Cancer Journey

Julie was diagnosed with Stage IV breast cancer in April 2015.

Earlier that month she and her husband Paul and dog Gus were visiting Palm Springs for his birthday. While there, Julie was feeling weak and tired. After finding her gums bleeding she decided to visit the Desert Dental Spa. Despite her fear of Dentists, Maisy and Amir helped her feel at ease. They found an abscess and performed some excellent work. But the loss of blood and sedation resulted in a trip to the emergency room. It turned out that her blood levels were were very low and required a transfusion. Platelets were at 9.

After a number of tests a bone marrow aspirate confirmed that Julie had Stage IV breast cancer. An initial prognosis of 1-2 years was given. This was quite a shock.

Treatment started with Taxol. Julie lost her hair but didn't suffer from side effects too much. Medical Pot was legal in California and it helped her a lot. It was up and down, but mostly good. Another trip down to Palm springs for more dental work and a later one for a visit with family worked out. Home improvements and landscaping for Gus were done.

The Taxol started to lose it's effectiveness after a while. In December 2016 an Ibrance treatment was started. Sadly this one didn't work so well. In June, 2017 the switchover to Xeloda was done. This one worked pretty well, but it did have it's own side effects on feet/hands. Julie lost her fingerprints during this period, and we ended up wrapping her feet in bandages to get our regular walks in. She did however regain her hair which made her oh so happy.

During this time Julie was able to do many of the things she loved. She supported animals in need, including organizing a month long lost dog search and rescue. To get exercise Julie, Paul and Gus would drive down to Rockridge where the ground was flat and the coffee was warm and tasty.

The weekend routine meant an early trip to new favorite Dynamo Donuts, then off to the Ferry Building Farmer's Market, followed by a walk down Valencia street shops and restaurants.

Brunch at Tacolicious or Craftsmen and Wolves was followed by walking Gus to his favorite places. He'd get treats at Balm and wait patiently at 1-2-3-4 Go records and other shops. Then Julie would take in the murals on Clarion Alley, the Women's Building or the Mission Pool, all while finding some impressive street art.

After some issues with Xeloda including some confusion it was decided to switch to Doxil chemotherapy in March 2019. This seemed to go well, but the tumor markers continued to rise. Growths in the spine required radiation therapy and gaps in Chemotherapy.

Tumor markers continued to rise and a switch was made to Piqray in November 2019. Julie would not even complete one round. By this time the cancer had progressed to her liver and brain. She was admitted to the hospital with confusion and weakness. She did have a special visitor that did lift her spirits.

At the end whole-brain radiation was tried, but it was really too late. Family and friends gathered and Julie lost most consciousness on Dec 7th. She was later admitted to in home hospice and passed away on the 12th.