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

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Hairballs, Haircut and Hospital Here I Come!

Hello My Loyal Blog Buddies!

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!
Mary Margaret from Kaiser, Crazy Cancer Patient Julie and Mirjana from City of Hope. Love you both, and thank you from my Hickman Heart!!!

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!!!!


  1. AnonymousJuly 01, 2010

    You still look like you have a head full of hair. :) I have heard the stories of you chasing Alissa with your hair chunks and I have to say, I haven't laughed that hard in a while! ;) I loved your long half pony tail style, but this DO is cute too. And if all of your hair ends up falling out, just let me know what wig you'd like and it'll be on your doorstep the next day!

    You look beautiful; you look great and I love how you've kept your spirit so high! I admire you and your strength and courage so, so much! I can't wait to read more from your COH resort trip which starts tomorrow. Get back to packing ... and don't forget your laptop or phone! ;) If you need anything just let me know! I'm here for you at the drop of a hat!

    Looooots of love!

  2. AnonymousJuly 01, 2010

    Jules... I love how you a are so strong. You're an amazing woman. I wish you the best of luck with your journey that you start tomorrow. I hope that you will be up for my baby shower. I LOVE YOU and you are BEAUTIFUL!!!!!! xoxoxo


  3. AnonymousJuly 02, 2010


    I think I was out the week of your last day on campus so didn't officially get to see you off on your new journey. You have always been so supportive of our department and you just let me know when I can return the favor:-) I'm looking forward to seeing you soon!

    Anthony M.

  4. The Graz'sJuly 03, 2010

    Hi Julie,

    Love the new look! We'll be with you on this journey, thanks for keeping us updated. Glad we could have lunch before you are off on "vacation". We love you and will be in touch with Jim and the kids often. Let us know what you'd like in your "care packages"!

    Hugs, The Graz's

  5. AnonymousJuly 03, 2010

    Hey Big Sis!
    I love your new hair style, it looks great. I enjoyed reading your blog. I think it is awesome how you have your journey tracked on this site. I love your sense of humor and the boys and I are praying for you.
    Love ya,


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.