Wow, it’s been a while since i’ve updated this blog! I must say, i’ve done an absolutely deplorable job of updating it – and for that, I apologize. Right now, i’m sitting in Kelowna, British Columbia, visiting my cousins and having just returned from a week long trip in Vancouver with my family. Aside from eating like it was nobody’s business and laughing as if no one could hear us (boy, were we wrong), my family and I have just been enjoying life. Today also marks the one year anniversary of my mom’s transplant – a significant date that has left us sitting back, pondering, and appreciating every breath we take in. It’s hard to believe that an entire year has already passed, how many things have occurred since one of the most terrifying, and important, days of our lives. Since that day, so much has happened in our lives. It’s almost as if we’re completely different people than the fragile, yet indestructable, ones a year ago today. Older, wiser – aware. But not so cautious that life’s joys cannot be enjoyed nor appreciated. Looking back and looking at my mother, I feel an overwhelming mixture of emotions. Pride, because I am so proud of how incredibly far my mother has come. Sad, because she had to go through, and still experiences, cancer. Awe, because of the sheer amount of strength and resilience she has shown. And most of all, happiness, that we all have each other, that we are so much stronger and closer than we have ever been.
Well, it’s probably time for an update on Mama Bear and LIFE! How sweet it is :) Before I begin, i’ll apologize in advance if my grammar and/or sanity get lost in translation. The repairmen came to fix a bunch of things in the apartment, so you know what THAT means! Yep, i’ve been inhaling the wonderful fragrances of GLUE, DRYWALL, and PAINT for the last 5-6 hours. joy.
Mama Bear had her check up with the good doctor on Tuesday to see if we would need to go through with another transplant. Fuck. The days leading up to the appointment were filled with absolute DREAD as I had been almost 100% sure that she would have to go in (which would have been the following Thursday aka TWO.DAYS.LATER). Over the break, I had the chance to go back to the Tom Baker Cancer Centre for one of her chemo sessions and was able to look over her blood work. Her CBCs were pretty stable, but her Total Protein, which is a mix of both good protein and BAD protein (aka Myeloma protein), had gone up a little. Based on our history, rises in the total protein have never been because of the good protein going up. Aside from that, her Beta-2-Microglobulin levels had also gone up a little as well… Recent discussions on the ListServ on this matter have informed me that it is a new prognostic measure for myeloma patients. In other words, you do not want this number going up. Of course, I didn’t tell her any of this because I didn’t want her to worry. But all these things combined led me to believe that a transplant would definitely happen. Needless to say, it wouldn’t have been a very good start to the new year. But, to my surprise, my mom answered the phone with sunshine in her voice, saying that her m-spike (myeloma protein) had actually gone DOWN from 13 to 11. Granted, it’s not a lot, but any decrease is a step in the right direction, yes? That was a SHOCK. Our doctor had also said that her FreeLite Chain things (i’m still unsure about what these are exactly, so i’ll have to research it a bit more) went down a lot. Apparently, it is a better indicator of where you’re at than the m-spike? This, i’m not too convinced. I’m a little skeptical. Why had we never looked at these numbers in all the appointments before???? So, it’s still something that requires a little more investigation on my part. But I do trust our doctor. He’s a very good man, I just don’t understand what’s really happening and need to gain a little more information/control on my part. Anyway, he recommended, instead of a transplant, adding on another drug, Revlimid, to her current regimen. That brings the total to a chemo cocktail of 4 different drugs: Dexamethasone (Dex), Revlimid, Bortezomib (Velcade), and Cyclophosphamide (Cytoxan). Technically, Dex is a steroid, but whatever. A drug is a drug. I’m not the most elated with adding another drug to her regimen, as the body can only handle so much. And with the recent findings that Revlimid can cause secondary cancers, well… yeah. But I suppose it’s better than the alternative, yes? I’m pretty sure another transplant is due down the road, but right now is probably one of the worst times to do one. Flus, slippery ice, cold weather, etc. do NOT make for an easy recovery. Regardless though, I’m extremely grateful that that day was filled with good news, more so that my mom didn’t have to receive any bad news. I could tell BOTH my parents were relieved. It’s funny though. The night before, I prayed, like any other night. But instead I decided to ask just that the appointment would go well. Just one thing, not a whole list of things like my overall family’s health, happiness, etc. One precise, specific thing. And it’s like God, or someone, heard my prayers. So since then i’ve just been sending up prayers of gratitude and thanks. Aside from the obvious, I have nothing to ask for right now and plenty to be thankful for. I can tell we’re all growing a little weary of this, but anytime you receive good news, it fuels the fires that push you forward. A dear friend of ours, whom we met during this whole ordeal, recently came thisclose to dying. From what I was told, his numbers came back so high they asked the technicians if there was a mistake, perhaps in a decimal placement or something. But nope, they were the real numbers. This was all in the post-transplant recovery in the hospital, so you can imagine just how discouraging that would have been. This is hard for me to write because it could happen to anyone affected with cancer, but it was suggested that they call family members to say their good-byes. That…is just heartbreaking. But. One morning, the numbers came back and…THEYWEREZERO!!! Miracles happen, my friends. Keep the faith and never give up.
So that pretty much brings you up to speed on where the family is at. In other news, I’m just about to start the Phase II of my fundraiser and awareness campaign “Monsters Against Myeloma”. If you’ve been following the blog, you’ll probably know what it is :) Someone had heard about our cause and very graciously donated their own tickets to Lady Gaga’s concert in Salt Lake City in March. So i’m supersupersuper excited (and supersupersuper busy) to get this thing up and running ASAP, hopefully by the start/middle of next week! I plan on contacting the media within a couple days to get the word out. So if any of you, my beloved readers, know anyone in the Salt Lake City area wanting to go to a Lady Gaga concert (c’monnn, who WOULDN’T?!), please let them know about our event! I realize fundraising can seem a bit daunting sometimes, but our last winner from the summer won two tickets with $250 dollars raised (most of our donations have come from those just wanting to support the cause). It’s a lot of money, but also very do-able! So we’ve got that in the works. I also am in the midst of applying for any sort of volunteer position at the Edmonton Cross Cancer Institute, just to show my gratitude. Over the course of my mom’s treatment, the volunteers and nurses really were the unsung heroes. I cannot even begin to tell you how much these men and women do, how much love and care pours out of them. While doctors are amazing, these people are truly the faces of care and treatment and are severely underrated in our society. So I really want to try and give back to the community to show my gratitude and help others who are going through what I went through just over a year ago. If any of you, my readers, have not been directly affected by cancer, I would highly recommend volunteering at a local cancer center. Yes, it will be very uncomfortable at first. I remember the first day we went in for treatment. Dear lord, that was horrible and very unsettling. But you get used to it, as with all things, and have the opportunity (because it really is an opportunity) to meet the most amazing and courageous people, and have your lives changed. Forever.
Either than that, school is keeping me on the hustle as usual, studying lecture notes (yeah, right), looking for internships, and getting involved. BUSYBUSYBUSY!
Hope all is well with you, my readers.
Sending good vibes into the universe and you.
“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?
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.
As promised from my last post- lets talk puppies!
This is Kirby a shih tzu 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.
Mama Bear is OUT of the hospital!!!