Tuesday, July 23, 2013


Today, I feel like a superhero wrapped in an invisible cape of immunity.  This is a far cry from how I felt two weeks ago. My WBC had crashed to 1.5 (range: 4.5 -10.0 K/ul) and my absolute neutrophils were .70 (range: 1.5 - 8.0 K/ul).   I felt frightened and extremely vulnerable so I put myself into isolation.  As it turned out, I didn't mind restricting myself to our house because I developed a miserable cold and cough and didn't feel like going anywhere.  In fact, I was unable to have my chemo last Friday because I was too ill. In the meantime, my lambda light chain (myeloma marker) has gone back up 17 points. 

I am happy to report that I think I have battled this cold into submission.  This meant that I was able to go to the clinic and have my chemo today.  After my blood draw, I settled into a comfy recliner in the infusion room, but I couldn't relax as I waited for the results.  Reasonable and unreasonable thoughts were quarreling in my head as any cancer patient can relate to.  Would my counts go down again? A big worry since they were so low and didn't have much room to drop.  Would they go up?  One could hope... What if I can't have chemo? What if the myeloma is taking control? Would I have to see the doctor before my scheduled appointment in two weeks? My mind was awhirl.

You can imagine my surprise and elation when my results came back and my WBC was 5.4!  Yes, 5.4!  My absolute neutrophils were an equally astounding 3.8.  Now, I know what you are thinking,  "Of course, those numbers went up.  You have been battling a pretty miserable cold and cough."  I know you are right, but it sure did feel good to see 5.4 after 1.5.  Realistically, I know that after today's treatment and Friday's treatment, they will probably go back down and I am ready for that.  But, I don't expect them to go back to near zero. . .ever again.

Knowing that my WBC is no longer in the perilous zone has made  me feel like a superhero with super powers protecting me.  I haven't felt like that for quite awhile, if ever, and I know it will be fleeting because I live in the multiple myeloma world where blood count numbers go up and down on that winding wicked roller coaster.  But, for awhile, I think I will relish being a superhero for a few days. 

Can you see my invisible cape of immunity?  If I squint my eyes, I almost think I can.

Friday, July 12, 2013


We just spent a week in Washington, DC sightseeing and attending the Alpha Delta Kappa International Convention. Alpha Delta Kappa is an international honorary organization for women educators. It was our third trip to Washington and we have visited many of the attractions in the past, so we were planning a more leisurely tourist schedule. 

It is a good thing that was our plan.  In the morning of departure day, I ran into our bathroom to get one more thing and ended up kicking an open drawer at the bottom of the vanity with the top of my foot. Before I could get back out to the kitchen, it looked like I had a hard boiled egg under the skin at the point of impact and, oh, how it hurt!  Fortunately, I had a bag of frozen peas in the refrigerator, so off we went to Seattle-Tacoma International airport to catch our early morning flight.  I kept the makeshift icepack on my foot all the way there and the swelling went down quite a bit and the pain went away.  I got more ice at the airport and then again on the airplane.  Thankfully, we had a non-stop flight from Seattle to DC.  By the time we reached our hotel, my foot was looking pretty ugly but I could move my toes and move my foot all around so I knew nothing was broken.The next two days we spent walking and sightseeing and walking some more and my foot kept swelling.  It didn't hurt so I kept on going . . . yes, I really did. 

The main sites we visited were the World War II Memorial, Vietnam Memorial, Smithsonian Museum of American History and the National Archives.  Of course, we enjoyed seeing the Capitol from across the National Mall, the Washington Monument that was undergoing repairs, the White House and all of the other beautiful buildings and monuments. The best part of all was spending time with our nephew and his girlfriend who live in this a grand and beautiful city.

On the third day we were there, the Alpha Delta Kappa Convention began with the Educational Symposium.  The convention covered four wonderful  days of speakers, classes, conducting business, and electing officers. There were luncheons and the whole event culminated with a lovely banquet and installation of officers. The highlight of any international convention for me is reconnecting with friends from all over the organization and making connections with new friends.  I love this organization and I love the dear friends that have come into my life because 35 years ago I accepted an invitation to membership. These friends have been a huge source of love and support to me since my diagnosis of multiple myeloma and I am eternally grateful to them.

Are you wondering about the title of this post?  No, it doesn't refer to my foot crashing into the drawer.  What it  refers to is my latest blood count.  Before I went to DC, my doctor wanted to see me one more time and check my blood to be sure I should be going on this trip.  My WBC was 4.2 (higher than usual but a little below normal), my RBC was 3.1 (low but typical for me), my platelets were fine and my absolute neutrophils were 3.1 (not bad at all).  I was good to go!

We returned home on July 8 and I had my monthly appointment with my oncologist on July 9 and we were going begin the next cycle of treatment.  Usually, by the time I am in the doctor's office to talk with him, I have had my blood drawn and the numbers are on the computer for him to check.  This time there were no numbers because the equipment in the lab was down.  So, after talking with my doctor, I went into the infusion room to wait for the results and then begin treatment.  When my numbers finally were posted, I was shocked to find out that in a week and a half my WBC had crashed from 4.2 to 1.5 and my absolute neutrophils had crashed to 0.7!  I was unable to begin the next cycle of Velcade and was sent home and my Friday appointment was cancelled.  I will return next Tuesday to try again.  It was disappointing, surprising but mostly just plain scary. I am hoping maybe my white blood cells were too busy healing my foot injury to show up for a blood test.  I will be on pins and needles until my next appointment on July 16.

My light chain and Beta 2 microglobulin results are still pending and I am nervously awaiting an email that tells me the results have been posted online. To say that a cancer journey is a winding ride on a wicked roller coaster is an understatement.  

On a more positive note, we are having a beautiful and warm summer in Washington State and that always lifts my spirits.  Also, we had another family of robins living in our wisteria this year.  I never did get to see the fledglings but I did get to hear their twittering each time mom brought food to the nest. In my May 2012 archives, there is a post entitled, The Fledgling.

The White House
On our second visit to DC, we had the privilege of
touring The White House. 

Ready for Father's Day on our porch.

Wisteria Window
The robins' nest cannot be seen in this picture but it is near the top
of the picture and a bit to the left of the bouquet. The bouquet
is on our dining table and the robins don't mind
when we are sitting there having our dinner.