December 10, 2010
One of the miracles in this crazy life I have endured through all of this is to see and feel my body (as well as my mind and spirit) begin to heal. Isn’t it amazing and wonderful how the human body functions? How our bodies are generating new growth every minute? How my body can grow stronger everyday?
After over two years of transplants, transfusions, and treatments, I have finally begun to feel normal!!! I am getting some energy! I am going days without pain! I can wake up in the morning and have a normal day!! Cancer does not weigh on my mind every waking minute.
I can clean my house, play with my precious grandaughter, do laundry, run errands, and fix dinner all in the same day!!
I have always been thankful for the big, exciting, and eventful days. Those days to capture in pictures and scrapbooks... Graduations and weddings. Birthdays and the birth day of my Grandchild. I am so grateful for those. They have kept me going. They have given me steps and goals and notes on my calendar to look forward to.
And now my “life tutor”--cancer has taught me to appreciate the normal, ordinary days that build me and shape me and bless me.
November 25, 2010
"My brothers and sisters, to express gratitude is gracious and honorable, to enact gratitude is generous and noble, but to live with gratitude ever in our hearts is to touch heaven." Pres. Thomas S. Monson
What are you thankful for?
November 18, 2010
I'm thankful for yellow school buses, wide open spaces, dogs and cats, and chickens and fresh eggs. Cows and horses in my country views. Living in a "smallish" town. The four seasons that change just when you tire of one. Holidays and Sundays afternoons. Family dinners. Busy boys. A soft bed and a good nap. The security of employment and insurance (but not the red tape and co-pays!) Homemade bread and simmering stew. Fresh garden produce and sewing projects. Family stories and the faith of my ancestors. Multiple Myeloma specialists and the expertise of my local oncologist. Kind and friendly nurses. Lab techs with a light touch and little needles. Modern medicine and "magical" technology. My scriptures. A tank full of gas. Clean laundry and my washer and dryer. My "to do list" all checked off at the end of the day. People I care about.
I hope I don't take the little things for granted. I have so much to be grateful for. May we all make a conscience effort to develop an attitude of gratitude.
November 11, 2010
November 04, 2010
As promised from my last post- lets talk puppies!
This is Kirby a shihtzu my family gave me for my birthday. He is a happy, furry, puppy who soaks up any kind of attention.
He is a great addition to our family. Kirby and Zoey, our airedale terrier, have become bests friends.
And now introducing
THANKFUL THURSDAY a great blog idea shared by Phil another mm blogger. Every Thursday until Thanksgiving, I will be posting something I am thankful for.
Today I want to share with you my gratitude for several friends in my life who have been the answer to my prayers over the last two years. I am learning that many times the Lord answers our prayers through other people. If a person is "in tune" they will act upon the promptings they feel.
There has been several times when I have prayed for something and soon after I received a phone call or a visit from a friend who told me they felt prompted to check on me or see how I was doing. These always seem to happen when I need it most.
Just yesterday I wasn't feeling very well. Once again I am coming down with a cold. It was after 6pm and I had not even thought about fixing dinner. While I was resting, a friend dropped by with a dish of homemade tamales. She knows my boys love them. Dinner problems solved!
I am so blessed to have good friends in my life who not only bless me with their friendship but also act upon the promptings they receive and are truly an answer to my prayers.
October 23, 2010
September 08, 2010
I touched heaven today.
I touched the tenderness, the purity, and the innocence in the soft skin, chubby cheeks, and wondering eyes of a baby fresh from heaven.
I witnessed the strongest bonds of all that exist.
The love of a family.
The love of a mother, a father, and a child.
A new chain connects generations into eternity. I am a link in that chain. I can connect generations into the past. My own parents and grandparents. I link the future with my son, his wife, and now with the precious gift of a child.
I am so filled with gratitude and humility for this gift that the world received today as another baby entered offering hope and pure love for the future.
And I became a grandmother.
I rejoice at this blessing a kind and loving Heavenly Father has given me. Allowing me to witness, hold, and cherish one of the countless miracles in my life.
P.S. It's a girl! One day old Tabitha
August 21, 2010
Almost two years of this grueling pace.
