Showing posts with label Vet Cancer Group. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Vet Cancer Group. Show all posts

July 6, 2011

Another Good Check Up & Feeling Crafty

Abby had a quick check up at the Vet Cancer Group today just to check her blood and make sure she is doing OK taking the Cytoxan every day now. All went well and Dr. V. said her blood looked great - in fact, it was the best it's been. We go back again in two weeks for x-rays. Of course we are hoping the Lone Met will still be a loner, and once we have confirmed that he is, we will have the "Rename the Lone Met" contest. Don't want to have it now, just in case... So fingers and paws are crossed for good news in two weeks. 

We still haven't started Abby on the artemisinin (which I blogged about here) as she's had a wee bit of tummy issues. I'm certain it's from stealing green peaches off another of our peach trees which is not producing much yet. (We've caught her munching on the pits a couple of times...) She is almost back to being a "solid citizen" so we'll be starting the "arte" soon.

As for feeling crafty, I've been playing with my "Brushes" app on my iPad a bit more and did this e-painting of Abby. This is the pose you will most often find her in as she very much enjoys a bit of belly rubbing. She pretty much lays around like that, in the hopes that a hand will come by. (I hope you see this as "art" and not "puppy porn." Mike wanted me to incorporate a fig leaf, just in case anyone might be offended, but I know you guys don't offend easily!)
Slut Puppy        

Three Bunnies & A Rat

In other craftiness, my sisters and I get together every once in a great while for what we like to call "Forced Crafting." You must participate, no matter how much you suck at the particular craft we are working on. In the past we have done Christmas wreaths, beaded bracelets, little stuffed Easter chickies and bunnies made of felt, etc. etc. This time we tried "felting wool," in which you basically just get this special wool (called "roving"), form it into a shape, and stab it repeatedly (and yourself occasionally) with a special needle until it magically retains said shape. We made bunnies. (Well, they all started out as bunnies, but one ended up becoming a rat... And a darn handsome rat he is!)

After we made the bunnies/rat, I had to go, but my sisters made a very fine replica of corgi Lou, remember him from this previous post?, and a neighbor's dog, Marley. Too cute, eh? We are going to try again this week. I'm going to start slow and attempt a quadpawd first. Actually, I can't decide if a tripawd will be harder (tough to get it to stand/sit without falling over...) or easier (one less leg to make!). You can be sure that if they come out cute I'll be posting pics all over the place - the blog, Facebook, Twitter, maybe even a YouTube video! (And if they come out ugly, I will only post the pics here.)
Applying the Tail to the Rat
Marley, next to his photo
Finally, I just want to say there have been some very sad posts on the BoneCancerDogs listserv and on the Tripawds' site the last few days about sweet pooches who lost their battle with this oh-so-shitty disease. We are thinking of you guys and hoping you are taking some comfort in the fact that your furry family members are now running pain free. Hang in there. 

June 22, 2011

And Yet More Needless Worrying...

Abby had a follow up appointment at the Vet Cancer Group today with Dr. V. Sadly, her boyfriend Hank wasn't there, but she still had a fun time. They make a fuss and pet her and give her lots of cookies. Here she is sporting her pink bandage, which oh-so-smartly matches her leash and collar. 

