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

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

One Year Ago Today

One Year Ago Today... December 14, 2009... I had my first appointment in the the Hematology/Oncology Dept at Kaiser with the brilliant and lovely Dr Lee and her amazing and supportive Nurse Jalee...

One Year Ago Today... I was shocked when checking in and saw Oncology attached to Hematology...

One Year Ago Today... I was presumptuous about my 'good' health and saying to myself... "huh"... I don't belong in this Dept; I couldn't have cancer... I'm just really anemic! Cancer doesn't run in my family, so I'm really only here to have my blood tests analyzed. I'm just really fatigued and tired from the semester; I'm not sick...

One Year Ago Today... I was my goofy and silly self at this appt and they must have thought... O boy... this gal sure is clueless!!!

One Year Ago... a Week later... I was receiving serious phone calls from my Doctor
One Year Ago... a Week later... I was going for more blood tests which turned out even worse than the ones before and was told I may have to be hospitalized and receive emergency blood transfusions

One Year Ago... a Week later... I was surprised and shocked by an "unscheduled" Bone Marrow Biopsy
One Year Ago... a Week later... I was beginning to realize something serious might be going on with me

One Year Ago... a Week later... it was nearing the Holidays and I went about celebrating AS IF EVERYTHING WAS OK

One Year Ago... a Week later... I was awaiting the results of my first Bone Marrow Biopsy and beginning to process the seriousness of my situation... but still in optomistic denial
One Year Ago... a Week later... I still was still convincing myself everything would be ok... had to be ok... and NOTHING REALLY could be wrong with ME... THEY must be making a mistake...

One Year Ago... just Days before my cancer diagnosis...
I was celebrating family, friends and life and was truly clueless!

Me with my wonderful Uncle Murray
Seriously, do I look like I'm filled with 67% cancerous Myeloma cells

Just call me Clara Clueless!!!!!


  1. Thinking about you and your anniversary lil'sis. So very proud of you and grateful for how Blessed you are!! To be led to the awesome medical crew that handled you ever so carefully and helped you battle that ugly monster!! HURRAY for YOU
    Love & Hugs...SharonAnn

  2. Hi Julie!
    I just wanted to take a moment and wish you and your family a very Merry Christmas and a blessed, healthy, happy New Year!! You are an inspiration to us all -- and courageous, humorous, uplifting...the list of good words to describe you goes on and on. All the best to you and continued recovery and EXCELLENT health!! Love to you, Leslie Carr

  3. I just found your blog. As a fellow cancer survivor, my thoughts and prayers are with you.
    Also...Great Blog! You are a credit to the cancer blogging community. I have added you to my blogroll, “Cancer Blogs Lists” with over 1200 other personal cancer blogs at, a cancer networking site featuring a cancer book club, guest blogs, cancer resources, reviews and more.
    If you have not visited before or recently, please stop by. If you agree that the site is a worthwhile resource for those affected by cancer, please consider adding Being Cancer Network to your own blogroll.
    Now that you are listed, you can expect to gain a wider audience for your thoughts and experiences. Being Cancer Network is a place to share and communicate.

    Take care, Dennis (

  4. Julie, We are keeping you and the rest of the family in our thoughts and prayers. What a blessing you are to those of us walking beside you. Sharing your thoughts and feelings as you traveled on this bumpy path called cancer has touched so many with your Strength and caring concern of those around you. Wishing all of you the Best Christmas Ever and a Happy and Healthy New Year. You are "My Hero".......

    We love you, Neel and Evelyn

  5. I was thinking about your adventures this past year too! I can't believe you didn't tell me what was going on! There I was - so stupid - talking to you about the crazy events in Chicago while you were here going through this. It is crazy how life works. Look at how your optimism helped you to be in remission in less than a YEAR! Your outlook on the whole process was amazing and continues to be so!

    You are such an inspiration! You know you are in my thoughts and heart (as broken as it is)... lol... :)

    Hope to see you this holiday season amongst your busy schedule.


  6. Hi Julie, I'm checking in on your blog and to wish you and your family a very Merry Christmas!! You are an amazing example!!


  7. Julie, This week at Being Cancer Network we are hosting a special celebration of survivor's holiday reflections. I thought that this post might be an ideal one to republish on New Year;s Eve. I will include two links to your site as well as a link to the original post. You should see an increase in traffic. Have a blessed and healthy new year. Dennis

  8. No Clara you look really well! ;D

    I do like your short hair - I wasn't sure at first maybe because obviously I've only seen your pics here and you had a noticeable amount of blonde hair before!

    I'm, give a day, 2 months ahead of your and my hair is a little longer but not an inch's worth! :P


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.