11 – 1 – 11 ~ Cancer is still # 1 ~ but hasn’t won!

Yes, #1 rules the day today!
Who was it that said 1 “is a lonely number”?

Hello November 2011
Where’d October 2011 go so fast?

October’s are COMPLICATED…
October’s represent so many milestones in my life… good and bad.

Two years ago October 2009, I took some VERY important BLOOD tests…
Their IMPORTANCE so unknown to me at that time!
Those October 2009 blood tests SCREAMED something was WRONG with me, but I really didn’t listen well
Those October 2009 blood tests eventually opened the diagnosis-window to the invasion of Myeloma

This October 2011 was a month of continuing to try to move forward in my “New Normal”…
But WHAM!, slap me in the face BAM!… cancer comes to me in multiple reminders!!!

October 2011 seemed to bring more Cancer diagnoses:
My beautiful doggie Molly, my students, colleagues, close friends, neighbors, and new Myeloma sisters from across the country and the globe.

Goodbye October
Hello November

Here’s a tribute to October’s moments:

Remembering then:
October 2010
Buzzzzzz time !!
Thank you my son Scott for a great boy-cut
I still laugh when I remember you buzzing me
and I wanted to retain my “bangs”.. hahaha!!

Reclaiming now:
October 2011
New October, New Hair, New Plan:
Born Blonde, gonna Dye / Die Blonde!! lol
Goldilocks is coming back… well… in short form
(Lousy pic of me, sporting the the Revlimid chemo tired look!)
Reinventing todays:
Bring on the Blonde!
Back to being me… (well almost, ha!)
Celebrating Jill’s superstar success !!
Representing love:
Our beautiful shelter-rescue Molly
Born in October 2002
Diagnosed October 2011 with bone/sinus cancer
(the black doggie here, not you, daughter Alissa!)

Beautiful Barbara
My new Myeloma girlfriend (and her husband Rich)
from Alabama
Thank you Myeloma for introducing us!!!
Celebrating Remission
(Debbie, me and Jim)
Thank you Debbie and Cameron for your $upport!
Thank you COC Nursing Students
for selecting me as your 2011
Ultimate fighters!
SuperStar Supporters
Brian (right) and Shaheen (left)
His courage, strength, determination, and bravery
leaves me in the dust!
And so….
I thank all of you for your support, love, encouragement, humor and friendship!
I dedicate this 11 – 1 – 11 “blog of oneness” to all of you currently battling this mysterious evil invader into our lives called Cancer.
I am thinking about all of you who have battled, fought and lost
I am thinking about all of you who have battled, fought, dominated and WON!
And I am thinking about all of US who are still battling, fighting, kicking and screaming and not willing to let Cancer win…
So on this day of 11 – 1 -11 … we’re #1 :)
Cheers to Chemo Cycle #13 Post Stem Cell Transplant
Go Revlimid Chemotherapy stomping and chomping on Myeloma cells!
Raising my glass of water, downing my pill and toasting to Life and continued Remission!!!
Just saw this!!!
What???!!! I should’a partied more!!!
Read on:

Presenting My Story- and Thanking all my Colleagues!

Thank YOU from my heart and soul- to all my colleagues, friends, family and Chancellor Dr Dianne Van Hook for attending my presentation today.
Words always seem so inadequate when trying to express my sincere appreciation for the support you have given me…
I wish there had been more time, for more detail, but hopefully what I shared was meaningful, interesting and helpful.

Just having you there, meant the world to me!
Just knowing you care, gives me courage!
Just knowing you…  invigorates me!

~ Thank you to each and every one of you, from every department that attended- I am so very honored!
~ Thank you Chancellor Dr Dianne Van Hook for attending AND honoring me with your nomination for the SMO Empowering Hearts award! Thank you for your special thoughts, humbling comments and beautiful rose bouquet!
~ Thank you Keitha for coming and representing the Nursing Program students and honoring me with representing your Leukemia, Lymphoma Society’s Light the Night Walk fundraiser!

~ Thank you Professor Mike for bringing your VERY BRAVE and so ADORABLE son Daniel, who is currently battling Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia, and enduring very intense chemo treatments!

Brave Daniel and supportive sister Caitlin
hamming it for the camera on a clinic day!
Thanks for coming to my presentation Daniel :)

~ Thank you Professor Kelly for organizing, publicizing and participating in my presentation, not to mention your Scientific/Biological Brilliance!
~ Thank you RTVF-Media-Film students for filming my presentation!


Coffee on the Side is an academic seminar series which is offered once a month during the Fall and Spring semesters. The goal is to promote interdisciplinary discussions and continual learning for faculty and staff of College of the Canyons. COTS seminars are organized by the Interdisciplinary Committee.

