Archive for May, 2015

The Top Ten Things I’ve Learned During My First Month of Chemo

May 31, 2015

When I last posted, it was the eve of my first chemo treatment for Myelodysplastic Syndrome (MDS). There have been many MD Anderson visits since then for chemo, transfusions, clinical studies, reviews, and blood draws. I’ve learned a lot about myself, my family, my friends, and the hospital since then.

In the true David Letterman style, here are those top ten things starting with number ten.

TEN        A great place to eat while at MDA is the Rotary House. From the main building, on the third floor by elevator A, you cross the sky bridge to another building. It’s pricey, but very nice dining. We entertain all our guests there.

Holly and Lindsey spending the day with us.

Holly and Lindsey spending the day with us.

Nine     I cannot stitch during the long hours of transfusions. The IV line prevents me from being too active. I can’t listen to Audible books either as there are too many interruptions. The iPhone has given me many hours of diversion.

Eight     Some technicians are better than others at finding a vein from which to draw blood or give a transfusion.

Seven     When my pulse rate rises and I’m so short of breath I can barely walk any distance, these are signs I need a transfusion. Don’t wait for a sign of bleeding.

Six     My PA reads my blood results and knows what to prescribe. My Research nurse is my record/appointment keeper and constant contact. When my PA says I shouldn’t be going to Minneapolis Market for eight days without any blood work, believe her.

Jane, my research nurse

Jane, my research nurse

Five     If a technician is in training and you’re the guinea pig, you can refuse to have her perform such services as putting in a Central Venous Catheter. Ask for the expert.

Central Venous Catheter

Central Venous Catheter

Four     Thoughts and prayers from Facebook friends are uplifting and encouraging. I love getting messages while I’m spending the day at the hospital. I don’t feel so alone. Thank you, friends.

Comforting Facebook friends

Comforting friends


Three     Having our older son with us when we meet with the oncologist is reassuring, comforting and supportive.

Todd lending moral support

Todd lending moral support

Two     Our children, their spouses and grand children give me a boost when I’m with them. I forget I’m tired or worried about my cancer thanks to their love and distractions.

Beach with Ashton, Sydney and Lindsey

Galveston beach with Ashton, Sydney and Lindsey

Madison's graduation in Dallas

Madison’s graduation in Dallas

One     My husband is a trooper. We drive to MDA many days every week. Most mornings we are on our way at 6:00 AM. He’s behind the steering wheel and ready to get us there. We’ve had some laughs and some bored moments, but somehow we know this is the way it has to be for now. He never complains and sticks with me all day, each day we are there.

My man. He calls himself the driver.

My man. He calls himself the driver.

Bonus to come     Our youngest son, Troy, and his wife, Michelle, are in Long Beach, California expecting their first baby. Her due date is today. I have chemo all this coming week, but hope to get there for a couple of days the following week. I can’t wait to hold our newest grandson in my arms. Now what better peace could there be?

Little Mommy, Michelle

Little Mommy, Michelle



Put Me In Coach

May 3, 2015

“God has given me this day to use as I will. I can waste it or use it for good. What I do today is very important because I am exchanging a day of my life for it.” This is a quote from Bear Bryant (1913-1983) who was an American college football player and coach. He was best known as the longtime head coach of University of Alabama’s football team.

Team sports have always been a part of my life. Growing up in the 60’s, girls were not encouraged to play sports so I was never on a team, but attended  my brothers’ football and baseball games. Their games were always a family occasion. My high school sweetheart, Tommy Murrah, whom I married, played high school and college football. He didn’t stop there, but played softball on adult recreational teams for many years. Once our children were old enough to play team sports, he coached their teams.

Now, all five of our grandchildren have tried their hand at playing baseball or softball including our three granddaughters. Two of those girls have chosen their teams on stages rather than on the field. We have spent a great part of the spring attending activities that involved our grandchildren.

Lindsey Huebner turned 12 years old the end of March. Our three grandchildren who live near-by traditionally get a day of shopping and over-night at Grammy and Granddaddy’s house without their siblings for their birthday. After we attended one of her softball games, she came to our house for the Easter week-end.

Lindsey on Jaguar softball team

Lindsey ready for a game on the Jaguars

After our day of mall shopping and a chair massage, we began cooking for ten family members coming for Easter lunch.

