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

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Numbers, Numbers, Numbers! My Life Represented in Numbers

Just couldn't resist the opportunity to post on 12-13-14!

Numbers. My life is consumed in Myeloma numbers. Numerical blood statistics. Numbers representing my health status and prognosis. Numbers determining how immune compromised I am. Numbers measuring whether I'm winning or Myeloma is...

Since diagnosis I've had to become ultra focused on my medical numbers, never wanting to be ignorant of my cancer status details. So I've learned more about what my myeloma numbers mean related to my body bio-chemistry, bio-physiology, then I ever thought my little brain could comprehend!
But I also see amazing (positive) numerical patterns EVERYWHERE in my life, unrelated to cancer. My mind and eyes gravitate to numbers now in a way I never did before. And I seem to have weird-amazing connected numerical patterns in my life, everywhere!

12-13-14 is a pretty remarkable number pattern, and I'm glad to have lived this historical 12-13-14! Originally, my plan was to post tomorrow, 12-14-14, as December 14 represents an all too important anniversary date: my First Hematology appointment. 12-14-09 began my Myeloma diagnosis journey, 5 years ago. #5 has become pretty symbolic in my life this year, and I look forward more important #5 dates coming up in (of course!) ... 2015!

That FIRST unreal, unnerving appointment, 12-14-09 is of course, permanently etched in my mind...  my life turned upside down like none other... well... except for my FIRST Bone Marrow Biopsy 12-18-09 and the BIGGEST of the BIG dates, 12-30-09, my official Myeloma diagnosis day.

But all is moving forward (thanks to continuing Rev and Dex treatments), and I am absolutely thrilled to still be here on this beautiful earth, living life the best I can, 5 years later at 55. These 5 years have been a gift, and I'm hoping for another 5 years.

***AND OF COURSE... WHEN I LOGGED OFF... MY BLOG PAGEVIEW STATS SAID... CAN YOU GUESS??? YES INDEED!!! ... 55,555 !!! Just can't make this stuff up... here's the "proof"!

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


  1. Julie! just getting caught up on a few mm blogs. It has been awhile since I immersed myself back into the mm world. I guess that is a good thing. I don't know if you remember me but I have been keeping track of you!
    It has been six years since I was diagnosed. Went through two transplants back in 2009 and several years of treatment after that.
    I am sorry to hear you are back in treatment, but happy that you have made it to five years! Boy does our prospectives, priorities, and attitudes change over those five years!
    Happy Late Birthday to you. I just turned 50 this fall, and proud of it! Birthdays take on a whole new meaning when it takes so much to get to these milestones.
    I am impressed that you are still able to work through your ongoing treatments. I gave up my teaching job several years ago. Way too many germs!! But I know that keeping busy living life keeps us from dwelling on how much or little we may have left of it :)
    I hope you are able to get as much out of your life and dreams as possible. We don't have any horses right now, but I have a pasture and a barn with a beautiful mountain in the background that I wish I could share with you.
    Have a Merry Christmas and enjoy every little thing of life!
    Love, Kris

    1. Kris!!!!! O my goodness I AM SO VERY VERY VERY HAPPY TO HEAR FROM YOU!!! You were one of the first blogs of support I found back in 2009/2010 and I have been very worried that you haven't posted in years! If you look at my blog list below, there you are, and I never wanted to remove your link, even though you hadn't posted for quite some time! Seriously! I am sooooooo very happy to hear from you and I would love to be able to correspond with you, and find out how you are doing and how your beautiful family is! Thank goodness you/we are winning over Myeloma!!! And again Kris, I am just TRILLED you stopped by and let me know you are ok! Happy #5 Birthday to you, and congrats on winning all the years you have!!! love and hugs, Julie :)

  2. Love you Julie! I wish you and your family a very Merry Christmas and a blessed, happy and HEALTHY 2015!
    Leslie C. xoxo

    1. Hi beautiful friend Leslie! Thank you so much for being such a loyal blog follower and checking in as you do! Looking forward to seeing more of you in 2015! Have a very merry Christmas and the best for 2015! love and hugs, Julie :)

  3. Hi Julie!! It's been too long since I've caught up on your blog so tonight is the night. You are a true inspiration for sure! I have a note on my calendar to get in touch with you in January so we can have a "date." I'm looking forward to seeing you.

    1. Hi Gay! Happy New Year! yes for sure let's get together for a chat date! Thanks for appreciating my ramblings and seeing inspiration in my silliness. You're the best, and I will see you very soon! love and hugs, Julie :)

  4. Sheri from IdahoDecember 30, 2014

    Julie, I just wanted to wish you a Happy New Year! Here's to another year of fighting myeloma, and hopefully a successful one! Thanks for sharing your trials and tribulations with us!

    1. Hi Sheri! Thanks for checking in and appreciating what I share. I write spontaneously and never know what impact I have, so I sure appreciate your comment! Happy New Year to you and yours and hoping for the best for you too in 2015! xoxo Julie

  5. Here's to the power of "5", and your keen awareness of special numbers! May 2015 be a great year for you where things settle down a bit and you can enjoy some normalcy!

    1. Thank you Linda for checking in and let me know how EZ is doing and what mg of Rev he is on. I am so glad he is doing so well, and all of your beautiful family is having so many wonderful moments in your lives! And thanks for appreciating my silly 5 references :)


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.