Sept 2011
How Cancer Stole My Life: Diagnosis, Chemo, a Stem Cell Transplant and My New Normal
Presented by Julie Visner, Counseling Department

Come hear Counselor Julie Visner’s personal story of her sudden and surprising (incurable) cancer diagnosis, chemo treatments and stem cell transplant adventure all resulting in remission, along with her personal reflections on going from presumed health to a near death diagnosis. Julie will share medical details, personal reflections and answer your questions about this life-altering experience.

Aug 2011
Stem Cell Therapies: Controversies and Cures
Presented by Kelly Cude, Biology Department

What are stem cells? Will stem cells help paralyzed people walk again? Are stem cells the key to curing terminal diseases like Parkinson’s disease and cancer? If so, why is stem cell research so controversial? In this month’s FLEX presentation, we will discuss the current and future uses of stem cell therapies.


Please support COC’s Nursing Students cancer fundraiser:
Leukemia Lymphoma Society’s SCV Light The Night Walk, Fundraiser

Myeloma Details website

Time for Reflections

9 – 10 – 11

As our Nation reflects and mourns the loss of thousands… I can’t help but reflect on how fortunate and blessed I am to still be here… but for very different reasons…
I heard on the news that many of the 9-11 “First Responders” are now suffering from various types of Cancers… and prominent among the cancers affecting these brave men and women that rushed to the scene to assist…. is MULTIPLE MYELOMA!

What!!!????!!!!! Multiple Myeloma…. my cancer!!!

On one hand I am honored to be associated with those so brave…
On the other hand… how did Myeloma manage to invade my squeaky clean universe???

And so I reflect….

I’ve never worked in any industry remotely involving chemical contaminants…
But perhaps the cement buildings I’ve worked in all my life triggered something molecularly within me?
Perhaps living close to freeways spewing noxious auto fumes and smog triggered something?
Perhaps living close to active oil fields (where I used to ride horses!) triggered something?
Perhaps living close to a co-generation plant triggered something?
Perhaps using fly-spray on my horses (as occasional as it was) triggered something?
Perhaps all the dental and orthodontic x-rays I received in the years prior to diagnosis triggered something?
Perhaps my personal biology has been outta whack since I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism in my early teens?
And I can’t help but associate a benign (neuroma) tumor I had removed 11 years prior to MM diagnosis…

I know though, I’ll never know why I grew cancer cells within me, or what caused it …

I know there are a lot of things I’ll never know…
but I do know that my mortality stares me in the face more often now, and I do suspect I will not have the longevity my mother did, and my dad currently does!
I do know my “days are numbered” in a way they weren’t before…

As I reflect on my Myeloma Diagnosis, and as people ask me often:
Did I have any Symptoms, any signs I had cancer; was I not feeling well those months, weeks, days prior to diagnosis?
I now reflect with a retrospective “Ah-Ha I do remember” awareness that I did have signs; but honestly, I attributed them all to my Very Busy Life at that time.

In 2009, prior to Diagnosis, I was:
Very Tired and Fatigued
Had hard to stop Bloody nose episodes very often
Had (what I thought was typical mid life female) extreme Bleeding
Had weird Headaches (and I never really ever had headaches, ever)
Had lightheaded, Dizzy, woozy, I-feel-like-I-could-pass-out episodes
Was Thinner than I had ever been (and enjoying that!!)
I was very Winded and Breathless when I walked short distances
Had unexplained Bone aches and pains
Had a few more Illnesses than I usually did
My pre-diagnosis Blood tests revealed I was super Anemic
And I was just sooooooo tired and soooooo fatigued…

But I chalked it all up to how much I was doing at the time….
NOW I know many of these were symptoms-
Symptoms of something I didn’t know to know were symptoms

So my “New Normal” marches forward
FUN is the name of my game…
Happy trips and whacky hair hats!
Still on Revlimid maintenance Chemo (2 weeks on, 2 weeks off)
And just look at the hair it grows on me (and Jim vicariously)!
The life clock goes tick, tick, tick
So the bucket list goes click, click, click

1 year 1 month post SCT 2011

Hi Everyone-
Just a quick update…

Life’s good… most of the time

Busy… all the time
Complicated… all the time
Still trying to find what works for me in the “new normal”…
Still on maintenance Revlimid Chemo
Always tired
Still have Neuropathy, but certainly not as bad as months ago
Still have crazy nerve and arthritis type pains
Had an MRI on Sunday
Hopefully that will identify what’s causing my right arm dysfuntionality…
Too many, too close are diagnosed and gone
Too many, too close are diagnosed and going through challenging treatments
I feel very fortunate for my quick diagnosis and treatments and current Remission
Reflecting that I have been on 3 types of Chemo (Revlimid, Cytoxan, Melphalan) since Jan 2010!
But I’m not happy with my transformation
Still mourning the loss of “Goldilocks”
Questioning my future
Wondering my prognosis
Scared to acknowledge my marriage to C A N C E R
Trying to have fun
Trying to bring back normalcy

Happy One Year Stem Cell Transplant Anniversary-New Birthday to ME!

