Showing posts with label palladia. Show all posts
Showing posts with label palladia. Show all posts

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 17, 2011

The Cancer Tour de France

I've decided I prefer to think of this as the Cancer Tour de France, rather than the Cancer Iditarod. Don't get me wrong - I enjoy the Iditarod. We used to love it when they televised it, back a few years ago. Love the dogs and their over-the-top tongue-wagging joy as they pull those sleds through that crazy-harsh countryside in their little bootied feet. Both the Iditarod and the TdF are hard slogs through the countryside; both are serious tests of physical endurance; both have made idols of cancer-butt-kicking Lances (Mackey for one and Armstrong for the other). But... the Iditarod mainly brings up images of scenes that are generally cold and dark and for the most part seem pretty inhospitable. On the other hand, the Tour de France, which is my favorite sporting event of all, brings with it lots of beautiful imagery: the hillsides covered with lavender, fields of sun-worshiping sunflowers, the rainbow colors of the peloton streaming by.
So, the Cancer Tour de France... it's got mad-dash sprints, gut-wrenching climbs up towering mountains, and beautiful days in gorgeous countryside. And last week while I was having a meltdown, that was sort of like one of those hard mountain stages. But I've mellowed out and hopefully we are in for a long stretch of beautiful days. Although... today wasn't exactly one of those. At least it didn't start out that way.

It was spitting here this morning at the house. Kept waiting for a break in the weather to take Abby for a quick walk, but it wouldn't let up. I figured if she was going to get wet we might as well go to Fiesta Island since she gets wet there anyway running in the water. Well, it was not just spitting at FI; it was raining pretty good and being driven by plant-your-feet-&-hold-onto-your-hat wind. As soon as I opened the car door, I knew I was in trouble, but by then there was no turning back. Abby had already jumped out of the car and ran down to the beach, looking back like "What's keeping you??" It was cold, it was windy, I was not at all dressed warmly enough. There are usually dozens of folks/dogs down there, but there were only 3 or 4 other crazy souls down there today. But the dogs were all quite happy. They don't care. Abby had a great time. She ran, she romped, she chased seaguls. What's a little rain?

My toes are still not quite warmed up again, but at least Abby had fun. (And I got some exercise, so that was a bonus.) I was thinking that if one of us is to be blissfully unaware and happy, and one of us has to be painfully aware, I'm glad I'm the one who knows she is sick and she doesn't, and not the other way around.

Oh, and that diarrhea the other day ... that started my whole freak out session... (sorry to bring up her poop again...) anyway, I'm not really sure it was caused by the Palladia now. The other day we caught her in the yard tossing around and nibbling on something small, clumpy and brown. The hubster and I both looked at each other and said at the same time, "Is that...poop?" Thank god it wasn't! On closer inspection -- but not THAT close cuz we were afraid it really was poop -- we realized it was an oxidized plum off one of our trees. We are new to this whole fruit tree thing, not having had any at our old house. Well, that got us wondering if the fruit was ripe enough to pick and we went around to the side of the house where the trees are hiding, and Abby came along and did this:

Yep, she's standing on her back legs, trying to help herself to the not-so-low-hanging not-fully-ripened fruit. So... I'm thinking that could be the cause of the diarrhea, and I went ahead and re-started the Palladia. We'll see how it goes. 

I'll let you know how the follow-up appointment goes with Dr. V. on Friday. Plan to ask him about making her diet more starch-free (instead of just mostly grain-free, like it is now) and about adding in some of the more holistic supplements suggested in Dr. Dressler's book. Hoping he'll be cool with the idea of being a bit more East-meets-West-esque.

The Cancer Iditarod

I know I sounded all optimistic about Abby and how she's doing in yesterday's post... but then this morning (after only being back on the Palladia for one dose) her diarrhea troubles were back. Damn. So I started worrying about having to take her off the Palladia (we are definitely not taking it again - at least until I talk to Dr. V. at her next appointment Friday the 20th) and then I started to worry that The Lone Met would turn into a big ol' bad-ass tumor without Captian Palladia there to keep it bay. Worrying worrying worrying.

Then, also today, some holistic options came up via various channels... and then I started freaking out that maybe we never should have been giving her the Palladia/Cytoxan in the first place! Saw some info online (not the actual research but comments on research) that chemo can do more harm than good because basically, whatever cancer cells survive the chemo become even more aggressive and actually end up promoting metastasis. [Also found what seemed to be the original research about that later on on WebMD. It said, yes, the cancer that survives becomes a "healthier" form of the cancer - but it also said it doesn't mean chemo doesn't work - just that you need new, additional treatment options. But...who knows, maybe the drug companies that makes the chemo paid for that article.] I also saw online that supposedly 80% of oncologists in a survey said they would not choose chemo for themselves, even though they recommend it to their patients. No clue if that is really true.

That all prompted a little melt down/freak out. Spent hours on end in front of the computer researching/reading and continuing to freak out. Posted a comment on the Tripawds site and some folks there tried to talk me down from my nuttiness. Tripawds recommends the "Dog Cancer Survival Guide" from Dr. Dressler - who funnily enough works out of Kihei in Maui - which is exactly where we just were... So, I downloaded that and need to start speed reading through it. Seems like there is a lot of good advice in there. I'm also considering doing a phone consult with a holistic vet that comes highly recommended by some of the Tripawds' folks... Adding to my freak out was the thought that we should have been doing more holistic stuff (diet and supplements) from the get-go. Trying not to think "We wasted 6 months when we could have been doing more!!" Trying...