I've been a bit worried about her because we had to finally give up on the Palladia. Before, she would only occasionally have GI issues with it, but it was getting to the point where she could only be on it for about 3 doses and then she would have major GI troubles. I was worried that the Lone Met would have a field day in her lungs if we suddenly stopped hitting it with the Palladia, but Dr. V. said not to worry. What we will do now is give her the Cytoxan/Piroxicam doses every day, instead of just T, Th, S & S. So, she'll still be getting a 'hit' of chemo every day. The Cytoxan is less likely to give her GI trouble, although it can lower the white blood cell count. So far, her white counts have been really good, so we'll start the Cytoxan daily and go back in 2 weeks to make sure it's not having any negative effects. As long as she seems to be handling that OK, then I'll also start to add in artemisinin, which is part of the half-holistic, or halflistic, approach I blogged about a few posts back. If you are interested, you can read more about artemisinin here on the Bone Cancer Dogs site, but basically it's an herb that has been shown to kill cancer cells in the lab (oh, and by that I mean the laboratory - not a Labrador retriever...). They have used it as an anti-malarial drug in Asia for decades, so there's a lot of info about how it works and potential side effects. Anyway, I don't want to get all technical, so I'll just post a pic of how it all works:
In related news, I have come to realize that the Palladia was actually making her less energetic. And, even with the Palladia, her energy was already akin to something like a toddler hopped up on cotton candy, so now it's really through the roof. I used to be able to wear her out for the day by taking her to Fiesta Island for an hour, but not so much now. By dinner time she is up and stealing napkins off the table and dirty socks out of the laundry and trying to chew on me, and just generally being her old terrorist puppy self. Here I thought she was just growing up a bit! But, no, it was the Palladia making her feel a bit, well, poopy. As a testament to her new-found almost-boundless energy, here are some (of the many) pics I took at Fiesta Island on Saturday. (Wish I'd taken my camera on Sunday too, as we met a cute Tripawd her same age named Mushroom and they actually played together! Hopefully we'll see him again soon.)

Abby loved this little dog, Enzo.

They wrestled for about 15 min, which is RARE for her now.

More wrestling. (Don't worry - he was not crushed.)

Here is another random dog that she raced after...

...and raced after...

...and raced after...

...and, well, you get the idea.

Love this action shot where she is fully airborne!
On a final note, the peaches are almost coming to an end! We've been making the most delicious peach sorbet with them! Abby loves it! (And so does Mike, which lets you know how good it is because he has mostly gone off sweets. Crazy boy.) We are going to miss the peaches so! But at least we have a freezer full of them still.

Tune in next time when I plan to blog about the Kill Barney Tour, which Abby very much wants to be a part of. (You'll just have to tune in ... wait, people don't 'tune in' on the web... you'll just have to click in for an explanation.) Type at you next time. Thanks for reading, or skimming, or whatever.

May 21, 2011

Going Halflistic

...which is not the same as going ballistic... "Halflistic" is the word I made up for our new not-wholly-holistic approach with Abby. We are going to blend conventional/Western meds with some Eastern supplements. Yes, we are going East-meets-Westy on her. Here is my illustration of that:
East Meets Westie
[This is my first attempt at a "Brushes" sketch - Brushes being an app for my new iPad. I'm not very good at "painting" with my fingertip yet... as you can see, since that doesn't really look like a Westie at all, but it's an approximation of a Westie anyway...]

Sprinkling in some pouncing pics...
I discussed all this with Abby's oncologist, Dr. V. at the Vet Cancer Group yesterday. I told him about how I'd thought she was not doing well on the Palladia, which led to a bunch of panic-stricken research. He was very open to everything I brought up. Of course, he does think some folks out there are just trying to make a buck off your fear of the cancer in your dog, so he doesn't recommend trying just any old thing, but all the supplements I discussed with him he was OK with. He said if it were his dog, he'd have him on "everything but rollerskates" to try to make him better. show she's her usual nutty self
We are going to start with upping her fish oil, since the Omega 3s are supposed to be very good for cancer patients. We'll be doing that slowly, since we don't want it to lead to GI troubles. After that, we are going to add in K9 Immunity, which some of the folks on the Tripawds site say they seemed to have good results with. It's made from mushrooms, which apparently turn your white blood cells into little cancer-cell-fighting Ninjas. (Sorry, I don't have an illustration for that. Maybe that will be my next Brushes sketch...)
Major Action-shot!
I won't go into all the details of the other stuff, unless we have some great success with things and folks want to know what we used. Hopefully... months and months - maybe even years - from now, we can share our secrets of success and Abby's longevity with folks. If anyone does want details of stuff now, just let me know. I could email you info. (Oh, and, at least for now, Abby is back on the Palladia and her stomach seems to be fine.)

In other photo-journalistic news, some of you will have seen this already on my Facebook page, but I captured a photo of the Rapture. (Luckily I captured it before the naked believers started getting sucked up in there...)
Cue the heavenly angels...