July 5, 2010 = City of Hope SCT Hospitalization for the month

July 5, 2011 = I’m Alive, Celebrating Remission, on Revlimid maintenance Chemo and doing ok!
This is how I “celebrated” 4th of July, 2010
at City of Hope with lots of Melphalan Chemo and IV cocktails
 Delivery of my life saving Stem Cells
July 5, 2010
New “Birthday” noted!

It’s all about location, location…
Celebrating life, health, recovery, remission
and being able to be barefoot in sandals in the snow!!
July 4th, 2011
Seriously… does recovery and remission get better than this??
Sandals and Snow at over 11,000 ft at
Mammoth Mtn, CA
July, 2011
Breathing deep, and ever grateful!
Well, yes… it did get better with a tremendous Thunderstorm and flashfloods in the Desert on the way home!

Then a stunning Rainbow arching over the freeway on our way home

Then sitting in my Horse arena with my horses and doggies under the Stars and Crescent Moon… until almost Midnight… July 5, 2011… something a year ago… I only dreamed about doing!!!
I am one lucky, grateful, blessed, fortunate gal to have been diagnosed a quickly as I was, medically treated as thoroughly and expertly as I was, and to have recovered to the extent that I have… in only one year
July 5, 2010 = Hospitalized at City of Hope just beginning to learn what a Stem Cell Transplant is all about, realizing I am really battling life threatening cancer…
July 5, 2011 = Learning to really Live each day, each moment as if…. it were my last… my mind is full of thoughts and my heart is full of appreciation and gratitude

And did I mention before, my most recent (late June) Bone Marrow Biopsy showed Myeloma beat back into submission once again! Yes!!!


9+ Million Stem Cells Saved My Life… one year ago today

June 22, 2010
June 22, 2011

One year ago today I was at the amazing City of Hope Hospital having life saving Stem Cells (my own!) collected from my blood in preparation for my Autologous Stem Cell Transplant in July 2010

City of Hope Apheresis Center
Over 9.3 million stemmies were successfully collected from my blood on
June 21 and 22, 2010
Combined with 6 months of Revlimid chemo + Dexamethasone steroids
and IV Cytoxan chemo
and Neupogen injections to pump up my stemmies
 and IV Melphalan chemo
and my Stem Cell Transplant
and a lot of wonderful people…
All combined to
Save My Life!
Hellooooo Myeloma………… I’m Winnnnnnning !!!!
June 22, 2011 = REMISSION STILL !!!
I had a surprise One Year Anniversary present:
a Bone Marrow Biopsy!
Results in a week…
Counting on REMISSION still!!!

One Year Ago Today 6-10-10

Has it really been a year since I was Chemo IV’d for the first time with CYTOXAN aka “CyTOXIC” to me!!!

Sheessh! was I naive about what I was in for!! But good thing… as I think my blonde “I’ll do just fine optimism” was what gave me the bravery I had…
Knowing what I know now… hhmmm… don’t think I’d be so brave! There would have been the anticipatory fear factor for sure
No doubt, “Ignorance is Bliss” was best in this case for what I went thru beginning June 10, 2010…

 Puffy Steroid Me
hooked up and receiving the live-saving poison
 Looking back, I still can’t believe what I tolerated chemically!!!
Nor do I fully understand how all these powerful chemicals
work in tandem together to save our lives, rather than euthanize us!
Such a delicate, wonderous balance
Medical science just amazes and intrigues me!
How those brilliant researchers, doctors, nurses etc
really know the exact pairing, balance and amounts 
of these cancer-killing, life saving chemicals
Feeling ok then…
Ha! had no idea how Cytoxan would be so
CyTOXIC to me hours later!
Jim’s just glad they didn’t hook him up too!
Best nurse ever and forever, Jalee Ms Extraordinare!
Ha! almost looks like the death-sentence chair
But in my case, the Life -Saving chair!
Just another big round of kicking Myeloma’s butt out of my system
after doing 6 months of Revlimid and DexamethasoneSteroids prior to this!
Gooooooooooo Chemo!!!
Bring on the cancer-fighting chemicals!!!

