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

Tuesday, December 15, 2020

11 Years Ago Today I Learned More NEW Vocabulary Words


11 years ago today, December 14, 2009, was my very first Hematology, Oncology appointment. Little did I know the massive train barreling down the tracks full speed ahead towards me, would completely smash my life as I once knew it! I really thought I was just "anemic" from all the "bleeding out" I had been doing in 2008, 2009, and that I was just exhausted from working and playing so much, etc. I joked with my new Dr that I would just drink more Cranberry Juice to make "better blood" and eat more steak lol, to add in more Iron. I just couldn't fathom there was really something seriously wrong with me, as there were never any "serious" health problems in my family (except Alzheimers with my Mother at the time). Jim was shocked, speechless and teary. He just couldn't comprehend it all either. I don't think he ever fully digested what Myeloma was, and how sick really I was. I don't think many do. My outside belies the inside...

I wasn't actually diagnosed with Myeloma at this Dec 14, 2009 appt, but there was a lot of discussion about my horrible blood tests, concerns of high levels of all kinds of things in my blood tests I did not understand, nor ever heard of, and serious worries and corncerns of my super low compromised immune system. I really couldn't absorb or comprehend most of what My Dr was saying. She had me do more and more labs that day, more a few days later and weekly going forward, mentioning possibly needing blood transfusions and possible hospitalization. What? I can't possibly be that "sick". I was scheduled for a Bone Marrow Biopsy for Dec 18. A what? I surely didn't "need" something so serious and painful like that. They must have mixed up my labs with someone else! And yes Google became my best friend, even though everyone warned against that. 

All these slides represented me, but I didn't know it yet...

So here I am, 11 Years, yes 11 Years later, still alive, still battling, still fighting, still shocked, still doing NON STOP treatments. I'm pretty amazed about it all, but so very very grateful to still be here to live, fight, write, and most importantly, enjoy little moments with all those I love and care about. I'm pretty lucky right? 11 years and counting!!!

Rather than rewrite all my annual thoughts and feelings for 11 years, here are all my past December 14th posts! Thank you for reading and caring about my story as you do! 

May you be healthy and happy, and any battle you are battling, calms down, and lets you live a fulfilling and postive life. And let's hope this stupid Virus gets slapped down, and we can all get back to some semblance of normalcy, and adjust to a "new normal" where we are smarter, cleaner, safer, and healthier, but not having to live in fear all the time of getting sick from a "novel" scary virus that could do us immune compromised, with pre existing conditions, in!


  1. Julie- I think of you often! I feel I should get continuing education credits for all the knowledge imparted over the years regarding the diagnosis, diagnostic tests. medication with side effects, ad especially sharing your feelings. What a crazy journey! I wish for you to have more time, more pleasant days and not to lose your incredible fighting spirit!!

    1. Ah, so great to hear from you Laurie! And thank you for the good laugh re CEU's LOL. Same for me! I've had to learn so much about this crazy morphing changing incurrable cancer too. Still so surreal to me. I read and read and read, but so little sinks in. But one thing I do know, Myeloma is super smart, and I have to stay on top it. Thank you continuing to read and stay in contact :)) And thank you for all your support and encouragement over all the years we've been friends. Hoping all is good with you and your family, and you can also always email your update xoxo Here's to all our CEU's!!!

  2. Loved reading this thankks


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.