And I snitched this post-Rapture pic from here.
Apparently dogs are not part of the Rapture, which I think is ridiculous since they are probably the most Rapture-worthy creatures out there... Anyway, we have not been, nor will we be, raptured, so no worries about Abby being left behind to fend for herself. There are some very thoughtful Christian folk whose heathen friends will take care of your pets post-Rapture for the low low price of only $10. (And, what... I guess you must also need to send them a key to your house Or else how will they get in and get your dog? Plus a duplicate car key, just in case you are raptured right out of your sedan and Fido is left locked in the back seat...) If I see a bunch of dogs running loose, I plan to bring them home for a big party where we'll cook all the meat in the freezer and await the final apawcalypse.

Thanks for reading. Hope your day is rapturous. 

March 31, 2011

A Good Checkup!

Super model, ready for spring
Abby had a checkup yesterday with Dr. V at the Vet Cancer Group and so far, so good! He said her lungs and heart sounded great (this is good news, as the lungs can start to sound wheezy I guess if things are starting to get bad in there...) and she'd gained almost a pound. I never had a dog before who was so uninterested in her food - even back before she got sick - so I was glad she'd gained a little bit of weight. (So hard to convince a super model to eat!) They also took some blood and sent it off to the lab for a thorough check. They called back today and said everything looked good, which is important since she's on so many drugs. Dr. V. sent us home with enough drugs so she doesn't have to go back for a month. When we go back on Apr 27 they'll do another x-ray - that's going to be a BIG day. I'll post before we go to remind everyone to send positive thoughts that the lone met is still sad and lonely in there - and hopefully getting punier and punier!! If all is going well, she'll do 6 months total on the metronomic protocol and then take a break.

Playing life guard at Fiesta Island

In other news, the Orvis Cover Dog contest ends today, March 31. As long as there's no crazy last-minute voting surge, Abby will finish it out firmly on the podium in 3rd place for "Most Unique Voters." She also ended up 18th for the "Most Money Raised". Not bad, considering there were almost 14,000 dogs entered!! Now the "real" judging begins. The winners of the online votes contest will be posted on the web site (I'm not sure if they'll post the whole podium... maybe just the winners). But since she did so well, I'm sure the judges will see her photo and maybe she'll win and be on the cover of the fall catalog! Not sure when they announce that stuff, but I'll be sure to post if we hear anything. The site says the contest raised over $300,000 for canine cancer research! Abby did her bit, bringing in $590! Whoo-hoo!

Finally, on March 29 it was Abby's 5-month Ampuversary. Hopefully she'll have many more to celebrate! 

Even though we won't have any official vet news for another month, I'll try to keep posting at least once a week. After all, she usually does something cute/funny at least every day, so I should have material - and possibly photos and videos. Also, if we ever get our living room organized, I'll post the before, during, and after pics of our construction project. (Seems like it ended so long ago... just taking forever for the furniture to arrive!!)

March 16, 2011

Taking Pills & Making the Podium

No, the dog is not doing performance enhancing drugs to win a race. The two parts of that title don't actually relate to one another. Let me 'splain. (Or perhaps, just sum up.)

PILLS: Today Abby had a follow up appointment with Dr. V. at the Vet Cancer Group to see how she was doing on the Palladia. Since she's doing well (only lost 1/2 a pound and has had only mild GI trouble, easily controlled with a couple of doses of Flagyl), we decided to add additional drugs to our cancer-butt-kicking arsenal. As shown in the photo, in order to keep track of her myriad pills, I had to get her one of those things like grandma uses (no offense to anyone out there who is NOT a grandma and uses one of these things... Like, oh, my hubby - not cuz he takes a ton of pills, but cuz we are forgetful...).  

