Week 152 of chemo complete: Quiet reflection by the water

Saturday morning as a light rain fell, I travelled to Vanier Park in Kits. It provides a beautiful view of English Bay, and on a clear day you can see the mountains. I sat in quiet reflection and watched rowers practicing their strokes, while joggers passed by.

I always enjoy spending time in nature. A perfect start to the day.

Week 152 of chemo complete: Quiet reflection by the water

To recap: On Sunday, January 7th, I completed Cycle 38 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, my dexamethasone treatment ended, due to eye damage, reported by my Glaucoma Specialist, from long-term use.

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

English Bay - VancouverJune 2014: English Bay

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Week 151 of chemo complete: Adding a new chemo due to increased cancer levels

After consultation with my Myeloma Specialist/Hematologist, I’ve made the choice to add a new chemo to my Pomalyst chemo treatment. My December blood test results show that my cancer levels have increased from 8 in November to between 10 and 11 now. It should be more effective to have 2 chemos fighting my multiple myeloma now, before my cancer levels get too high. Multiple myeloma has severe symptoms that hopefully I can minimize with lower cancer levels.

Although Dexamethasone (steroid) + Pomalyst (chemo) were effective in keeping my cancer levels low and stable since 2015. I had to stop this steroid in July, due to eye damage found by my Glaucoma Specialist [see Week 127 post] . Going back on dexamethasone is not an option.

M protein (g/L) (0 = cancer undetectable)
Dec = between 10 and 11
Nov = 8
Late Oct = 9
Early Oct = between 5-6
Sept = under 7.7
Aug = value missing
July = 3.0
June =3.2
Feb 2015 (began chemo) 36.1

My m protein value is my cancer levels marker. Think of it as the amount of myeloma/cancer in my plasma cells. Plasma cells are white blood cells used to fight infection. That’s why multiple myeloma is a cancer of the immune system and also called a blood cancer. If my m protein is 0, then cancer is undetectable in my bloodstream.

The details are still being worked out, although I hope to start soon. I’m staying positive that my cancer levels will drop – and stay down for a long time.

Thanks for your continual encouragement and support!

Week 151 of chemo complete: Adding a new chemo due to increased cancer levels

Photo:
I believe I’m never fighting cancer alone.
I believe this new chemo will work.
I believe in a positive attitude.
I believe!

To recap: On Sunday, December 31st, I completed Cycle 38 Week 3. I have Multiple Myeloma and anemia, a rare cancer of the immune system. Multiple myeloma is a cancer of the plasma cells that 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, my dexamethasone treatment ended, due to eye damage, reported by my Glaucoma Specialist, from long-term use.

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

Fraser River Canada Line BridgeMay 2014: Fraser River Canada Line Bridge

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Week 150 of chemo complete: The view from the North Shore

On Friday, as the rain was steadily falling, I took the Seabus across the Burrard Inlet, from downtown Vancouver to the North Shore, North Vancouver. Close to Waterfront Park, I stopped to admire the Vancouver skyline and watch cargo ships passing by. An enjoyable experience.

Week 150 of chemo complete: The view from the North Shore

To recap: On Sunday, December 17th, I completed Cycle 38 Week 1. I have Multiple Myeloma and anemia, a rare cancer of the immune system. Multiple myeloma is a cancer of the plasma cells that 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, my dexamethasone treatment ended, due to eye damage, reported by my Glaucoma Specialist, from long-term use.

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

End of the day on Granville IslandMay 2014: Granville Island

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Week 149 of chemo complete: Wishing good health, happiness, and love to everyone

My wish for everyone is for good health, happiness, and to share love with others, while also taking time to love yourself.

On Thursday I went to the Air Force Garden of Remembrance at Stanley Park. Within the quiet forest, I took time to pause by a wishing well and reflect on my year. I’m happy with November’s stable response to chemo treatment and remain hopeful this new stability continues through December and 2018.

I continue to focus on positivity and seek opportunities for happiness: by discovering new healthy foods, by exploring nature with my camera, and by taking time to educate myself about the world around me. I have lots of love for my friends that continue to support and encourage me each day. My friends are always there – with open arms and a warm smile.

Week 149 of chemo complete: Wishing good health, happiness, and love to everyone

To recap: On Sunday, December 17th, I completed Cycle 38 Week 1. I have Multiple Myeloma and anemia, a rare cancer of the immune system. Multiple myeloma is a cancer of the plasma cells that 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, my dexamethasone treatment ended, due to eye damage, reported by my Glaucoma Specialist, from long-term use.

