Showing posts with label chemo. Show all posts
Showing posts with label chemo. Show all posts

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 19, 2011

Worrying Some More - Maybe for Nothing...

Sorry about the delay in posting, but we've been extremely busy. And that business is sort of directly related to my worrying about Abby. 

Last Tuesday, as I mentioned earlier, we started doing some work on the new house. This crazy SOLID wall (made of concrete blocks, rebar, the works - maybe they wanted to build a bunker at one time??) ran diagonally across what will now be our "great room," so we had that bad boy torn down (involving much jackhammering, sledgehammering, etc.). Because it was so noisy here all week -- and very stressful for Abby, who started following me everywhere -- I really made an effort to keep her out of the house. Here are a few pics of our not-very-exciting adventures:

Wednesday we went to the dog park in the a.m., ran a TON of errands, and had a picnic lunch in the park. (Well, I had lunch anyway. Abby had a pine cone. Reminds me of that old Grape Nuts commercial: "Ever eat a pine tree? Many parts are edible." Really? Many parts??)
Thursday we ran still more errands, went to visit our friend Mazli-pictured on the left, and met up with Dakota at Fiesta Island. Abby had a great time running after Dakota (who is super speedy) and playing with all the other pooches there. But then she crashed in the wet sand, as illustrated below. We couldn't even walk the whole way along the bay like we usually do; had to turn back early because there was no way I was going to be able to carry her almost-50lb.-completely-unwieldy body out of there!
By Friday morning when we went on our walk, we hadn't even made it half way along our usual route when she flopped down in the middle of the street (no sidewalks on that stretch, so we had been walking on the side of the road). Had to literally drag her out of the way as a car was coming!

We turned to go back home and she "teeped over," as we say, several more times--resting in spots on driveways, under trees, anywhere where she could find some shade. I should mention, it's been really hot here lately -- almost like summer. I was really worried about her, having so little stamina and just seeming not at like her usual high-energy self, but I think it was just the combination of: three almost full days of being constantly on the go, plus the noise when we would be at home, plus the heat, plus maybe some cumulative effect of five chemo treatments. 

After I dragged her home from the walk Friday, I took her to her Aunt Terry and Uncle Jon's so she could have some peace and quiet (with occasional diversions of pestering her cousin, Corgi Lou, and a visit with lots of kisses from the neighbor, Sue) while I went furniture shopping. Over the weekend we tried to keep her a little quieter than usual, although Saturday night we did take her for a nice hop through downtown La Jolla (where our tripawd was stared/smiled at by many and loved on by a few) and then Sunday we went to Fiesta Island where, again, she couldn't quite walk the whole way. I was still a little worried about her after that, but then Tuesday night she really seemed to be back to her old spunky ways. We went for a pretty good walk last night after Mike got home, and even after that she came home and was running wind sprints out in the backyard -- trying to get her stamina back up I guess. 

And I'm happy to report that on our walk this a.m. (which was foggy and kind of chilly) she hopped along like her old self.

Next up is the final chemo session on this coming Tuesday -- and the big re-check of the lung x-ray. Please keep a good thought that the little spot on her one lung will not be any bigger! Stay small, Stupid Spot!!!

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 4, 2010


Abby continues to breeze through her chemo! Hoorah. She had her 2nd treatment on Tuesday and we've had no side effects (other than the popcorn not agreeing with her). This time we didn't even have to resort to feeding her plain pasta--she ate pretty normally at every meal. (Although she has not eaten a bowl of just plain ol' dry kibble-which used to be her standard diet-since her update-to-tripawd surgery on Oct. 29. She always gets a little extra somethin' in there now. With all the leftover turkey we've had, it's been easy to entice her to eat a bowl of half-kibble, half-turkey.)

Since she's doing so well, she'll go to an every-two-weeks schedule now, so her next treatment will be Dec. 14, which will likely be the halfway point. 

This time when I took her in, the oncologist said they would check her blood before administering the chemo. If things didn't look good (white cell count I guess) then they would have had to delay the chemo, but he said she was doing great. He also looked at her incision really well. She has this little nubbin (as I like to call it) now where they tied off the sutures on the inside. He said once the sutures are fully absorbed it will go away - which is good, because I'm constantly saying to her, "stop licking your nubbin!" It's already looking a lot better, and her hair continues to grow back so she's looking pretty great.

 Yesterday was her first visit to the dog park (just a regular dog park - as opposed to Fiesta Island, where there's the ocean and MUCH wider open spaces). There weren't too many other dogs. At first it was just Abby and her good friend Dakota, who you probably remember from their play date a while back. Then Pasha showed up. She had a great time! 

I finally got my camera back, as evidenced by the dog park photos. Posted below are a few belated photos of Abby and Leo at Thanksgiving. As you can see, they love each other:
Here they are kissing

Here they are hugging

Here they are begging.

November 19, 2010

Three Week Ampuversary!