Lindsey loved the chair massage

Lindsey’s first chair massage

I hadn’t set the table or decorated it for Easter, so Lindsey did most of it. I love teaching our granddaughters the things Grammy does. I hope they will remember when they have their own homes. What a precious time it was to have her with us for fun, work, and church service.

Easter Table Set

Easter Table Set

After lunch it was Easter egg hunt time in our backyard. Our egg hunters ranged from 7-17 years old.

Easter Baskets Full

Easter Baskets Full

Our younger son and his wife, Michelle, live in Long Beach, California. She is expecting their first baby this month. Baby “T” will make six grandchildren for us. We are so blessed. Since they could not come to us, we went to see them for four days of loving them and fun. We attended a baby shower on a gorgeous California Saturday in the park. The hostesses outdid themselves with a beautiful array of all kinds of Tea Party treats for the “T” party.

Beautiful Table

Beautiful Table

We know Troy and Michelle’s baby boy’s name will start with a T, but Troy says he has to meet him and shake his hand before he’s sure what his first name will be. We know he will play sports because Troy has already checked-out the ice skating rink in Long Beach where they can play hockey. Troy has played one sport or another all his life. So the quilt I made for the baby is just that…all kinds of sports. I found a long arm quilter, Karen Shively, in my neighborhood,  who quilted it for me.


Quilt for “T” Murrah

When Troy and my husband are together you can be sure there will be a ballgame involved. We spent one afternoon at Dodgers Stadium which was a first for Tommy. Michelle did not grow-up going to ballgames, like our family, but she has adapted beautifully and seems to enjoy them.


Baby “T” at his First Game

Late last month we made a trip to Dallas to see our older son’s family. Madison Murrah played Alice in “You Can’t Take It With You” for her senior play. We loved seeing her perform one last time as a student of Ursuline Academy at Jesuit Theater.


Encore Madison

It was great to be with our older son, Todd, and his family for a couple of days.


Todd Murrah and family

Tyler Murrah was supposed to play a baseball game while we were there, but it was rained-out. We’re so proud of him. He has played on the freshman baseball team at Jesuit in Dallas this year. The Freshman season is over, but he along with two other Freshmen, were pulled up to Varsity for the playoffs. He won’t get in any games but will get to keep practicing with them.


Tyler Gets a Single

We spent much of yesterday with our daughter, Holly, and her family. Ashton, who is seven years old, is playing machine-pitch baseball. His coach is quite a motivator. The kids love his antics and team spirit.


Ashton & Coach Ron

Sydney joined us later in the day, after attending a birthday party. She tried baseball several years ago, but decided she likes the stage better. She is in competitive cheer and choir. Her spring choir program was this past week. I loved watching her moves. She has lots of fun singing and performing. She’s in the center with the sunglasses.


Sydney Huebner

Yesterday, I also gave Holly a quilt I started for her after she graduated from Texas A & M in 1995. It’s made from her sorority t-shirts. Michelle Henson did a great job long arm quilting it for me. Aw, come on. I know you have lots of quilts that marinate before they are completely cooked.


Holly’s Quilt

Tomorrow will be a red-letter day for me. I will start chemo therapy at MD Anderson Hospital. I was diagnosed with Myelodysplastic Syndrome (MDS) eight years ago. Luckily, I have not needed any treatment for my low hemoglobin until this past month. At that time I was given two pints of blood and had another bone marrow aspiration and biopsy. If the MDS goes untreated research shows that I’ll have AML in a year.

My oncologist, Dr. Guillermo Garcia-Manero, is a Professor in the Department of Leukemia at MD Anderson University of Texas. His main academic and clinical objective is to contribute to significantly better outcomes for patients with Myelodysplastic Syndrome. Dr. Garcia-Manero is the Chief of the Section of MDS in the Department of Leukemia at MD Anderson Cancer Center. One hundred percent of his research and clinical efforts are devoted to patients with MDS. So when he suggested I start a clinical trial taking Dacogen by capsule, my family and I agreed.

Tommy and I will be at MD Anderson very early tomorrow morning for at least eight hours. We’ll do the same each day through Saturday this week. The trial will last for three months and I will be closely monitored. I feel I’m in the best hands possible.

My blessings have been overwhelming as you can see by the joy our family brings to us. My prayer is that I’ll continue to see the growth of our loving children, their spouses, and children. If you could offer the same prayers for me, I’d be ever so grateful. Much love, Judy


Put Me In Coach. I’m ready to play today.




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