Monday, December 28, 2009

More Press for Multiple Myeloma Awareness! Go Blue!!

Blessings on Ann Arbor...

Ever since my diagnosis I continue to receive emails, facebook messages, phone calls, cards and letters from the Michigan Faithful. Just yesterday the most popular U of M sports Magazine, The Wolverine, posted an interview of me talking about my battle with cancer. Read it here: Former Kicker Brabbs Valiantly Battling Cancer

I am so thankful for having played football at the best institution both athletically and academically. The education has provided me opportunities to be on the teams of some of the greatest and fastest growing companies in the world, who happen to make some of the most money (measured in billions). My gridiron experience which was spent mostly at Schembechler Hall with grueling workouts that made grown men cry and puke a lot has engrained in me an intensity so deep within that quitting is not an option (Thanks Mike!).

And now...I am thank for the medical team that is not just behind me, but leading the way in kicking my Myeloma for many years to come and committed to finding a cure. I hope eventually I can do an interview of the medical staff so you can put a face to their names, but they will probably be too busy in clinic working with patients or on a computer trending numbers to understand their new findings. That's the type of staff you want to work with.....

You see, the reason my family and I moved back to Ann Arbor (it wasn't the weather!) was to return to a church that we loved during my college days and to be closer to our immediate family. Almost 3 years later I have found a growing community of love and generosity here in Ann Arbor and now I can thank God for having bigger reasons for placing us back in A2 than I would have ever imagined.

If you missed any of the other articles, here they are:

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Dueling Macs.

This is what Phil and I do to pass the time in the infusion center.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Still kicking it... Cycle #3 results are in

The goal of the RVDD trial that I am participating in (got the last spot!) is to prove scientifically the effectiveness of a four drug combination (Rev, Velcade, Dex, Doxil). Thanks to all the new MM friends I have connected with through this blog and Facebook I have learned that today's standard (or most common practice) to treat Multiple Myeloma is using Revlimid, Velcade and Dex (steroid)...commonly known as RVD. Depending on the age, effectiveness of the chemotherapy, patients may then move to transplant (most like auto, i.e. your own cells) and some docs are pushing a tandem (back to back) bone marrow transplants in hopes for an even deeper remission.

So there's some background, now on to the results after completing Cycle 3 of 4 (or maybe 5 and 6). I have another graph for you! This time I have charted the M-Protein (a.k.a. M-Spike)that has been floating in my blood for the last 16 months. The goal with any chemotherapy or transplant is to knock down the M protein to zero. M-protein is a key marker for MM and a normal Joe has zero. The thought is that if you can get rid of the M-protein and it doesn't return after 5-6 years...maybe it won't return. That's the game winning kick we are going for...a deep remission and possibly a Cure.

Since starting treatment my M protein has been on the following decline:
Baseline: 3.0
Cycle #1: 1.9
Cycle #2: 1.2
Cycle #3: 1.0
Cycle #4: TBD

I learned on my last visit with Dr. J that a GPR (Good Partial Response) is 50% reduction in the M Protein. Hooray...I got there after Cycle #2! To achieve VGPR (Very Good Partial Response), my M protein will need to reduce to 0.3. I think the staff (and me) would like to see VGPR before moving onto bone marrow transplant (BMT). Research is showing that the more you can kick the M protein to the ground, the better long term results. The transplant should whack any remainder M protein, but I would prefer we whack it down with chemo prior to transplant to ensure the bad guy is gone post-transplant.

So what this means is that they may actually pull my stem cells after Cycle #4 (while my bone marrow is still doing okay) and then move on to a 5th and 6th Cycle of RVDD to continue to kick away in hopes to get that M-protein as low as possible; if not gone. I am in agreement with this approach. I don't want to rely on my transplant (or two) to bring down the M protein when we can continue to kick its butt with RVDD.

On a side note...I am sporting a beard and I like it. In a few weeks I will be dying my hair in anticipation of my transplant. This is my one opportunity to go from middle class, midwestern Alltel look-a-like to Rockstar/Poser. Isn't cancer great?!?

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

A little update from the homestead. The one in which we actually live, not the one that Dex built.

It's amazing how feeling good can make things seem as though cancer doesn't exist.

This week we work, we play and life goes on as normal. Things are a little messier (we lose two days per on-week at infusion so the general house responsibilities go to hell, if things weren't creeping that way already) and we're all a bit more cranky due to the winning combination of the Dex high wearing off, pregnancy exhaustion, dueling toddlers and gray Michigan skies. But I'll take a messy house and moodiness over what went down, or rather what didn't, just a couple of short weeks ago what with all the barf.

We have managed to get our Christmas tree up

and I have been getting all Martha Stewart-meets-Ty Pennington over here in the evenings once Phil and the kids are in bed. I've been working on the kids' Christmas gift: creating a sensory table/craft area for the kids' playroom. And I finally finished making the lazy susan that I've been wanting to do forever.