It's Abby's three week "ampuversary" today, and as illustrated in the pics and video posted yesterday, she's doing really great. Just a few updates today:
  • We still have our mattress on the floor. She really likes sleeping on our bed during the day now, so if... I mean when...we put the mattress back up on the box spring, I'll probably have to start keeping our bedroom door closed. Don't mind her jumping up there to sleep, but the jumping down is no good, and there's not enough room for the ramp that we borrowed. Could try stairs, but I bet she'd jump over them!
  • Speaking of sleeping on our bed during the day, she is still sleeping a lot more than before all this. The oncologist said it could partly be the chemo, but I'm guessing it's also just the fact of still recovering from everything, and her stamina is not yet what it used to be. Maybe she just gets more tired out now when we walk, and this is how it's going to be from now on? Not sure... We'll see.
  • Thought you all might be interested to hear the weight differential from before and after the amp/first chemo. They weighed her at her follow up appointment this past Wed, and she'd only lost about 4.5 pounds. I was pretty surprised by that! I mean, she has very skinny front legs, but since they also took her shoulder and all the muscles around it, I thought she'd lose more. Plus, with all the variety in her diet since the chemo, I've had no idea if we're feeding her enough. 
This weekend is going to be busy, with a party tomorrow and going to Santa Barbara on Sunday, so I'll probably post again on Monday. Mike will be in charge of her all day Sunday. I'll tell him to take some pictures if she does anything super cute -- but what do you wanna bet he'll forget? I told him he can't take her to Fiesta Island while I'm gone, because I really want to be there to witness her first time back! Maybe we'll take her together on Thanksgiving morning - that would be pretty appropriate, I think.

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!

October 28, 2010

The Rollercoaster Ride to Arrive at a Decision

It's been a crazy couple of days. I thought people might like to know how we arrived at our decision to have Abby's leg amputated (I prefer the phrase "have her updated to a tripawd") and undergo chemo. 

Everything kind of fell into place after a quick roller coaster ride as follows:
  • Monday afternoon: find out dog has osteosarcoma (via bone biopsy performed the previous Thur). Vet says she'll be in terrible pain and dead in under 6 months if we do nothing. (OK, he doesn't say "dead" - he uses one of the euphemisms like "won't make it," like she's a contestant trying out for American Idol or something.) Says he'll talk to the oncologist and call back Tuesday with survival odds for surgery/chemo route. Mood: very black.
  • Tuesday: find out odds are not great, but misunderstand odds and think they are better than they really are. Mood: charcoal gray.
  • Wed morning: dog gets chest xrayed at vet. No sign of cancer in the lungs! Great news as the lungs are the first place the disease metastasizes. Mood: pale gray. Feeling some hope.
  • Wed morning, late: call for consultation with oncologist. Can't get me in until Wed, Nov 3. Mood: darkening. Worrying about aggressive cancer being given one more week to attack my dog. Call back to ask if I can be on a cancellation list. She says it's not really an option, since the doc will be out of the office the next four days for one reason or another.
  • Wed early afternoon: call vet, worried about one week delay. He says it's not ideal. Also explains how stats are more grim than we thought. Mood: heading to black again
  • Wed mid-afternoon: while looking for an alternative oncologist, the office calls - there's a cancellation! Rush over with the dog. Oncologist is super nice, knowledgeable, answers all my questions before I can even ask them. Abby hugs and kisses him. Repeatedly. He says her xrays look really good and we seem to have caught it early. Seconds the recommendation for amputation/chemo. He explains we may have caught it early due to the location. Most cases are in apparently in the radius bone - the bigger weight bearing bone of the front leg. Hers is in the ulna - the smaller bone that runs alongside. He explains it's such a thin bone, the lump was obvious early on. Just to fully explain our options, he said we could also do a "limb sparing" procedure. Her leg would have been saved - but it would mean 8 weeks of total rest. 8 weeks! For a puppy! He said some surgeons even suggest 8 weeks in a crate. No way would we consider doing that to her. In contrast, most dogs recover well and adjust quickly to becoming a tripawd. And as soon as she recovers from the surgery - hopefully in the 10ish days range - she will be 100% pain free. This is huge, as she is in a lot of pain right now. So, amputation to relieve the pain, plus chemo to hopefully extend her life. Mood: MUCH improved. Feeling kinda hopeful.
  • Wed late afternoon: call vet to get info on last piece of the puzzle, the estimate/scheduling for the update-Abby-to-a-tripawd procedure. He says he'll likely call back Thur as he has to call the surgeon. Calls back within the hour and says the surgeon (usually booked 3 weeks out) has had a cancellation. She can come in Friday. Mood: almost giddy. Everything's falling into place to get on this quickly!
  • Wed night: we make the GO decision. Commence freaking out. Mood: panicked. What the hell are we doing, willingly cutting off our dog's leg?? Friends and family weigh in and scrape me off the ceiling. 
Ultimately, it's really the best option, and I think we are doing the right thing for her. Doing nothing would mean fighting her pain until the end, which would be in sight on the horizon. Now we are hopefully going to end her pain and extend her life. Our ultimate goal is to get her back to Fiesta Island, the huge dog park/beach here in San Diego that she loves. It's her favorite place. If we did not do any of this, she really couldn't go back-not just because of the pain but also because of the risk of breaking the weakened bone. 

I am envisioning a future post that will be entitled: Fiesta Island!! (Mood: hopeful. And maybe still just a little bit panicked.)