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

Saturday, April 28, 2018

Unfiltered Frustrations


I'm still sick.
I'm so frustrated with my life
I am so sick of being sick
So sick of feeling, being sick all the time
So sick of trying to avoid being sick
Then getting sick anyway

Yes I'm very grateful for so many many things.
Yes I am still an optimist and I have a lot to be thankful for
Yes I am strong, a survivor, a cancer warrior, and so aware that I am better off than so many many many
Yes, I know, I really do know, how "lucky" I am.... blah blah blah...
But I am very frustrated with MY life
My life right now.

Sorry to offend, sorry to whine, sorry to feel so pitiful, sorry to sound so ungrateful for all that I do have going for me...
But I am so very frustrated with MY life.
My stolen life.
I'm still sick.
It's now been 3 weeks being sick.
I am better than a week ago, and a week before that.
I am a little better each day, but I'm still sick.
Sick for more than 3 weeks.
I am so frustrated with MY life.
My stolen life...
It started with a horrible sore throat. Just horrible.
Then the fever for 2 days. Just awful. I felt just awful. I cried.
Then the nose, the head congestion.
Then the cough. The never ending, never relenting cough.
Coughing all night long. Choking, hacking, all night long. Still.
This bug is relentless.
3 weeks!

Yes, all this is physiologically "good". Good that it is draining out.
Yes, this is the process of illness.
Yes I am grateful my body is doing what it should do to get well.
But sooooooo slowly, so dramatic each day. Little relief each day.
Yes this represents my lame, immune compromised body trying to fight off the evil invaders.
Yes my weak immune system is rallying. Yes I am getting better a little bit each day.
Yes all the congestion, coughing, etc, is clearing out all the cooties. Slowly.
Too slowly.
Yes I know the biological process of a headcold, of this gross sinus infection.
No I don't have patience for the process
I've run out of patience
Cancer treatments and side effects teach patience
But I am impatient.
I don't want to learn more patience.
Dang it, 3 weeks is a long time to feel continually sick. Just sick.
Dragging, blah, weak, tired, defeated, deflated, yucky, clogged, stuffed, drained and draining.
My ears have been so plugged for days and days, I feel like I have cotton stuffed in them, or I'm under water.

Yes I am very very very fortunate I can battle on my own.
Without antibiotics, with just OTC help
Without getting seriously ill with pneumonia and winding up in the hospital.
Yes I should be proud of my feeble body for rallying as it does, and healing as it does, albeit sloooow.
Yes I am so aware of those that cannot battle on their own
So aware most myeloma patients, chemo patients wind up in the hospital with pneumonia in cases like this.
I am aware how bad "it could be", and No, I will never forget my month long hospitalization for my stem cell transplant process and recovery.
I am very fortunate I haven't been back in the hospital since July 2010.
Yes I am very very aware of how much suffering there is, and how bad it could be for me...

Kathy Boyer, Artist-Photographer Extraordinaire 

But I'm really really really frustrated with MY life.
What life?
Am I living or just existing?
So sick of being sick.
So sick of trying to avoid being sick, then getting sick!
So sick of postponing my life.
So sick of seeing my life go by, day by day, just waiting.
Waiting to be well to live life
Hoping for a break
Hoping to feel well enough to catch a break, to have a bit of fun
Hoping, waiting, wondering, not in control.

Oh, shut up Julie, you have a "great" life.
You're alive!
You've beaten Myeloma for 8 years now.
You have so many things to be thankful and grateful for
Yes Yes Yes
I know I know I know
So many many many things to be grateful for and I am...
I truly am...

But dang it, I am so frustrated that my life was stolen from me 8 years ago, and it will be stolen from me forever, as my reality is I have a severely weakened immune system, I will never ever be normal, I cannot engage in normal activities. I get sick when exposed to any germs and cooties. Always. I have no immune system due to Myeloma's ravages and chemo treatment ravages. No one in my family is currently sick. Nor did they get this illness. We were all together at the time I believe I was exposed. They all have normal immune systems. They are healthy, I am not. I'm the only one who got sick. I tried to have a bit of carefree fun, and I paid dearly for it.

