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

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

11 - 1 - 11 ~ Cancer is still # 1 ~ but hasn't won!

Yes, #1 rules the day today!
Who was it that said 1 "is a lonely number"?

Hello November 2011
Where'd October 2011 go so fast?

October's are COMPLICATED...
October's represent so many milestones in my life... good and bad.

Two years ago October 2009, I took some VERY important BLOOD tests...
Their IMPORTANCE so unknown to me at that time!
Those October 2009 blood tests SCREAMED something was WRONG with me, but I really didn't listen well
Those October 2009 blood tests eventually opened the diagnosis-window to the invasion of Myeloma

This October 2011 was a month of continuing to try to move forward in my "New Normal"...
But WHAM!, slap me in the face BAM!... cancer comes to me in multiple reminders!!!

October 2011 seemed to bring more Cancer diagnoses:
My beautiful doggie Molly, my students, colleagues, close friends, neighbors, and new Myeloma sisters from across the country and the globe.

Goodbye October
Hello November

Here's a tribute to October's moments:

Remembering then:
October 2010
Buzzzzzz time !!
Thank you my son Scott for a great boy-cut
I still laugh when I remember you buzzing me
and I wanted to retain my "bangs".. hahaha!!

Reclaiming now:
October 2011
New October, New Hair, New Plan:
Born Blonde, gonna Dye / Die Blonde!! lol
Goldilocks is coming back... well... in short form
(Lousy pic of me, sporting the the Revlimid chemo tired look!)

Reinventing todays:
Bring on the Blonde!
Back to being me... (well almost, ha!)
Celebrating Jill's superstar success !!

Representing love:
Our beautiful shelter-rescue Molly
Born in October 2002
Diagnosed October 2011 with bone/sinus cancer
(the black doggie here, not you, daughter Alissa!)

Beautiful Barbara
My new Myeloma girlfriend (and her husband Rich)
from Alabama
Thank you Myeloma for introducing us!!!

Celebrating Remission
(Debbie, me and Jim)
Thank you Debbie and Cameron for your $upport!
Thank you COC Nursing Students
for selecting me as your 2011

Ultimate fighters!
SuperStar Supporters
Brian (right) and Shaheen (left)
His courage, strength, determination, and bravery
leaves me in the dust!

And so....
I thank all of you for your support, love, encouragement, humor and friendship!

I dedicate this 11 - 1 - 11 "blog of oneness" to all of you currently battling this mysterious evil invader into our lives called Cancer.

I am thinking about all of you who have battled, fought and lost
I am thinking about all of you who have battled, fought, dominated and WON!
And I am thinking about all of US who are still battling, fighting, kicking and screaming and not willing to let Cancer win...
So on this day of 11 - 1 -11 ... we're #1 :)

Cheers to Chemo Cycle #13 Post Stem Cell Transplant
Go Revlimid Chemotherapy stomping and chomping on Myeloma cells!
Raising my glass of water, downing my pill and toasting to Life and continued Remission!!!

Just saw this!!!
What???!!! I should'a partied more!!!
Read on:


  1. What can I say??! You are AMAZING!!
    Gay from the Gay and Julie Show

  2. You look great. May your numbers continue to behave and your life move beyond the nuisance of multiple myeloma!


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.