Thursday, October 30, 2008

it's an icky, rainy day outside.

It is with heavy hearts that we write the blog this afternoon. Yesterday Erica received the devastating news from her doctors that the chemotherapy did not work. There are 40% blasts in her peripheral blood which indicates that the leukemia is still in her body. Therefore, there is no need to do the bone marrow biopsy as planned.

And it gets worse. The docs have offered her two choices: (1) another round of chemotherapy if she would like to try but aren’t very hopeful that it will work. As always, the numbers aren’t in her favor: less than 10% chance it will work and greater than 90% chance it will mean that she dies in the hospital due to complications and/or infections.

(2) Her other option is to leave Stanford and go home. Home to wait, to figure things out, to try and deal with what lies ahead. One doctor said that she may have 3-4 weeks… another speculates it could be months… we understand that it is really the progression of the disease and we are at its mercy.

Needless to say, she is numb and sad. Please keep her in your thoughts and prayers and respect her desire for privacy at this horribly difficult time.

All our love,

Judy, Jaci, & Jamie

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Note from the editor:

Dear Readers,
For those of you who thought to yourselves after reading Erica's blog from last night "Hmmmm, I wonder if Erica was on mass amounts of morphine when she wrote that blog?" The answer is YES! Her comment to me was "I am going to write a quick blog saying that I lost my iPhone," and the blog below is what she came up with. I would just like to point out that this blog was written after a long, hard day filled with serious pain and numerous tests. Will fill you in about that later. For now she is in very good spirits and taking it easy.

Your loyal blog editor,


Breaking News

iPhone Appears to Escape Vampires' Den
BY Erik Hurray

Palo Alto, CA. According to initial reports just leaked from unnamed sources within Stanford University Medical Center, an iPhone known as EJ's Mobile has gone missing. It was last seen Thursday, October 23 by private citizen Jamie Murphy, in the hands of a young medium-built female trying to pass off as a civilian. She wore street clothes but her Medusa-like tangles of intravenous tubage clearly signaled in-patient status. Her mendacity at not wearing the traditional patient gown immediately made your correspondent raise his eyebrows.

The mysterious woman, too bald to own the alias Medusa has been dubbed "Twilight" after the runaway vampire book series and because of the red streak of crimson at her mouth (which she claims is from Jill's spaghetti that night, but your correspondent remains unconvinced). Murphy says that she noticed Twilight had to be moved FIVE times around the F, E, and D units and nurses confirm that finding staff that were willing to draw blood 3-4 times per day from Twilight, whose translucent skin seemed to glow in a spooky way that allowed easy access to good viens but whose icy temperatures forced phlebotemists to wear multiple pairs of latex gloves when examining the alleged patient. Before we could conduct further questioning, Twilight seems to have vanished, leaving neither a drop in her hemoglobin transfusion bag nor any clue as to where she's headed. (Her insurance, HMJPG Hockey Mom & Joe the Plumber Group, is apparently a total fraud and covers no one, so finding the likely culprit through a paper trail has dead ended.)

The search for the missing iPhone has been conducted in a professional and thorough manner. Amber alerts have been issued on the 101 and 280 freeways. Digital Voicemail-sniffing dogs scoured the patient units, the 3rd floor VIP room, the cafeteria, and the radiology ward, places EJ's Mobile's owner has frequented lately. As each hour passes, the owner has less hope that the mobile device will be found intact. "I have had it for about a year and half," the owner, who wishes to remain anonymous, said. "I'm not sure how I will be able to fill the hole its absence has left in my purse."

iTunes stores have offered songs for $0.89 for anyone with any information about the whereabouts of Twilight or EJ's Mobile. Please study the artist's rendition of the missing machine pictured here. Now immediately going to voice mail, experts agree that its battery has long ago burnt out. Still, EJ's Mobile's owner remains hopeful and the search goes on for Santa Clara County's #1 vampire fugitive.

