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

Sunday, June 27, 2010

5 Days of Freedom and Counting!

Hello Blog Buddies ~
Thank you so very much for all your wonderfully supportive, loving and entertaining COMMENTS!! I read and re-read every one of them and SO enjoy what you post!!! You boost my confidence and give me courage!!! Thank YOU, Thank YOU to all of you!
Speaking of courage... I think mine is diminishing quickly ... the more I read about what might be in store for me just prior to receiving my Stemmies back...

I think I'm gonna make a run for it, and fast!!!!
Alissa's trying to convince me to stay and endure!

From what I understand, those bad bad myelomas within me are going to get a final and severe Chemo kick in their asssssterisk with a lovely Mustard Gas derivative called Melphalan!!!! So let the internal fireworks of Julie begin next weekend... Happy 4th of July !!!
Ah, and what symbolism this will be... while all the "normies" and "wellies" are celebrating our country's birthday with beautiful fireworks, BBQ's and music... I will be reeling with internal explosive fireworks going off and coming out!!!

Dang!!! Just shoot me!!!
They found me!! and I've been returned ... I can't run away and hide anywhere!

Yikes... me soon...
Eehhh...... Just put me out !!

18 comments:

  1. AnonymousJune 27, 2010

    Julie, you manage to make even the most awful things sound lighthearted! I am thinking of you and keeping you in my prayers. Thank you for your blog, you are an inspiration...though I'm sure you'd rather you didn't have a reason to be such an inspiration! Take care friend,
    Chris Norton

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  2. Transplant is just another word for vacation....hahaha You are going to do great!

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  3. From what I can tell of your attitude you'll do fine. Take plenty to keep you occupied on holiday, you may not need it but I always find it reassuring. (Oh, and your er, well, the stuff that er, waste products might turn GREEN - it has to be seen to be believed!)

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  4. Julie,
    I joined the national bone Marrow Donor Center as a possible donor last week. Gave blood as well, I thank God and want to pass along the wellness as much as I can.

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  5. AnonymousJune 28, 2010

    You're going to be fine Julie. Look at what you have already done so far! You are unbelievable! The courage and spirit that you have will take more than mustard gas and chemo to get you down. And well ... at least you'll still get fireworks this fourth of July... one way or another. ;)

    I'm glad Alissa convinced you to stay and that those soldiers found you to take you back to treatment - you'll see that this will be over before you know it and you'll have so many stories to fill me in on. Afterall, it's already JULY! I still remember JANUARY when you told me you were diagnosed!

    You'll be fine because you have to be. You'll be fine because you're Julie and anything other than "fine" is not acceptable - not by me, not by you, not by anyone! Hang in there little warrior... the battle to remission is almost over.

    PS - cute pictures! :) I didn't fall for your escape this time because I remember those pictures! ;)

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  6. AnonymousJune 28, 2010

    Hey Julie,
    Thanks for all your humorous updates. Not many people have that talent!!!! Keep the positive thoughts and your sense of humor and let the 'professionals' take care of the rest.

    You continue to inspire the rest of us...at least me, anyway. Always in my thoughts and prayers,
    Shawn

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  7. Radar,

    You are such an inspiration! I'm SOOOOO proud to know you! You're gonna do just fine this weekend. I can imagine it won't be the most fun you've ever had, but you can do it. I know you can.

    I continue to read your blog almost every day. I love it!

    I'm in Yuma, Arizona, now with my wife who has a broken ankle. It will be another several weeks before she's recovered enough to stand the drive back to Texas. My time on my son's computer is pretty limited, but I try to email/facebook/blog as often as I can.

    Hang in there! What you are doing is inspiring a LOT of people! Think Ft. Worth next summer!

    Love,

    Russ

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  8. AnonymousJune 29, 2010

    Julie,

    We miss you at work! We think of you every day and admire your courage and humor.

    Know that we send you good thoughts and are absolutely certain that you will beat this.

    Love,
    Edel

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  9. Kelly Down the RoadJune 29, 2010

    Think about you every day! You are such a strong and funny one. Love your blog. Thought I was going to get emails when you updated and then realized I had the wrong email in there! And I'm not even blonde!! So maybe now things will work correctly. I will be spending my 4th in Baton Rouge with Bill. Cole will be home holding down the fort. Keep up the good work my friend. Love and hugs from down the road. Oh, we got Rox all moved to SF last week! Crazy. Check my Facebook page...all kinds of new pictures!

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  10. You are always on my mind...I will be thinking of you and praying for you this weekend. I am here for WHATEVER you need. You are soo strong, I think you will do well. The outcomes of this treatment have gone good and your attitude remarkable. Love ya much!! Jan

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  11. Julie I will head up the party bus and we will be there making our own fireworks in your room haha jk i know you will need your rest. I am going to be watching the fireworks here in havasu and keep you in my thoughts so although you are not here right now in havasu you will be in all of our minds and in our hearts were praying for you julie and we love you so much!!!! See you soon my lady ill get a bucket and cheers to you... :o) love you mamma vizzzzz xoxoxoxooooo!!!!

    Kristy Morgan Ryan Albrecq
    Jess and caylene albrecq

    and the rest of the gang!

