Friday, September 30, 2011

Celebrate! One Year Post Transplant Appointment at Duke

Wednesday was a joyful day! We headed to the Duke ABMT Clinic with EZ's test results in hand, knowing they had also been sent ahead to Dr. Gasparetto (the oncologist) and Amanda (her nurse practitioner), for their review. We were excited to once again visit the place where Ernie was given a clean start, free of multiple myeloma cells. A place where we spent a month preparing for, and recovering from, the transplant. To help show our gratitude, I baked cookies to share with the nurses and doctors, and we looked forward to seeing every one of them and giving lots of hugs. It felt, in some ways, like going back home for a reunion. And best of all, we already knew we were going to celebrate good news! Everyone was  elated to see Ernie looking so well, especially walking  around without a walker or cane! Remember, for the most part, they see patients during the worst of times. I guess I was so busy handing out cookies and hugging, that I forgot to take pictures!

In layman's terms, the MRI, Skeletal Survey, Urinalysis, Bone Marrow Biopsy and Blood Work all showed that EZ remains in complete response! Therefore, the transplant and other treatments have been a success! Hallelujah! We know that the stem cell transplant and maintenance therapy he is on, are his best hope for long term survivorship, so for now, we know they are working and we must simply pray it stays that way. His check-ups at Duke will now be every six months, rather than every three. Of course, until we hear otherwise, he will continue to see Dr. Kritz at our local cancer center for monthly labwork and bone strengthener. Ernie has dominated Multiple Myeloma!

Picture of EZ in his dominate t-shirt one year ago!
We are looking forward to attending  the 14th Annual Patient Reunion for the Duke Adult Blood and Marrow Transplant Program on October 29th. There are, sadly, a few faces we met walking the halls, that will not be at the reunion, losing their battle with leukemia. But we hope to see many others that fought blood cancers alongside us.

We take it one day at a time, satisfied to live with the side effects of the disease and treatments, being grateful that the cancer is no longer multiplying out of control, invading EZ's body. In the struggles of the the past year, we have certainly found this to be true..."So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand." Isaiah 41:10 

Thank you to everyone who has prayed for Ernie's healing. Once again, let us say that your love and support mean the world to us as we continue to fight multiple myeloma. Have a blessed weekend and find something to celebrate!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Scrumptious Salads

My Mom and I have definitely been on a salad kick lately and for the most part EZ and Nick enjoy them as well. Not the boring "lettuce, tomato, cucumber and you're done" kind, but the "add all sorts of yummy stuff" kind. From fruit to pecans to goat cheese to green olives to hard boiled eggs to real bacon and avocado, the sky's the limit! And as far as dressings go, make your own or use your favorite bottled type. Of course EZ has never used dressing (dressing is half the fun right?) Right now I love Mazaretti's Poppy Seed for anything with fruit, and prefer to make my own 1/2 cup balsamic/1/2 cup canola oil/1/4 cup Splenda combination for green salads. Of course Bleu Cheese, Buttermilk Ranch and Italian never disappoint...just try to use sparingly so as not to mask the delicious ingredients you are trying to enjoy! There are still so many varieties we want to try, and of course fruit salad and pasta salad are always a hit as well. Here are some pictures of the different salads we put together the past couple of months. It's fun to see all the colors and flavors work together and it makes for a nice presentation as well. Here's to eating more salads!

Monday, September 26, 2011


God gave you a gift of 86,400 seconds today. Have you used one to say "thank you?" ~William A. Ward

Silent gratitude isn't much use to anyone. ~G.B. Stern

If the only prayer you said in your whole life was, "thank you," that would suffice. ~Meister Eckhart

I love a thankful heart. Saying thank you in person, writing thank you notes, sending a thank you by email, or thanking someone over the you take the time? My husband sure does. Ernie has an attitude of gratitude and a day never goes by that he doesn't thank me for something. He does it with words, flowers, chocolate, hugs, kisses, emails, sticky notes and gifts. Recently, as I headed to bed and reached over to turn off my bedside lamp, the Willow Tree figurine pictured above was sitting on my nightstand. I knew immediately who had put it there and I will treasure it always. It wasn't my birthday, or Mother's Day, or our anniversary, or Christmas. He said he just wanted to thank me. I'm going to strive to be more like him. I don't want it to become a lost art.

I think we often feel thankful, but we just don't take the time to express it. That is where we fall short. I read that "gratitude unexpressed is ingratitude". Ouch! Find a way to express your gratitude to someone today. The recipient will surely be blessed!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Pinterest Recipes - I Pinned It and I Did It Six Times This Week!