The main things we added are: Cytoxan (another low-dose chemo med, but it attacks the tumor differently than how the Palladia does, so it will be a one-two punch to that damn met) and Piroxicam (an NSAID, which apparently helps starve the tumor of the blood supply it feeds off of). To help with side effects, she gets Lasix on the same days as the Cytoxan plus a generic Prilosec each day. The plan is to try this for the next 2 weeks and then Dr. V. will check her blood and see how she's doing. It sounds like a lot, but others I talked to on the BoneCancerDogs Yahoo! group are also doing the every other day Palladia/Cytoxan thing, and apparently their dogs' tummies are handling it all well, so hopefully Abby will too. [I don't know if I mentioned it before, but basically this is called Metronomic Chemotherapy, which they explain quite well here if you want to know more.]

PODIUM: So, on to funner things. First of all, if you've been reading along, you know I entered Abby in the Orvis Cover Dog Contest. Well, as of today (the contest ends March 31) she is squarely on the bottom step of the podium for "Most Unique Voters" all by herself (for a long while she was sharing that last step with another dog). Yes, she's THIRD out of what is now up to a pool of 12,800+ dogs! That's a lotta poochness, and our girl is shining! Thanks to all who Vote(d) for Abby. As I've said (what, like a dozen times now?), one vote = one dollar and all the money goes to the Morris Animal Foundation Canine Cancer Research organization.

PICTURES: In other news, Mike and I went away this weekend with his brother and his brother's wife for a quick visit to Santa Barbara. Abby stayed with her aunt and uncle and her cousin, Lou, as she usually does. Her Aunt Terry took these very cute pics of her, anxiously awaiting the return of her parents. (Which is not to say she doesn't have a great time there, cuz she does... I think the main thing she likes is pestering Lou.)
"Are they back yet? Thought I heard their car..."

Isn't it cute how you can just see Lou's little Shmoo head in the background?

PEDICURE: In one last bit of fun news, we stopped by her regular vet office today, just to say hi. Everyone there was SO happy to see her, as this is the first time they've seen her since she got her stitches out way back in Nov. Dr. Shaprut, her regular vet, came out to love on her, but I could see him giving her the 'vet-once over' - surreptitiously checking her gums and whatnot. He noticed her back dew claws were getting long, so offered to have a tech cut them for free. He said "Anything for our Abby!" So, we just stopped to say hi, but ended up getting a free pedicure (peticure?) as well. 

February 23, 2011

Taking a Break

So... after 3 doses of her palladia, Abby got hit by some fairly bad diarrhea starting yesterday. I called Dr. Vancil and he said to skip today's dose. (BTW, someone asked why there were 2 pills in the pic on my previous post - in case you wondered too, it's because she's taking 60mg, which comes as one 50mg pill + a 10mg). Anyway, he said not to worry - he's seen other dogs take a little while to adjust but then do fine on it.

I told him that part of the problem could be the wide variety of things she ate over the long weekend. (What with people handing her treats left and right at the the Canine Cancer Walk Saturday. Plus she got another Flying Dutchman on Monday night... I mean, come on, it was a holiday!... Oh, and there was the salmon I made for her on Sunday... We are bad pawrents...) Anyway, today she is on a bland diet and she seems to be improving in terms of how often she needs to go out. Even w/ the diarrhea, she’s still hungry and still FULL of energy (Monday we went for a 90 min. walk/run at Fiesta Island. 90 minutes!) So overall I’m not too worried about her (yet…). Hoping we’ll just have a little palladia break here for a dose or two, and then be back on it. Hoping that with greater consistency in her diet she’ll adjust a little better to the pills and do well on them.

In related news, I entered this pic of Abby in the Orvis catalog cover contest. (As I've blogged about before, Abby has a cozy "deep dish" Orvis bed, which she loves and I've posted some pics of her in it during her recovery.) There are two different aspects to the contest: one part (for the cover) is just for the Orvis judges to vote on, but the other part is a ‘popularity’ vote to have your dog's pic included on the Orvis site. In order to vote, you have to make at least a $5 donation ($5 = 5 votes), but all the money goes to the Morris Animal Foundation’s Cure Canine Cancer campaign – the same folks behind the Canine Cancer Walk we did. So… if you want to donate money to that cause anyway, please consider donating it via votes for my pretty girl. Click here to Vote for Abby! I know folks hit you up for money probably every other day, so seriously - no worries if you don't wanna/can't donate. Just thought I'd post in case you were interested. Thanks for reading and keeping good thoughts for our girl!

