Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Team Joy Light the Night Walk

Hello friends & family!

As all of you know, I was diagnosed with a rare form of Leukemia in 2007. My doctors gave me my grim statistics: they could medically prove I had this for less than 2 weeks; if I had not received treatment when I did, I only had 2 days left to live; and I was given a 40% chance of survival. All of you were instrumental in helping me and my family overcome this disease. Thank you for your service, love, and concern.

I have not been active in charity work for a few years, but through my experience with Leukemia, I have decided to focus my efforts on the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. This is due to their significant help that they gave to me and my family during my sickness. Two examples of this help include: 1) research and origination of technology and drug development funded by the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society whose technology and protocols saved my life and 2) free educational resources provided for patients and families touched by blood cancers. Ken participated in 2 conference calls and was able to get answers to our questions from international experts concerning my rare condition.

The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS) is the world’s largest voluntary health organization dedicated to funding blood cancer research and providing education and services for patients and their families. The LLS research funding is aimed at effective discovery and development of new therapies for all blood cancer patients who need them. You can learn more about this society at www.LLS.org.

If you possibly can, I’m asking you to join me and my family for the “Light the Night” walk on Saturday, October 9th, at Sugarhouse Park and to make a donation as part of your participation. Light the Night Walk is LLS’s annual walk and fundraising event. On Walk night, participants gather in cities and towns across the U.S. and Canada and walk in twilight, holding illuminated balloons—white for survivors, red for supporters, gold in memory of loved ones lost. Anyone can take part—children, adults, and seniors are all welcome. This is a casual fundraising walk with no fitness requirements. Ken and I are so passionate about this endeavor that we will match any donation that you make. Donations are accepted in any increments and are appreciated even if you are unable to attend. For a $100 donation, you will receive an illuminated balloon, t-shirt, and dinner. Registration starts at 5:00 p.m. and includes dinner, live entertainment, and a kid zone. The walk will start at 7:15 p.m. You can also register on-line. To register to walk and to make a donation, visit www.lightthenight.org. Click on Register to Walk, then click on Join a Team. Look for Team Joy and Sugarhouse Park. If you are unable to attend but would like to make a donation to my team fundraising page, use the following link: http://pages.lightthenight.org/dm/saltlake10/TeamJoy. Click on Donate to a Team Member…Joy Woolley. “We all know someone with cancer. It’s time to walk the talk. Please join us and raise funds for lifesaving cancer research.” --Tina Fey, Light the Night Walk National Spokesperson

I know this is short notice, but considering a 1 ½ mile walk for all of you marathon and tri-athlete types will be a walk in the park (literally!) with no training necessary, I hope you’ll join us. We’ll see if you can out walk me with my 2 new titanium hips!



Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Stinker Pokes

That's what Eleanor (my 3 year old twin) calls my insulin shots. This is one of the lovely side effects of the medication (Prednisone) the doctors put me on to shock my body. (The spleenectomy didn't work.) The hope was to see if the Prednisone could get my antibodies that fight my red blood cells under control. And shock it did! I won't bore you with the laundry list of side effects. The great news is that it worked! My red blood cell count is now in a normal range! I haven't had a blood transfusion in 2 months (after having them every 1-2 weeks for almost 2 years) and I feel more energetic. I am on a Prednisone taper and will hopefully be off of this med within a month...and the side effects should go away. I look forward to getting back to a normal life. It was 2 years ago this month that I was diagnosed with Leukemia and I am so happy to be alive...to be with Ken & my kids and to continue friendships and associations with all of you.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Spleenless and ready for Summer

Where does the time go? I try to wait for interesting/exciting news to update this blog...we are in the "wait and see" holding pattern again. I had my spleen removed in May in hopes of destroying the antibodies that fight my new red blood cells. The great news is that I didn't need a transfusion for a month after the surgery. It's too soon to see a pattern in transfusions, yet, but it definitely reduced the amount of transfusions that I've needed. I feel great and am able to take on a lot more than I have for the past year. I think my body is just used to functioning on half the normal amount of blood. I do look forward to normal amounts of blood and energy...SOON!

My doctors okayed a trip in April to the Florida Keys with Ken's family. Ken's parents were asked to preside over the Mormon Church in part of Russia, Kazakstan and Belarus. They will be living in Moscow for the next three years. Of course we will miss them and we will not see them very often. It was fun to all be together. A week after returning home from Florida, we flew to Disneyland with my parents. We loved spending time with our family! We're in the thick of birthdays right now. Olivia just turned 11, Joshua got baptized, Grace turns 6 in two weeks, and Eleanor & Noah turn 3 a few days later. We are in the epic stage of no diapers! The landfill is definitely grateful, I'm sure. It's summer...life is great! As always, thank you for your love, support, and prayers.

Friday, March 6, 2009

One Year Post Transplant

Many of you have asked about the blog and requested an update. I had no idea that people were still checking the blog! Thank you so much for your continued interest in my recovery and in my family.

