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

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Happy 5th Stem Cell Transplant Birthday Anniversary to Me!

Wow! It's my 5 year Stem Cell Transplant Anniversary Today!

July 5, 2010

July 5, 2015

5 years living with cancer
5 years of chemo treatments
5 years since my hospitalization 
5 years since my successful 

High 5 to me!


July 5, 2010
around 10:55am
(by a camera shy Apheresis lab technician).
They arrive frozen, are quickly thawed and infused
via my Hickman catheter. It was actually pretty anti-climatic. 
Jim and Alissa came right after my Stemmies arrived. 
I felt ok, a little "woozy" from all the medications I was on...
Little did I know the chemo crash that was coming my way...

In SCT terms, 
my new immune system is 
5 years old today!
and bought me extra time...
I did achieve Remission status from this process,
(along with 18 months of maintenance Revlimid chemo)
and back into full time treatments I went and remain...

And look at all the other survivors
at the 2015 Transplant Celebration



Wow! Happy 5 year Anniversary to me!
Thrilled I made this far, and looking forward to 
many many many many many
more symbolic 5 anniversaries!



I see my COH/Kaiser SCT team Dr this coming Friday, so I'll be taking blood tests tomorrow (should have done it today for the symbolism of 7/5/2015), but I don't feel well ... (beginning of steroid crash days)... 
We'll see what my Dr says about my current status, numbers and treatments. I'm getting a little braver about adding another chemo to my current "cocktail"... I read a study the other day on the Myeloma Crowd website, that gave me encouragement. I should have added Velcade previously, but the Neuropathy (and other) side effects really scare and concern me, as I had a tough time with Neuropathy after my SCT from the intense Melphalan chemo.


Hopefully....
one day....
I can do this again...



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


8 comments:

  1. Congratulations on your 5th anniversary!! Definitely something to be celebrated when living with MM. May you celebrate many more as new therapies get approved! EZ will celebrate his 5th on August 25th. Best wishes being sent your way!!

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    1. Hi Linda! So happy for EZ's upcoming 5th anniversary too! Hoping all is well with him and your family. So glad you are posting again. I look forward to your posts and please update us on how EZ is doing. Seems like all is well, and I am thrilled for his treatment success!!! xoxo

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  2. Congratulations Julie,That is quite an accomplishment.I met another cancer
    survivor today and she was bragging about City of Hope as I have read you
    do many times.I am glad so much progress is being made on this horrible
    disease.I am amazed at how you keep going even working.I think
    it has to be your zest for life,attitude, and the prayers of many of your friends.
    Again Congratulations.
    Ron

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    Replies
    1. Hi Ron, thanks for always checking in! Glad COH helped another to survive stupid cancer. Yes, I think about my professional situation all the time, and wonder how much longer I can keep this up. Huge, difficult decision to fade away from my life long career, but cancer rules and side effects rule now... and that determines everything... Enjoy your summer and family trips! :)

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  3. Hopefully one day I can do this again! Picture of riding a horse! Ok…I'll get back to that in a second.

    Happy Anniversary! Truly a gift to celebrate…life! I look forward to your 7/5/20 blog! Yep…5 plus 5 equals 10! Your big 10th year anniversary blog. When I dream…I dream big! And I WANT my dream to come true. I would like to challenge all the blog followers to meet on 7/5/20 for your huge celebration. Party…Party…Party! Eat what you want! No bathroom worries! Yep…let's all get together for that one, ok?

    Now…for your next blog…here is what I want…and I seem to always want something every time I read your blog. I will admit that right now.

    Next time I want a picture of what you want to do, but DON'T PUT THE WORD HOPEFULLY on the caption. Simply say…ONE DAY I WILL DO THIS AGAIN! Ok? Put it out there to The Universe exactly what you want. No hopefully required. It is simply what you want. Let everyone know it. Shout it out loud. This is what I want!!!!!!!! I want all gods to hear you scream it at the top of your lungs. I just went outside and screamed…I want to go horseback riding with Julie! It is very simple and easy to remember. This is what I want! She is going to call me up one day and say come on over and let's go for a little ride! Is everyone listening to me???? Ok…now it is in writing too!

    Now I've said what I want for this blog report. No hopefully…let's just make it happen!

    I truly hope you are feeling a bit better since your last blog. Again, congratulations on your five year. Now moving forward, go boldly where no one has gone before. Up in the saddle again!

    Love you so much.
    Susan

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  4. Hi Julie! Thank you so much for sharing your story. Autologous stem cell transplant have so many benefits. I love seeing stories like yours. Congratulations on your stem cell treatment and I hope you celebrate many more stem cell anniversaries. I'd love to see what my patients in Houston, Texas do after their stem cell treatment.

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    1. Hi Robert, thanks for commenting and letting me know you've read my blog. As a Dr, I bet it would be so very interesting to follow all your patient's success and activities after ASCT! Hoping they check in and follow up with you and let you know. I have continual appts with all my Drs, so I would "assume" your patients will too. Thank you for stoppin by!

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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 capsules)
Pill form Dexamethasone Steroids (40 mg!) paired with Omeprazole
Mepron (looks like yellow finger paint) Anti-fungal, Anti-viral, etc for my very compromised immune system
B-12- to build those cells!
.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?”)

Infections

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.