I also painted what we call the "short wall" in the playroom with magnetic primer and will put a chalkboard paint topcoat on it so the kids can have a magnetic chalkboard to practice writing their letters, numbers and complaints to management.

I even went to the grocery store and bought actual ingredients and have been cooking. Nothing as delectable as our amazing friends have provided for us, but still. Food. It feels like real life again.

In addition to his day job, Phil is working on getting out the rest of the wristbands. In case I didn't say it before, many, many thanks are due to Erin, Jessica, Todd and my mom for getting us caught up when we've fallen behind. There would be no Cancer Kicking without you, at least from the perspective of about 1500 wrists. And of course a huge thanks to everyone who continues to support myeloma awareness by rocking your wristbands.

So yes, this off-week has been productive. Much more so than the others. I will even venture to tentatively say that all signs point to a smooth final cycle beginning next week and a poop-filled, vomit-free Christmas.

Hallelujah, y'all.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Two Months of our Lives...Gone

We just eclipsed the two month mark since I started my chemotherapy in route to kicking Multiple Myeloma (not Melanoma)for good. I also finished up Chemo Cycle #3 today and I am still doing great since the bout with projectile vomiting.

I am thinking it's time the Cassie and Phil Plus Cancer Video Blog series return tonight (click here to watch one of the first episodes back in October)....does anyone else agree? (Amy L. - you owe me a comment and I think I owe you four more bracelets).

Also, leave a comment on when you think I should unveil my dyed hair:
(1) After Christmas...idoit! But before New Year's.
(2) Dude, you should totally rock it for New Year's
(3) What?!?! I didn't know you were going to dye your hair!
(4) If you were tough you would just stop talking about it and do it now.

Multiple Myeloma for Dummies Helps Build Awareness in Every U.S. State and 50 Countries Since Phil started chemo only 2 Months Ago. Here are some of the numbers:
Check out below to see just where the traffic is coming from:

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Ocean is a Believer...sort of

Michigan faithful I need your help! How do I get Ocean to fall in love with Michigan Football!?! Leave a comment and let me know! I am struggling...

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Cancer Kicker bracelets. You want 'em, we got 'em.

We're totally jumping on the silicone cancer bracelet bandwagon, guys....just look at our unborn child already representing in the womb in the picture below! We are All In for Kicking Cancer. Please DOMINATE with us! You can also order a Myeloma Dominate Shirt!

It all began when we decided to get some made for our friends who were running the BHBH run with Phil, kind of as a team thing. But when we saw that the minimum order was a hundred bracelets we started thinking, I bet there are people who would wanna rock these and here they are!!!!. So we had a few hundred made because, you know, the more you buy the more you save (I know, that makes zero sense but it got Phil to buy 500) and so now we must sell them to recoup the money we spent getting them made. Ahem.

Here's the lovely bling:



And the inside of the bracelets is embossed with "Phil 4:13" which is Phil's personal favorite scripture verse. I wanted to put the one from 2 Kings where the punk kids are calling Elisha a baldhead but rock beats scissors so Phil 4:13 is on there instead.

If you want to show your support by sporting a myeloma-burgundy Cancer Kicker bracelet, you can purchase them online by clicking here.

Thanks, all. Keep dominating.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Oh boy...'s a girl!

We had our ultrasound this morning and saw a beautiful, sleepy little girl curled up and using her placenta as a pillow. Awwwww. Toward the end she gave us a little thumbs-up as if to say, "It's cool, you guys. I got this."

This pregnancy is SO different from the other two. First, I'm carrying much higher and more compactly than I did with Ocean or Iris. I can still wear regular jeans (just bigger ones) which wasn't a possibility past 12 weeks with Ocean, and about 9 weeks with Iris. Really.

Also, this one is QUIET. She kind of rolls around from time to time or gives me a little thump to let me know she's there, whereas at this point with both the others it was like a freaking three-ring-circus inside my uterus. The ultrasound tech called her stubborn because she wouldn't move. I prefer to think that she's laid-back. I'm freaking due for one of those, for crying out loud.

Also, the profile didn't scream PHIL! like the other two did. At least not to the same degree. So maybe this one will look more like me...? A mother with long pregnancies and what feels like even longer labors can hope.

The name we will keep to ourselves until she arrives. I'd love to tell the kids, but then everyone would know. So they'll have to wait as well. They both seem content with the idea of another girl and I'm looking forward to seeing how she blends with the entity which we call OceanIris. (Ocean, by himself, is fabulous. So is Iris. Together? Holy Shnikes. Put on a helmet, get the hose ready and don't look directly at it or you might turn into a pile of ash.)

We'll close with a photo of our newest dominator.