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

Steveston - Canada GeeseMay 2014: Steveston

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Week 148 of chemo complete: A little sunshine on a cloudy day

On Thursday I travelled back to Stanley Park, one of my favourite nature spots in the city. As I wandered through the forest on a cool morning, I saw pockets of sunshine occasionally peeking through the clouds. I found a secluded spot, to rest for a moment, and welcome the warm rays.

Week 148 of chemo complete: A little sunshine on a cloudy day

To recap: On Sunday, December 10th, I completed Cycle 37 Week 4. I have Multiple Myeloma and anemia, a rare cancer of the immune system. Multiple myeloma is a cancer of the plasma cells that 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, my dexamethasone treatment ended, due to eye damage, reported by my Glaucoma Specialist, from long-term use.

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

Steveston - Britannia ShipyardsMay 2014: Steveston

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Week 147 of chemo complete: Cancer levels are stable

Good news! My November blood test results show that cancer levels are stable again – Nov = 8. Hopefully this 8-9 range will be the new normal for future tests. This test result shows that my Pomalyst chemo is effectively fighting my cancer. Recall that I stopped dexamethasone (steroid) in July due to eye damage and I’m just on chemo.

M protein (g/L) (0 = cancer undetectable)
Nov = 8
Late Oct = 9
Early Oct = between 5-6
Sept = under 7.7
Aug = value missing
July = 3.0
June =3.2
Feb 2015 (began chemo) 36.1

My m protein value is my cancer levels marker. Think of it as the amount of myeloma/cancer in my plasma cells. Plasma cells are white blood cells used to fight infection. That’s why multiple myeloma is a cancer of the immune system and also called a blood cancer. If my m protein is 0, then cancer is undetectable in my bloodstream.

I am much more fatigued now both mentally and physically, due to my elevated cancer levels while on indefinite chemo treatment. Thinking remains a challenge and conversations are becoming increasingly infrequent. This is to be expected as chronic fatigue is a common symptom of my multiple myeloma + anemia.

I will never let cancer discourage me. I’ll continue to maintain a positive attitude, focus on healthy eating, and avoiding negativity in my life.

Happy days ahead!

Week 147 of chemo complete: Chemo levels are stable again
Thursday morning as fog blanketed the city, I travelled to Stanley Park. I wanted a setting that maintained the look of autumn through the fog. A surreal atmosphere.

To recap: On Sunday, November 5th, I completed Cycle 36 Week 3. I have Multiple Myeloma and anemia, a rare cancer of the immune system. Multiple myeloma is a cancer of the plasma cells that 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, my dexamethasone treatment ended, due to eye damage, reported by my Glaucoma Specialist, from long-term use.

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

End of the day on Granville IslandMay 2014: Granville Island

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Week 146 of chemo complete: Staying dry in the forest

Thursday morning as it was steadily raining, I travelled to Stanley Park with the intention of taking my self-portrait in the forest. I found a quiet location and took time to admire the beauty of nature, while staying dry. As I listened to the pitter-patter of rain falling around me, I thought ‘Life is good’.

Happy times!

Week 146 of chemo complete: Staying dry in the forest

To recap: On Sunday, November 26th, I completed Cycle 37 Week 2. I have Multiple Myeloma and anemia, a rare cancer of the immune system. Multiple myeloma is a cancer of the plasma cells that 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, my dexamethasone treatment ended, due to eye damage, reported by my Glaucoma Specialist, from long-term use.

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

Fraser River Canada Line BridgeMay 2014: Fraser River Canada Line Bridge

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Week 145 of chemo complete: Forest adventures in the park

Thursday was a beautiful autumn day for forest adventures. The sun was peaking through the clouds as I travelled back to Queen Elizabeth Park. I had taken self-portraits there on Wednesday, but my idea didn’t work out, so I decided to try something different. I love the quiet of the park. A beautiful oasis in the city.

Week 145 of chemo complete: Forest adventures in the park

To recap: On Sunday, November 19th, I completed Cycle 37 Week 1. I have Multiple Myeloma and anemia, a rare cancer of the immune system. Multiple myeloma is a cancer of the plasma cells that 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, my dexamethasone treatment ended, due to eye damage, reported by my Glaucoma Specialist, from long-term use.