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  12. Julie,

    I'm thinking about you! It sounds like you are doing great and couldn't have a better attitude. Hang in there! I have no doubt that you will beat this! I miss our chats on Thursday evenings, so you better get back soon. :)

    Love,
    Christy

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  13. Jennifer AbramsJune 30, 2010

    Julie, those MM cells aren't going to know what hit them! Sounds like you are going to have a rough fourth of July, but remember, cancer is your bitch! I actually have a mug with that on it, my favorite birthday present last year. Mustard gas, really???? I often wonder, who THINKS of these things? Or are we to be grateful to the chemistry nerds???

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  14. Julie, what a hoot you are!! Even in the midst of the "stuff" of life, you find a way to bring light and positivity to the situation. You're amazing!! I tried to post before, but I'm not sure I was successful. Just know that I am thinking of you often and praying for you!!

    Gay (I missed you at the Info Session yesterday!!)

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  15. Julie I <3 you!! :) You are such an inspiration to me! Stay strong! I'm sending positive vibes your way! :)

    Love,

    Carms :)

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  16. AnonymousJune 30, 2010

    Hang in there lil'sis. Can not wait for you to kick butt at City of Hope!! Will be checking for updates, either by your extremely creative blogg,,or by "over the fence". Ive known your for 25 years (yikes can you believe that)--anyway, your strength & courage never cease to amaze me. Prayer is a powerful tool and I know there are many of us with you at the top of our prayer list. When you get home,,lets saddle up and head down the trail...
    With Hugs...your "big sis" xoxo

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  17. AnonymousJuly 02, 2010

    You are in our thoughts and prayers... Each step you are closer to recovery. Your strength and courage touches all of those around you. Stay strong Dear One....

    You are Loved, Evelyn and Neel

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  18. AnonymousJuly 02, 2010

    Julie,

    You are in our thoughts and prayers. Each step is a step closer to recovery. Your strength and courage touches all of those around you.... You are surrounded by many prayers.... Stay Strond Dear One....

    You are Loved,

    Evelyn and Neel

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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 chemo
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 chemo
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 is multiple myeloma?

What is multiple myeloma?

Cancer starts when cells in the body begin to grow out of control. Cells in nearly any part of the body can become cancer, and can spread to other areas of the body. To learn more about how cancers start and spread, see What Is Cancer?

Multiple myeloma is a cancer formed by malignant plasma cells. Normal plasma cells are found in the bone marrow and are an important part of the immune system.

The immune system is made up of several types of cells that work together to fight infections and other diseases. Lymphocytes (lymph cells) are the main cell type of the immune system. The major types of lymphocytes are T cells and B cells.

When B cells respond to an infection, they mature and change into plasma cells. Plasma cells make the antibodies (also called immunoglobulins) that help the body attack and kill germs. Lymphocytes are in many areas of the body, such as lymph nodes, the bone marrow, the intestines, and the bloodstream. Plasma cells, however, are mainly found in the bone marrow. Bone marrow is the soft tissue inside some hollow bones. In addition to plasma cells, normal bone marrow has cells that make the different normal blood cells.

When plasma cells become cancerous and grow out of control, they can produce a tumor called a plasmacytoma. These tumors generally develop in a bone, but they are also rarely found in other tissues. If someone has only a single plasma cell tumor, the disease is called an isolated (or solitary) plasmacytoma. If someone has more than one plasmacytoma, they have multiple myeloma.

Multiple myeloma is characterized by several features, including:

Low blood counts

In multiple myeloma, the overgrowth of plasma cells in the bone marrow can crowd out normal blood-forming cells, leading to low blood counts. This can cause anemia – a shortage of red blood cells. People with anemia become pale, weak, and fatigued. Multiple myeloma can also cause the level of platelets in the blood to become low (called thrombocytopenia). This can lead to increased bleeding and bruising. Another condition that can develop is leukopenia – a shortage of normal white blood cells. This can lead to problems fighting infections.

Bone and calcium problems

Myeloma cells also interfere with cells that help keep the bones strong. Bones are constantly being remade to keep them strong. Two major kinds of bone cells normally work together to keep bones healthy and strong. The cells that lay down new bone are called osteoblasts. The cells that break down old bone are called osteoclasts. Myeloma cells make a substance that tells the osteoclasts to speed up dissolving the bone. Since the osteoblasts do not get a signal to put down new bone, old bone is broken down without new bone to replace it. This makes the bones weak and they break easily. Fractured bones are a major problem in people with myeloma. This increase in bone break-down can also raise calcium levels in the blood. (Problems caused by high calcium levels are discussed in the section “How is multiple myeloma diagnosed?”)

Infections

Abnormal plasma cells do not protect the body from infections. As mentioned before, normal plasma cells produce antibodies that attack germs. For example, if you developed pneumonia, normal plasma cells would produce antibodies aimed at the specific bacteria that were causing the illness. These antibodies help the body attack and kill the bacteria. In multiple myeloma, the myeloma cells crowd out the normal plasma cells, so that antibodies to fight the infection can’t be made. The antibody made by the myeloma cells does not help fight infections. That’s because the myeloma cells are just many copies of the same plasma cell – all making copies of the same exact (or monoclonal) antibody.

Kidney problems

The antibody made by myeloma cells can harm the kidneys. This can lead to kidney damage and even kidney failure.