Tuesday, January 29, 2013

A "tail" of two Dogs

Most of you know that my family is pretty close.  Well this also extends to the dogs of the family.  We have Sundae and Maple (our dogs), Jessie May (my sister’s dog) and then Gracie Jane (my mom’s dog).  All are labs, we have 2 chocolates, 1 black and 1 crazy yellow.  For the most part they play and get along well.  They all have their unique character, personalities and bad habits.  They certainly do keep up entertained!

My little Maple (5 yr old) is entering her 7th week of chemo treatments for lymphoma.  She has tolerated the treatments pretty well with the exception of a couple weeks ago (the weekend it was freezing cold here).  She wanted to lay outside, had major intestinal issues and lethargy.  She ended up spending 2 nights at our home away from home- VRCC (www.vrcc.com).  They took really good care of her, nursed her back to health and charged us a pretty penny for doing so!  They also have visiting hours so we were able to go and see our little brown girl. 

Thursday is chemo day.  However this week instead of visiting our friends at VRCC, we get to administer chemo at home.  This treatment is done with pills.  We have to administer it very carefully with gloves and all.  She’ll also get some anti nausea hopefully to ward off any nausea and eating issues.  It is scary when your Labrador doesn’t want to eat.  All in all, the oncology vet is very pleased with the way Maple has responded to treatment.

Now there is Jessie May, my sister’s dog.  Not sure if she was having sympathy for her cousin dog or what.  The week after Maple stayed over night at VRCC, Jessie was a guest there too.  Jessie has been diagnosed with autoimmune hemolytic anemia. Huh, what is that?  It is a red blood cell deficiency in which the dog’s immune system targets its own healthy red cells, accelerating their breakdown and removal, NOT good.  It can be a primary disease or secondary with an underlying cause.  With Jessie, it is a primary disease as ultrasounds/xrays ruled out any masses.  At her overnight stays at VRCC, Jessie received 2 blood transfusions to help her out.  Who know there was such thing as donor blood dogs, check it out… http://www.wheatridgeanimal.com/bloodbank.html There is a measurement they take called PCV, it measures the amount of oxygen her organs are getting.  Her number went from high to low, back up and back down and then it stabilized.  Not enough oxygen to her organs will cause them to shut down.  

After being released Jessie went home and at 2 appointments that week her PCV level was high and stable.  Just this week, her PCV level had dropped.  The vet is running an additional test as we speak to see if her body is creating any blood cells.  Jessie is not eating and for her, that is super abnormal.  We are talking about the counter surfer, the dog who steals food out of the twins hands, the dog who runs out the dog door with the empty lunch box and shreds it because it smell like food.  Erin and Roger should receive the results today.  Please say a prayer for Jessie and my sister and her family. 

And then there is Sundae and Gracie.  Sundae, our 14 year old is probably going to outlive all these dogs.  Talk about a crazy girl.  I think she has a hard time seeing at night and might have a hard time hearing, and a little bit of arthritis but besides that, she is good.  Her latest thing though is her barking to come up the stairs or get on the bed.  We know she can do it but she continues to bark until someone goes and touches her and helps her up.  Are we enabling her?  Yes we are!  And then Gracie…wild and anxious Gracie.  She is probably lonely because she hasn’t had any recent playdates with the other family dogs.  Gracie is due for her annual check up and my mom is afraid to take her to the vet because of Maple and Jessie’s diagnosis’.

These dogs are such a huge part of our family and our lives.  We become so attached to them and love them so much.

Not sure why I wrote this blog.  I just needed to put it all into words I guess, and I’m not the best wordsmith and didn't proofread this either!

Here is a picture of all the girls that was taken at Thanksgiving a couple of years ago.

Jessie, Maple, Sundae and Gracie

Saturday, December 22, 2012

The C Words...

To say the least the last few weeks have been Crappy around our house.  Just when you think it can’t get worse, it does. 