For the most part, I would bet that the above print rings true (sorry it's blurry!). If you haven't discovered what Pinterest is, you must find out and join the fun, but beware, you can spend alot of time there! Pinterest is addicting, so I am determined, like many other ladies I know, to try at least one or two things that I pin each week. Food seems to be the category of choice for me right now, so this week I actually made six, yes six, new recipes that I pinned! We were spending the week in Boone, so it was easy to do my grocery shopping there based on what I would be making. For once, I planned out our menu for the week, in advance, with special emphasis on my mother's birthday and dishes I thought she might like.

Below you will find pictures of each of the recipes I made, along with a link to where you can find them to try out for yourself! Simply click on the name of the recipe given in the caption. Honestly, my finished products looked very close to the ones published here, which doesn't often happen. I chose to use the more "professional" pictures featured on the sites for the original recipes, rather than my "less than professional" attempts at food photography :-). There were four of us "taste testing" these recipes and we would recommend each and every one!
Cinnamon Roll Pancakes - to die for and worth the effort. Be sure to read all the tips listed on the site when attempting this recipe, and know it will take you a while to make because they are big pancakes!

Buffalo Chicken Soup - Replaced the milk with fat free half and half. Love the three cheeses and convenience of using a rotisserie chicken. Add more hot sauce it you like a little more "kick".

Balsamic Garlic Crusted Pork Tenderloin - love the marinade which made it so tender and juicy, especially when you let it soak in for 24 hours!
Sweet and Spicy Honey Grilled Shrimp - a little sweet and sour... and delicious! Marinate for 24 hours.

 Sweet and Savory Coconut Rice - great accompaniment for Asian dishes like the shrimp above

Broccoli and Italian Sausage Egg Muffins - Yummy brunch dish and low carb for those of us trying to eat less bread. Also versatile if you want to change out the meat and vegetable for different combinations. Really spray your pan to avoid sticking!

So, there you have it. Six recipes in one week! Happy Pinning, and don't forget to give some of those things you pin a try, maybe even this weekend...

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Thankful Thursday - Results from my Procedures!

In preparation for my upcoming appointment with the Duke Adult Bone Marrow Clinic, I underwent a myriad of tests to establish a one-year benchmark from my Stem Cell Transplant. The results are back and we again are so very thankful:

  • Complete Blood Count: Hemoglobin 12.6, Platelets 180K, M-Spike 0, Immunofixation 0
  • 24 Hour Urine Analysis: Normal protein levels
  • Bone Biopsy: No plasma cells in marrow
  • Skeletal X-RAY Survey: No new lesions.  Marginal bone growth in existing lesions, mild anterior compression deformity of L5 - age indeterminate
  • MRI: No new lesions or tumors, marginal bone growth

Some bone regrowth in the sacral area would have been icing on the cake, but even without that, my current regime of 10MG Revlimid every night seems to be keeping the myeloma cells under control. I have an appointment with Dr. Gasparetto at Duke on September 29th to go over all of the reports in more detail.

I thank the Lord daily for:

  •    the wonderful folks that pray continually for me
  •    the good results from my one year post transplant reports
  •    my doctors at the Cancer Center of North Carolina and at the Duke Adult Bone Marrow Clinic
  •    my body's acceptance of the treatments with minimal side effects
  •    my loving family, especially my beautiful wife who sacrificially takes care of me
  •    each day that He gives me to enjoy life, my children, and especially my grand kids
  •    and the saving grace of my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

I close with the following, that each of us knows by heart:
"The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want........"


Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Birthday Food and Fun to Celebrate 81!

Mom's birthday breakfast began with Cinnamon Roll Pancakes...a Pinterest recipe I decided to try as a special treat. They did not disappoint, though mine certainly didn't look quite as perfect as the original. I have no idea how she got her edges so perfectly round! One is all you need and it's just like eating a cinnamon roll, only better because its in pancake form! Yum! Recipe makes four luncheon-plate sized pancakes.

And what  could go better with Cinnamon Roll Pancakes than coffee with Cinnabon Creamer? We do love cinnamon and this new flavor is awesome!

After showers, birthday phone calls for Mom, and playtime with little Emery, we ladies were off to Blowing Rock. This quaint restaurant came highly recommended and was just perfect for our girls lunch out!


When we got home, Ernie and I took Emery for a stroll in the park, then it was time for a picture of  our four generations of girls. What a blessing to be together for Mom's birthday. Even Emery was all smiles!

Dinner time brought yet another new Pinterest recipe to the table...Grilled Balsamic Garlic-Crusted Pork Tenderloin. Delicious served with a berry salad that included strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, apples, glazed pecans, spring mix, goat cheese crumbles and even a little avocado. I would definitely recommend these two Pinterest recipes and am so glad "I pinned it and I did it"!

And last, but not least, a carrot cake requested by Mom and courtesy of Harris Teeter. Small slivers for about rich! We will all get back on the diet wagon tomorrow.

Happy Birthday Mom! Hope your day was special from start to finish. We love you, admire you and want to be just like you when we're 81!!