Cycle 1: Port operation was a success!

Cycle 1: Port operation was a success!

I’m so happy that my Port operation was a success.

To recap: Monday morning I went to Radiology at VGH for my Port (IVAD – Implanted Venous Access Device) operation. It was needed as my veins are damaged due to long-term chemo treatment, making it extremely difficult to find and access a healthy vein for an IV. At Radiology I met an IV Specialist that used an ultrasound machine to find a good vein in my arm for an IV. The IV was necessary as I would be sedated to help block pain, make me calm, and sleepy and to provide antibiotics during the procedure. I also received freezing to the areas with a needle.

I slept through most of the operation, although I awoke whenever breathing exercises were requested by the Vascular Surgeon (breathe in, hold, breathe out). My blood pressure was monitored the entire time. The Port was placed beneath my skin, on the left side of my chest, and an attached catheter was inserted into a large vein. It involved 2 incisions – one in my neck, one in my chest. Afterwards I had a chest x-ray to confirm the Port was in the right spot.

The end result is that my bloodstream can now be accessed for IVs or blood tests with a special needle into the Port. I spent the next couple of hours being observed and my blood pressure was checked a few times.

Monday I was pretty sore and my neck was a bit stiff, however I felt better yesterday and I’m doing much better today. On Tuesday, I went back to VGH to get my dressing changed and the area cleaned, and to make sure that everything looked ok. Then yesterday my dressing was taken off. I will get the surgical tape (called Steri-Strip) used to close the incisions, removed next week when I begin my next Cycle of Kyprolis (carfilzomib), which is IV chemo.

I need to take it easy for a couple weeks to let everything heal. I should avoid lifting my right arm above my head or carrying anything over my shoulder. Glad everything worked out. Feeling happy.


I have Multiple Myeloma and anemia, a rare cancer of the immune system. Multiple myeloma affects the plasma cells, a type of immune cell that produces antibodies to fight infection. These plasma cells are found in the bone marrow. As a blood cancer, it is incurable, but treatable.

Since October 10th, I’m being treated with Kyprolis (carfilzomib), an IV chemo, Cyclophosphamide, and dexamethasone.

Rice Lake - North VancouverRice Lake – North Vancouver

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Cycle 48 Complete: Chemo does not always work out

On Oct 14th, my Pomalyst chemo treatment came to end after 48 cycles (Cycle 48) or 192 weeks. It feels odd that it is over. It is unfortunate that Pomalyst didn’t remain effective against my multiple myeloma, even when Ninlaro was added back in January. Chemo unfortunately, doesn’t always work out. But, I’m not one to dwell on the past. I’m happy for the year and a half of low and stable cancer levels and I feel positive about my future.

I’m about to start a third week of a new IV chemo called Kyprolis. Perhaps also due to the high amounts of myeloma (cancer) in my blood, my ability to concentrate is limited, and I experience ongoing fatigue and low energy.

I remain hopeful that this new treatment will result in lower and stable cancer levels for a long time. I’m focused on a calm lifestyle, with healthy eating and lots of rest.

Photo: Bedroom at Sunset

Cycle 48 Complete: Chemo doesn’t always work out

On Sunday Oct 14th, I completed Cycle 48. I have Multiple Myeloma and anemia, a rare cancer of the immune system. Multiple myeloma affects the plasma cells, a type of immune cell that produces antibodies to fight infection. These plasma cells are found in the bone marrow. As a blood cancer, it is incurable, but treatable.

From Feb 9th 2015 – October 14th 2018, I was on Pomalyst. I was also on dexamethasone chemo treatment until July 16th 2017, when my dexamethasone treatment ended, due to right eye damage, as reported by my Glaucoma Specialist, from long-term use. From Jan 9th – Oct 14th 2018, I was also on Ninlaro chemo due to rising cancer levels. From July 23rd – Sept 16th, dexamethasone was added to my Ninlaro and Pomalyst chemo treatment, due to excessively high cancer levels.

Waiting on letters from a friendMay 2014: Granville Island

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Week 188 of chemo complete – Hello Nature!

I love saying Hello Nature! I wonder if there is somewhere in the world where sunflowers grow as big as trees. That would be an amazing place to visit. While taking my self-portrait, bees were flying around, but I focused on the shot, and didn’t worry about getting stung.

Just another beautiful day for photography.

Week 188 of chemo complete: Hello Nature!