This life changing,
completely consuming journey.
I could not have done this without the expertise, and encouragement from the team at my oncologist's office.
August 17, 2010
It’s day 15 cycle 12 of my treatment. This means I have one more shot of velcade-chemo on day 18 and then I am finished with this regimen!!!
That is 12 months of chemo! during this treatment cycle. Twenty-one months since diagnosis. Two autogulous stem cell transplants involving more chemo. For a grand total of twenty-one months of chemo. (More posts to come on this subject.)
Almost two years of this grueling pace.
This life changing,
completely consuming journey.
A few weeks ago a doctor asked if she could give my phone number to a woman who was just beginning this journey. I agreed but never did get a phone call from her. I spent some time thinking about what I would tell her. Wow where would I even start. How would I express all of what she would go through. How much could I tell her and what is better left unsaid.
What I knew for sure is that if I could do it she could do it.
Here are just a few of my thoughts.
Take it day by day.
Multiple Myeloma acts differently in every patient.
You will probably get extremely ill.
But it will get better.
Now I deal with extreme fatigue and pain.
Maybe you won’t.
You have to go easy on yourself and let the little things go.
The dishes will eventually get cleaned.
The floor will eventually get swept.
The cobwebs on the ceiling don’t hurt anybody.
The shower is a great place to cry and sometimes you just have to let it all out.
Try not to isolate yourself.
If you are feeling that way call someone up and ask about how they are doing.
Do something for someone else, thank-you cards, phone calls.
Nothing takes the place of the support of family and good friends
Many people will be scared of cancer and won’t know what to say or do. Try to understand that and go easy on them. This took me along time to understand.
Seek for spiritual guidance through study and attending your church as much as possible.
I am L.D.S. (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints) and partaking of the Sacrament has become one thing that I try not to miss even if I don’t feel well. The words and meaning of the Sacrament prayer gives me great peace and takes away my pain.
Wow what a life altering journey you are beginning!
We are so blessed to having been diagnosed at this time. As recent as 7-8 years ago there were few options for treatment. Now there are many. With many new drugs in trials and genetic testing starting to be used to specialize treatment to each individual patient.
There is much hope of turning Multiple Myeloma from an incurable cancer to a chronic disease.
This is tough but you can do this! And there will come a day when cancer will not be on your mind every minute of every day. It is definitely still on mine but the frequency will decrease.
Try to look for the happy and simple things in life that bring you joy and cherish every minute of them.
To the woman I have never met who is taking the first steps up this mountain, I wish you the very best. May your transplant and treatment go easy and if not may you have the strength and courage to take another step each day. May you move this mountain by changing your perspective and view of this perilous steep journey as you climb higher; taking the time to get down on your knees and pray for divine help as you overcome the challenges of this climb. You will receive his help.
Please feel free to add your perspectives and comments to my post. So I can track down this new patient and share with her the wisdom of others on this journey and besides (I need to know if anyone is really out there:)
July 19, 2010
My posts have become fewer and farther in between. I am finding that on the "good days" I don't make the time to write. I am too busy running around trying to get as much done as I can, and enjoy feeling good as much as I can. On the "bad days" which unfortunately come too often, it takes far too much energy to put down my thoughts on paper--er computer.
So in a gallant effort to actually post something I have decided to forgo writing down the actual posts that have been rolling around in my mind and just give you a clever title which I may or may not expand on in the future--Hey I make no major commitments while on this "roller coaster."
So here goes..
July 4, 2010 "Long naps,.... Short walks in the woods,........ A weekend with my family in Star Valley, Wyoming------Priceless!"
July 6, 2010 "Living with the Man of my Dreams" celebrating Twenty-six adventure filled years with my amazing husband.
July 15, 2010 "I have an eight-track mind without a rewind" My steroid-chemo induced mind games and the people who play them.
July 18, 2010 "My Three Sons" the adventures of a Myeloma-Mom and a Micro-Managing dad trying to keep it all together from a 12, 15, and 18 year old boy's perspective. Trust me this would be a short post.
Just imagine how great these posts would be. You laughed....You cried.... and you were inspired by my every word. Wow I feel a lot better now. How about you?
