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

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Blue skies, Green trees and Sunshine!

Hello my loyal followers!

Things are/were lookn' up for me......................

Update 8-23-10 ... well they were until just after this posting, I caught my first nasal-head cold!!! ..... we'll see how I do with my challenged new immune system..... read on, for what was my good news blog last week :)

Yippee Thursday was my last home IV infusion of the wonderful Vancomycin! Look as this cool home infusion contraption! The infusion line is hooked into my (right arm) PICC line port and the antibiotic is inside a shrinking infusion balloon inside this bottle. Takes about an hour and a half to infuse... Amazing!!!!!
Funny how this picture actually makes me look like I have more hair than I do... it's quite thin at the top and back... but even funnier... it's so blonde... or is that GREY???? lol !!
And I got word that I can have my PICC line removed this coming week!!!! WOW.... can't believe I might be able to take a 'normal' shower next week, where I don't have to worry about an IV or port line!!! Woo-hoo!!! I became a pro at wrapping my arm in Saran Wrap's Press n Seal and this waterproof rubberized suction-deflating arm glove... ah... the medical inventions are amazing!

Yippee! on my way to have my PICC line removed!!
If you look closely at my hair... O No!! I think the chemo is winning... bye bye blondies :(

So all this means that things are looking up for me :)
The infection is almost gone... don't want to jinx myself tho...
I am currently only on two medications... perhaps I will begin to feel better soon, now that I'm not on the powerful Vancomycin, no more chemo, etc!  

I had my 3rd Bone Marrow Biopsy on Thursday at City of Hope by my hilarious Dr that had me positioned on my stomach, face down into the pillow, so he "didn't have to hear my screams and babbling commentary"! ahahahaaaaaa Dr. K you are so funny!!! But so good!!!! Thank you for all your great care July and Aug!

I still don't do much, but I am moving around a bit more. Still get really tired-fatigued really fast and I am so achy... maybe that's the chemo vs myeloma war still going on inside me????

Monday will be a sad milestone for me as it will be the first semester ever, I am not returning to a school or college. As my loving students have said... " Ms Julie, you went to college and never left !!! " True enough... I have never NOT been "in school"...
To ALL my wonderful COC colleagues campus-wide, I miss you so much!!!!! I know you will think I am demented... but I so miss my COC life... BOTH campuses, all of you- all depts, and the students, and the beginning of the semester craziness, and Opening Day, and our office camaraderie, and our meetings... boo-hoo....
Thank you for all your loving friendship the past almost 3 decades and throughout my cancer ordeal...

And continual love and appreciation to all of you that so loyally follow my blog and post your wonderful comments. You ARE my support network... endless thank yous!!!!!!!

And finally..... most of the DRAMA I mentioned in my previous post has been resolved, fixed or is being worked on... just keep an eye out for a Julie imposter!!!!
Love and hugs always!

PS- Alissa is not happy where I DON'T have hair!!!! LOL.......... chemo is so random.... I don't have hair on my legs or armpits... but still have eyebrows, eyelashes.... so weird... but counting my hairy blessings!!!


  1. This was posted on a doctors lab door at work and I thought of you, me, and pretty much everyone.

    "We have to learn not only why we are in the world, but also what the timing of things is. Thy time, not my time.

    When we look at the pattern in our lives, it seems that doors open and events happen at exactly the right time. Even when we don't think so, even when it seems that the worst things happens at the worst possible moment, God's plan is operating perfectly. Letting the current of life carry us along works better than swimming upstream. When the time for change is near, the forces of nature seem to be cooperative and we find ourselves at the right place.

    It is frustrating to feel ready for change but stuck in a seemingly unchanging situation. God often seems to be watching a different clock that doesn't chime and doesn't bring us what we think we want, when we want it. Trust, patience, and a wider vision can be our best friends as we wait for the right door to open. Trusting that God knows what's best for us will help us focus on the daily miracles we find along the road to change and renewal.

    Today let me realize that I am exactly where I'm supposed to be at this moment."

