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

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Happy 1 Year Anniversary to Darzlex, Pomalyst, Dex!

Hello 2.28.18

Unbelievable coincidental anniversary for this "on the 8's"post today!
Exactly 1 year ago today, February 28, 2017, I began Darzalex IV infusions.
Rather than recap my first Darzalex infusion story on this post, here's my post from Feb 28.17 and Mar 1.17 . For those of you that are not familiar with Darzalex- Daratumumab, it is an IV infusion spread over 2 days for the first initial infusion. This is done to prevent and avoid severe infusion reactions.

"DARZALEX® is a monoclonal antibody that works in several ways. One way this monoclonal antibody works is by attaching itself to multiple myeloma cells in your body and directly killing them, and/or allowing your immune system to destroy them.
DARZALEX® targets and attaches to a protein called CD38, which is present on the surface of certain types of cells (eg, red blood cells) and is also present in high numbers on multiple myeloma cells. Since DARZALEX® targets the CD38 protein, it may also affect other cells with this protein on their surface."

I'm thrilled to report that I did quite well with my initial infusions, and have been ok this past year, thank you Darza, Pom, Dex :))

Here's what myeloma was doing to me before Darzalex, Pomalyst, Dex:
(Mid to late 2016 was when I became refractory to Kyprolis Dex)

And here's where I am a year later:

I'm still surprised that Darza, Pom, Dex is continuing to hold myeloma's power over me to a minimum. Since I became Refractory to Kyprolis Dex mid 2016, after just 10 months or so, I was not holding my breath that this triplet would outsmart myeloma for an entire year. I've been even more surprised how well I'm doing, since the "required protocol" is a reduction in dose of Darzalex from 8 weeks weekly, to 8 weeks bi-monthly, to monthly now. Yes, my IgA has jumped a bit, but nothing like what it did in 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016. We'll see what my next labs in March bring. So it's Happy 1 Year triplet cocktail success Anniversary to me!


For those of you that follow my blog regularly, you know we lost our beloved big cuddly blonde Labrador doggie Pawsy to liver cancer at the beginning of the month. He left such a hole in our hearts, our life, the doggies, and our ranch is just not the same without him here. He was such a gentle loving soul, and just so irreplaceable... Not that I try to "replace" our critters when they pass, but we have always had a buddy system here. I just believe that animals are happier when they have a buddy of their own kind. I am a committed believer in Rescue, and always look to save a life, when one of ours passes on. Although we have 2 little doggies for company for our big doggie, we just have always had 2 Bigs outside. As a result I have relentlessly looked for a new Big for Abbie... to no avail. Sadly so many dogs have serious "behavioral issues", and with my and my husband's health issues now, I just can't take on the responsibility of rehabbing a big dog with issues, as I have in the past.

So in the process of looking for a Big... look who I found...
or should I say... look who found us!

We've visited several Shelters over the last several weeks, looking at many Big doggies. So many need homes. So many sad cases and sad faces. So incredibly heart wrenching! But while looking for a a Big, look at this Little that found me. That Face! Those Eyes! I wasn't going to give in, as we don't "need" another Little, but how could I resist this face, saying "Pleeeeeese don't leave me here"....

Pleeeeese Take Me Home
Look how adorable I am! 
I'm just a young lost stray boy needing a home

So what do think I did... 
Yep, put my name on his "Commit to Adopt" list. If the owner doesn't show up after a week, he becomes available on his release date, after his neuter surgery. The next day we went to visit him for a "meet and greet", and he completely stole our hearts. Pawsy must have "connected" us all together, knowing this little guy needed us... He's just a mini version of Paws. So uncanny. Just such a cuddly, playful love!

The following day, the little guy was neutered and we were able to bring him home! 

 Freedom Ride for "Little Jack"
Such a love bug! So grateful.

Happy lil boy
We love him so much!

