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

Friday, April 29, 2011

Celebrating Thousands of SCTs & BMTs


Friday, April 29, 2011
"Special Event 9 a.m. – 3 p.m.

"35th Annual Celebration of Life Bone Marrow/Stem Cell Transplant Reunion (Invitation Only)
Thousands of bone marrow/stem cell transplant patients will celebrate their victory over cancer at City of Hope’s 35th annual “Celebration of Life” Bone Marrow Stem Cell Transplant (BMT - SCT) Reunion.
One of the largest events of its kind in the country, the reunion will feature City of Hope cancer survivors meeting their lifesaving donors for the first time.
Celebrating City of Hope's 10,000th BMT/SCT !

"Special Dodger Guest: Andre Ethier

"LOCATION: City of Hope, Rose Garden & Pioneer Park, 1500 E. Duarte Road, Duarte, CA 91010

"Each year, City of Hope invites bone marrow, stem cell transplant recipients and their families to attend the "Celebration of Life" event. This return to City of Hope is a joyous day for all in attendance, as they celebrate the obstacles they have overcome in fighting cancer.
Months or years after their transplants, patients and their City of Hope health-care team members have the opportunity once again to share the success of their treatment.
Annually, two patients and the marrow donors who saved their lives are introduced for the first time. Needless to say, tears of joy are a frequent sight on this emotional day!"

Best Dr ever, Dr Kogut and Best Nurse Practitioner ever, Tina 

Best Dr ever, Dr Spielberger

Visiting City of Hope 5th Floor
My July 2010 home that saved my life!

  That's where I was, up there on floor 5 and 6
for a whole month...

Hundreds, maybe thousands of Survivors
Celebrating our Stem Cell and Bone Marrow Transplants
Celebrating life, health, our healers, care-givers
and our hope for cancer-free futures...

Thank you City of Hope staff members 
and my fabulous Kaiser Doctors and Nurses

One of these days I will fully "connect" with the term "survivor" and that I Had/Have CANCER ... I think I am still in the " H U H??? " stage, as walking around the event yesterday was quite overwhelming. Seeing so many many people who have survived cancer for just months like me, and those who had transplant "birthdays" from years and years ago, was just mind boggling to me! I met so many amazing people!
It was like a family reunion, where we all had this BIG THING in common... random people would congratulate me for my 9 months post SCT and I would look at their badge and see their years of remission or sadly in many cases, years of struggling with several cancers, treatments and in and out of remissions.

I am slowly beginning to realize I am forever part of a new "family" I did not choose or want to be a part of... and no doubt, the monster that brought us all together is truly horrible, yet the spirit of all "us" survivors is beyond remarkable and breath-taking!


  1. Great post Julie. What an event! We had something similar to this here in Jersey a few years back but a smaller group. There were lots of tears of joy and gratefulness. The emotions we all felt were quite overwhelming as you say. I saw Tim's transplant doc hang his head and cry while a patient(also a doctor) spoke about him saving his life and letting him see his grandkids be born etc. The man went over after his speech and wrapped Doc R. in a big bear hug and there wasn't a dry eye in the place. So powerful. You look fabulous and thanks for sharing!

  2. We are looking forward to the Reunion at Duke in October...great cause for celebration for sure! You look wonderful and I hope you are feeling wonderful too! Thanks for sharing such a special day.

  3. Julie,I am always impressed by the attitude you
    display in groups like the one at city of hope.
    I think it is neat you can get all the pictures of
    doctors,nurses,etc.You bring a very positive
    force to whatever group you are apart of.You
    are being used to help alot of people.

  4. AnonymousMay 09, 2011

    What a great event. I don't know if we have anything like that over here. And it must be awesome to be able to meet your donor if you have one. :D

  5. Hi Julie,
    I just wanted to thank you for keeping up on your blog and letting us know how you are doing. I wish you and your family a very Merry Christmas and an exceptionally healthy and happy 2012!
    With lots of love, Leslie C.


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.