This past Wednesday, our 5 year old Canine Maple was diagnosed with Stage 5 lymphoma (Cancer).  It pretty much happened over night.  She was treated a few weeks ago for some stomach and vomiting issues but seemed to be on the mend. Tuesday night her eye was all red and looked really yucky.  She also had become really agitated and you could tell she couldn’t see out of it.  I texted back and forth with my vet and planned to bring her in on Wednesday.  By Wednesday afternoon both of her eyes were red and she couldn’t see at all.  Trying to get a 65lb blind dog in and out of the car, not easy.  Anyways, first stop our vet.  He gave one look at Maple and said she needed to go and see the Ophthalmologist at VRCC (the specialty vet).  Madison, Maple and I headed right over there.  Again, we had to put a 65lb blind dog in the car, not easy.  Once there we waited a bit and then got in to see the ophthalmologist.  They were worried about glaucoma.  They examined her and gave us a prelim diagnosis of lymphoma.  Blood was in her eyes causing her blindness and her lymph nodes were swollen.  They immediately did a needle aspirate of a lymph node and confirmed the diagnosis, lymphoma.  The staff at VRCC was able to get us in with one of the Oncologist there later that evening.  I ran Madison home and Rob met Maple and I back at VRCC.  The oncologist gave us the low down- more blood work, another test to determine T or B cell, chest xray, and suggested a Chemo treatment to try and keep the cancer from progressing and hopefully get some of her eyesight back.

So now we wait for results.  T cell is worse than B cell.  If left untreated Maple probably has less than 60 days to live.  Based on the test results if we decide to treat her and it is successful, median survival time is about 12 months with B cell. With T cell survival time is less.  This is the median though and the oncologists have seen more time and less time with both kinds.  We meet with VRCC next Thursday to get test results and most likely make a decision.  Cancer treatment in dogs is not cheap.  However we do have pet insurance (she is a Labrador and we know what kind of troubles they can get into).  Our pet insurance does cover Cancer treatments but obviously not at 100%.

Hearing my 9 year daughter in the back seat of my car the other day saying she hated Cancer and wish it never existed was a hard thing to hear.  I was trying to drive her home while crying without her noticing on the slick, icy roads.  Most of you know my 3 girls mean the world to me.  Sundae will be 14 next week.  For the past couple of years we have said she has been on borrowed time.  Madison and Maple- my babies.  We got Maple back in 2007 to fill a void and to keep Sundae young, which it has.  My heart is breaking right now. Maple has been my Companion over the past year, my snuggle bug and my little love.  I can’t imagine this and don’t want to.  I am heartbroken today.

The good news is that Maple has responded to the first chemo treatment.  One eye appears completely clear and the other one looks about 75% clear.  She is still eating and acting like a completely normal Labrador retriever.  That is part that is killing me, she is acting 100% normal. 

Live update (or as live as it can be while writing)- Just got off the phone with the oncologist.  Maple has B cell (yeah), and it tested with the good parameters meaning good success rates in treating this kind.  It still doesn’t change the fact that she has lymphoma and that we probably only have 12 months with her but it gives us hope if we decide to pursue treatment.  Cancer treatments in dogs is different than in humans.  While the goal in humans is get rid of the cancer completely in dogs it is more about fighting the disease and keeping it at bay for as long as possible (in lymphoma cases around 12 months).