February 16, 2011

Hope in a Little Plastic Bottle

After much research and agonizing, we decided to try the Palladia with Abby, so I went and picked it up today at the Vet Cancer Group office. It's the first drug developed specifically for treating dogs with cancer and was only just approved in 2009, so it's still pretty new. It has, and I quote, "direct anti-tumor and anti-angiogenic activity." I don't totally know what anti-angiogenic means, other than it goes after the type of rapidly growing cells that you get with a tumor, but if you meet someone who bandies that type of word about, they are likely either a doctor or have been through this whole cancer crap before. 

Apparently it can have some rough effects on the tummy, so we have to keep a close eye on her for the first couple of weeks. I'm hoping she'll do well on it since she did so well on the carboplatin (which was her intravenous chemo). We go back to see Dr. Vancil on Feb 25, so hopefully she'll have a good check-up then. One of the side effects can be weight loss, so today she was just under 48lbs, and we'll see what she weighs next time. (I was pretty surprised that she'd gotten up into the 48 lb range! That's practically what she weighed pre-amp!) If she does well on the Palladia (which she will take every M, W, & F) we might add in Cytoxan (another home-dose chemo that works slightly differently) on T, Th, Sat's. Give that stupid met the ol' one-two punch! Take that YOU STUPID MET.

Anyway... of course, I'll keep you posted on how all that's going. On to funner things: in my last post I mentioned going to Fiesta Island without my camera. Made up for it by taking it along this past weekend and snapping a ton of pics. She had such a great time. We ran a bit and she ran along with us. She had tons of energy and people were very impressed with her! Here are some of the best pics:
I love this one. So cute.

My friend said there are never pics of me on the blog, so here...

She met a super cute beagle!

Action shot! Only one paw on the ground!
OK, not dog-related, but on V.Day-eve there was a big pink heart in the sky. (Squint a little to really make it look heart-shaped...)

February 9, 2011

It's Official . . .

. . . the cancer has spread to Abby's lungs. That wee damn spot that the oncologist noticed in her lung x-ray 6 weeks ago has grown -- it hasn't grown super fast (went from ~0.6cm to ~1.0cm), but it's grown and therefore confirmed itself as a "met." Dr. V. says this is not all bad news -- he said we should celebrate the fact that there were no other mets, so we are trying to hang on to that. 

But still . . . it's not great to know that it is officially in her lungs. Also, the fact that it's there brings up more treatment options. He sent us home with info on two different drugs we could try: palladia (a cancer drug developed very recently specifically for dogs) and cytoxan (a chemo drug that I believe is also used in humans and has been around a lot longer). We are trying to do some research and figure out what to do. The goal would be to stop that lone met from getting comfortable and growing and inviting friends over to stay. We do not want her lungs to be a nice place to live!

Anyway, in the case of palladia some dogs have seen the tumors shrink or disappear. The problem with the palladia is that it can have some harsh side effects, so she would need to be monitored closely on it. She's in such great health otherwise, and has such great energy, that I don't want to give her something that will mess that up. Not sure what we are going to do. Might try the palladia and see how it goes. Since she had so few side effects with the carboplatin, maybe she would be fine on the palladia as well. And if not, there is the cytoxan to fall back on. 

Still trying to decide. The other potentially scary thing is that some folks commented online that when their dogs had bad reactions to the palladia and had to go off it, the tumors came back like gang busters. Don't want to piss the tumor off and have it come back all Incredible-Hulkish on us . . .

In happier news, we are definitely going to enjoy every day with her. Today is a beautiful day here in SD, so I took Abby down to Fiesta Island. I didn't bring the camera along because going by myself and carrying her water and her leash and keeping an eye on her seemed like a bit much to also be trying to snap shots of her. But then, of course, I wished I had the camera because (a) there was another tripawd down there (not that she cared, because he was swimming and she was not interested) and (b) there was this 8-mo-old smaller version of a Greater Swiss Mt. Dog down there that she's played with before and they had a great time racing around. 