If you have any information, any information at all, please call Room FG30 at (650) 498-3067 instead of EJ's Mobile.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Another Day, Another Room

Greetings from Room F30- Erica's latest (and hopefully LAST) hospital room here at Stanford Medical Center. Things are settling down a little bit as we are getting situated in the new digs, Erica's feng shui-influenced supervision guiding us in our attempt at peace, order and tranquility. Obviously, Erica's immune system is still almost non-existent, and she tires more quickly than usual as a result of this and her medication, but I have to see say- homegirl is looking good! Josh was able to change his schedule and flew in yesterday from Sydney so I am sure this surprise visit lightened her mood substantially, and we spent the day catching up, eating Halloween candy and playing Taboo with Linda and Judy. We are hoping today will be a non-eventful one: no procedures are scheduled and no new infections or aches have developed (knock on wood!) As Jamie said, we are pretty much playing the waiting game at this point. Unfortunately, yesterday the doctors decided it was a good idea to put Erica back on her low-microbial diet, which means right now she's eyeballing the congealed barley "soup" they just brought in for her lunch with justified skepticism. (On a side note, I've been told she's totally OK with me soliciting home-made cookies or treats on this blog. Basically anything made from scratch is doctor-approved and welcome!) Unfortunately, she's still under pretty tight lockdown as far as visitors are concerned due to her weakened immunity, but all the cards, packages, prayers and positive thoughts are so appreciated. Please keep them coming!!! Again, Erica's new address is as follows:

Stanford Hospital & Clinics
Attn: Erica Murray- F Ground 30
300 Pasteur Drive
Stanford, CA 94305

Thursday, October 23, 2008

"A tough spot."

"A tough spot." This is how one of Erica's doctors explained her situation, and she is indeed in a tough spot. There are so many variables, so many uncertainties, so much waiting. Waiting for her white blood cell count to drop. Waiting for her white blood cell count to come back up, then waiting for the results of the bone marrow biopsy to see if this course of chemo worked and put her into remission. Nothing has been decided beyond that. There has been talk of what to do if and when she achieves remission but no firm plans made.

Erica finished a 5-day course of chemotherapy on Sunday night. We won't know for another 15-20 days whether or not this chemo worked. In the meantime we do as we have done before, try to keep her infection free, and so far, it isn't going so well. Since she is neutropenic (meaning she has no immune system) she has developed a fever and infection and the doctors are currently trying to get a handle on it and figure out how to treat it. In addition to this new infection, she is starting to feel the other effects of the chemo: weakness, nausea, soreness, and just all around crappy.

A note to visitors: please, please, please do not come by unless you are 100% healthy and have not been around anyone who has been ill recently. Also, please make sure to schedule a visit, don't just show up. We need to make sure we don't have too many visitors in the room at once. As Erica is currently fighting this still unknown infection, it is probably best to hold off on visiting for now until we know what is going on.

One other small update, Erica's room number has changed. She is now in room D41. The full address is below.


Stanford Hospital and Clinics
Attn: Erica Murray, D Ground 41
300 Pasteur Drive
Stanford, CA 94305

Friday, October 17, 2008

Oct. 17, 2008


Yes, the look of complete shock on Erica's face was well worth the hassle of booking an impromptu flight for the following morning. Andres and I showed up at Stanford Hospital yesterday while Erica, Mom, and Jamie were enjoying lunch outside. Erica's whole face froze, Mom started crying, and Jamie screamed--twice. It was so perfect!!

We spent the afternoon catching up, but even yesterday, Erica began to show signs of treatment effects. She was tired and needed to nap for two hours to make it through the day. By 9:30pm, the nurse came in to administer the third bout of chemotherapy. This involves giving one chemo, waiting three hours, and then giving another. Overall, it starts at 9:30pm and ends around 4am. Can anyone guess why she's tired???

Today, Erica needed a CT for a persistant cough and a bag of platelets, too. Otherwise, the only treatment she received thus far has been at night. As the days progress, she will need other infusions and medications to manage the side effects from the chemotherapy.

