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

Monday, December 30, 2013

4 years and counting... still counting... will continue to count... never stop counting!

December 30, 2009
Is a day I will never, ever forget...
I have forgotten most of what was actually said that day...
That day I was diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma cancer
December 30, 2009, the day my life changed forever.

Lot's of important words were spoken, but I heard very few of them
Jim heard very few of them
Mostly we heard: "I am so sorry... YOU HAVE CANCER"
Your bone marrow biopsy results were not good
The samples showed you have 67% Cancer

You have cancer... a blood cancer
Multiple (? what ?) Myeloma (? who ?)
In the bone marrow
In the blood plasma
High risk cancer
So sorry...

You need treatment immediately (seriously?)
Platelets, blood, dangerously low white count
Immune compromised (like bubble girl status?)
Prescriptions are ordered for you (like now? ... like today?)
Tests, scans, bone marrow, blood samples, anemia, platelets, CBC's, Immunoglobulins, M-protein
Blah, Blah, Blah, Blah
Multiple Myeloma (my new vocabulary word!)
Blood Cancer (no way... not me... I'm healthy, I've lived healthy, I did all the right things!)
Multiple Myeloma
Immune Compromised (huh?)
You are not well (I'll just eat better... I promise!)
You need to be treated now (as in now? as in it's almost New Year's Eve !)
Immune system cancer (you cannot risk getting sick from others)

So sorry, my kind oncologist apologized
So sorry to spoil your holiday
So sorry your cancer is so serious
You have High Risk Multiple Myeloma Cancer (I'm too young... I have too much left to do!)
We are here if you need anything
Call us if you are not feeling well... go directly to Emergency... don't wait...
Let's get your medications ordered
Multiple Myeloma
Blood Cancer
Sick... need treatment now
Stem Cell Transplant
Multiple Myeloma
Blood Cancer

My head is spinning
This must be a mistake, my results surely were confused with someone else's
I cry
I laugh
I say NO WAY, Not Me!
It's all so surreal
Jim is very emotional, his eyes are teary
He is speechless, just nodding
I'm stunned, numb, having a true "out of body experience"
OMG I have to tell my family... I have to tell people, a lot of people... I, Julie the Invincible, has CANCER!
I cry
I laugh
I am numb
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
 Here we are back in 2009
when I had NO idea 
of the monster multiplying within me!
 ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

December 30, 2013
Yep, cancer is real
Sadly, I now know what all those medical-cancer words mean
I get it... I Have Cancer
Incurable Cancer

But I am still here Myeloma!
4 years since that shocking, life altering conversation...
I made it 4 years since diagnosis!!

And you know what Myeloma??
I plan to be here for a long time!!
I plan to outlive you Myeloma!!!
My 2014 New Year's Resolution is to outlive you Myeloma!

One sleepless night (which is really every night) I had a sudden thought...
I'll go back to my pre-cancer, pre-Myeloma self-visual of being that little old carefree lady walking her little old pony down the road... thinking it's a goat, or a chicken, or a dog, or a giraffe! 
I'm planning to be really, really old... again!
Yes! I am planning to live a long, long, long time!
Take that Myeloma!!!
That's my 2014 New Year's Resolution!

Happy, healthy, successful, playful, living life to the fullest, New Year to all of you!!

Live happy, live well, and make a difference somewhere, somehow, with someone or something as often as you can!


  1. Julie,
    We are also praying that the cancer will go away. All things are posssible with God.................... Stay Strong and remember all of us who are standing beside you. You Dear One will overcome this day at a foot in front of the other......You are our HERO !!!!!!!!!!!!
    Loved by many !!!!!!!!!!!!!! Evelyn and Neel

  2. I want to just start singing, "It's the Eye of the Tiger" "Rising up back on the street, did my time, took my chances
    went the distance now I'm back on my feet
    just a man and his will to survive..." Your attitude is kick ass and i also appreciate your honesty and truth. The raw feelings you share on here and the humor you use in everything.
    I can't tell you how many times I check this for an update. I have been looking everyday. Yes, time for a ranch visit!! I love you and I will be fighting by your side anytime you need. That is unless I get a cold......Love you, Madonna

  3. Julie,
    We are behind you 100 %!!!!!

    1. Julie,You are a winner.Glad all your determination is still there!

  4. Can we ever relate! Love your New Year's Resolution and am certain you will succeed!! Happy New Year!

  5. Sara SheehanJanuary 05, 2014

    You show this Myeloma who's the boss Julie! Your always in my prayers.
    See you hopefully soon. =)


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.