On Sunday, Sept 16th, I completed Cycle 47 Week 4. I have multiple myeloma and anemia, a rare cancer of the immune system. Multiple myeloma affects the plasma cells, a type of immune cell that produces antibodies to fight infection. These plasma cells are found in the bone marrow. As a blood cancer, it is incurable, but treatable. Since February 9th 2015, I have been on Pomalyst and Dexamethasone chemo treatment (Pom/Dex). On July 16th 2017, my Dexamethasone treatment ended, due to right eye damage, reported by my Glaucoma Specialist, from long-term use. On January 9th, 2018 I began Ninlaro chemo to combat steadily rising cancer levels. On July 23rd, dexamethasone (40mg) was added to my Ninlaro and Pomalyst chemo treatment, due to excessively high cancer levels.

StevestonMay 2014: Steveston

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Week 187 of chemo complete: Cancer levels still rising, ready for new treatment options

Looks like it is time for new treatment options. My monthly blood test results for September show that my cancer levels (m protein) have increased again. With my Ninlaro and Pomalyst chemo, I was given dexamethasone for 4 weeks at 40mg/week and for 3 weeks at 20mg/week when the blood test was taken. I’m no longer on dexamethasone after 8 weeks (2 cycles).

M protein (g/L) (0 = no cancer detected)
Sept = 41
Aug = between 37 and 38
July = between 31 and 32
June = 25

It is surprising that my cancer levels are not dropping. Each monthly blood test result since Spring shows more cancer cells in my bone marrow to attack my immune system than the previous month. This really isn’t sustainable.

I’m not stressed. Multiple myeloma is an incurable, but treatable rare cancer. Sometimes chemo works, sometimes it doesn’t. When I see my Myeloma Specialist later in the month, I have complete confidence that we will find an effective treatment. Looking forward to lower and stable cancer levels again soon.

Everything’s going to work out.

M protein (g/L) (0 = no cancer detected)
Sept = 41
Aug = between 37 and 38
July = between 31 and 32
June = 25
May = 20
Apr = 20
Mar = 13
Feb = value missing (believe similar to January)
Jan 2018 = 13 (began Ninlaro chemo – Jan 8th)
Dec = between 10 and 11
Nov = 8
Late Oct = 9
Early Oct = between 5 and 6
Sept = under 7.7
Aug 2017 = value missing
Feb 2015 (began Pomalyst chemo + dexamethasone) = 36.1

Photo: What is going here?
This self-portrait represents the questions going on in my mind. When you click a lamp’s switch you expect it to turn on, because it turned on the last time you tried. If it doesn’t you check and make sure it is plugged in. If it is, you simply figure the bulb has burnt out, and you look for a replacement.

I’m sitting here trying to understand how chemo + dexamethasone, which lowered my cancer levels and kept them stable last year, isn’t working now. I figure that my current chemo treatment is exhausted – burnt out and isn’t able to effectively fight my myeloma.

It is time for something different.

Week 187 of chemo complete:  Cancer levels still rising, ready for new treatment options

On Sunday, Sept 9th, I completed Cycle 47 Week 3. I have multiple myeloma and anemia, a rare cancer of the immune system. Multiple myeloma affects the plasma cells, a type of immune cell that produces antibodies to fight infection. These plasma cells are found in the bone marrow. As a blood cancer, it is incurable, but treatable. Since February 9th 2015, I have been on Pomalyst and Dexamethasone chemo treatment (Pom/Dex). On July 16th 2017, my Dexamethasone treatment ended, due to right eye damage, reported by my Glaucoma Specialist, from long-term use. On January 9th, 2018 I began Ninlaro chemo to combat steadily rising cancer levels. On July 23rd, dexamethasone (40mg) was added to my Ninlaro and Pomalyst chemo treatment, due to excessively high cancer levels.

Take a book, return a bookMay 2014: Granville Island

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Week 183 of chemo complete: Mirror, mirror…

Sunday morning it was lightly raining outside. It was so peaceful to hear the beautiful sound of raindrops outside my window. I didn’t want to go outside, so I grabbed a mirror in my room and took a self-portrait. Mirror photos are fun.

Week 186 of chemo complete: Mirror, Mirror...

On Sunday, Sept 2nd, I completed Cycle 47 Week 2. I have multiple myeloma and anemia, a rare cancer of the immune system. Multiple myeloma affects the plasma cells, a type of immune cell that produces antibodies to fight infection. These plasma cells are found in the bone marrow. As a blood cancer, it is incurable, but treatable. Since February 9th 2015, I have been on Pomalyst and Dexamethasone chemo treatment (Pom/Dex). On July 16th 2017, my Dexamethasone treatment ended, due to right eye damage, reported by my Glaucoma Specialist, from long-term use. On January 9th, 2018 I began Ninlaro chemo to combat steadily rising cancer levels. On July 23rd, dexamethasone (40mg) was added to my Ninlaro and Pomalyst chemo treatment, due to excessively high cancer levels.

Lynn Creek @ Varley Trail - Lynn Headwaters Regional ParkFeb 2017: Lynn Headwaters Regional Park

Weekly chemo-inspired self-portraits can be viewed in my flickr album.

