A place where I can chronicle my family's journey through cancer. A place where WE can discuss our concerns. A place where WE can inspire each other. A place for hope.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Rest, you

Sitting in the Bone Marrow Transplant clinic right now. Today is a LONG.ASS.DAY. Its about 230pm right now, and we've been awake for about 9 hours already. FUN! Today's massively exciting agenda includes sitting in our quaint little room for Jeebus knows how long as mama bear receives her first dose of "transplant chemotherapy". The transplant procedure can basically be divided up into a couple different stages: Mobilization, Collection, Administration, and Recovery. During Mobilization, which is where we are at now, my mom is given a series of drugs to encourage her bone marrow to create a (hopefully abundant) surplus of stem cells. Stem cells are born within the bone marrow environment, so when there is too much, what happens is they get "pushed out", due to overcrowding, into the blood stream. The first type of "transplant chemotherapy" is something called Cyclophosphamide, which *primarily* helps to encourage this overproduction of stem cells (it can also help to bring down your m-spike). Cyclophosphamide, along with a series of G-CSF shots (taken mostly at home), make up the mobilization process. That is, they help the bone marrow produce and "mobilize" your stem cells. During Collection, you basically collect your stem cells by filtering them out of your bloodstream (because remember, they were "pushed out", right?) via apheresis. However much they are able to collect determines how many transplants you can have down the road (usually about 1 or 2), or if you can at all. After your stem-cells have been collected, you move onto the Administration stage. This is where the second type of "transplant chemotherapy" is administered. Nowadays, they are using a nasty little drug called Melphalan in extremely high doses that would not be administered if they couldn't collect enough stem cells (there is no way your body could recover, otherwise). From what I understand, this is to basically wipe out all the cancer cells in the body and allow the patient a fresh start afterwards. The only thing is, similar to many other chemotherapeutic agents, it also targets your healthy cells as well. Lame. Once THAT pain in the ass is over with, you are in the Recovery phase, which is basically what its name states. The reason why an autologous stem cell transplant (where you get stem cells from yourself, rather than a donor) is not considered a cure is because when the stem cells are reintroduced into your body during the Recovery phase, there is a chance that these cells could also be cancer stem cells as well. At least, that is how I understood it... So, we are hoping for the best. Prayer warriors, please keep us in your prayers during this time, that the transplant will go smoothly and that it will be everything my mom needs to be healthy again.

Right now, my brother and dad are running errands while I am sitting on a chair facing my mom. She is sleeping while her IV slips her fluids. I feel sad when I see her like this. Heartache and heart break are perhaps the most accurate words to describe the feeling. But we are strong..and we've made it this far. Almost over the hill. I am glad to see her resting though. Her body needs it. And occasionally, she will let slip a little snore as only a mother bear can do. :). It is a comforting sound to hear. Rest mama bear, rest.

In other news, right before I started writing this post, I was in the midst of a much-needed nap. Basically, I woke up from my awkwardly sprawled position and peeled my face off of the lovely vinyl surface of my chair, emerging (CLEARLY) a vision of absolute beauty. My hair was this way and that and the imprinted lines on *one* side of my face made me look like some crazy half-wrinkly asian hobbit. Like I said, a VISION of beauty. There are not many that could resist THAT face, I assure you. Mirror, mirror on the wa-... Oh, never mind.
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Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Fashion Forecast!

Fashion Forecast: This season's must-have accessory?
Central Line Catheters.
SO hot right now.


It is quite a profound experience to have to shop for scarves in preparation for chemotherapy-induced hair loss. It is inspirational. It is crippling. It is beautiful. It is tragic. And despite the months and months of treatment, the time you've had to prepare, one never actually thinks they'll see the day. And before you know it, the cold reality is right there staring in your face. Slap. The other day I went shopping with my mom for scarves to wrap around her head once she loses her hair. Let me tell you, a book should be written on how to wear those things, because it is practically an artfrom. What length do we get? How do you tie it? What materials work best? Finding a way to wrap the scarf itself, without looking like a fool, was difficult enough. Long story short... We decided to go with a hat instead :P. I have read that your scalp is actually much more sensitive than you think, that having hair makes a world of a difference when it comes to warmth and sensitivity. We decided to go for a nice, soft, and very warm rabbit fur touque. Thankfully, my mother's recovery time will be during the winter, so it will not be an odd sight to see.