I have cancer, I am sick, I will be sick forever...

I'm so sad about MY life-
So sorry to be so honest, but I am so sad about what has happened to me.
My plans, my future ideas and goals... what a joke...
If one is not well, one cannot do what they plan, wish, dream about.
I really didn't have "big" plans, just a few little adventures
If I'm always sick, or feeling sick, or avoiding being sick, am I living life?

Yes I am beyond grateful to just be alive. Yes I am.
But why so much suffering, so often.

My ears have been so plugged. I feel like I'm living under water.
So much crud, gunk and phlem... but getting better each day...slowly, so slow, too slow
The cough isn't quite as deep any more
Thankfully, it wasn't ever bronchitis-deep or in my chest, just a relentless cough, my body trying to rid itself of the cooties. Thank you body for trying so hard. So tired from it all.

I am so sad for what has happened to MY life.
I could list all my frustrations, but I would sound so shallow.
I have so much to live for, and I do everyday.
But sickness, feeling sick, or debilitating fatigue, sabotages me.
I just can't get over how limited my life has become.
How illness, side effects, treatments, then more side effects own, rule my life.
My stolen life.

When I am "well", I still only have a day or so to "play"-
I'm either experiencing side effects or planning for them, from the medication crash.
Can you imagine planning each week, when you'll be "sick", when you might be able to be well?
Yes, illness is MY life, and I still cannot believe it.
Yes it can always be worse, and it is for so many.
The suffering in the world is overwhelming.
The suffering from illness is beyond anything I ever understood.
We empathize when we understand-
And I now understand how debilitating illness is.
I wish I didn't...
I wish I didn't have to learn all these lessons.
I wish I understood why this happened to me and others.
I wish for everyone's health, happiness, healing, no pain.
Guess I'm wishing for a non reality.
Life is challenges, pain, struggles, infinite mountains to surmount.
Honestly, I don't want any more mountains to climb.
I don't need any more challenges.
I don't want to be tested any more.
But I will be, forever and ever and ever, thank you Myeloma.
I just want peace, serenity, calm, beauty, laughs and lightness.
I just want to be.
To breathe calmly, to breathe in nature and beauty, and to laugh at, and with life.
I just want to own my own life again, but that's not possible.
Myeloma owns me and my body, forever...

I'll get through this, I will, I always do.
Thanks for reading if you got this far.
May your life be what you want it to be.
May you find laughter, happiness, peace, joy, and most of all... health.

Grateful, Thankful, Beautiful Life


We said GoodBye to beautiful Charlene this past week. Her body failed her. She very quickly developed Kidney failure, lost a ton a weight, had a hard time eating, became dehydrated, so fast, so sad. But she had 3 good years with us. I rescued her from the Shelter March 2015, after her family turned her in, not wanting her any longer. She was around 12 then. Such a sweet purrrfect kitty. Our hearts are broken, but she had 3 extra years of life. My Betta fish died a week ago, and a few weeks prior, one of my Triplet rescue sparrows also passed. Our bodies betray us, but life will always march forward. Always... 

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

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Myeloma's Life Lessons Never Stop


Hello Everyone-
I'm alive! But still in the process of surviving this awful sinus crud that attacked me. The 40mg Dex-steroids from Monday have worn off, so I feel super blah, lousy, clogged, tired, weak, headachy, ouchy, and full of crud still. If you haven't read my previous 4.14.18 post, (I just had to sneak in between the 8's), please do. Gives you detail about what my "body of betrayal" has been putting me through recently. I'm still thinking about how "stupid" I was to break all my antibacterial protective rules for my daughter's birthday weekend. Everyone says "it was so worth it Julie"... hhmmm me... not so sure :((

Each time someone talked to me, they spewed their cooties at me!