And he fits right in with the Pack!
Here they're "sniffing for kibble", 
A game I play with the doggies, 
where I sprinkle their kibble on the lawn
and they get to "hunt" for it 

So that's my February 28th story for you. 
Darzalex, Pomalyst Dex has been an amazing success for me for an entire year, even though I become Neutropenic and very immune compromised almost each month. But living in a bubble and being super cautious about cootie contamination, is an inconvenience I tolerate to stay alive.

Although we lost a precious life this month, we saved a life that needed us.
I hope your February was good to you, and March brings happiness, health and smiles to your life. 

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

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Myeloma on the Move

Hello 2.18.18

Did you see my surprise, not on the 8's previous post :)) Due to "popular demand" lol, I posted my update on the 14th for you. I had my Dr appointment and Darazlex on Monday Feb 12, and learned "myeloma's on the move" again. Not huge, but a warning my warrior cells better get it together. As you can see (or saw), IgA is up about 200 points.

My IgA type of myeloma has always "roller-coastered", and often quickly escalates super high, but also responds to treatment quickly too. Pretty shocking that my IgA was over 4100 a year ago, so my current 715 is just a "head's up" that perhaps monthly Darzalex is "too weak" a treatment for me, and hopefully I can go back to 2x per month. I also committed to taking my weekly 20mg steroids consistently, as sometimes I "cheat", and take less. I've done this previously, as I had hoped that less Dexamethasone would suffice in taming myeloma, since there are so many side effects from continuous use of steroids. I've been on Dex steroids continually since mid 2013 now. 4.5 years!

But so far my body organ and blood chemistry labs are good, and I'm careful to watch my carbs and sugars, as I certainly don't want to become Diabetic from all the steroids :(( The other good news from my recent Labs, is that my M Protein is not measurable.

IgA up from 519

Looks ok. I'd rather be low, than high

Thrilled to be holding steady on the "No" M Protein!

And finally, doing several days of Zarxio (Neupogen), took care of my Neutropenia quickly, and I went from a low of .8, to in the normal range of 2.97 . I am still VERY cautious, and live as if I'm Neutropenic all the time. Just too many cooties out there for this immune compromised cancer patient! 

Our hearts are still so sad about losing our adorable white Lab doggie Paws (see previous posts), and I've been looking continually online for a rescue Labrador that needs a home, but sadly we haven't found a match yet. There's also a part of me, with my and my hubby Jim's continuing health issues, I'm thinking that "less is more" at this time of our lives, and maybe we'll just stick with the 3 girls. But then again, I want to rescue another life, that needs a home, as we have always done...

3 happy girl doggies

Abbie misses Pawsy, but she's enjoying being inside

2013, after a doggie event, 
and just before, or as myeloma was roaring back

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

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Blood Test Results and Chemo Lab Aventures

Hello 2.13.18

I'm sneaking in an additional post, with my updated Labs. Thanks for caring and asking to hear my results before my next predictable, "on the 8's post :))

Well as you saw from my previous 2.8.18 post, my WBCs were quite low at 1.9 (normal = 4 - 11), and my ANC at .8 (normal = 1.8 - 7.7), which means, thanks to Pomalyst's power, I'm Neutropenic again. I'm quite used to this now, as Pom seems to do this to me almost monthly now. Early last year, we lowered the dosage to alternating 3mg and 2mg for the 21 day cycle. 4mg is the highest Pom dose. As I write this, I smile at how much a cancer patient gets used to, and adapts to. In the "normal, healthy" world all this is would be so shocking and debilitating. But I've learned to take it all in stride, and know "I can't control the things I can't control"... so I move forward and deal with it the best I can. I don't think I'm shocked by much anymore, regarding my situation. I read so much about myeloma, and understand what myeloma treatments can do to us. I hear so many stories about what other patients are dealing with, and what their complications are, that I am "grateful" for my type of challenges. Sounds crazy, but I'll take the many complications from my extreme compromised immune system over the horrendous bone issues so many myeloma patients suffer from. It's all in what we individually get used to, and learn to tolerate.

