Thursday, July 1, 2010
Hairballs, Haircut and Hospital Here I Come!
Well......... for those of you previously awaiting me finally growing up and loping off my signature ponytail and braving a new style minus the funky clip, poofy spray & sprint long hairstyle I've been sporting for years now… Nature is telling me THE TIME HAS NOW arrived for a NEW DO …. as Julie is losing her hair like a typical cancer patient!
So bring on the new SHORT style FAST, as a primer for the full shave to come! Huge Thank YOU to my favorite, and one and only hairstylist extraordinaire Christine, for coming in to re-do my Do!!! even though she's a bit disabled herself with recent knee surgery! Thank you so very much Christine, and for tolerating my oddities and preserving my ponytail! You are the BEST!!! Heal fast and feel better!! Love you lots!!!
I think my friend CyToxic Chemo is guilty for my recent thinning and shedding and soon Melphalan-MustardGasChemo to come this weekend, will finish the job!!! I'm gonna look like my hubby Jim… but dang… he'll have MORE hair than me!!!
Ahhh the early Myeloma days… January thru May, where Revlimid chemopills and steroids actually enhanced my hair!!! So many of you were so kind these past months to say my hair looks great but… "what's up with you being a cancer patient with hair Julie"!!!??!!!
Well in the last few days, I suddenly morphed into ChemoCat and began shedding like my cats, dogs and horses! True to predictions of those that have braved this journey before me… about the second-ish week after IV Chemo… YOUR HAIR really STARTS FALLING OUT!!!!
And thank goodness for Swifters… or my bathroom tile would have become BLONDE SHAG carpeting. It was a surprising thing at first… and I doubted whether or not I was REALLY LOSING my hair… but this shedding is different from the (normal) brush-full one gets after washing and styling…
Chemo-hair just spontaneously falls out… LOL… all the time… tickling your skin, getting caught on your clothes, leaving a trail everywhere … and suddenly… the realization… fszxzxzk… I'm really losing my hair!!! Just ask Alissa about me chasing her around the house with a handful of it!!! hahahahahaaaaaaaa
But I'm ok with this… really, just another chapter in my monumental Myeloma Moments. It's new, it's different and it represents how these powerful meds are in charge and doing a good job!
And a huge THANK YOU of appreciation to my very special Nurse Coordinators at Kaiser and City of Hope for all their expert care, expert management of my case and their genuine care and concern they have shown me through out this process!
Time to pack... "vacation" time has arrived... City of Hope here I come... tomorrow, Friday, July 2, 2010.
Thank you EVERYONE for all your wonderful, amazing, supportive, loving and entertaining blog comments. I really truly appreciate you following my journey and commenting on my blog ramblings! Love you all so much!!!!
Helpful Myeloma Links
- American Cancer Society- Multiple Myeloma
- American Society of Hematology
- Ask Dr Durie
- Cancer Therapy Advisor - MM
- Chemo Care- Drug definitions
- Health Monitor Magazine
- International Myeloma Foundation
- LLS- Myeloma
- MM resources
- Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation
- Myeloma Beacon
- Myeloma Blogs
- Myeloma Crowd
- Myeloma Symptoms
- Patient Power
- Support Groups
- Understanding Multiple Myeloma
My Story... How my MM was diagnosed
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!
My initial chemo regimen:
Pill form Chemo= Revlimid (10mg capsules)
Allopurinol- keeping the kidneys healthy
Acyclovir- anti-Shingles, anti-viral
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?
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.
The antibody made by myeloma cells can harm the kidneys. This can lead to kidney damage and even kidney failure.