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

Friday, May 12, 2017

Surprise! Your Recent Blood Tests Show...

Just a little update, as we wait for the "big" update on 5.17.17

Received a call late today, that my blood tests (which I took earlier today), revealed that I'm ... can you guess???  Wait for it.... Yes, I'm NEUTROPENIC ... again! Most likely from my 3 weeks of Pomalyst, even though I've been doing a lower dose of alternating (daily), 2mg with 3mg.

The irony was Jim and I were out to a spontaneous late lunch when the call came in, but I ignored it and let it go to voicemail, as I didn't want to hear "bad news" at that moment. Ironic, this was my Darzalex infusion break week, thus I had packed in an event almost everyday- ooppsy, potential cootie contamination! Not to mention I attended the first of my retirement celebrations (with a lot of people and cooties), not to mention I am still picking up the horse "apples" as my daily exercise, not to mention that I am still cleaning and diapering our 20 year old disabled cat and doing the litter boxes, and not to mention all the other tasks and (few) events I do...  which a NEUTROPENIC, IMMUNE COMPROMISED cancer patient should not. Oh Boy! I really didn't think my WBCs were this status again.

Fortunately, if I'm out and about in public, which is not often lol, I'm quite "OCD" regarding not shaking hands, not being close to people, not touching public things, and always using wipes and alcohol hand spray (which I make from Isopropyl alcohol and a bit of scent from Bath and Body sprays, or Wintergreen Mint Isopropyl alcohol). People think I'm way over the top about this, but DANG IT, these blood tests PROVE my self protection and ultra caution is valid, smart and proactive. I think about all the events this week, and even though I've been "exposed" to cooties, I practiced my usual super cautious cleanliness, and I'm sure glad I did. I've always been super clean, but my myeloma status forced me to be additionally careful and cautious. So take that, those that think I'm ridiculous! I will "brag" here, that I have never been hospitalized for an illness (other than my SCT), never have had Pneumonia, Bronchitis, or a flu that needed antibiotics, etc. So even though my immune system is "dangerously compromised"... knock on beautiful wood, I've fought off the cooties effectively!

So hello Neutropenic diet, I will be a bit more cautious, and not eat fresh fruits and veggies now that I know my current status. But ooopppsss, that's exactly what I did this week. Cross your fingers, I'll be ok, and there aren't any microbial cooties swirling around in my system, ready to attack!

Can you believe this? I can't. But yet I can. Every time I allow myself to feel just a little bit "normal" and engage in a few "normal" things, boom!, I receive my "reality check" loud and clear. Wonder what other "interesting news" my blood tests will reveal? What's your guess? I'm hoping Darzalex is still pummeling those annoying myeloma cells, even though I'm on the new every other week protocol. I'll report back on 5.17.17

 First of several retirement celebrations.
Thanks a lot terminal cancer, for ending my career...

  Ranch visit with these lovely ladies!

 Peach Cobbler and Apple Strudel splurge,
before my news

 See those lovely "apple" piles waiting for me (behind RedBear and Sunny)?
Should a Neutropenic chemo patient being doing this daily?
Heck ya! Good for the body and soul!

 Do I look like a Neutropenic, 
immune compromised, terminal cancer patient? 
Most just don't get how I can look ok on the outside, 
but be such a sickie on the inside. 
Me either!

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


  1. Julie..hoping for positive results today..savour every retirement celebration..and remain vigilant. Thanks for sharing your journey. Your encouraging words and suggestions have helped me cope with the emotional and physical aspects of my husband's myeloma..your goodness is evident in your writings..thank you ..Karen

  2. Aww, thank you so much for checking in Karen and letting me know you continue to enjoy my rants. My posts are raw and real and I am glad you find them helpful :)) It's still challenging for me to connect with the ongoing, never ending aspects of a myeloma Dx. I keep thinking someone will tell me, "just kidding", you're fine lol. Hoping your hubby is doing ok, and you both are finding bright spots daily. Even on "bad days" I look for the positive. And on "good days" I rejoice in feeling a bit "normal". Hoping you 2 find joy daily. Thank you Karen. xoxo :))


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?”)


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.