Presently, I am in the waiting room of the radiology department. Today is the day that mama bear is getting her central line put in. Last night I experienced a small moment of weakness before eventually falling asleep. I think I am more scared and anxious about this procedure than my mom is. As many caregivers will discover, you will experience varying degrees of control over the course of treatment. Control is very important. It makes you feel like you are able to stand on solid ground, feet planted firmly. But sometimes, you feel like you have been picked up in a whirlwind of despair, anxiety, stress, etc. Being tossed about upside down, left, right, back, and forth, a complete loss of control. Last night's "whirlwind" stemmed from my...sadness for my mom. I try not to feel sorry for my mom, for my self, or for my family, because it does you no good. It prevents you from being able to think straight and act effectively. But sometimes, it happens. As a caregiver, all you want to do is protect. As my mother's son (or in other people's cases, as a son's mother/father), you try to protect with such a fierce passion that you are willing to do whatever it takes. If you could, you would share the burden, take the burden, in a heartbeat. But you can't... And that is the pain and the struggle of a caregiver. It is a constant tug-of-war between control and mayhem. My fear and my despair from last night stemmed not from the actual transplant procedure, but from the worry of how my mom was handling this. Everyday, no matter how bright the sun shines, my heart breaks. I worry about her. Worry, worry, worry. My heartache comes from the thought of her fear. It is like if you saw an abandoned child on the street. Your first wave of worry is not about the living conditions, the hygiene, etc. It is about how the child is coping and able to draw the strength and will to survive. Seeing my mom's strength is inspiring, but it also breaks my heart. The fact that she even HAS to draw so much strength from god knows where, makes me both sad and proud. It is a hard experience to describe. But I guess it is what it is, and all you can do is learn how to adapt and stay strong. Wish us luck.

**Update** All went well! The transplant nurse was right, a CVC (Central Venous Catheter) insertion is MUCH less painful than a bone marrow biopsy. So if you can handle the biopsy, the CVC should be a cake walk for you ;)
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Thursday, July 22, 2010

A Sign?

Went for a drive with Mama bear today, and THIS (pictured below) is what we saw! So beautiful. So peaceful. The elk had the most beautiful (and symmetrical!) set of antlers i've ever seen! Perhaps a sign of strength? It's broken up, but there was a FULL rainbow, from beginning to end! I've never seen the landing pads of a rainbow before! And you can't really see it here, but it was actually a double rainbow! Hopefully this is a sign from someone, letting us know that everything will be ok... A sign of hope? Lord knows we need it.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010


Ok so I just realized that I hadn't made this **VERY** important post yet!!! Tsk tsk. But as i'm sure you can tell, our fundraising effort "Monsters Against Myeloma" is officially LIVE!!! (FINALLY). If you don't know already, basically I am giving away a pair of FLOOR.LADY.GAGA tickets to her August 27 show in Edmonton, Alberta to the person/team that is able to raise the most money for the MMRF (Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation). If you would like to compete, please send us an e-mail indicating so at monstersagainstmyeloma@live.com! If you don't want to compete for these wonderful tickets, but would still like to support our campaign of hope, awareness, strength, and gaga-tude, the steps are SUPER easy!

1. Visit out site here
2. Click on the "Make a Donation" button
3. Fill out the necessary fields
4. (optional) Write your name, donation amount, and a message in our guest book!
*note*: Tax-receipts are mailed out to the address indicated in the billing information

Easy peasy right?! I can't tell you how much your support means to us. We appreciate every word, every hug, every dollar, everything. In the end, we are all working towards the same cause (a CURE!), so hopefully M.A.M. will be able to contribute towards that ambitious, but fully possible and realistic, goal. Even if we only manage to raise a penny, I will still consider M.A.M. a raging success. We started off as a small idea to raise a little money for charity, and exploded into this international, global campaign of hope and awareness. It has been through our global brothers and sisters (yes, YOU!), that we have been able to add an extra step in making Multiple Myeloma a household name. Gaga is the biggest superstar on planet Earth right now. Combining her incredibly passionate (and LARGE) fanbase with all us crazy and super duper myelomaniacs(/myelomics/myelomians), we have been able to communicate our message to the farthest corners of the planet. In our facebook group, we have people from Canada, America, Germany, France, Iceland, Italy, and more! Currently, we have about 870 members. THIS MEANS that at LEAST 870 members now know about Multiple Myeloma, a disease I had never even HEARD of pre-diagnosis. I think it is safe to say that you may now check off step 1 of Operation: WORLD DOMINATION. Great Job Little Monsters/Myelomaniacs, great job! Now let's see this to the end and END.CANCER.ONCE.AND.FOR.ALL!