And now to erase all non-posting guilt, Here is the low down on what's been happening on my myeloma mountain climbing adventures.
I am in the middle of the 11th cycle Six weeks to go!!! If I can stand it. It is not getting any easier that's for sure. I started out last week feeling pretty good, but developed a bad cough and chest congestion by Wednesday. I spent three hours at Utah Valley Hospital getting checked out by Dr. Riches NP. After a blood test, oxygen level test, and a chest x-ray to rule out pneumonia, She decided that I had the beginnings of bronchitis. I was giving a high power, high dose antibiotic, my old friend Levaquin and sent on my way. She told me it was good I went in when I did because I need to stay healthy enough to receive chemo on Monday. (Is there something wrong with this picture?...I need to stay well so I can take a nasty poison that will make me sick) Oh well whatever it takes to get through this.
I continued to drain of energy but my cough has been getting better. By Saturday I was completely down, could barely get out of bed. I slept most of the day. Thanks to my husband for taking care of me and the kids. And then this "roller coaster" of a life changed directions and Sunday morning I felt much better. I was able to go to church and spent a great day with my family.
Everyday is an adventure one filled with highs and lows. My family and My Heavenly Father keeping me going and I am truly blessed by both.
June 30, 2010
It has been four and half years since you left many loved ones on this earth. We miss you. Your tragic passing left many people in shock and grief. Three weeks after your death, I still couldn't pull myself out of despair.... and then ....you somehow.... sent me a gift.
I believe that you had a hand in bringing a little Pomeranian puppy into my life. Our dog Zeus came to us in a such an unusual way. It was beyond coincidences.
He was born the runt of a litter. The owners managed to sell all of the puppies except this one. A friend heard of the situation and offered to take the little dog thinking that he could give it to his grandchildren.
So he brought the feisty fur ball to his three petite, quiet, grand daughters. One day their mother came to my preschool to drop off her child. She showed the puppy to me and let me hold him. She explained that the girls liked the dog but that they were scared of him. He was a lively little thing. Jumping up on them, barking and demanding lots of attention. Her mild-mannered daughters were not enjoying the experience and she had decided the puppy needed a new home. She suggested that my family of boys would love this dog and offered to give it to us for free. After discussing it with the family that evening, we eagerly brought the puppy into our home and into our lives.
We brought him home, changed his name to Zeus to fit his big personality, and introduced him to our first dog, an Airedale Terrier named Zoey. They became fast friends.
This little bundle of energy brought new life and joy into our lives. I still did not connect you-my brother, with this little miracle until I came across some pictures one day. I found a picture of when we were young. You were holding the family dog-a Pomeranian. Then I also realized that you had given your wife and family a dog several years ago-a Pomeranian. I also heard that you had given your friend and his wife a pom. Were you trying to tell me something? I believe you were.
I truly believe you were somehow involved with the events which ultimately led to Zeus coming to our family. You sent this gift to me. To let me know you were there. To comfort me through the pain of your death.
Zeus has been the happy, furry, spoiled baby of the family. Often when I get up in the morning I can find one of the boys laying on the floor by Zeus petting their best friend before preparing for a new day. He loves to "sing" for daddy and get tummy rubs. Zeus is a fierce guard dog if only barking could scare away an intruder. There is something about the unconditional love of a dog that can bring healing and comfort to anyone. Did you know I would face bigger challenges in the future? Did you know that a diagnosis of cancer would shake up every part of my life? Did you know that the gift of a little furry dog would provide comfort to everyone in the family as we faced these challenges?
Yesterday we had to give Zeus back. He unexpectedly passed away. He had not been feeling well off and on for a few weeks. He still seemed happy and healthy so we were not too alarmed. Our family was shocked and devastated when we discovered his lifeless body. I, and my two youngest sons, laid on my bed and cried and talked for several hours. We reminisced about the good times we have had with our little dog and discussed the cycle of life. We talked about Heavenly Father's plan. We talked about how each of us whether it be people or dogs come to earth to gain a body. That when that body dies the spirit still lives on. That there will be a time when we will once again be reunited with those loved ones who have died. Death is a part of life and I'm grateful that my children have had the opportunity to learn these tough lessons with their pets before they experience them with people they love.