I used to fear self administering Neupogen Zarxio injections. I just didn't think I could do it. I wrote a whiny post about it last spring. But I've toughened up, and now it's no big deal, and I actually look forward to these amazing immune system, white blood cell (WBC) boosting shoots for a few days! They're like magic, and I feel better, stronger. The debilitating fatigue cloud is lifted. If just for a while though, as I would have to do these regularly to maintain WBC "euphoria" lol.

Feb 6
0.80 x1000/mcL         
Normal Range = 1.80 - 7.70 x1000/mcL

Feb 9
2.97 x1000/mcL
Normal Range = 1.80 - 7.70 x1000/mc
After 3 days of Zarxio injections, just look at this boost! 

WBC's went from a low of 1.9 to a high (for me) of  5.2 !!

With the Winter Olympics going on, I can't even imagine how high and normal the athletes CBC's and other body functions are, to compete at the extreme skill level they do! It's truly amazing what a fit, healthy body can accomplish. I used to ski with my high school ski team, and I later shared my love for winter sports with my kids. They grew up skiing, and then snowboarding, as we would take regular family trips to the snow. Oh, how I miss this. Can't remember the last time I skied, and watching the Olympics now, sure makes me miss being able to do that. Ok, put that on the Bucket List!

There's dysfunction with the mobile version of Kaiser's lab results right now, so I wasn't able to capture a cool screen shot, as I previously have. So here's the copy/paste of my current IgA status, which shows Myeloma's on the move in the wrong direction again, trying to dominate this wonderful triplet cocktail of Darzalex, Pomalyst, Dex steroids I've been tolerating for almost an entire year now! Wow, it will be a exactly year on my next "8" post, 2.28.18, that I began Darzalex.

70 - 400 MG/DL
700 - 1,600 MG/DL

So as you can see, my IgA is almost 2 times the high end of normal. (I cut the IgM stats out, as they corrupted the chart layout.) I'm "sad" myeloma's on the upward climb again, but I'm certainly not "panicked", as I've been down, rather "up", this road so many times, and have seen my IgA as high as 5760 at diagnosis, Dec 30, 2009, and then in the 4000's almost every year since coming out of remission in 2013. I've just gotten used to so much in the 8 years living with, battling myeloma. Here's where I was just before beginning Darzalex and Pomalyst. Just happened to see this recently, in my old photos:

I confessed to my Dr yesterday that I did reduce my weekly Dex steroids from the recommended 20mg per week to 12mg per week twice this past cycle. I'm concerned that I've been on a steady diet of Dexamethasone since mid 2013 now! I worry about all the side effects, and was hoping my IgA would hold steady on a lower Dex dose, but I'm guessing not :((  So this month I will be consistent and do the 20mg weekly, no matter what "quality of life" events I want to partake in...  Crazy to live life this way, always planning around when I'll feel lousy, always having to allow for the medication crash.

Speaking of SIDE EFFECTS, yesterday was a particularly hilarious day in the chemo lab for me. Hilarious and chemo lab are an ironic paradox in the same sentence, but here's what happened to me. I took my 20mg Dex steroids around 8am for my scheduled 10:30am Darzalex infusion. For some reason, they hit particularly :silly and fun", "warm and happy", just as I arrived to the chemo lab. I know I have written about this previously, but I just can't get over how unpredictable my body's reactions are to these meds I must take to stay alive. Sometimes Dex hits as a less dramatic overall boost, sometimes with a manic bang!