Abby is so energetic and rambunctious it's hard to believe she is "sick." Dr. V. said that her body really has no idea that little spot of cancer is in there. She's certainly in the envious position of being blissfully ignorant. Of course, even if she did know, I'm pretty sure she'd still be racing around enjoying every minute to the fullest - that's just how dogs are. Definitely need to take a cue from them!

January 25, 2011

Abby's In Love...

Dr. Vancil's dog, Hank, was at the cancer clinic again today. He came running out from the back to see Abby, all wiggly and excited. They are clearly in love, as evidenced in this photo, which is so cute I decided to make it LARGE. (Apparently Abby had Hank pinned when they were playing in the back after her treatment. I'm certain he was letting her win, since not only is he much bigger than her, he's got a spare leg!) Hopefully he'll be there again next time she goes. 

[Dang. Abby just threw up. This same thing happened after her last treatment: as soon as I started writing on the blog, I had to take a break to go clean up. Maybe she doesn't like the blog?? Anyway, I'm thankful for the wood floors here at the new house, instead of carpet like the old place!] 

Abby was supposed to have had a follow-up x-ray today, to see if that tiny spot on her lung had grown. Dr. Vancil and I talked about the pros and cons of taking the x-ray or waiting another 2 weeks. The thinking was that if the spot was obviously bigger, we'd possibly not have done her final treatment of carboplatin and switched to some other drug. He said ideally you want to re-xray 1 month to 6 weeks out, and we were just short of 1 month, so we decided to wait. I was worried that if we took it today, it would be hard to tell if it was clearly bigger or not. I think waiting was the right decision.

[Dang! She just threw up again. She's never thrown up twice, so, another first: I just gave her one of the nausea pills they gave me after her first session. Had to really coax her to take it with some peanut butter. Poor baby. She seems to be feeling a little puny.]

I told Dr. V. about how tired she was the few days after her last treatment, and he said that happens sometimes -- the dog will breeze through the first batch of treatments but by the 5th or 6th, the cumulative effect starts to hit them. [I guess that is what's happening with her and the nausea as well. Hopefully she'll eat her dinner after a bit...] 

Dr. V. checked her out today and said her lungs and heart sound great. She's also maintaining her weight, which is good. They take blood every time she goes to see how her white count is doing (it's always been great), but last time they took extra blood and sent it out to the lab to make sure the chemo isn't messing with her liver and whatnot. He showed me the results they got back, and how all the indicators were basically ideal. He said she's very healthy . . . if only it weren't for that minor little cancer thing!

So, you all will just have to keep those positive thoughts coming for another 2 weeks until we get that x-ray. In the meantime, once she feels better, we'll have to do something to celebrate her final chemo! (At least, the final one for now...)

January 11, 2011

Chemo #5

Wait, isn't that the title of a song? Oh no, that's Mambo #5... Anyway, today was Abby's penultimate chemo session. Dr. Vancil talked to me some more about that single spot on her lung. He said that at first the radiologist told him she didn't see anything, but then he convinced her there was something small there. (Oh damn.We interrupt this post to go clean up. Abby just threw up... That's weird - other than the time she threw up the popcorn, she's been fine every time after chemo. Poor baby.)

Anyway, back to the spot... Dr. Vancil said he talked to the other oncologists in the group (the Vet Cancer Group has several offices in So Cal, so it's nice - it's like getting 2nd and 3rd opinions without having to go see anyone else). They all agreed with his advice, which is to stay the course. He said usually the only options are: upping the dose (but we are already using the max); increasing the frequency (but we're already doing every 2 weeks instead of every 3); or trying another drug. Right now we are using Carboplatin. He said there's no reason to change when there's no guarantee another drug would work any better, and when we don't even know for sure if the spot is a tumor. He said, "it could be anything." (But, of course, I have a bad feeling about it.)

Next time we go, he'll take another x-ray and he'll also have the original one there from our vet. Then we can compare all three side by side. He said it's possible the original slide won't show anything, but that doesn't necessarily mean it wasn't there. He has a super new, turbo-charged machine and who knows how old the machine at the vet's office is. So... we'll see what happens on the 25th. Best case, it just looks the same. If it's way bigger, then we'll see. 

