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

Friday, June 11, 2010

Chemo Bites BigTime!

Hello Loyal Readers ~

Wake up call for me Thursday! IV Chemo Cytoxan (LOL- make that CyTOXIC - to me!) is some powerful stuff! I sure felt like a "real" cancer patient that night ... sparing you all the details, I was hit with what felt like the "chemo-48 hour-flu"! Leaving my 5+ hour chemo infusion, I felt light headed, bloated, dizzy, blurry, and a little queasy, but not incapacitated. So I thought I would be ok. Little did I know, the "after-life", delayed reaction of IV chemo!

We arrived home, and as always, there was household of people home. Of course everyone wanted to help me, wait on me, serve me something, etc, but at that time, I was beginning to feel "funny", so I headed for my room, and there I remained for over a day or so. Ugh! I remember getting increasingly dizzy, feeling achy and dehydrated, yet full.

At some point, the awful (to me at that time) scent of cooked food came wafting down the hallway to my room. I think my daughter was making some sort of Parmesan Pasta Alfredo (makes me nauseated just writing that...) Soon the bathroom became my best friend. First the "back barn door" events for hours and hours into the night. I was so exhausted I just remember laying on the cool bathroom floor. Then that light headed, dizzy O M G I'm going to get sick, "front barn door" events happened. I was a pretty sick filly for hours and hours and then finally, this awfulness passed and I began to regain strength, and was able to hydrate, and not fear being away from my bathroom. 

 Here's my life saving poison

Hopefully the delightful side effects mean those bratty myeloma cells are running for the hills fast and furiously! The Raid insecticide commercials come to mind as a great visual here too.

SOME TRIBUTES, HEARTFELT THANK YOU's and some sweet pictures of the AMAZING people I am so blessed to have in my life and treatment experiences:

~ Kaiser Nurse Jalee ~
So amazing. So supportive. So helpful. So professional. So caring. So fun. So saving my life!! How lucky did I get for these past 6 months!
Just loooove her!!!!

~ Robin from the front office ~ 
So sweet, kind, helpful, caring, supportive and loves animals like I do.
Just loooove her!!!! This picture was taken right after my 5 hr Chemo infusion... I was puffy, dizzy and had NO idea what I was in for later on!

~ Best Friend Extraordinaire Nurse Jan ~
Ready and willing to inject me with my Stem Cell Stimulating Neupogen shots for the next 2 weeks! She saved Jim's life and is now saving mine! Amazing friend!!!No telling what I would do to myself if I actually tried to self-inject this.
Just loooove her!

And.... how can I thank my wonderful hubby enough 
for all his support, love, driving, shopping, caring for me and our animals, etc... 
Lucky, lucky me! 
(LOL he's just glad it's me hooked up not him! hahahha)


  1. AnonymousJune 11, 2010

    You are AMAZING! I can't say that enough! I'm so glad that you have the helpful and caring staff that you do! They will save your life and you will keep fighting with your GREAT attitude and courage and will! I can't imagine how bad chemo bit you and it pains me that you had to go through that. I am glad that you are feeling better today! :)

    Keep going little warrior! :) You're battle to remission is almost over! This will all be a memory in a few months!

    I love you!!!!

  2. Boy you are quick with the pics. Honestly, this is all about being a nurse....and a friend plus you helped me get here!!! God had a plan. You look good and I admire your GREAT attitude. You and my mom just amaze me. See you soon. Love, Jan

  3. Radar, You look great! And I love your attitude! I check your blog every day and look forward to your posts. Hang in there. Life gets interesting, doesn't it? My wife broke her ankle here in Yuma last month, so we're stuck here till she recovers enough for us to get back to Dallas. You never know what's coming next, do you? Just get all this past you so you can come to Ft. Worth next year, okay? Love you! Russ

  4. You are on a journey like no other!!! Touching those around you with your love and strength. Julie, you are Amazing and Truly One of God's Precious Jewels.................... Neel and I keep you in our thoughts and prayers as well as Jim and the rest of the family. We love you, Evelyn and Neel

  5. Hi Julie
    Boy, you have been through the wringer!
    I look back at my Chemo days and multiple surgeries etc and it seems like such a blur. So keep on keeping on and soon you will forget the pain and sickness and return to a healthy you. By the way, have you read the book Crazy, sexy Cancer tips? It is a hoot, if you dont have it, I will be happy to send you a copy, it got me through the blues, and made me laugh. My heart and thoughts are with you. Now, we have something in common, I guess you could say we are Cancer sisters! Hang in there,
    your friend,
    CJ (Sharon's sissy)


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, 15mg capsules)
Pill form Dexamethasone Steroids (40 mg, 4 days on, 4 days off!
Omeprazole for steroid acid reflux
Mepron (looks like yellow finger paint) Anti-fungal, Anti-viral, etc for my very compromised immune system
.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?”)


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.