Being so close to Valentine's Day, I brought bags of Dove chocolate for all the Oncology staff (my Dr, Nurses, chemo Pharmacists). I do thank you treats often for this wonderful team, as I want them to constantly know HOW MUCH I APPRECIATE THEIR DEDICATED CARE and PROFESSIONALISM!
I'm naturally an animated, effervescent, communicative person, but Dex just revves that up to an exaggerated level. I do (try) to keep myself in check. As you can imagine, the chemo lab isn't the "happiest place" for most people, and there's no knowing the psychological place most patients are in, when I come bouncing in, silly and animated. I really do make the effort to de-energize myself, and be courteous and "appropriate". I have had many patients ask what meds I'm on, that make me feel so ok, as they want this "happy blast of energy" too.

Mondays, sweet Karen the Volunteer is there, and we've had a lovely friendship for years now. Tragically she lost her husband to stupid cancer a few years ago, and is so gracious to give her heart and time to the patients and staff in the chemo lab. We always have stories to share, and other "regular patients" often join our conversations. 

After I settled in, Karen brought over a lovely patient (named Karen also), to visit with us, that I had met several times before, so our little area quickly became a chatty party. In the bed next to me, was a younger patient, who soon joined in on the conversations. I mention all this, as here we are, all hooked up to IV's, serious chemo meds coursing through our veins, but it felt like gals just having fun conversations in an "ordinary" circumstance. The irony is ridiculous. Chem lab, fun? What an oxymoron for sure! Soon my nurse comes to begin the "premed" process for me, and rather than a drip bag of Benadryl, I'm prescribed the "syringe push" of  50mg of Benadryl. Since Darzalex is a long, slow infusion process, the point is get the premeds going, so we can get thru Darzalex before closing time.

Soon, actually rather quickly, the Benadryl begins to affect me. Putting me into mental sloooooooow mooooo! I feel the Benadryl taking over my being...  down I goooo... my functionality slows, but my thoughts still race. My brain and mouth no longer connect effectively lol! I have a difficult time expressing my thoughts. It's really quite hilarious. I mention it to the ladies, laughing about my disconnectedness. I'm slurring words, trying to finish whatever story I was attempting to tell, but it's all muddled, and confused. The conversation became absurd, as I tied unconnected stories together. What a mess. We all laugh. I try to carry on, but finally, I laugh and tell them, I'm too fuzzy and muddled. Everyone says just give in and sleep, but I've never been one to sleep in a public "fish bowl" like that. But I do eventually shut up, and laugh at my silliness.

I'm sure these sensations could be very disconcerting to many, but I am curious and fascinated with everything I go through. Never before myeloma, did I have medical issues, or take strong meds, so I continue to find the personal "entertainment value" of these wacky experiences so very interesting. But trust me, if I was nauseated or couldn't breathe, or in unbearable pain, or was having serious reactions, I would not be finding any of this humorous! I'm familiar enough with this particular chemo process now to know what's coming my way, so I can be humored how the HIGH of steroids collides with the DOWN of Benadryl. I can only imagine what is going on inside me, bio-chemically. Boom, poof, crash, bang... I picture chemical boxing gloves inside of me lol. One side fighting to be hyper and manic, the other side fighting to chill and relax. It's really quite an interesting experience to go from one extreme to the next, all knowing it's part of the protocol to pummel cancer cells.

And that was my day. Pain free. Hyper-manic. Dulled and calm. Kooky and silly. Sleepy, but awake. Social, but exhausted. Accepting, yet incredulous. Observing my life and others. Always wondering why, how come. How did all this happen to me and the others. It's about 4:30 by now. My Darzalez infusion is finally done. I like to complete the entire hydration bag after the Darzalex, to cleanse my veins, then time to remove my hand IV. Yay, I'm free again. I thank my kind nurse for caring for me all day. I'm readying to leave when I see, our male nurse, giving a young woman a "tour" of the chemo lab. I'm thinking she's probably getting a tour with an "older" family member. Then she looks over at me, and questioningly calls my name. I look up surprised. She looks familiar, but I can't place her immediately. It's out of context. Perhaps one of my past students, here with a parent? I say hello, and "sorry, who are you?", feeling bad I had to ask. I blame it on all the meds, fogging my brain.