All in all, Dr. V said she's doing great, and he thought she looked like she'd gotten bigger and more muscular. According to their scale, she'd gained 1 1/2 pounds, but it's hard to know if that's accurate since she was totally wiggly the last time we weighed her there. Hopefully she really did gain some weight. Dr. V. said it's rare that you get a dog that does that during chemo!

In more fun news, Dr. Vancil's dog, Hank, was at the office today - a 10-year-old Weimaraner and 3 year cancer-survivor. While I left Abby there for her treatment and went out to run errands, Hank and Abby had a little play session, which Dr. V recorded for me on his phone. Abby was all over Hank. Wish I had some of my own pics to post of them playing! So cute. Dr. V. said he's going to save the video to show to people who come in and are worried about having to perform an amp on their dog. I told him he could point them to my blog as well!

December 28, 2010

Out, Damn Spot!

Well, today Abby had her lungs rechecked at the Vet Cancer Group. Mike was able to go along, which was nice. Abby was happy to have her dad there, as you can see in the photo. The news wasn't totally bad, but it wasn't totally good either. As you probably guessed from the title of this post, there was one spot that the oncologist, Dr. Vancil, was concerned about. He said that it is not something we should really worry about or alter our course of action for . . . yet. 

First of all, he said it might be nothing. Metastases apparently like to hang out in gangs, and since there is only one unusual spot on her x-ray, it may not be a "met" at all. It could be something else - just a little abnormality. He said he needs to get the original x-rays, which were taken by our regular vet, and compare to see what it looked like before. (When our vet originally took her lung x-rays before her surgery, he said her lungs were clear, but maybe he didn't notice this small spot, or maybe it's something that has recently appeared - which would probably not be good news.) On the other hand, if it is in fact a "met," Dr. Vancil said a single met is not a death sentence. He said it's rare to only have one, but he knew of a dog that had one and it grew into a walnut-size-ish tumor, but wasn't even what killed the dog in the end. He said Abby could have a single met and still be quite healthy. We'll see . . . 

He said we'll check her lungs again in about two months and see where we're at. If it's all good/looks the same, we'll go out probably 6 months to a year before rechecking. He said it often happens that after a year, you'll start to see mets in the lungs. He said that's not necessarily the end. We could consider another shorter round of chemo, which he has seen add another good year of health to a dog's life.

So, next steps are that Dr. Vancil will get the original x-rays sent over and compare to the latest ones. He'll also have a radiologist look at the x-rays and see what he/she thinks. In the meantime, Abby is 2/3 of the way done with her chemo. Two more sessions to go! If we keep going on this every-two-weeks schedule, we should be done by January 25th.

We'll see what happens. I'm a little worried about that damn spot. Worried that we may only have another year or two with our little sweetie, but we'll see what the original x-ray showed and see what the radiologist thinks. 

Anyway, even with all that, Abby managed to have some fun at chemo. First of all, she loves to kiss everyone there, and they're all for it, so she enjoys that. Then, Mike and I left to run an errand while she was having her treatment. It was quiet there today so apparently they let her have the run of the place while they were waiting for us to come back. There was a display of toys - a stuffed duck, a tiger, etc. - and other doggy items they've been collecting to donate to a shelter. When we first walked in, Abby tried to snitch several of the toys. Well, when we came back to get her, Abby was the proud owner of the stuffed duck. (It reminds me of when you were a kid and would go to the dentist and get to pick out a toy.) Anyway, some poor unfortunate pooch is now not getting a stuffed duck cuz our little cutie talked the gals at the cancer clinic into giving it to her. She is trying to de-quackerize it even as I type. 

Will let y'all know if we hear anything more from the radiologist or once Dr. V. looks at the older x-rays.

November 17, 2010

Cleared for the Dog Park!