Monday, July 19, 2010

The Big T

So. Today is a big day. It is the first day in a very important and long process that will **hopefully** do the trick in setting my mom into a deep and long remission, until a cure is discovered. Yesterday I went to bed with a mix of emotions... This day has been a long time coming. And you would think 7 months would be plenty time to prepare yourself not only mentally, but also physically and spiritually. But the truth is, no amount of preparation can make you feel "ready" for this kind of procedure. Unless you've gone through it before, you really have no idea what to expect. And even if you have, I doubt the second time is the same as the first. We figure, it is best to just take this thing on a day to day basis. It can get a little overwhelming if you look at the process as a whole. So, baby steps here. Let's hope this thing goes by as fast as treatment has (its already been almost 7 months!!!).

In other news...
This has probably been one of the longest weeks of my life. Let's see:

Thursday (July 8) - Newspaper interview

Friday (July 9) - Front page news, damage control, last day of chemotherapy before transplant, PEREZ HILTON shout-out. HUGE influx of facebook group members!

Saturday (July 10) - Global Shift article

Sunday (July 11) - Unproductive M.A.M. Meeting

Monday (July 12) - Drama/Crisis/BIGTIMEDamageControl. My very first meltdown :) (total gongshow, by the way)

Tuesday (July 13) - Productive M.A.M. Meeting

Wednesday (July 14) - Bone Marrow Biopsy Results (74% down to 16%!!!!)

Thursday (July 15) - A **LOT** of M.A.M. Work

Friday (July 16) - Monsters Against Myeloma is LIVE!

Saturday/Sunday (July 17/18) - Rest

Monday (Today) - Begin Autologous Stem Cell Transplant process.

Shiz. We've definitely been busy. Overall, I think my stress level has probably gone up a couple notches. From the fundraiser to some family issues to the stress of the transplant, it is a miracle I have not been admitted into an institute yet. To tell you the truth, I am absolutely terrified of this transplant coming up. Not so much the procedure itself (although that is undoubtedly a bit daunting), but more so wondering how my mom will take it... All I want to do is protect her, but in these situations, it is QUITE a frequent occurrence to feel powerless... But not hopeless. Because there is ALWAYS hope. Sometimes it feels like a David and Goliath battle. But we all know what the outcome of that situation was right? ;) So, like every other day, I put on my brave face and do everything all over again. Its not easy, but you'd be surprised in the places you are able to draw strength from. We're starting a new chapter now, so wish us luck :) And for my prayer warriors out there, please pray that this thing goes without a hitch. That my mom has a super speedy recovery. And that it will be the last thing needed to set her into a long and lasting remission. Thank you :)

Sent from my BlackBerry device on the Rogers Wireless Network

Saturday, July 17, 2010


And check out our interview with Global Shift!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010


Just found out my mom's second, and most recent, biopsy results. I can't quite remember the exact number, but I think back in january mama bear had about 74% cancer cells within her bones. From what I understand, a bone marrow biopsy is the most accurate way of determining "where you're at". With that being said, my mom's results indicated that she went from 74% down to 16%(!!!!!!!!!). That is absolutely AMAZING!!!! Today is a good day :)

Sent from my BlackBerry device on the Rogers Wireless Network

Monday, July 12, 2010


My Current Mood.
Listen to the lyrics and apply it to yourself.

On Our Own Terms.

Mama bear be gettin' her hair did THIS.INSTANT!

So to prepare for the hair-loss, we figured that it would probably be easier and a LOT less traumatic if we cut my mom's hair before she lost it. Not buzz short, just yet, but in gradual stages to ease her in. So, first stage, she's going from shoulder-length to something similar to the late Heath Ledger's ex-wife, Michelle Williams. Eventually, we will have to cut it all off, but we're taking our time. No need to rush the gun. What I like about this, though, is that she is losing her hair on her OWN terms. Cancer will NOT determine how we live our lives. No one, or noTHING, is forcing her to do this right now except herself. And she is ready to take that step. So bravo mama!

If you haven't read my previous post on hair-loss, please view it here. I will mention this now and many times in the future because I really do think a new attitude must be embraced in regards to this universal symbol of cancer. Repetition is key, and I encourage you to try and inspire others to think differently.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

This Shit is INSANE!!!