Omg! I suddenly connect who she is. One of my daughter's good friends since kindergarten! We both quietly "scream" in excitement to see each other. She comes over to my bed to chat. I ask her who she's here with for the tour. She tells me it's for her... I'm incredulous. I'm shocked. We exchange WTF exclamations over and over. She can't believe her diagnosis either. Happened so fast, just in the last two weeks. We're in our own world, as the chemo lab is closing. I suggest we go out to the waiting area to talk. I want to hear her whole story. My heart is breaking for her. She's too young, too beautiful, too happy. Just recently married, I think 2 years ago. Life is happy for her. Purring along. Now this. I'm shocked. We allow ourselves to cuss, WTF, how come, why, makes no sense. We want to cry, but we're also laughing, as we're so happy to see each other. So much to share, so much to catch up on. It's now after 5pm. Most of the nursing staff has left, but as a few walk out, they see us, and I briefly share her story, and our 25 year history. Incredible. Crazy. So not fair! How does cancer happen? My heart aches for her, and how her life has changed in an instant. A biopsy. A phone call. Life will never be what is was before. We discuss this. But, she'll be ok. She's young and strong. Positive and optimistic. She has the great care I do with Kaiser. And has a great support network. Me included. But still... WTF? Just another bipolar day in the chemo lab.

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

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Can We Just Get a Break...

Hello 2.8.18

Just when I had thought life would hum along for me, we're tossed a curve with our beautiful, beloved Labrador doggie Paws, being diagnosed with Liver Cancer. Yes Cancer. Cancer. Cancer. Cancer in my life. Again.

This past year, this beautiful boy was a little less active, but still his happy, loving, playful, goofy self. Nothing raised a red flag at all. Until January. Early last month, I noticed he looked a little swollen in his abdomen, girth area. I thought my hubby Jim was feeding him more, as this has been a "war" between us all our lives. Jim loves to show "love" to all our critters with treats and extra kibble. But when we would pet Pawsy, we noticed his collar was loose, and in certain areas he was a bit boney, so this didn't make sense with his swollen belly. I scheduled our wonderful horse (and all animal) Veterinarian for a "ranch call" and he quickly knew "something" was up. Next day we went to his clinic for xray scans. Sure enough, Dr John saw lots of fluid in Paws' abdomen, but couldn't exactly identify if the fluid was coming from his heart, lungs, or other organs. But he knew there was something serious going on. He scheduled a Veterinarian Ultrasound Specialist to come and do additional detailed scans, to pinpoint where the fluid was emanating. (Sounds like our myeloma lives, right).

2013, just months before myeloma came roaring back for me
Paws was put on a diuretic and prednisone, to hopefully help drain the fluid and lessen the swelling. Yes, pills, scans, side effects, wondering what's going on internally... all medical trigger points for me. Thinking how this could be, will be, my future. Thinking about how myeloma eventually affects all our organs, and perhaps what I am witnessing in my beloved dog, will one day be my journey too... Every medical event I have with my animals pushes lots of buttons for me, as I can't help but project the similarities coming my way, one day.

Days later the ultrasound specialist does detailed scans of Paws, and determines that his liver is terribly diseased and looks like cauliflower, not smooth, as a healthy liver should be. Both doctors consult and agree, "cirrhosis", or cancer of the liver. Noooooo... We're all so devastated and shocked. Pawsy is only 8 and half. How can this be! He's had the best life here. Healthy environment, good food, fresh water, unlimited exercise, and overflowing love. But I had learned that his bio-brother Ranger (below) passed last year from another type of abdominal disease, spleen related, I think cancer too. My friend Terri and I discussed that there must be a genetic link to their much too early passing. We're both so devastated as these doggies were so special. So loving. So kind. So happy. So irreplaceable...