Abby's follow up visit to the Vet Cancer Group went well this morning. As before, she was very happy to go there. She was not quite as happy when they poked her to take the blood sample, but she had a lot of cookies and got a lot of loving and attention, so in the balance it was a good visit. Here are some pictures of her getting cookies from the vet, Dr. Vancil, and the tech. 
Dr. V. said her white cell count had dropped a bit from her count pre-chemo, and both numbers were at the low end of the range, but the number was still high enough that he gave her the OK to go to the dog park. 

I texted a friend we met at the dog park, Leslie, who has a boxer named Dakota that Abby used to love to run and wrestle with at the dog park and at Fiesta Island. I don't think Abby is quite up to the wide open wildness of Fiesta Island just yet (I think she needs to build up her stamina a bit more first), so I thought maybe we'd meet at the dog park at an off hour when it might be sort of quiet. But, instead, Leslie graciously invited us to a private doggie play date at her house. This sounds much better to me, as I worry that the dog park might be busy and a bit overwhelming for her at this point. We are going to visit them tomorrow in the afternoon, so either later Thursday or early Friday I'll post pics from their date. Although Abby played a wee bit with a neighbor's mini Schnauzer on our front lawn yesterday, this will be her first time really playing full out as a Tripawd. Should be interesting... She learned her boxing style of play from Dakota, so we'll see how she does boxing with only her left jab! 

This afternoon we are going to the little park by our house (which is not a dog park, so we'll just hop around and hang out) and then over to visit our friend, Mazli, where Abby is sure to get many treats. Busy day for her! A little walk this morning, the vet, the park this afternoon and a visit to Mazli's! She'll be exhausted after all that.

Hopefully I'll manage to get a video of her running at some point--I'd like to see that myself; I've only seen her run from behind, since I can't keep up with her! One of these days I'll get that done and posted.

November 10, 2010

Chemo - What Fun!

We went for Abby's first chemo session today. She loved it. (She's so nutty.) It was the most excited I've seen her in about a month. She was bouncing all over the place and kissing everyone and hopping around. She loved it there. (We are going to the Vet Cancer Group, which is a different place from where we go for her regular vet care/where her amp was done.) The oncologist I met before, Dr. Vancil, was in a jury pool, so he had to go back to the court house this morning, so we had our appointment with a different oncologist, Dr. Rosenberg--the head of all of VCG (they have several offices in So Cal). She was super nice and sat on the floor with Abby and let Abby kiss her all she wanted.

Here is a picture of her looking oh-so-happy to be at her appointment. (She is checking out the dog and cat art hanging on the wall.)

Dr. R. said they would give her the 100% dose for the first go-round, since Abby looked so healthy and peppy. (I guess in some cases they ease into things, but with Abby we are attacking whole-hog.) She also said if Abby tolerates the treatment well, we might go to an every 2 weeks schedule instead of every 3. We'll see. (Although not right away because of Thanksgiving coming up.) 

The chemo is given by IV. Abby was so amped up, I asked how they would keep her quiet enough to get the drugs in her. Dr. R. said one tech would hold her and pet her while the other one put the IV in, and it would be done in a couple of minutes. When the tech came back with Abby, she said she did great and just lay down on the floor, like "OK, let me have it."

They gave me some nausea medication to bring home and give her, just in case. Within the next 24-72 hours we'll really know how she's doing. We go back in one week so they can check her blood - 7-10 days is generally the low point for white cell count, so they'll check to see how she's doing. If it's really low, she might have to stick close to home for a few days. But other than that, Dr. R. cleared her for all her old activities already! Walking! Dog Park! Dog Beach! HIKING even! She said Abby just needs to build back up her stamina. So, this afternoon, we'll try a little hop around the neighborhood. 

Hopefully she won't feel too nauseous over the next few days so we can start building up her stamina! So far, she seems fine-just tired from the excitement. She came home and wolfed down her breakfast (canned salmon mixed with salmon-flavored kibble), which she had ignored earlier (she never has much appetite in the a.m.). Right now she's napping.

In an amusing side note, I heard the gal working the front desk talking to Dr. V. on the phone. He ended up not getting on a jury after all and was calling to say he was coming back to the office. I heard the gal say to him, "Someone got off the jury by claiming an over-active bladder?" So, people - remember that line next time you want to get off of jury duty!