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

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Wednesday the 13th feels like FRIDAY the 13th

Well my optomistic bubble has burst today...
My eternal theme of "the glass is always half full vs half empty" is feeling empty today...

I've been working so hard eating right, hydrating all the time, and taking care of my cancerous bod...
But that's not enough to keep the evil germs away, as I guess I just don't have a strong enough immune system to battle off the invaders...

I felt "off" late, late Monday night... as I don't sleep well, or really much at all anymore
I then felt more "off" yesterday while at work, and sure enough, developed a nasty sore throat during the night, and I've been drinking hot tea and blowing my nose ever since...

So be careful what you wish for ... as I've been so tired and overwhelmed lately, that I've been silently wishing for magical down-time to just catch up... well that's what I've got now, as I don't feel like going anywhere or doing much at all and I know it's all downhill from here with a bug like this... whaaanh, whaaanh, whine, whine...

And adding to my "woe is me" status right now are these memorial tribute articles about two well known people who have recently died from Multiple Myeloma... and note the significance of THEIR dates of death to MY life... hhhmmm what's the message here????

The Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation (MMRF) mourns the loss of Board Member Edward (“Eddie”) Jay Phillips, who, on April 8, 2011 died of multiple myeloma, an incurable blood cancer. Phillips, son of "Dear Abby" and Creator of Belvedere Vodka, had battled multiple myeloma for nine years.
(He died on my daughter Alissa's birthday..)

We are deeply saddened by the loss of MMRF Honorary Board Member and dear friend, Geraldine Ferraro, who passed away on March 26, 2011, following a courageous battle with multiple myeloma.
(She died a day after my son Scott's birthday, and has the same birth year as hubby Jim...)

And to further jab the "pin in my optimism balloon", read this from the MMRF's website. I had never read this statement before, with the lovely life expectancy statistics:

About Multiple Myeloma
Multiple myeloma is an incurable blood cancer.
The five-year relative survival rate for multiple myeloma is approximately 38 percent, one of the lowest of all cancers. In 2010, more than 20,000 adults in the United States will be diagnosed with multiple myeloma and nearly 11,000 people are predicted to die from the disease.

Sooooooooooo...... with Edward's 9 years survival post MM diagnosis and Geraldine's 12 years survival post MM diagnosis, along with the 5 year statistics mentioned above...  does this mean I should take my head out of the longevity-sand and start accepting that I will not live as long as my parents...

Happy Wednesday the 13th...
Cheers to my 9 month old immune system and it's losing battle with the bugs!

O, I forgot to add....... as I was looking for a cute kleenex box picture to add above, I found a cute kitty on a tissue box, and clicked to save and add........ AND IT WAS A FRIKN VIRUS!!!!
Almost crashed my computer!!! Yikes, this is just not my day... whaannnhhh, whhaannhh!!!


  1. Oh boy. Sounds like a pull the covers over your head kinda day. I know you like the numbers thing but don't drive yourself crazy with it. I once heard said years ago that being superstitious in any way is like honoring other Gods. I decided then that, for me(and I'm not sure if you are religious) I was not going to believe that a broken mirror, killed spider, walking under a ladder, or the 13th of anything could have more control over my fate than the Man(or Woman) upstairs. My husband has had SO MANY people die on his birthday, including his own grandfather, and a plane crash years ago that killed a bunch of early rock and rollers(before he was born). His other grandfather died on his own daughter's birthday. It stinks but I don't see it as a message or bad omen.
    Feel better soon!!!

  2. I have an extra blanket and I'm quickly sliding down the dexamethasone rollercoaster. After two high energy days doing as much as I can before I reach the top of the coaster, I can feel the crash a comin.' It's on the dark days that I start examining my own mortality. I just have to tie a knot on the end of my rope and hang on. (BTW a remember that saying on a poster in my seventh grade classroom. the picture had a cute kitty hanging on tho a rope. Is there some mysterious connection here?
    Well just want you to know Iv'e been there done that too. May your virus's of body, mind and computer leave you quickly without side-effects.
    feel better soon, Kris

  3. July,
    Missed you at CCC today. Rest up so you can get better and cheer up cowgirl and know that we are all thinking about you and keeping you in our prayers. By the way, love the pictures of the kids. They are so adorable. Looking forward to many more adventures with Pawsy and Ranger and Annie too!

  4. Julie.........sorry to hear you're under the weather with this crazy virus thing going around. That's all you need, right??! Anyway, I think you really know how to live in the moment and you are an inspiration to me who, as of today, has my basically good health, but seem to still find things to whine about....hang in friend. Love, Gay

  5. Hi Julie,
    Tim has been off chemo for almost 3 years. His doc likes to see folks stay off chemo when possible. He was in a stringent complete response for most of that time(no MM detected in blood, urine, or bone marrow with normal light chain numbers too). He recently started showing a slight band so technically, he is not in CR anymore but his doc said this is still really good. I so wish I lived around horses. I have always loved them and it was my dream to have one and now my daughter feels the same way.

  6. Julie,I think the flu has you down.Since I have it also I can see that happening.Of all people
    I know who can remain positive and beat all odds
    its you.So rest up and get well.


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.