Duh! Lessons learned for sure:
1- don't go to dance clubs/bars with masses of people when you are Neutropenic!
2- don't go to restaurants, chancing massive cross contamination, when you are Neutropenic!
3- don't go out in crowded places when your WBCs are barely 2.0, and your ANC is .81
4- don't assume Zarxio Neupogen shots will magically make you "normal" and strong enough to battle off invasive cooties Julie.
4- don't pretend to forget myeloma's enormous impact on your life Julie, myeloma owns you.
5- don't let your guard down again, you know the outcome. Your immune system is NOT normal and will Never be normal Julie. Accept. Accept. Accept...

Cooties, Germs, Cooties, Germs everywhere, out to get me!

Yep, I have to, have to, have to, accept I am a cancer patient. My body is not capable of protecting itself. I'm not normal any more. Haven't been, most likely not since 2008. I have no doubt Myeloma was digging in, mutating out of control, and taking over, the 2 years before my Dec 30, 2009 diagnosis. Otherwise, how could I have had 70% cancer at diagnosis...
Yes, I go for so long not taking chances, then I do... and boom, reality slams me, and I'm a sickie. 


Within all this yuk, and sickness challenge, I do have some GOOD NEWS!! 
At my last Dr appointment, also my Darzalex infusion day April 9th, the Monday after my party it up weekend, just before I got sick... I received good news regarding my IgA roller coaster.

IgA not down a lot, but better a little Down, than Up!
Yep, have to accept Dex steroids help beat up my type myeloma

I'm IgA Lambda, so this looks ok
Better too low, than too high

Still No M Protein detected!

Here's all my IG's 

I haven't heard back regarding my PET CT Scan... I think I'll send an email...

Ok, I feel yucky, so today's update is short and sweet. Thank you to all my invisible virtual readers for your interest in my crazy life story! Hoping your life is flowing smoothly, happily, rewarding and with as little drama as possible. I will never understand why things happen as they do... we don't always have a choice in what happens to us, but we have a choice in how we handle all our challenges... I choose to be as happy, grateful, analytical, and forward thinking as I can, when I can. Feeling awful definitely challenges me, and I can get really frustrated and hopeless, but when the fog clears, I'm back to my fighting spirit.

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

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Caution... Not a Happy Post... Thank You Life Stealing Myeloma


My throat has been on fire for days. My head hurts. My skin hurts. My eyes burn and mist. My back is still seized from the PET CT Scan. My nose has gross congestion. I've gone through uncountable big boxes of kleenex. My face hurts from all of this. I know the evil cough is coming... I'm miserable physically and mentally. I feel so fragile...

It's a BEAUTIFUL warm, clear Spring day outside... blue sky, new green leaves on the trees, roses wanting to bloom, flies and bees beginning to buzz, happy doggies wanting to play, hens clucking they've laid an egg, my horses content just eating hay, not a care in the world...  I am so very grateful for ALL the good things in my life we've worked so hard for, and for all the other "advantages" I have in my life... But... always a But... I am so frustrated, so sad, so angry, so on the verge of weepy, for how Myeloma has completely stolen my life. Stolen my body, stolen my independence, stolen my spontaneity, stolen my options, stolen my immune system..., stolen my life as I once knew it.

What you wonder... has happened to the funny, optimistic, fighting Julie spirit?