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

Waiting on letters from a friendMay 2014: Granville Island

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Week 144 of chemo complete: The colour of autumn

I love the colour of the leaves right now. Wednesday morning it was cloudy and windy and I sensed that rain showers were approaching. I headed to Queen Elizabeth Park to take some self-portraits quickly, before it began to rain again. Exploring nature on a beautiful autumn day is a definite positive for my well-being.

Week 144 of chemo complete: The colour of Autumn

To recap: On Sunday, November 12th, I completed Cycle 36 Week 4. I have Multiple Myeloma and anemia, a rare cancer of the immune system. Multiple myeloma is a cancer of the plasma cells that 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, my dexamethasone treatment ended, due to eye damage, reported by my Glaucoma Specialist, from long-term use.

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

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

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Week 143 of chemo complete: Big spike in cancer levels

My late Oct test results are 9 for my cancer levels. This is a big spike from early Oct, which was between 5 to 6. This means two things. First, dexamethasone (a steroid) was very effective in keeping my cancer levels low and stable when combined with Pomalyst chemo. Since I stopped dexamethasone in mid-July due to eye damage, my cancer levels have increased. Second, Pomalyst chemo alone appears ineffective in keeping my cancer levels low and stable.

M protein (g/L) ~ 0 is best
Late Oct = 9
Early Oct = between 5 to 6
Sept = less than 7.7
Aug = value missing
July = 3.0
June =3.2
May = value missing
Apr = 3.0
Mar = 3.0
Feb = 3.5
Jan 2017 = 3.3
Feb 2015 (pre chemo/dex) = 36.1

My m protein value is my cancer levels marker. Think of it as the amount of myeloma/cancer in my plasma cells. Plasma cells are white blood cells used to fight infection. That’s why multiple myeloma is a cancer of the immune system and also called a blood cancer. If my m protein is 0, then no cancer is detected in my bloodstream.

In Feb 2015 when I began treatment – Pomalyst chemo + dexamethasone, the value was 36.1. So my cancer levels dropped initially and then stabilized between 2 and 3 since that time. The actual m protein value isn’t so important really, what is key is stability, because that means the chemo is consistently working.

This news isn’t good as health issues are common with my disease, as well as more prevalent with higher cancer levels. In January, I will see my Myeloma Specialist to discuss further treatment options.

My Hematology profile (how my body responds overall to being on treatment) looks good.

Hematology Profile
Date WBC Hemoglobin Platelet Count Neutrophils
Reference Range 4.0 – 11.0 135 – 170 150 – 400 2.0 – 8.0
Late Oct 2017 4.3 125 277 2.3
Early Oct 2017 4.0 122 253 2.0
Sept 2017 4.4 126 285 2.6
Aug 2017 4.7 126 284 2.6
Jul 2017 4.6 136 323 3.6
Jun 2017 5.2 131 312 4.3
May 2017 5.1 132 303 4.1
Apr 2017 6.6 127 294 3.7
Mar 2017 5.1 130 303 4.2
Feb 2017 4.8 132 324 3.6
Jan 2017 4.8 136 304 3.7
Dec 2016 6.7 128 303 3.4

Staying positive!

Week 143 of chemo complete: Big spike in cancer levels

Self-portrait:
This was my second attempt at this location in Queen Elizabeth Park. On Tuesday, I spent time here, creating the setting and taking pictures. However, when I got home, I was disappointed with the final results. I realized that I had rushed the shots, because it was unseasonably cold that day, making it difficult to think, as chemo really affects my body temperature.

I decided that if the expected rain showers didn’t occur all week, I would go back for a redo. When I arrived Friday morning, my heart skipped a beat, because the leaves were being cleaned up close by, so I didn’t know if the leaves were still there. Thankfully they were, so I focused on my photography, with a smile on my face.

I enjoyed taking breaks to watch tourists create their own memories, around the tree. Queen Elizabeth Park never disappoints – a special place for me.

To recap: On Sunday, November 5th, I completed Cycle 36 Week 3. I have Multiple Myeloma and anemia, a rare cancer of the immune system. Multiple myeloma is a cancer of the plasma cells that 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, my dexamethasone treatment ended, due to eye damage, reported by my Glaucoma Specialist, from long-term use.

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

Week 143 of chemo complete: Big spike in cancer levels

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