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

Friday, November 17, 2017

Counting Blessings, Being Grateful, Always Finding Humor

Hello 11.17.17

8 years ago my IgA was 5630
Normal range is 70 - 400
Today my IgA is 580

I am very grateful to say the least! 7 years, 11 months of myeloma treatments, keeping me alive. Pretty amazing I'm still here, and as functional as I am :))
I take nothing for granted, and appreciate my good fortune every day!

Monday I have an appointment with my SCT (stem cell transplant) oncologist. I did labs the other day, and so far only know my CBCs and organ stats. Take a look at these, and I'll post my myeloma stats after my appointment. I am surprised and thrilled to report that my organ function results (ALT, AST, BUN, Creatinine, Bilirubin, etc) are in the normal ranges. Isn't that incredible, that after almost 8 years of pummeling my body with powerful chemo concoctions, my innards are still healthy! Yes, I have so much to be thankful and grateful for! 

I've been battling a lousy head cold since Nov 6. Been a crazy thing. First a headache, but slight. Then a sore throat, but slight. A few sneezes here and there. Ok one day, lousy the next. I had a few events, and felt ok. I didn't really feel "sick-sick", just annoying head cold sick. Then this past Sunday, I developed a cough. One day ok, the next, not. It's such a weird bug. I kept thinking I was ok. Then I wasn't. I worried maybe it was in my chest, and was something to worry about, but my breathing is clear and deep, and I never had a fever. But the cough is lingering, and I can't clear all the "gunk" out yet. But it's "clear", not gross. See, I'm just not an alarmist. I've always tended to "under react". Take a look at those WBCs and ANC. Maybe that's why I can't get rid of this bug. Ya think! I really don't think I have anything serious, but we'll see when I meet up my Dr on Monday.

But that's after the MMRF Marathon Walk on Sunday. I signed up and created a Team, thinking I would just raise a few dollars to donate to the MMRF. But friends and family wanted to participate, which is so sweet. And lots of amazing people donated! So now I have to show up on Sunday! And this will be very challenging for me, as it's really really really early in the morning, and I never feel well in the morning, no matter the status of my health! I always wonder why fundraiser events for cancer patients always start so early in the morning. Every event I've wanted to participate in, is like this. Maybe I'm the only one who morphs into yuck at night, and wakes up feeling so blah...

And then Wednesday is my birthday, and Thursday is Thanksgiving, and Friday off to the Chemo Lab for my Monthly Darzalex infusion. I think it's infusion #20. I've continued to take Pomalyst, which wreaks havoc on my WBCs, so it's no wonder I can't kick this bug. Isn't it crazy that on the one hand all the meds are keeping me alive. Yet on the other hand, they are sabotaging my immune system. All I can do is continue to count my blessings, keep a positive attitude, and for me, find humor in whatever I can, as laughter is therapy for me.

For those that celebrate, have a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday with your families. Stay well, be happy, and let the stress go...

My current life

My next life 

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


  1. Happy happy birthday..Julie..

    1. Aww, thanks for thinking of me Karen. I sure didn't get much of a Bday this year, as I've been horribly sick :(( Will tell my story on 11/27. Hoping you and your hubby are ok, and you had a nice Thanksgiving holiday. Did your family come visit? How is Jimmy feeling? xoxo

  2. Happy Birthday Julie!! Finally, at 3:00 am have a chance to read your blog again. Thinking of you and Jim and hope you feel better today. Funny, I always say that if anyone wants to find me in the next life I'll be with the horses too!! Take care!! Terri

    1. Hi Cowgirl Terri! So great to hear from you :)) Thank you so much for checking in and reading my crazy status. Yes, we will be riding into the sunset forever! Love the thought :)) Love you, and I will email you sweet friend 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, 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.