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

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

December + Biopsies = Cancer

Friends are advising us to stay away from Doctors around New Years, staying as far away from medical facilities as possible--- and here's why:

December 2009 = Bone Marrow Biopsy for me
December 2011 = Cystourethroscopy for my son Scott

December 30, 2009 = I am diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma
December 29, 2011 = Scott is diagnosed with a Bladder mass/tumor

Surgery pre-op appointment
Little did we know the seriousness to come

January 2010 = Trying to begin to process I have a BLOOD CANCER
January 2012 = Trying to begin to process that Scott has BLADDER CANCER

January 2010 = I begin powerful Steroids and Revlimid Chemotherapy
January 2012 = Scott has surgery to remove the bladder mass/tumor

Our smiles are deceiving...
This was before we knew the biopsy results

We're all full of smiles of optimism
Then a week later...
the Biopsy news Revels the Tumor WAS Cancerous

It's all so unbelievable!
2012 Scott goes in for "benign" tumor removal surgery. Biopsy diagnoses cancer. Thankfully declared "cured" after surgery.
2010 me, incurable cancer, treatments for life... 

Can someone please help us make sense of all of this...

And the cancerous theme continues:
Molly our beautiful doggie is hanging on... sinus/bone cancer hasn't won yet, but her tumor is tennis ball size now

This pic was taken a month ago; tumor is much bigger now :(
She's such an amazing doggie!
Molly still basks in the sun and tries to play with her buddies,
even though she's hemorrhaging from the nose

Another close family friend has uterine/edometrial cancer and begins chemo later this month
Brian (my student) is still battling his cancer that migrated to become brain cancer
Another close family friend just had a double mastectomy

Can anyone help us make sense of all of this?


  1. My thoughts are with you, and no, there is no sense that I can find. It's just a long strange trip. I can only imagine the anxiety and stress you must be going thru. Hang in there for your sons sake. I hope he is treated successfully .
    Best to you and your son,
    Christina, fellow MM er

    1. Thank you Christina for your kind words of support

  2. Julie, just got your email. I just can't believe it. What I do know is that YOU are a very strong person and you can be such a support to Scott!! Love and prayers for you all.

  3. Thank you Gay for your kind words of support... stay away from my office, as who knows if this cancer-thing is contagious!

  4. Jules, there is no reason for all of this craziness. We're so sorry you all have to endure this new curve ball. You'll have to be strong for Scott and we are all rooting for success. Keep your sense of humor as best you can. Let us know ANY WAY we can help.
    Love and Hugs
    The Ryan's

    1. Thank you Linda (and all the Ryans) for your continued support of our cancerous craziness :/ xoxo

  5. UGH!!!!! I am so done with cancer!!!! Make it go away!!! I need your strength to get through everything right now :(

    1. Hang in there Claudia... I will call you regarding mom's chemo options. Love to all of you always!

  6. Julie and Scott, I'm sending you both my love and prayers. I'm always incredibly impressed by your guys' strength! That truly helps with your fight.
    Julie Jacobson

    1. Thank you so much for your love and support always Julie!

  7. Julie and Scott, You are in our thoughts and prayers. Stay strong you are loved by many..... I don't know why so many are touched by cancer but maybe our strength is being tested. The one thing I know about this bumpy path is "God is right beside us". He gives us the strength to endure......And He puts special people around us to help share our bumps ......... Hopefully you are feeling the love and prayers that are being sent your way. Evelyn Schmitt

    1. Thank you Evelyn (and Neel) for your continued love, support and prayers! We are doing better... and yes indeed we feel all the love and prayers you and Neel continue to send our way! Thank you so very much!! xoxo

  8. Sheri in IdahoFebruary 03, 2012

    Julie, I was diagnosed in Nov. 2011 with MM and kidney failure and recently stumbled across your blog. I have read every entry and have really enjoyed it. My husband tells me I shouldn't read all this stuff, because every body is different and he thinks sometimes it will depress me. But it doesn't. I like to see how everyone handles their treatments, hair loss, emotions, etc. I just started the stem cell collection process. Had cytoxan and now Neupogen shots. I also share a birthday with your son, Scott. I wish him all the best with his treatments and recovery. Keep writing and inspiring the rest of us out there going through the same things!

    1. Thank you for writing Sheri! I just found your post! but I don't have a way of replying directly to you. Hoping you reply again! Thank you for your comment!


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.