OK. I just thought I would update everyone on what we've been up to and how the "Monsters Against Myeloma" event has been going :)

The last 24 hours have been BANANAS! Where do I even begin?!
Perhaps the beginning is a good start (obvi).
(I'm running on about 4 hours of sleep here, accompanied by +30C weather. So if I seem a little crazy, it's because I am)

1. Yesterday I did a great interview with the Edmonton Sun, answering questions about the MAM event and basically what we've been up to since the beginning of the year (diagnosis). It was quick, simple, and that was that! I was expecting the article to be a tiny little blurb in some obscure location within the newspaper, but DANG was I wrong. This morning I woke up to a text message saying, "You're on the front page! Congratulations!" My mom would later tell me that she had opened up a fortune cookie the night before foreshadowing a "surprise". Coincidence? (Link to our article HERE)

2. This bit might seem a little confusing, so i'll try to lay it out the best I can. Basically, we have kept my mom's situation on the downlow within my family solely for the reason that my grandparents don't find out. The very last thing we need is for another family member to get sick from stress. Not cool. So because of that, we had only told a couple families within our extended family. I'm not entirely sure WHAT I WAS THINKING when I was doing the interview and sent in the picture for the news article, but it definitely was not one of my brightest moments. So when I read the above mentioned text, I literally sat up straight in my bed and almost screamed. Yeah yeah, drama queen, I know. But I soon found out that the Sun had posted a HUGEEEEE picture of Gaga with a picture of my mom and I on the bottom. Yeah, that's not gonna get any attention AT ALL! You see, there are still people in my family that live in Edmonton who don't know about my mom's situation. I think I was somehow trying to get publicity for the event but at the same time foolishly pretend that my family would never get word of it? Silly SILLY Lance, Tricks are for... (you can complete this sentence). So for about a gooood...5 hours, I was a nervous wreck. I don't think I have been that stressed out since my mom was diagnosed. Yeah, brutes. I even lost my appetite (if you will remember, this also happened to me when mama bear was diagnosed). MY APPETITE! This is coming from a guy that feverishly watched 5 hours straight of Cake Boss...WHILST.EATING.CAKE! (and lots of it) Anyways, long story short, we haven't heard from any family members (yet), so we're hoping they didn't hear the news. My mom freaked out a little this morning, but now she thinks it might turn out to be a blessing in disguise. So... I'll roll with it. As long as she is cool, i'm cool. (PS: Is it weird that I am really really proud that we were featured FRONT PAGE, but also super angry of my incredible stupidity here?)

3. Today was the LAST day that mama bear received chemo before we start this crazy, wacky journey that is the "Autologous Stem Cell Transplant". It almost seems surreal. This abnormal routine has become such a constant fixture in our lives that it almost seems unnatural that we have stopped chemo (hopefully FOREVER AND EVER). Wow, I NEVER thought i'd see the day where I admit stopping chemo seems unnatural. Who would have thought? NOT I!!! Needless to say... Today is a monumental day for us.

4. I found out later on that PEREZ HILTON gave us a shout-out on Twitter, asking all the little monsters to join our cause, personally tweeting GAGA as well! Incase you weren't aware, this guy has a HUGEEEEE following!!! More than 2 MILLION followers on twitter!!! So to get M.A.M. on that kind of platform was BATSHITCRAZY!!!! Within half an hour of his tweet, we had more than 100 members join our group from all over the world! How amazing is that?!?! Little monsters globally uniting for a good cause. It's a beautiful thing. (PS: THANK YOU to whoever let Mr. Hilton aware of our event!!!!!)

5. (This week) I'm JUST getting over the cold (I know, WHO gets sick in the middle of SUMMER?!). It was one of those ones where you start of with a sore throat, then a cough, then fatigue, then faucet nostrils. Thankfully, i'm over that pain in the arse, but I think I might have accidentally gave it to my brother (oops) :( Perfect timing, eh? Well, while we were in treatment today, my mom's white blood cell and neutrophil (which go hand-in-hand usually) count were slightly above the normal range. Upside is, her immune system is working great! Downside, that could have been a sign that her body was creating an immune response to fight off something. NOT.GOOD. We need to get that down a little, which means my brother will probably have to be quarantined for the duration of his cold.

So YEAH! That's pretty much what's been happenin'! Monsters Against Myeloma is kicking into high gear now, so i'll DEFINITELY be updating more on that soon!

Hope everyone is doing well :)

Health, Hope, & Happiness