I am feeling great...so much better than a year ago! It's hard to believe what has happened over the past year-and-a-half. I am a believer in miracles and am happy to be alive. I just had my one year post transplant review with my doctor. She reviewed all of the testing info they have gathered over the past month. Great news: there is no leukemia and my bone marrow is 100% fully engrafted. It is producing everything as it should. However, my body is still attacking the new red blood cells that my bone marrow produces. I receive blood transfusions every 2 weeks. The doctors are considering a few different options to combat this. As I get new information, I'll update this blog.

We enjoyed Christmas together as a family and spent New Year's in Las Vegas with Ken's family. Ken & I were completely shocked when my doctors approved a trip to Hawaii in January. We went with friends, without kids, and had a relaxing vacation.

Thank you for all of the love and support you have given to me and my family...the heartfelt notes and cards, phonecalls, dinners, carpools, childcare, and especially your prayers. Your friendship is a treasured gift. Thank you also to Ken's sisters for upkeeping this blog for so long.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Patience & The Magic Kingdom

The "wait and see" period progresses again as Joy waits to see how the Rutuxin will affect the sustainability of her red blood cells. She's finished her treatment with the drug and should know the results within a few weeks. Meanwhile, Joy continues to be a trooper as she gets her regular tranfusions and IVs and takes her many pills. In fact, she had a bit of a scare last week when the pharmacist gave her a double dose of one of her medications. This caused her kidneys to have problems and resulted in her being taken off other medications. Hopefully, being off the other medications will have no consequences. So far, so good!

At the same time, Joy, Ken, and the three oldests kids are thrilled that the doctors have cleared her to go to Disneyland next month with some family friends for a fun family vacation. Cheers!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

New Season, New Treatment

Joy started a new medication this past week called Rutuxin. It's one of 5 "miracle" drugs for treating cancer and is usually used to treat lymphoma patients because it kills lyphocytes, a type of white blood cell involved in lymphoma. They're really hard to kill and Joy's doctors believe some residual O-type lymphocytes in her system might be responsible for killing off her new A+-type red blood cells. The drug is low-risk and she had her first dose on Tuesday. Unfortunately, when the doctors turned up the dosage, Joy had an allergic reaction and had to be hospitalized overnight. Fortunately, she was in the hospital, a great place to be when you have an allergice reaction! And, one of her favorite nurses was on duty to take care of her. Joy's back at home now and will continue to receive doses of Rutuxin each week for a month.

In other news, she and the family are all keeping busy with the advent of the new school year as well as chasing after two rambunctious two-year olds!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Small Wonders

Small things . . . but exciting ones--maybe. For the last two weeks, Joy has only needed half of the amount of blood in her transfusions as before. This could mean that Joy's red blood cells are starting to survive. And, this does mean that Joy's been feeling a lot more energetic lately--Hoorah!

Meanwhile, all the family spent some relaxing days around the pool in Las Vegas. (Even the twins slept better at night--hoorah!) Thanks again for all of your support.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Those Lazy, Hazy, Days of Summer

Joy's days are getting more relaxed--or, rather, her nights. She no longer has to give herself daily IVs of magnesium in the evening--she's been upgraded to pills. Yea! A great relief. Along with this improvement, Joy also gets to enjoy all the fresh summer fruits and veggies, previously forbidden. (Pull out your baby spinach, avocadoes, and poppyseeds! Joy has the best recipe for spinach salad with poppyseed dressing.)

Meanwhile, Joy still receives transfusion every one or two weeks while she waits for her red blood cell production to kick in without any glitches. Other than that . . . the waiting game remains the same. We'll be sure to update the blog as soon as anything changes. Thank you for all of your love and support!

Monday, June 2, 2008

Day 133 and Counting . . .

Day 133 and counting! Joy's counting to 200 now. The doctors have told her that it's not uncommon to take 200 days to feel much better for people receiving transplants from someone with a different blood type. This is why her red blood cells may not have come back in full force and so she still requires blood transfusions every other week.

Actually, Joy's bone marrow is producing red blood cells, but they seem to be destroyed quickly. This could be a problem stemming from medication that may be killing them. Tests are underway and the results should come in anytime. However, she's not showing any signs of the graph-host disease (Yahoo!) and she's producing white blood cells and platelets well. Also, it's anyone's guess what Joy's new hair will turn out like--it's coming back and seems thick and dark?!

Meanwhile, Joy's been keeping busy. She's been a trooper--she attended all the events of her sister-in-law's wedding. She's also been enjoying running small errands (imagine that!) with Ken in tow. And, she and Ken enjoyed their first walk together in a long time.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

XY or XX?

During a long and very fruitful meeting with Joy's main doctor last weekend, Joy and many of her family learned some great news!

1) She had a biopsy of her bone marrow done and no luekemia was found.

2) All the bone marrow found was from the donor. This is good because it means her cancerous marrow is nowhere to be found.

3) Although she is not producing many red or white blood cells and will most likely require transfusions for the next 1-2 years, this doesn't necessarily mean her marrow isn't working, it just means that there are other factors mitigating its success.

4) Thus far she does not have graft v. host disease.

5) If her blood is DNA tested (next time Joy is in the Olympics) it will show up as being XY. (Okay this is only good news depending on your point of view, but I thought it was interesting nonetheless!)

6) Joy can exercise as much as she feels like.

We are so grateful to have this positive news! We love you Joy!