What happened was I tried to live life, tried to have fun, tried to take a risk being just a bit normal, and I got completely sabotaged. Completely ambushed and laughed at by those cruel Myeloma cells circulating 24 7 within me, saying, "oh No you don't Julie", "hahahahha, we own you!" "Who do you think you are going out to a cootie contaminated public place to celebrate your daughter's 30th birthday". Ha Ha Ha! myeloma laughs at me... "Oh no you don't, Ms Immune Compromised, Neutropenic Cancer Patient, you're not "allowed" to get a PET Scan on Thursday, a birthday pedicure with my Birthday daughter on Friday, then go to a crowded, germ infested country line dance club Saturday night, then go to Sunday brunch the next day!" Hahahhaaaa, myeloma laughs at me. "Oh No you don't Cancer Patient Julie!" Nope, nope, nope, Julie", Myeloma snickers at me, "You're not NORMAL, and you will NEVER be again!, Myeloma laughs. Ha Ha Ha you incurable cancer patient Julie, with WBCs at 2.0 and ANC at .81, on Zarxio Neupogen shots!" What The Heck Were YOU Thinking!!! Ha Ha Ha Julie, you really thought you could step out and have a bit of fun AND NOT GET SICK!"... hahahahahahahhaaaaa, Myeloma laughs at me, jabs me, tweeks my back, sends daggers thru my nasal cavity, lights my throat on fire for days, and completely depletes me, stealing my soul, my optimism, my hope, my thoughts that maybe, just maybe, 2018 might be a year for a bit fun... Nope! No break from my ravages!", Myeloma laughs...

I just want to cry. Frustration tears. Disbelief tears. Sad tears. I constantly shake my head in disbelief. HOW DID THIS HAPPEN. WHY DID THIS HAPPEN. WHY ME. HOW COME. I remind Myeloma I gave my life to my family, to rescuing animals and humans. Giving my life to helping students become their best, finding their dreams, realizing their goals. I gave, and gave, and gave, thinking that when I retired, I'd be free to do all the things I wanted to do. I never had huge retirement goals. I've never had "materialistic" goals. I just wanted to own my own life. Eat when I want. Laugh and play with family and friends. Play outside, drink in all the beauty Nature has to offer us. Take care of my animals and those in Shelters. I always told my kids when "the time came", I would retire, and love nothing more than becoming their kid's Ranch Gramma-Nanny, while they were at work... Nope...

Thank you Myeloma for stealing my life, our dreams, plans, goals, freedom, health, spontaneity. Thank you Myeloma for putting a painful pin in my life's balloons of optimism. Thank you Myeloma for taming me with this awful sinus infection, seized back, giving me a reality check, that NO, I cannot function as a "normal" human being... ever again. Oh but I've tried so many times since diagnosis 8 years ago, and most of the time, you Myeloma, completely sabotage me, and let me know whatever I thought my "second half of life" would be, is not, cannot be, and is gone... forever...

My life now is being sick, avoiding sickness. Battling invasive bugs, battling mutating cancer cells.They're all out to bring me down.

Yes, I'll get beyond this awful bug currently humbling me. I'll buck-up, shut-up and be me again soon... Each day I'm a bit better since the cooties invaded late Tues, revving up Wed and then fully attacking with a fever of 101.9 when I woke up Thursday morning. I felt awful physically and mentally. I gave in, I accepted my status. Don't have a choice. I laughed-cried at myself every feverish, sore throat, head pounding, nose clogged moment. I just laugh incredulously at my daily Myeloma battle, and my crazy-thinking that I "could be normal" here and there. My entire purpose in life is just staying ahead of  Myeloma, one pill at a time, one infusion at a time, one injection at a time, one type of pain at a time.  And yes, as Myeloma patients go, my complaining is ridiculous in many ways, and my heart breaks for all those out there with serious myeloma immobilizing issues.

But for now, I'll whine, weep, be sad and angry... as I mourn my past health, and the journey ahead of me...

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

Sunday, April 8, 2018

YOLO! Another Scan. Another Birthday. Taking Risks for Fun. Maybe Regrets Later!

Hello 4.8.18

So Much To Share! So many results and potential decisions to come! But today was my daughter's 30th birthday, so most of this weekend has been devoted to partying it up :))  I did something this weekend so completely out of my fear of cooties character, tossing my fragile (and current Neutropenic again) status out the window, and living a little crazy this weekend!
But first the headlines:

Thursday I had my first PET CT Scan, and that, and the low glucose, low carb diet, and fasting prep, was an adventure itself! Normally, I pretty much eat whatever and whenever I want, and I tend to be like my hoofed animals, doing a lot of "grazing", so this exact watching of Carbs and Glucose was Not Fun for me! I eat really healthy, trying to get something from each food group daily, but I also allow myself a cookie here and there, or fruit smoothies, or bread products, etc, so this 24 hours was an interesting experiment for me. Not awful, but I sure couldn't be like some that eat Carb free!

