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

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Julie's June Journey

Hello Summer "Vacation" !!!! Here's my Intinerary:

Monday June 7- receive results from my recent Bone Marrow Biopsy
Wednesday June 9- all day meetings, assessments at City of Hope
Thursday June 10- begin IV Chemo, Cytoxan
Friday June 11- begin Neupogen shots for 1-2 weeks to stimulate Stem Cell Growth- Thank You Nurse Jan!! I'm a whimp and can't imagine injecting myself!!!
Thursday June 17- receive Hickman catheter
June 21-25- Stem Cell Harvest week at COH
July 1 on... COH is my new address for a while as I receive my Stem Cell Transplant and begin the recovery process and rebuild my immune system!

July, August, etc... becomes a "germ free zone" for me! Keep your cooties and germs away from my new Stem Cells!!! :)

I'm sure I'll be updating this frequently... but this is what I know my plan to be at this time.

Hey Myeloma cells... are you scared? We're coming to get you...


  1. AnonymousJune 07, 2010

    Love your blog and are so amazing a this is just a bump in the road on your rodeo of a life. I am here for anything that you need.

    Love Jamie - aka CCC Mertha Stewart (not Martha!)

  2. AnonymousJune 07, 2010

    Julie, we all send our love and best wishes. Thank you for making this blog so we can all stay up-to-date with you and in contact without passing on any cooties!

    Love Julie J (aka...the other Julie at the CCC)

  3. You and all the Visners are in our thoughts today, Julie. And as I look out the office window at the marine layer hanging just above the Tipu trees and the green grass of the park across the street my thoughts are of how you and Jim were going to stop by on one of your visits to Irvine. I'm holding you to that dahrlink - so don't think you're getting out of it this easy!

  4. AnonymousJune 07, 2010

    Jeff and I also send our love and best wishes and will be thinking of you when we photograph all those wild animals in Africa, as you are such an "animal girl"!

    Love, Joan and Jeff

  5. Radar, I can't believe you've beat me to blogging! I'm betting Alissa or Scott helped you, right? :) Now I gotta figure out how to respond to this thing.

    Been thinking about you a lot and realize that today is the day you get the results of your bone marrow biopsy. You'll be in my thoughts and prayers. As the NSA says, "If you stutter [or have MM] you're not alone!" Hang in there!

    Next year the NSA conference will be in Ft. Worth. I expect you there!

    Love, Russ

  6. Yeah JULIE!!! Those Myeloma Cells don't even realize WHO they are dealing with and they better be scared!
    I love your blog. (WOW isn't that a 2010 thing to say?) I am so excited that we can leave comments here to let you know how much you are thought about through your COH "staycation"...
    Hugs and much love,

  7. AnonymousJune 07, 2010

    Hi Julie, What a force you are! A million thanks for creating this vehicle for us. Sending love and the good energy to you and your family. xo, Joanne

  8. AnonymousJune 07, 2010

    Julie, You are in our thoughts and prayers...... Thank you for "Your Blog" what a great way to keep in touch.
    We love you Dear One, Evelyn and Neel
    P.S. Now if I can figure out how to open a blog account.

  9. Hello Julie I sent you another post I don't know where it went, so I am trying again..You are the only person worth me posting a reply on a blog,because you got it like that.. Look at your two kids or should I say young man and young lady>>>Stay strong and remember God's report is the only one we have to believe, and he gives you an A+>>>love you and you are always in my prayers...okay let me know if I did this correct

  10. AnonymousJune 07, 2010

    Girl, you are awesome with such courage and we are with you in spirit along this uncharted trail. Lookin forward to the day we can walk the ponies again. Little Ashley wants to see her almost twin!
    Linda, Ric, Ashley, Athena, Buckaroo Bud, Ebony Wings and Scout.

  11. Julie I am just a phone call away and a few miles drive to get to you should you need any help. If you want any company at COH just let me know. I have been there and done that, but I know your experience will be your own. I am proud of your progress. I want you to know that I care. Carol Ramnarine

  12. The Graz'sJune 07, 2010

    Hey - hold the horses! We were supposed to have dinner before this "vacation"! Thanks so much for creating this blog, it's a great way for us all to hear from you without taking up every waking hour with touching us all. We love you and will be keeping up with you every day!
    Hugs and kisses, The Graz's

  13. AnonymousJune 08, 2010

    Hey Julie!! I'm so glad we have this blog to chat with you. Stay strong and positive and know how much you are loved. Thank you for showing me what real strength means. I'm sending virtual hugs your way for now, but can't wait to give you a real one! xoxoxox..... Jasmine F (now I have to use my last name all the time cuz they went and hired another Jasmine...seriously :-)

  14. The Ryan FamilyJune 08, 2010

    Those myeloma cells have picked on the wrong gal!! I'm thrilled you are going to teach them a lesson.
    You know how much we all love you and hope yesterday's news was positive. The river house is waiting for your visit in the fall, so saddle up, lasso those yucky cells and ride off into the next half of your life flippin' 'em the bird! xoxoLinda, Mark and Trev

  15. Hey Radar, it's Tuesday afternoon already and I (WE) wanna know what happened yesterday! What did the doctors say about your bone marrow biopsy? I know you have an all day meeting tomorrow, so you'll probably know more then. One of the cool things about a blog is that you can update it almost on a daily basis - so get busy! I have you bookmarked on my computer, so I can keep up with you with one click.



  16. AnonymousJune 08, 2010

    Hi Julie...I love this blog! I only met you once, but it is SO YOU! With your spirit of adventure and all the supporters I'm reading here, those myeloma cells are shuttering..."here come Julie's stemmies"! Seriously, we'll keep up on you on this page & we're both available should you need anything. Dom says if Jim has questions from "a hubby who's been there", please call him. You're in our prayers!
    Dom & Sally

  17. You are amazing and a true miracle. Plus I think you could do comedy writing. Your sense of humor is refreshing and energizing. I pray for your full recovery as quickly as possible...Cancer sucks big time.

  18. AnonymousJuly 01, 2010

    Hey Julie,

    Hurry this recovery will you? I miss you and have you in my thoughts and prayers. Hugs daily!


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?”)


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.