11 months post stem cell transplant! 6-5-11

I can hardly believe it’s been 11 months today since my hospitalization and life-saving Stem Cell Transplant!!
And what a monumental year, month, week it has been…

So many important milestones happened on Friday June 3, 2011 !
And to think…

Sick of being Sick and other recent Medical tales

Hello Everyone that might still be reading my Myeloma blog-

Since my last happy posting, I kinda bit the dust… and not in the way I would like… like back in the day when it was “fun” to bite the dust from falling off or being bucked off a horse!

Yes, recently I bit a different kind of dust, as in, unwillingly being relegated to the couch and the bathroom for the last couple of weeks! …
How can I put this delicately, sparing you the not so delightful biological experiences I’ve had recently…
First off, after recovering from a head cold middle of April, thanks to my darling daughter, I was well for a whole week! Yiippeee… then my darling son came down with the lovely intestinal bug!!! So being the good mother I am (even tho they are in their mid-20’s) I glove up, mask up, and take care of them!!!

But I thought… even tho several of my blood levels are still sub-normal… I confidently thought I would be just fine, and not come down with his awful bug… and boy did Scott get it bad! Off from work almost a week. We talked about this “weird” undefinable stomach pain he had… like none other!
Not long after Scott began to feel better… I began feeling this same undefinable stomach pain… as a matter of fact, the picture of me with the doggies from the posting below this, is right when I was coming down with this awful bug… so a week was spent you know where, doing you know what… enough said… lol

BUT!!! I recovered just in time to…. drum roll… prep for my first ever…. COLONOSCOPY!!! So yes, it seems like I’ve lived in my bathroom for weeks now… hahahhaa
Yes, most of May has been a body janitorial experience I’m not anxious to repeat anytime soon!!!

Here I am “recovering” from The Procedure!
As a result of this non-elected cleansing (thank you my son) and then the required medical “cleansing experience”… I do have some been-there, done-that experiential tips for all of you reading this, dreading your upcoming experience of this ever so important internal medical viewing event!!!
First off, I tortured and scared myself the night before I was supposed to begin DRINKING the evil gallon of polyethylene glycol, aka GaviLyte-C… by reading online other people’s experiences! Dumb! as I was ready to beg-out the next morning and call my Dr and cancel out!!!
But my head overruled my emotions, and I began drinking the cocktail of internal cleansing…

Honestly, the taste wasn’t as horrible as I heard and read. But perhaps, after all the treatments I’ve been thru this past year… many things are now “cake”.
So here’s my recommendations for a less traumatizing colonoscopy prep:
Eat light and smooth days before
Opt for an afternoon appointment, so you don’t “cleanse” all night
Don’t eat the morning of the day you begin the prep; clear fluids and broth only
Don’t guzzle the laxative prep every 30 minutes as recommended
Drink it slowly so it doesn’t make you sick
Drink a glass every hour-ish
Don’t follow it with water or sports drink if you feel full
Go with your intuition- if you feel full, don’t drink
I used a straw to sip it in the beginning, then actually began to be ok drinking more at a time
Bring your phone, computer, magazines, books, etc into your favorite bathroom with you, as you’ll be spending a lot of time there LOL

I actually was able to down 3/4 of the gallon over about 5-6 hours and was actually able to get to bed and sleep ok thru the night (no cleansing that is, during the night thankfully!)
I then drank one glass of prep 5 hours before my afternoon appt and didn’t have any liquid 4 hours before the appt

No doubt I was really “drained” and “pooped” out… pun intended haha, and physically exhausted by the time I arrived for my appt, and very ready to have it over and done with!
Interesting to me was my emotional reaction when I was admitted and realized it was going to be a hospital-like, in-patient experience. That caught me off guard as it brought back a lot of feelings, memories and emotions from my July 2010 stem cell transplant hospitalization…

So after all the anticipation, all the prep, all the worrying that they might find “something” I was told I did a fantastic job at cleansing and they DIDN’T FIND ANYTHING! As my nurse assured me… my Dr’s quote was :  “NOTHING MEANS NOTHING” :)

Finally, I will add that as I awoke from the “put your lights out” meds, I had a wonderful feeling of peace, calm and relaxation… hhmmmm what were those drugs anyway… I think I want some again!!!!!

5 + 5 = 10

Hello May 5
5 / 5 / 11

Happy 10 months Post Stem Cell Transplant to me on this 5 / 5

So you think I should play the next lottery with a bunch of 5’sOr perhaps visit Vegas and play some 5’s

Not to mention… .5 Revlimid Chemo is
Saving My Life… …