always begin my blog musings thinking and saying I will be brief, and wind up being very long winded! But this time I really will be brief, as I rattled on so much on my last blog entry!

Here's Birdie intrigued by my water/pedialyte mix,
plus she loves to peck the keyboard with me as I type this. 

I received rather good news yesterday at my monthly oncology appointment. My friend Revlimid is doing it's chemical thing well, and my IgA levels decreased! Go 10mg!!! And to think I was worried going from 5mg to 10mg. Ok, I'll cut myself some slack here, as 10mg in 2010 along with 40mg Dex, (along with all my other meds, along with being newly diagnosed) was quite the challenging adventure.

IgA from this most recent blood work was 1150 (70-400 scale).
That's down from 1400 in March/April (and better still from 1800+ Dec/Jan). Yippee!!!
That still puts me around 3x the high end of normal range, but I like the downward slide! I'll continue on the 10mg (indefinitely?), and if need be, bump up to 15mg and see what happens.
M-Protein = 0.81. Just go away Myeloma and leave me alone!!!

 Look who's hiding on Jim's beautiful rose!

So far, my side effects are tolerable... well kinda. I'm not a fan of being so tired and fatigued, but I'll take that over hugging "John" from hardcore IV infusions! I also have some buzzing, Neuropathy, dizziness, headaches, blurry vision and still some GI unrest, but not as bad as last month! Thankfully, me and food are a bit more friendly now.

Here's a great article where the author talks about his lowered immune system as a result of Myeloma and chemo affecting his immune system. Hello "normal" population, we are not OCD "germ-a-phobes" for fun... Viruses and Bacteria can KILL us! But that's for another tirade, another time...

Happy Birthday to the BEST hubby, supporter, caretaker, shopper, best friend, and overall loving tolerator of my situation. Scary thought who I would be, and how I would currently be... if Jim wasn't in my life!!! I tell him to stop caring so much, and take as good care of himself, as he does for me.

Our new saying:
Every day is a Bucket List day-
Heck, eat TWO desserts if you want to!

Almost looks like twin roses within the rose!
Jim has such an amazing "green thumb", 
not to mention our mutual love of nature and animals!

We are both so grateful for another year! Truly we are so fortunate to have the life we have with all the love and beauty that surrounds us! One of my greatest treatment challenges was being hospitalized in isolation for a whole month (for my stem cell transplant July 2010), as the closest I got to fresh air and nature, was the view out my window. Ugh, that was so awful for me. I cried my eyes out when I was wheeled out of the hospital, and breathed in summer...

Enough blogging, on to the birthday boy celebrations!

Live happy, live well, and make a difference somewhere, somehow, with someone or something as often as you can!


  1. AnonymousMay 09, 2014

    YAY JULIE! I'm so happy for the "downward slide" :)))
    It's so funny that you had a post on Birdie because this morning I found not one, but two baby birds in my kitchen today! They pecked their way into the kitchen and it was an ordeal getting them out. Long story short, I quickly went to your blog because I needed to get info to take care of them and I see a picture of little Birdie :) Your Birdie blog helped so much on feeding them! Your story of Birdie saved two little babies! Hahahaha :))
    Much love, Cristina Chung<3

    1. Thanks Cristina! Let me know how your little birds are doing... I'll send you an email :)

  2. Julie,
    I am thrilled to hear that Revlimid is doing it's job! I'll be here cheering you on.
    Love to you, Carole Leigh

    1. So good to hear from you Carole! I've missed you online, and glad to see your comment here, and also to read your updated blog! What an ordeal you've been through! Stay strong, and let's hope our chemo regimens do the trick and pummel myeloma into oblivion! love and healing hugs to you!!!

  3. AnonymousMay 23, 2014

    Love to hear that good news. And love Jim's roses. They are a thing of perfection, just like you. Love Janet

    1. Aw, you are way to sweet Janet! Thanks for all your kindness and support! I'll send you a message for a get together date! xoxo

  4. AnonymousMay 29, 2014

    Julie,Really great you are feeling better and the pills are working.I know
    you really enjoy life and all its parts-Keeping living it. You have a lot more!
    Happy birthday to Jim too.

    1. Thanks Ron. We'll see how all the treatment is going. Blood tests today; results next week. Thanks for your on-going support!


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, my daughter and I went for our annual and very routine physicals.

Surprise, surprise... my routine blood tests revealed extreme Anemia, significant 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 of his referral appointment to the Hematology Dept until the end of the Fall academic 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 surprise 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/Hematology team's plan and began my "New Normal" as a cancer patient.
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 did well on my initial pill-form Revlimid Chemo, "roid-rage" Dex 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!

My treatment 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:
My initial chemo regimen:

Pill form Chemo= Revlimid (10mg capsules)
Pill form Dexamethasone Steroids (40 mg!) paired with Omeprazole
Mepron (looks like yellow finger paint) Anti-fungal, Anti-viral, etc for my very compromised immune system
B-12- to build those cells!
.81 Aspirin to prevent DVT, Revlimid complications
Allopurinol- keeping the kidneys healthy
Acyclovir- anti-Shingles, anti-viral

June 2010:
High dose IV Cytoxan
Neupogen to build up stem cells for Apheresis, stem cell harvest, which was very successful, as City of Hope was able to collect 9.5 million of my own stem cells

July 2010 Hospitalization:
Two days of high dose Melphalan
Then July 5, 2010 = my Autologous Stem Cell transplant infusion!

And you can read my whole story from that point forward in this blog!

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