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Week 185 of chemo complete: Closing my eyes, just for a moment…

Friday I was feeling pretty fatigued, either related to my multiple myeloma + anemia or side effects from dexamethasone. Whenever fatigue hits me, it makes it much harder to think. I find it best if I stop whatever I’m doing, and close my eyes. Napping helps me recharge. When I wake up I usually feel alive and refreshed – ready for new adventures.

Week 185 of chemo complete: Closing my eyes, just for a moment...

On Sunday, August 26th, I completed Cycle 47 Week 1. I have multiple myeloma and anemia, a rare cancer of the immune system. Multiple myeloma affects the plasma cells, a type of immune cell that produces antibodies to fight infection. These plasma cells are found in the bone marrow. As a blood cancer, it is incurable, but treatable. Since February 9th 2015, I have been on Pomalyst and Dexamethasone chemo treatment (Pom/Dex). On July 16th 2017, my Dexamethasone treatment ended, due to right eye damage, reported by my Glaucoma Specialist, from long-term use. On January 9th, 2018 I began Ninlaro chemo to combat steadily rising cancer levels. On July 23rd, dexamethasone (40mg) was added to my Ninlaro and Pomalyst chemo treatment, due to excessively high cancer levels.

Weekly chemo-inspired self-portraits can be viewed in my flickr album.

Sun sets on Granville IslandMay 2014: Granville Island sunset

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Week 184 of chemo complete: Let’s try this again

I returned to the BC Cancer Agency to take my self-portrait on the outside patio. I wasn’t completely satisfied with last week’s photo there as I didn’t have time to try out a particular concept I was thinking about. So Tuesday morning I went back with the goal of bringing my idea to life.

Feeling happy with the end result.

Week 184 of chemo complete: Let’s try this again

On Sunday, August 19th, I completed Cycle 46 Week 4. I have multiple myeloma and anemia, a rare cancer of the immune system. Multiple myeloma affects the plasma cells, a type of immune cell that produces antibodies to fight infection. These plasma cells are found in the bone marrow. As a blood cancer, it is incurable, but treatable. Since February 9th 2015, I have been on Pomalyst and Dexamethasone chemo treatment (Pom/Dex). On July 16th 2017, my Dexamethasone treatment ended, due to right eye damage, reported by my Glaucoma Specialist, from long-term use. On January 9th, 2018 I began Ninlaro chemo to combat steadily rising cancer levels. On July 23rd, dexamethasone (40mg) was added to my Ninlaro and Pomalyst chemo treatment, due to excessively high cancer levels.

Weekly chemo-inspired self-portraits can be viewed in my flickr album.

English Bay - VancouverJune 2014: English Bay – Vancouver

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Week 183 of chemo complete: Cancer levels spiked again, remain high

My monthly blood test results show that my cancer levels (m protein) jumped to between 37 and 38 from between 31 and 32 in July. In June they jumped to 25, up from 20 in May. This is unexpected.

The blood test included 3 weeks of dexamethasone (dex) at 40mg, a steroid that should enhance the effectiveness of my Ninlaro + Pomalyst chemo. Ideally, my cancer levels should be going down. Perhaps, it is too soon for a response. Pomalyst + dex effectively kept my cancer levels low from Jan 2015 – July 2017. In July 2017, I stopped dex due to eye damage and added Ninlaro chemo last January.

I have an Optometrist to monitor my eye pressure through regular eye exams. Dex can increase my eye pressure and cause eye damage from long term use. My recent eye exams show that my eye pressure remains normal. The lumigan eye drops prescribed by my Glaucoma Specialist are working great.

I’m not worried. I have an amazing Myeloma Specialist, who will adjust my treatment as needed to get my cancer levels lower and stable. I’m confident my results will be better in September.

Staying positive!

M protein (g/L) (0 = no cancer detected)
Aug = between 37 and 38
July = between 31 and 32
June = 25
May = 20
Apr = 20
Mar = 13
Feb = value missing (believe similar to January)
Jan 2018 = 13 (began Ninlaro chemo – Jan 8th)
Dec = between 10 and 11
Nov = 8
Late Oct = 9
Early Oct = between 5 and 6
Sept = under 7.7
Aug 2017 = value missing
Feb 2015 (began Pomalyst chemo + dexamethasone) = 36.1

igG protein (6.7 – 15.2 normal levels)
Aug = 42.1
July = 40.4
June = 30.5
May = 25.8
Apr = 22.7
Mar = 22.0
Feb = 23.1
Jan = 20.6

Photo: At the BC Cancer Agency, adjacent to the patient’s lounge inside, there is a outdoor area where patients and staff will go to relax and sit. Friday was one of the rare times this week, when the sun was shining and I could see blue sky. We have tons of forest fires in BC right now and overcast/smoky skies are unfortunately common.