My Girls

Clots and Coumadin
After Thanksgiving, I developed a pain in my lower right calf.  I got an ultrasound and it was determined that I had a superficial blood clot (basically right under the skin).  I was given anti inflammatories and antibiotics to clear it up.  Well it didn’t. Monday, Dec. 10 I had my 6 month check up with my oncologist and well my boobs were hardly discussed.  The superficial clot had moved up my calf to right behind my knee.  The doctor took one look and said to discontinue my tamoxifen.  Tamoxifen is my anti-estrogen which is to limit the estrogen that fuel my tumor.  My estrogen level when my tumor was tested was pretty high.  Stopping the tamoxifen is a whole other can of worms that we get to discuss with the doctor at my January appointment.  The doctors would like you on it 5 years to help keep the cancer from coming back.  I made it 11 months.  Secretly I did a happy dance when you said I could go off it (fewer hot flashes and night sweats) but part of me is scared because in no way do I want the cancer coming back.  So Monday, Dec. 10, I started giving myself blood thinner shots.  It was once a day until I had a second ultrasound on the 13th and it was determined that the clot had gotten worse and gone deeper.  Doctor told me to give myself 2 shots a day until Dec. 21.  On Dec. 21, I started Coumadin, the oral blood thinner.  I have no idea how long I will be on this. I go for a blood test on Dec. 26 to check my blood and then to doctor on Jan 3 where I am sure we will get more answers.  Good news is that I have been able to work out.  That has become a huge part of my life to relieve stress and to keep myself healthy.  I have had some pain with it but most appears to be gone now. 

I’ll be honest with everything we have gone through the past couple of weeks, it has been hard to get excited for Christmas.  I know for Madison’s sake I need to put on a happy face.  This is the time of year where we want to celebrate, the most wonderful time of year as we prepare for the Lord’s birth. 

It is hard and I know we will make it through all of this but it doesn’t make it any easier.  I pray that each and every one of you have a very Merry Christmas.


Saturday, September 29, 2012

Happy Cancer-Anniversary

Well it was my plan to write more but I didn't.... this sums it up...

So today is my one year cancer-anniversary. Breast cancer isn’t something really to celebrate but getting through the diagnosis, the waiting games, surgery, radiation, medications and the recovery process, is most definitely worth celebrating.

I’ve made it a year and I plan on celebrating with my hubby and daughter tonight! Thanks to all my family and friends who’ve helped me this past year. Here’s to many, many more years!

And next week, me and several friends and family members will walk/run Komen's Race for the Cure for team Fifty Shades of Pink.  I am truly blessed to have such wonderful friends and family.

To join our team or donate, go to www.komendenver.org/goto/fiftyshades

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Fifty Shades of Pink

So after a couple of months I finally had a moment where I could upload Pink Party pics to the blog.  Going through them makes me so sentimental and I realize how much fun I had that night and hopefully everyone else did too.  Special thanks to my friend Tammy Kakac for picking up the camera and taking pictures!  If anyone wants a larger file picture, please email me and I will email it to you.


Monday, July 2, 2012

A "PINK OUT" Thank You

Just wanted to take a quick minute and thank everyone for celebrating with Rob and I at the Pink Party!  We had a wonderful time and glad you could celebrate with us!  The food, drinks and weather all cooperated, it might have been a bit hot but at least there was no torrential downpours!
Also, wanted to say thank you for all the wonderful gifts!  Our house looks like someone had a party with all the presents.  We have lots of wine and mai tai's so come on over any time.
I also want to say a special thank you to my sister for baking all the cakes, my sister in law for doing the fruit, my mom for providing the wine, my aunt for helping with everything and providing all the flowers and to Arty for helping decorate for the Pink Party!  The party could not have been a success without their help! 

A few of the gifts...

More pictures to follow soon.  Thank you so much.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Oh pussy cat

Our dear Maple- I'm not sure why we call her pussy cat other than she has the characteristics of a cat and acts like one.  She has a tendency to jump up onto your lap and squeeze into tight space like cats do.  There is only one problem....she is 65lbs and not a cat!  Oh well, we love her!

I recently took a photography class and rented a lens for my camera and had some fun taking pictures and this is one of my favorites!  I will try and post more later.  As a lot of you know, I usually have my camera with me but have had no idea how to use it properly!  Now I can use it properly and am excited to start taking some really good pictures.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Madison and her Daddy

Last week at school they held their annual dads and donuts.  Madison was one of a handful of students who got to read about her daddy in front of the school and their dads.  She did a great job.
She also had to dress up that day as a book character for her class.  Can you guess who she is???? She is Laura Ingalls Wilder.