Almost time to gown up and go in!

And then I didn't do my math for the food-fast, in relation to my scan appointment time, so I wound up not being able to eat for over 16 hours! OMG, can't remember being that hungry in a very long time. The night before, I had dinner and stopped eating around 8pm, then when I got up around 8:30/9am, I realized the window for eating had closed, as I had to fast 6 hours prior to the 2:50 Scan. Then I was involved in the Scan prep, which included IV radioactive glucose prep for about 30 minutes, then the scan itself, so that brought me to about 4pm! So do the math on that... I hadn't eaten since 8pm the night before! Sorry if I'm sounding like a whinny wimp, but my system has changed so much since myeloma treatments, that I don't do well starving anymore.


But I of course survived and bolted to our favorite Deli after my appointment, and ordered half the entire menu for take out :)) Wow, I just did the math on that, and... help me out here... 8pm to 8am = 12 hours. Then only water from 8am to the end of the Scan, at 4/4:30 is another 8 hours. So if I can add, I fasted for 16 hours. Silly me, guess I should have gotten up earlier, and pounded down some food before my fasting window closed. But, ugh, I just can't eat first thing in the morning, when I wake up. Oh well, I survived and I WILL KNOW THE RESULTS OF THE PET CT SCAN TOMORROW, April 9th, at my Dr appointment, prior to my monthly Darzalex infusion.

If you recall from my previous posts, Myeloma's on the upward bound again, and I am VERY CURIOUS what the Scan shows, and what my monthly Labs show, and what our next move is, if Myeloma is continuing to misbehave! My preference is to go back to more regular Darza infusions, as I was doing so well on the bi-monthly schedule. I wonder why the researchers didn't include more instruction and protocol in the studies and literature for WHEN Darza stops being as effective on the monthly protocol.

Ironically, while I was in the Scan, I received email notification that my 21 days of Pomalyst had, predictably, plummeted my fragile immune system, and again I'm Neutropenic. Such a funny word, but related to our WBCs and Neutrophils. My WBC is 2.0 and my ANC a lowly .81. Boooo on that, but Zarxio Neupogen injections to the rescue!

Hello 3 days of immune system boost 

But........ here's where things got a little complicated for me...
During the scan, they wrap you up like a mummy and you have to lie perfectly still for the entire Scan! I'm not claustrophobic or nervous for things like this, but isn't funny how when you CAN'T do something, of course body wants or needs you to. So what wound up happening to me, is that I felt my back muscles becoming pinched. Normally one would just move a bit and readjust, but I knew I couldn't so I stayed quiet and still, hoping my back wouldn't seize. I felt stiffness when I got up from Scan, but felt walking to my car would loosen it up. Well the next day, it seemed to stiffen and pinch a bit more, and by Saturday, I was really really pinched and sore, and really began to limit my movement and bending over... 

But wait... could this soreness be Neupogen Zarxio related Bone Pain?? Oh boy, here we go agian... what symptom relates to which event or medication. I did shot #1 on Friday, #2 on Saturday and just didn't know if my tight and tense back muscles were Thursday's Scan related or Zarxio related. But dang am I so sore, stiff and Advil, Tylenol, didn't really have much effect in deadening the awful immobilizing pain. And what a time to have this, right in the middle of celebrating my daughter's big birthday! C'mon myeloma, can't you ever cut me a break?? So knowing we had BIG plans for Saturday night, it suddenly occurred to me, as I finishing up in the horse arena, hoping raking might loosen me up, it occurred to me to take one, just one 4mg Dex steroid pill as an anti-inflammatory. I NEVER take Dex late in the day, as I know it's effects will keep me up all night, but I was pretty desperate for pain relief at this point. So I took the one little Dex pill, and did get a little relief, but was still sore for Saturday night's festivities and still now as I write this... 