Week 183 of chemo complete: Cancer levels spiked again, remain high

On Sunday, August 12th, I completed Cycle 46 Week 3. I have multiple myeloma and anemia, a rare cancer of the immune system. Multiple myeloma affects the plasma cells, a type of immune cell that produces antibodies to fight infection. These plasma cells are found in the bone marrow. As a blood cancer, it is incurable, but treatable. Since February 9th 2015, I have been on Pomalyst and Dexamethasone chemo treatment (Pom/Dex). On July 16th 2017, my Dexamethasone treatment ended, due to right eye damage, reported by my Glaucoma Specialist, from long-term use. On January 9th, 2018 I began Ninlaro chemo to combat steadily rising cancer levels. On July 23rd, dexamethasone (40mg) was added to my Ninlaro and Pomalyst chemo treatment, due to excessively high cancer levels.

Weekly chemo-inspired self-portraits can be viewed in my flickr album.

End of the day on Granville IslandMay 2014: Granville Island – Vancouver

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Week 182 of chemo complete: Absence of rain, the new normal?

I like to be prepared in case of rain when I leave the house. I will check the weather report and if there is a possibility of rain, I’ll throw my umbrella in my backpack. As I walk and transit everywhere, I don’t want to get caught up in a rainstorm and end up with a cold. I always need to be cautious with my health, due to my cancer of the immune system.

This morning, I was reflecting on how I couldn’t remember the last time I packed my umbrella or actually felt raindrops on my face. The heatwave experienced here in British Columbia and mirrored elsewhere has been called ‘the new normal’. I hope that isn’t true.

Listening to the pitter-patter of rain is such a tranquil experience.

Week 182 of chemo complete: Absence of rain, the new normal?

On Sunday, August 5th, I completed Cycle 46 Week 2. I have multiple myeloma and anemia, a rare cancer of the immune system. Multiple myeloma affects the plasma cells, a type of immune cell that produces antibodies to fight infection. These plasma cells are found in the bone marrow. As a blood cancer, it is incurable, but treatable. Since February 9th 2015, I have been on Pomalyst and Dexamethasone chemo treatment (Pom/Dex). On July 16th 2017, my Dexamethasone treatment ended, due to right eye damage, reported by my Glaucoma Specialist, from long-term use. On January 9th, 2018 I began Ninlaro chemo to combat steadily rising cancer levels. On July 23rd, dexamethasone (40mg) was added to my Ninlaro and Pomalyst chemo treatment, due to excessively high cancer levels.

Weekly chemo-inspired self-portraits can be viewed in my flickr album.

StevestonMay 2014 – Steveston, BC

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Week 181 of chemo complete: Take dexamethasone with food

As previously stated, my July blood test results showed that my cancer levels (m-protein) have spiked to very high levels (May = 20; June = 25; July = 31 – 32). So my Myeloma Specialist has added dexamethasone (dex) to my chemo treatment of Ninlaro and Pomalyst. If m-protein = 0, then no cancer/myeloma is detected in my bloodstream. From January 2015 – July 2017, dex was very effective in keeping my cancer levels low and stable. It was stopped, due to eye damage, as my eyes are sensitive to steroids.

On the recommendation of my Glaucoma Specialist, I now have an Optometrist to regularly monitor my eye pressure and help ensure that dex doesn’t cause further eye damage from long-term use. I also remain on Lumigan eye drops, prescribed by my Glaucoma Specialist to help keep my eye pressure normal.

I’m not a fan of dex. I don’t like my moon face or how it enhances my chronic fatigue. Dex makes everyday thinking and doing much more challenging. However, I believe it will my lower cancer levels, so I’m ready for anything.

Feeling optimistic!

Week 181 of chemo complete: Take dexamethasone with food

On Sunday, July 29th, I completed Cycle 46 Week 1. I have multiple myeloma and anemia, a rare cancer of the immune system. Multiple myeloma affects the plasma cells, a type of immune cell that produces antibodies to fight infection. These plasma cells are found in the bone marrow. As a blood cancer, it is incurable, but treatable. Since February 9th 2015, I have been on Pomalyst and Dexamethasone chemo treatment (Pom/Dex). On July 16th 2017, my Dexamethasone treatment ended, due to right eye damage, reported by my Glaucoma Specialist, from long-term use. On January 9th, 2018 I began Ninlaro chemo to combat steadily rising cancer levels. On July 23rd, dexamethasone (40mg) was added to my Ninlaro and Pomalyst chemo treatment, due to excessively high cancer levels.

Weekly chemo-inspired self-portraits can be viewed in my flickr album.

Waiting on letters from a friendMay 2014: Granville Island – Vancouver

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