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Monday, February 1, 2021

Just Eat Me Up Alive Myeloma

2.1.21

Hello February! I made it another month. 2.1.21 pretty cool date right. 

So here I sit at downtown Kaiser waiting for Radiation #4. It's around 10:40am and my appt was for 8am. Lol 8am, who are they kidding. Guess where I was at 8am! I told the staff that on Friday, that basically No Way could I make it here at 8am because of all my GI crash side effects and I sure was right about that... Fortunately, my crash days are "predictable" so I know when to Not Take Chances lol! Last week I even put a little trash can in my car "just in case"... LOL

Have had a lot of acid reflux lately, no matter what I eat, which isn't much now, thank you Abdominal Alien Mass! Probably from the Mass pushing up on all the vital organs? There are so many "spicey" type foods that mentally appeal to me, but I don't do those anymore. One day I will again, right. My lovely Crash is the "Cleanse" everyone pays for lol! Honestly, I am just grateful it's Lower GI, not Upper GI, as that I just couldn't handle that... Thankfully, my body is still functioning in many "normal" ways thank goodness, despite Myeloma eating me up alive. 

I'm just soooooo beat up, unless I'm on steroids. I took 20mg today at 5:45am and then spent the rest of the morning you know where... Finally took 2 Imodium pills as back up insurance for freeway driving. How do people eat, drink and commute? I hardly ate yesterday, knowing what I had to do to get here early lol... Same will be for tomorrow, Radiation #5. I do feel the Alien has gone down a tiny bit,, but that could be related to hardly eating.  So many things sound and look good,, especially since I watch more TV now than I ever did in my entire life! The food sets on the Hallmark channel and all the series and movies, Omg yummmmm... and they "waste" so much food on these sets!... Anyway... done with today's Radiation, back on the freeway with Uber Scott and headed now for status Labs for chemo tomorrow. 

So many say, Don't Let Cancer Be Your Life... well heck, how can it not be? My whole life for the last 11 years had to be focused on Treatment, which then Triggered pretty challenging Side Effects! "Oh, but Julie, you look so good, you sound so good, you seem so strong".. Guess I'm just way too good of an "actress" on Steroids lol... But this Fatigue is just soooo disabling and I don't post "awful" pictures of myself, so that's most likely why "everyone" thinks I'm so ok. If I was to post my Crash day pics, oh boy, would everyone "know" I am a Cancer Patient for sure. I was more "functional" during so many previous years because my Reds and Platelets and Hemo were ok. Had NO Idea how those levels would affect my functionality. Seriously incredible how our Immune System and blood levels regulate so much of how we are. Guess I should have taken more A&P, Biology, Chemistry, etc classes in college. Ok, just push forward Julie and maybe some sort of "magic" will happen this year for me...

And now... your thoughts on this whacky lab result... What the Heck IGA? Does this mean they can't even measure the level anymore becuase it's so high? But hoping, just maybe, it was a processing error? Never had the " > " sign before!


So getting this blood transfusion was so crazy and humbling! After Radiation last week, I then went to another Kaiser clinic for the blood transfusion. Did Labs there, and then waited. And waited. And waited. Turns out because of the amount of time I've had Myeloma, and the amount of Treatments I have had, and my 2010 Stem Cell Transplant, my blood has Mutated so much, they had to process the Donation in a specific way. And get this, it was FLOWN from Nor Cal to So Cal just for me. Not Kidding. And there was one other cancer patient in the clinic with me with a similar issue. So finally around 3:30pm I was able to receive this Donation, and staff even stayed late to take care of me for the entire infusion. I am just so grateful and overwhelmed with the Wonderful Care I receive at Kaiser. Just Amazing and Fabulous Caring staff!!!



Can you find my Abdominal "Alien" Mass? Look for the Softball size circle with the measurement:



Sure wish all this was color coded. But you can see where the circle is with the measurement. No wonder I feel 6 months preggo. Ugh, How did this happen? How did I let this happen. I believe this monster was noticed on a Scan in 2019 right as Jim was beginning to go down hill, so I brushed it off, and said I would deal with it later. Did not really comprehend what it was, what was happening, how serious it was, and with the Lung Mass too. And stupid, naive me, I just thought it would "just go away", that the chemos I was on would disentigrate it. Extramedullary! OMG, I just kept thinking at the time, "this serious stuff can't happen to me"... lol blonde lol...

Still on Dex steroids, Darzalex, Pomalyst, Velcade. I'm probably Refractory to all of them, but we'll see. I will brave up and mix in one, some, more, others, I haven't done yet. 
ANY RECOMMENDATIONS my Myeloma Buddies??

Thanks for reading and caring as you do, and I hope you have a great February, without any Drama!

Remember this classic!
"I Will Survive"
Thank you Gloria!
I am trying so hard to Survive...


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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
B-12
.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?”)

Infections

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.