But wait... there's more dramatic news... 
Here's what I did so very very very out of character for me... and so very very very stupid and dangerous since I'm so incredibly immune compromised, and don't have an immune system to fight off all the awful human cooties out to bring me down... I tossed my normally unwavering avoidance of human crowds, and public places at all costs, and went to a Country Line Dancing Club with my daughter and her friends for her birthday! YES, WHAT WAS I THINKING!! Well I was thinking... I JUST WANT TO HAVE FUN AND BE NORMAL! I'm such a social person, that being restricted by myeloma's side effects really gets to me after a while. I feel like I am missing out on so much of life. So much of life that used I to participate in. But then again, I just hate being sick, so I just stick to being super ridiculously cautious 90% of the time, and it has really paid off, in terms of me avoiding serious illness. Here's my recent labs showing my compromised immune system:

Barely gettin by... 

Oh yikes, look at that ANC!

But I went, kept my antibacterial wipes handy, tried not to hug closely, did not shake hands, was super cautious with everything I did... but seriously, OMG, the crowd eventually became huge! Hundreds of people by late night. And as you know, being in a loud music venue, you have shout to talk or lean in when someone talks, and I just cringed thinking of all the COOTIES I WAS BREATHING. Yuk!!! ... If I remain well this week, after cootie incubation time, it will truly be a medical miracle! But we had a blast, I stayed out late, and laughed till my sides hurt, and my voice was hoarse, as my back continued to hurt like none other... 

This picture was early in the evening, when they were doing line dancing lessons, before the zillions of people eventually came. There wasn't even room on the dance floor, it was so crowded! So many people, so many cooties. But sooooooo fun with my daughter and her friends! When we got home, I couldn't wait to shower for hours, trying to drown the cooties, but of course that was too late, as just being there, I inhaled so much air borne yuk! I just kept shaking my head at myself, telling myself how stupid that was, especially right off Pomalyst, being on Zarzio injections, and so completely immune system depleted! Yep, I'm nuts. 

Just a few of the groupies, zillions more all around!

And then today, we all went out to brunch, but this was just a much smaller group, on an outside patio, fresh air, and I didn't do the beautiful brunch buffet. I didn't even go look at it, as I didn't want to torment myself. I order only well cooked food when eating out, avoid all fresh foods that can potentially contain unwashed or embedded bacteria, and don't do drinks from the ice machine, as I've read, heard that is swarming with bacteria... so far my persnicketiness has worked, as I am rarely sick, beyond the annual flu season challenges. 

Wow, I'm so lucky!! 

BFFs since elementary school :))
The panda necklace I'm wearing is vintage 1990ish.
Panda's were Alissa's theme since a baby xoxo

Happy Birthday to my baby girl xoxo

So my loyal readers and friends, those are just the headlines, as there's so much more detail within all this detail, but it's super late, 4.8.18 is over in minutes and tomorrow is a big day. I'm counting on hearing the results of my PET CT Scan, seeing my the results of my recent labs, telling of myeloma's status, then it's IV hook up time for Darzalex. And yes, I am looking forward to the "calm" of the chemo lab, where Benedryl might knock me out, as it battles back the roaring 20mg or 40mg Dex roids I'll take in the early morning. Many Darzalex recipients are anxious to try out the new shorter infusion time I've read is the trend now, but not me, I like the longer, safer, slower infusion time, not to mention, the possibility of sleep... 

Thank you for reading and caring about my life and story. Knowing you're out there, looking forward to my updates, gives me the motivation and commitment to keep on posting :)) Please let me know who you are, where you are, how you are, and how my posts impact or affect your life. I truly enjoy your comments, and you sharing your story with me!! 

If I have BIG RESULT NEWS, I'll post again before my next "on the 8's" :)) 

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.