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Tuesday, January 11, 2011

1/11/11 = cool numbers... and so are My new numbers

Hello Everyone-
Today is January 11, 2011 but I like 1/11/11... wonder what 11/11/11 will bring...

I've come to love interesting numbers... in many ways... especially since my Myeloma diagnosis brought such Interesting Numbers into my life LOL
Numbers have become quite symbolic in my life... well they always have been, but I have numerical MARKERS now that I didn't before. So sorry to everyone and my students who now have to endure my... "Oh wow, did you know....that on... blah blah... I was blah blah... and your BD is my blah blah, or your ID# has my blah blah" hahaahahahaaaaaa

13 = FRIDAY THE 13th !!! ... the date of that fateful 2009 "routine physical" that began EVERYTHING!
13th Chromosome may have something to do gentically with Myeloma...
14 = my first Hematology appointment (and so ironically, the date I was hired at my favorite college MANY years ago)
30 = my diagnosis date- just a day or two before the New Year
5 =  the 4th of July weekend- as the 5th is my new "birthday" they tell me; the day I received my own Stem Cells back to regenerate my blood after decimating the myeloma cells with chemo, chemo, chemo
22 = my original birthday... and I have so many coincidences on the magical 22
Today, 1/11/11 (double that, and you've got my 22)... seems like a numerically fun day to report in my amazing Remission status numbers from my most recent blood work...
Happy New Year to me!
My Whites have jumped an amazing .01 from last month's 3.3 to this month's 3.4 woo-hoo!! Almost sliding into the low end of NORMAL, which is 4.0 (and not my GPA!)
Go Reds... they're Nnnnnormal!!! at 4.39 - and several other related levels there are Normal too
Neutrophils... (still have to look up their significance, but was told they matter!) are Normal
Electrolytes, Creatinine, Liver function tests, Proteins = Normal
are lo, lo, lo, lowwww and sub normal low as a result of the stem cell transplant and the lovely Melphalan chemo
At diagnosis... my myeloma infested IGA was over 5600 !!!! its now so low the test results show a < !!
Haaa to you myeloma I have have a bunch of <<<<< less than symbols symbolizing YOU!!!
IGG = 551
IGA = <25
IGM = <20
hahahahahahahaaaaa on you Myeloma!!! We gobbled you up and spit you out of town!!!
Yes, I know... low, low, low would "normally" not be good... but for me, right now... I'm liking it!
Here's a fairly good description of who these different Immunoglobulins are:
I'm going to have to study this myself, as glancing through this... as I have done millions of times, but not much stuck during 2010, I do see a relationship between things there and perhaps WHY I developed Multiple Myeloma!! Dang my sensitive system... allergies, allergies, low thyroid, genetics, etc.... hmmmm
And lastly... M-PROTEIN was Not DETECTED by Immunofixation
Beta-2-Microglobulin is Normal
Light Chains = Normal or right on the low end of Normal
And guess how many pages my test results were... 22 !! not kidding!!

I'm so NNNNNormal now... my blog is getting rather boring!!!! I'll be losing my Drama-Queen title fairly soon! But I know... Normal has never been a description that comes to mind when thinking about me :)

So here's to a great beginning of 2011 on 1/11/11 with 22 pages of good news!
I wish all of you the very best for 2011 and may your numbers be healthy, happy and repetitiously fun!



    OMG Julie, that is so awesome! 2011 is starting out to be a GREAT year with such fantastic (medical) news! WOW! I am THRILLED to hear about all of this and the LOW numbers and that you are NORMAL!!!!! HOORAY!!!!!! :D!!!

    And GO NUMBER 22!!!! As you know, I have many magical memories on that number too! hehe..


    YAYYYYYYYYYY!!!!!! :D!

  2. Congratulations on some great looking lab results. Just FYI, neutrophils are your infection fighting white blood cells. They are very important and when they get low, your body has a very hard time avoiding or fighting off illness or infections. When they get below 1.0
    the doctors really get their knickers twisted.
    Stay well!

  3. JULIE!!!! I've been looking for you! It's Julie Deruso (your good old Nursing Student). I'm so glad I saved your blog & I just found it while searching my "favorites". I tried e-mailing you to your address, but obviously, you're not there. Can I reach U via a different e-mail?
    ~Julie Deruso XXOOXXOO OR


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.