So my dear brother, I thank you once again for your gift. He taught us about discipline, responsibility, unconditional love and the plan of salvation. He gave us comfort and joy and the opportunity to love deeply and learn valuable life lessons.
We had to give Zeus back yesterday and our hope is that you may somehow watch over him until we may all be reunited again. Thank you my brother, until we meet again. I miss you. love your little sister, Kristine
June 24, 2010
June 06, 2010
March 22, 2010
February 20, 2010
January 28, 2010
Going on a "Dog Walk" with Trent and Spencer. (I walk they run)
Last week I went to Huntsman for tests. Labs, a PET/CT scan and a bone marrow biopsy. I must be getting better at this. It all seemed very routine. I felt little anxiety and even the biopsy was easier. I guess this is a good thing since I will be having these, hopefully at much longer intervals, for the rest of my life. On Tuesday we met with Dr. Tricot to go over all the results.
My numbers are good. I pour over the lab reports trying to understand what each of the results mean. This is a huge and overwhelming task for me in my "Chemo foggy" brain. but I guess it is a good mental exercise. I borrowed some of the analogy's from several other cancer blogs. (I hope they don't mind.)
Here are a few of the lab test results compared to when I was diagnosed. I was sure one “sick puppy” when I was diagnosed. It is amazing looking back that I was as sick and tired as I was and thought it was just from being a busy wife and mother.
When a person has myeloma they have an unusually high number of plasma cells in the bone marrow. These are completely different then the white plasma cells in the blood. Somewhere along the line one of these plasma cells turned to the "dark side" and begin multiplying itself over and over and never dying like a normal cell. In most people there are 1% to 2% plasma cells in the marrow. At diagnosis I had 80% plasma cells!! I even have some lovely pictures taken from the first biopsy magnified 1000X. They were crowding out other good cells which produce immunoglobulins or proteins to help fight infections. Because I had evil cancer cells lurking in my marrow they sent out way too much protein into the blood and that was the first red flag. Now for the good news. I now have 1% plasma cells!
The next myeloma marker is the Beta 2 Microglobulin. This shows how advanced the disease is. You want it to be less than 3. At diagnosis mine was 4.4. It is now 2.8mg/l.
Your total protein is made up of several specific types. The myeloma is classified by one of these. I have IgG. The normal range is between 600 - 1500. At diagnosis my IgG was 9,286 mg/dl!! It was 164 in Oct. but bounced up to 850 this time. I panicked when I saw this but the Dr. explained that this is because I have been getting IVIG infusions every month to boost my immunities through the winter and that this is nothing to worry about. wheww.
Hemoglobin is an iron level is important because mm can cause sever anemia. Normal levels are 12 to 15.5) If it goes below 9 then I have to get a blood infusion. I haven’t had one for months. It was 11.5 this last time.
The PET/CT scan reported lots of different findings which I don’t understand however I do see lots of “normal” findings. Yea! At diagnosis there were hundreds of lytic lesions throughout the skeleton. They now report no focal lesions and no sites of tumor involvement. I continue to receive
Aredia infusions once a month to harden and strengthen the bones. They must be working.
Have I lost you yet? Those are a few of the test results that I quickly wrote down while visiting with the Dr. I will be getting the lab report in the mail in a few days.
So the good news is I am in Complete Remission. There is no signs of active cancer. But we have chosen not to just treat this rare cancer but to aggressively work towards curing it and for that I am now on maintenance treatment of Velcade, Thalidomide, and Dexamethasone for a year. I am half way through. It is grueling. I feel like Bozo the clown punching bag. I am just starting to stand upright and then someone comes along and punches me back down. It’s quite the life. But it’s my life and I have much to live for and so much to be thankful for.
I have an amazing husband and family. I find so much joy just being around the love and energy of a household full of active, involved, good children. I have faith in God that this mountain I am on is part of God’s plan for me. That this mountain under me moves as I continue to climb and overcome the obstacles in my path with help from God and the support of my family and friends. I am blessed!
My husband and I at my 40th High School Reunion. Am I seriously that old?! ...