Personally, it's lovely to see her... she is positive, laughing, and surrounded by lots of support and love. She is still able to check email occassionally and we read blog posts to her, so she knows all the kind comments that are left here.

I think it's important to mention that Erica has told us that she values time alone. In past hospital admissions, she wanted people to be around her all the time--and I'm talking about as many as can fit in the room! But this time around, she seems content and pleased for moments of introspection and restful quietude... Don't get me wrong: she still loves visitors! But please be aware for those living locally, to perhaps keep visits shorter than has been in the past. And for out of town visitors, please don't expect to sit in the room all day and night as we used to. That said, feel free to still coordinate visits, but know that you need to take long breaks away...

All in all, she's still fighting, brave, and humble. She doesn't ask for anything and she's more concerned with our well-being and state of mind. She has spent some restful time painting, reading, and journaling. She even still lets me climb into bed and spoon with her...

Tuesday, October 14, 2008


Hi Everyone,
Sorry I didn't post last night. There was nothing new to report. Erica spent most of the day yesterday just waiting around for answers and nothing ever came. Today has brought a few more answers but there are still some uncertainties. Erica's team of docs came in around 9:00 this morning and told us that her preliminary lab results are showing that she relapsed with leukemia, but not precisely which type. The short-term plan is to treat her with chemo in an attempt to get her into remission. If remission is achieved, her docs will have to figure out what her best option is afterwards. It is not as simple as doing another transplant, which at this point does not seem to be an option. There is talk about clinical trials or mini-transplants but nothing has been decided on for now.

Erica will most likely begin chemo tomorrow. She will be given a course of chemo that will last anywhere between 4 to 7 days. After that, the waiting game begins for her counts to drop and then to recover. Unlike the last 2 times that Erica has gone through this process, she now has the added obstacle of fighting graft versus host disease caused by the bone marrow transplant. Erica will most likely get very sick over the next couple weeks and will need your love and support more than ever. This next month will be incredibly challenging for her so I beg of you to send all of your love, energy, and courage her way. Below is her mailing address here at Stanford, she would love to hear from you.

Love, Jamie

Stanford Hospital and Clinics
Attn: Erica Murray, E124
300 Pasteur Drive
Stanford, CA 94305

Sunday, October 12, 2008

What we know

Well turns out we don't know much more than what Jaci posted on Friday. Erica went to the hospital on Saturday expecting to be admitted but it turns out they just drew some blood and sent her home. They told her to come back Monday morning for admittance. They still haven't been able to tell her what type of Leukemia it is (ALL or AML) or what the treatment plan is. Hopefully we will know more come tomorrow and I will post again.


Friday, October 10, 2008

strike 3

It's Jaci... short until we know more information and what's going to happen: Erica relapsed again.
Just pray, meditate, send love, do whatever you do.
I promise to write a longer more explanatory post tomorrow...

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Participants Wanted

As a component of the documentary we are working on, we seek to explore some of the common threads young adults with cancer experience. We are currently seeking cancer patients and survivors, aged 18-35, who wouldn't mind being quickly interviewed on camera for the film. If you or someone you know falls in that age range- or they had cancer, particularly a blood cancer, during that age range- please let me know if they'd be willing to share a bit of the experience with us. We are planning to film folks we know in the Bay Area, Los Angeles, New York, and Boston, but can work with you if you live elsewhere!

And the announcement of our working titles:

... drum roll please...

After receiving survey responses from 63 people (thank you, by the way!) and after careful consideration by the production crew, we decided to adopt two working titles, one for the 10-minute "short" (used for applying for grants and for submission to certain festivals/contests) and one for the full-length documentary.

The title of the short will be: You've Got Cancer

The title of the documentary will be: Bone Dry: A Journey Fighting Leukemia
Keep in mind these are working titles and could change/evolve. But for now, project Bone Dry forges onward!

Thank you to everyone who has donated their time, money, and creativity to this project so far. If you want to learn more about it, you can visit By the way, we are in the process of acquiring fiscal sponsorship which will render your future donations tax deductible!