    Miss you. Love ya

  2. Hi Julie! Thank you for writing and letting us know you are ok and on the mend. I think about you and worry about you every day. You were missed at Opening Day! Believe it or not I received my 20 year service pin!! I know, I know...20 years seemed to just fly by. And you're really not going to believe oldest daughter, Ashlyn, started college here today!! She was really excited to start. I told her she has been coming her since she was in the womb! :) Take good care, and I will look forward to reading your next posting. If you are bored, please feel free to call me if you'd like to chat. My office # is 362-3100.
    Love ya,
    Leslie Carr xo

  3. Julie,I am so glad you are feeling better.Jealous
    You have so much hair.Hopeful you will be back
    at COC. soon.I have found they only keep the best
    at colleges.Amazed you are still smiling.
    Keep it UP!!!

  4. Sooo nice to see a picture of you!!! I heard Jim helps you with the infusion. He is becoming a nurse himself huh!!! It is great to hear that you are getting the port removed that will be such a relief. Take Care and i will get in touch with you really soon.
    Alina and Berto say hello.
    Claudia and the gang.

  5. HEY - it sounds like a little of the "old Julie" is making her way back to us. ;) Blue Skies, Green Trees and Sunshine! All such great things, as you are!

    I wish you luck on fighting your head cold, but like I said before - if you fought off your crazy infection with NO immune system, then fighting off this cold with new immune system you will be fine. You are such a fighter Julie (even though you tell me you're not). You're the most courageous person I know. Your attitude with everything is astounding. You are such an inspiration to me, ALWAYS! Just as most of your previous drama has cleared, so will this new "cold challenge".

    We all miss you too, Julie. Like Leslie mentioned above, you were missed on Opening Day and today for the first day of the semester. But if you have been going to school for 45-46 years, maybe one semester off will do you some good! ;) Trust me, the craziness in the office will be here when you get back. hehe!

    Hope we can watch a movie sometime soon!


    OH - and I so agree with Alissa. ;p

  6. About walk up windows to visit --how about ride-up windows (on horseback?). The hair looks blonder if that is possible. Your mustang is very cute. We got a mustang also and he now rides trails, packs, is learning to push cows, and maybe do some roping. I have totally lost it (thanks to you).

    Diana Watkins
    (horsey kisses)

  7. Julie, Julie, Julie!

    Hey cowgirl! I finally had a chance to look at your blog after a few weeks. I've been swamped here in Financial Aid Land. Seems like everyone is shaking the ol financial aid money tree. Anyway, you're doing so great! I'm so happy for you. You keep on resting and rebuilding your new cells. Tell Pawsy Happy Birthday from all of us. I love that picture of him. He's just soooo cute! Take care.



  8. Carmen OushanaAugust 25, 2010

    Hi Julie,
    I am so happy you are doing better and that head cold! you can beat it up in no time. You look great and I think it has to do with your great attitude, keep it up girl. God is watching you in every step you take, he might let you fall down just to see how strong you are to get back up again. When I had my cancer treatment I remember I wasn't able to take a shower with all the tubes coming out of my body after surgery, so I waited 3 weeks to take my wonderful shower. Beatiful julie, I miss you a lot and I pray for you every night. I will see you back here at coc.
    Love you,

  9. Linda M. RyanAugust 27, 2010

    Hi Julie

    I'm happy to get caught up on your life these past few weeks as well as hearing you are doing better each day.
    Looking forward to seeing you soon.Maybe a trip to Parker won't be too far off.
    Love and hugs
    Linda (and Mark and Trev too!)

  10. Sooo glad to see your shining smile Julie! Great news from what I have heard from Bill-via Jim, and from what I read above. MIss seeing your pony tail bobing across the top of my hedge,,but know that before too long,,it will be there once more. You are not missing too much on the outside world,,,it is HOT-HOT-HOT. Im so glad your stemmies are strong and multiplying and doing what the Dr.s have ordered. My love to you..stay strong lil sis


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.