Anyway, not sure where all this will lead - most likely to: dropping the Palladia, rethinking the Cytoxan (although I'm kinda afraid to go wholly holistic - maybe we'll go "halflistic"), maybe to adding some new supplements to her diet, and getting very strict about the grain free/low carb stuff. (She's on a kibble, Blue Buffalo Wilderness formula, that is supposed to be good, but I need to research it more.)

Ugh. I reread this post and it's just a big jumbled mess, but that is how my brain has been all afternoon. This stuff is all so confusing and its hard to know what info you read is right and what is just hype. Thought about not even posting it, but, well, this is the roller-coaster ride we are on. (Dr. Dressler calls it the Cancer Iditarod, which I've stolen for the title of this post.) Will keep you posted on what changes we make to her routine. I just want her to be around as long as possible -- as long as her quality of life remains as good as it's been. (She has a pretty darn awesome life at the moment...)

Speaking of her awesome life, we went to Fiesta Island this morning, as we've done every morning now since we got back from Maui, and she ran like crazy on the beach with Dakota. Then this afternoon, while I was freaking out and doing research on the computer, she was happily napping, oblivious, in the other room.  

For today's photo, here's an update on her new toys: (The 7-rated shark has an even bigger hole in his head; the squeaky dog has lost all of its limbs - but it keeps on smiling.)

Trying to keep smiling and have a called a moratorium on freaking out.

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 28, 2011

Back on Track (?)

Abby started back up on her Palladia today, so hopefully we won't have any tummy problems this time. Keeping an eye on her, so we'll see how it goes. Last Friday she had a check-up with the oncologist and he said her lungs sounded great, so that was good. I had mentioned that we'd need to keep an eye on her weight, and she'd only lost 1/2 pound so that wasn't too bad, especially considering the 24-hours or so of tummy troubles she had. 

This weekend we took her to Fiesta Island both days and interspersed her walking/playing with bits of running. On Saturday, she was still spunky enough when we finished (after over an hour there) that she tried to take off, running down the beach away from us. She did NOT want to go home yet. So the next day we really tried to wear her out and walked/ran/played for 90 minutes! Here's a little video of her running, and leaving Mike in her dust:

And here are some cute pics I took of her. 
"How cute am I in my new collar?"

"Do we have to go home?"

"After a run, I recommend a recovery smoothie."

Today I took her to FI again by myself and ran into two women back to back, about 2 minutes apart, who had both lost dogs to osteosarcoma. The first woman sort of rubbed me the wrong way. I guess she must have had a bad experience, so she was giving me advice I didn't ask for - telling me to research everything (Hello, librarian here. Used to get paid to research everything...) and not let my oncologist talk me into anything. Anyway, the second lady was much nicer, but she had me in tears. Her poor doggy got bone cancer after she'd only had him 7 months (she adopted a 'senior' dog - I think she said he was seven). But she had him another 18 months after his diagnosis, and she said he was a "special gift." Just like Abby is our special gift.

Oh, one last thing... Abby is doing well in the 'popular vote' for the Orvis Cover Dog Photo Contest - she has made the first page (out of over 500 pages - not 500 dogs, 500 pages, with 21 dogs per page) for "Most Unique Voters," so thanks to everyone who voted. [The dog who is winning for "Most Money Raised" looks like she was a very sweet baby. A sweet baby who had some very rich friends.] I think the voting is open until end of March, so if you still want to donate/vote, click here: Vote for Abby There's a minimum of $5 to vote and each $ = 1 vote and all the money goes to fight canine cancer.

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 18, 2011

OK, It's Only Been 2 Pills, But So Far...

...So good! 

Today, Abby took her second dose of Palladia. Like I said, we have to keep a close eye on her, so here's the checklist:
1. Appetite? Excellent! I just bought her a new flavor of dry kibble yesterday (same grain free brand - Blue Buffalo Wilderness formula - but they were out of her usual salmon flavor, so I bought the duck instead). Normally, she's not super excited about her dry kibble, so we mix some really high quality wet stuff in too (like Newman's Own Organic dog food, which she loves). But today, when I poured the new food into her bin, she stuck her head in and started smacking out. Definitely no loss of appetite with this girl so far. (She is her mother's daughter. If I ever go off my feed, you know something is terribly wrong...)

2. Poop? Solid! Sorry - TMI? But it's the reality of my world - gotta monitor the poops now. I'm actually keeping a little diary about her poop.

3. Energy level? Ridiculous! She is Full. Of. It. She was making me nutty yesterday. Took her for 2 good walk/runs in our hilly neighborhood, plus played some more at home with her toys. Then she was still bugging me while I was trying to do yoga. I'm on the ground, eyes shut, hands on tummy - supposed to be concentrating on my breathing - and she comes over and starts corn-cobbing my hands. (Corn-cobbing is this weird little nibbling thing she does where she runs her tiny front teeth back and forth along your arm/leg/nose, just like she's eating corn on the cob. She's so odd.) Hard to relax when you are being corn-cobbed. 

As for the process, here are some pics.
I have to wear these oh-so-sexy gloves. Powerful stuff.

As you can see, she is not adverse to this process.

"Mmmmmmm. Chemo-meds..."
Thanks for reading. Post at y'all soon. (Oh, my sis and her dog, Lou, and Abby & I signed up for this Canine Cancer Walk that's supposed to happen tomorrow. But the weather forecast is pretty dire. Don't really want to drive the 50 min to get there if it's really going to be pouring down rain, so we will probably skip it - but at least the money will still go to a good cause. If we do manage to make it, I'll bring my camera and post some pics!) 

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!