Paws and his doggie family July 2016
Sadly Paws went down hill rather quickly. We are still in shock. For most of January he was ok, but slowing down. He would take his pills in treats eagerly up until last week. Dr John came on Friday to drain fluid from his abdomen, and we scheduled another visit for Monday, to do the same. But over the weekend, he lost interest in food. He moved much slower. I knew his body was failing him, and the disease had taken over. Nothing us humans could do at this point, except give him love and comfort. Again, all this triggers so many thoughts and emotions in me. What will my final months, weeks, days be like. What choices will I have or not? I'm not afraid of death, but I do have fears about "how I will die"... We did all we could to make him happy and comfortable. Last Sunday was a beautiful day. We spent the day just "being" with him. Sunday night he had difficulty coming up to the house from the yard. I put a soft mat out for him on the grass, just in case he couldn't make it up to the house for the night.

Jim with Nala, Hanna, Paws- on his last day
Monday we awoke to him with labored breathing, and we knew his time was near. Again, we were shocked how quickly his body failed him. I called Dr John's office, and he was able to change his schedule to come quickly. Our son's girlfriend Ashley was with Paws when I went to open the gate for Dr John. Paws took his last breaths then, with Ashley, and when Dr John and I got over to where they were, Paws took his very last breath. He was such an amazing dog. So loving, loyal, happy, silly, playful, joyful, and had never had a bad day in his life, until this. Our hearts are broken, but as we always do, when one passes on, it makes a space for another rescue. Plus we can't let Abbie be without a big dog partner... there's a lucky dog out there now, that will be coming to animal paradise soon... Paws will send him soon...

Abbie and Paws, 2015
Bye Pawsy, we love you so much!

So Tuesday was blood tests. My last labs were the end of December 2017, due to being sick with the flu or awful headcold in early January. It's been longer than usual not knowing my status, and I am very curious what my IgA, M Protein, SEP, etc will show. My CBCs do show online, and here's my status from that perspective. And..... yes.... I'm Neutropenic again, as my ANC is .8, so I began several days of Zarxio-Neupogen injections the other day. I don't feel particularly lousy from my 1.9 WBC, and .8 ANC, but so much is always going on in our lives, that I barely have a chance to feel lousy, unless I'm really really sick, like end of last year, and early January. This Neutropenic crash is from my 21 days of Pomalyst, which I completed on Sunday. So this does make sense, and has happened to me quite a few times since I began the triplet cocktail of Darzalex, Pomalyst, Dex almost exactly a year ago. Nice to be able to connect the dots with side effects.

Just look where I was 1 year ago! 
Pretty scary! 

2.1 for my Beta2 Microglobulin is above the normal range, but it's holding steady from last month. Steady and Stable is ok with me. When I was diagnosed end of Dec 2009, this level was 4.6, so I'll take the 2.1 and wait to see what my IgA and M Protein is. I'm thinking of calling my oncology office tomorrow and see if my results are in, and they can release them. My next Dr appointment and Darzalex appointment is this coming Monday, Feb 12, so I will for sure know my status then. Did you want to wait for my next post on Feb 18 for the results, or should I post again before then? :)) 

Hard to believe  this February 28 is my 1 year anniversary of beginning Darzalex. I'm thrilled and surprised that this triplet of Darza, Pom, Dex is still as effective one year later. I sure hope it will continue to be effective for a long long time, as the side effects are "tolerable", and I can more or less predict them now, and plan accordingly. When myeloma gets stronger, I hope we can go back to additional Darza infusions per month, rather than changing to another treatment. Ugh, I just "hate" getting used to a new treatment, and wondering what new side effects will attack me. The longer I battle myeloma, the less brave I am, and less bold I am with treatment changes. But I accept my situation, I accept the incurable nature of myeloma, and I will do what I have to do to stay alive. 

Hope all well with all of you, and you and your loved ones are avoiding this awful flu season. May love and happiness fill your lives. 

2013, returning from a doggie hike... not long before myeloma surged back

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

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.