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Feb 16

Fallon is a chemotherapy graduate!  She completed her course of carboplatin on the day before Valentine’s Day.  I could not have been more proud of her!  She seems to feel really good.  We go back for full body x-rays in 4 weeks.  I am pretty nervous about these.  I almost don’t want to know.

Good job, girl!!

Good news finally on the Aratana Osteosarcoma vaccine!  The site visit for the Veterinary Cancer Center is in 3 weeks, then they can procure the vaccine.  Dr. Sue told me to give a call a few days before our appointment in 4 weeks, just to be sure they have the vaccine.  If not, we’ll bump the appointment out a few days so they can get it.

 

Changing gears—here and in my focus…

 

I spend a lot of time troubleshooting, working to make things better.  I’ll read and re-read websites and the Dog Cancer Survival Guide to see what I’ve missed and how I can improve Fallon’s life.  I set goals—we’re going to Dewey in X days, Grapehounds in blah blah days, thesemany days left to rehab, to chemo, to the next benchmark.  I plan—what to do next and when.  Where to check next for the secret key to beating this horrible diagnosis.  I research–what’s next and when?  How do I be ready for this?  But I have been missing one big thing.  Now.

 

Laura commented on a recent blog of ours (thank you so much <3) and gently reminded me my focus is off a bit.

 

Don’t pass the time. Don’t just look for the next milestone, the next chemo, the next treatment. Every moment in the now is so, so precious. The unknowing is awful, but look into your puppers eyes, his smile, take her for walks, take breaks to be with her, give her your full attention. Allow special snuggles in bed, just sit outside (when it’s warmer), and be present. Paint pictures together, use his paws, get messy. Get dirty. Laugh together.

 

“Don’t count the days.  Make the days count.”  Muhammad Ali

 

Off to cuddle my girl.  It’s her favorite thing.

 

More to come…

Feb 01

So, we’re working this new normal.  I’m still trying to figure things out, trying to make things better, trying to be efficient—but not in our prior “everything is a crisis” mode—all the time, anyway.   I used to blog here every day, sometimes twice a day once I started, as there was so much to communicate.  It’s been a couple of weeks now since we last wrote.  I guess we have a bit of stability, there’s a lot of the same thing happening over and over now.  We’re trying to make that all the more efficient.  I should do a cooking video, you’d be impressed at how far we’ve come 🙂

 

Fallon’s scared me a few times.  One day she spent the day coughing—but not since.  We had the oncologist right after that coughing day, and Dr. Ettinger told me she’d tell me when to worry.  Easier said than done.  The past couple of days Fallon has peed in the house.  She knows she is going to, and asks us to let her out, but it took us awhile to see the pattern, we naively thought she was being lovey-dovey as she pokes at our hands with her nose.  Turns out that is sign language for TAKE ME OUTSIDE.  As soon as I can figure out how to catch a pee sample, I should run it to our primary vet.  Unfortunately, today work gets in the way.  In conjunction with this, she had seemed a little down, maybe lethargic—until yesterday at rehab, where she just seemed so happy, and especially happily normal afterward at home.

Check out this happy Tripawd, hopping along in the underwater treadmill yesterday

Today she seems normal, looking for a game with Maggie in the yard.  So maybe we’re boring her.  The yard is unpleasant, all frozen and uneven, the fluffy snow is gone, yet it’s still really cold, so we come and go quickly from there.  So maybe that’s it…I have to listen to her better.

 

Trying to stay positive can be a challenge, despite having tons to be grateful for.

 

One chemotherapy left!  But we’re hoping to continue going down to the Veterinary Cancer Center for a couple more visits to get the new osteosarcoma vaccine.  At our last appointment, Dr. Sue said all they are waiting on now is a site visit, which needs to be completed before they can receive and start administering the vaccine.  No word on cost yet.  I am hoping it’s something we can swing.  This vaccine has had very hopeful outcomes…We held off on scheduling Fallon’s next rehab until we have answers on timeframes and costs.

 

We’re focused on a goal—Spring Dewey.  We leave 63 days from today for this, the first week of April.  We’ve attended Spring Dewey for years.  It’s a very small greyhound event at a very dog friendly location, and one of my—and Fallon’s—and Maggie’s—and Paul’s favorite events.

One of the best Dewey pics of all time. We will recreate, minus that leg there.

It’s pretty unstructured, which we like.  One of the best things is how it jump-starts the summer…we will be at the beach in early April!  So…to help pass the time, I plan.  I want this to be Fallon’s most amazing vacation.  A friend down our block has offered to let us borrow her wagon so we can get Fallon accustomed to riding in one—this will save her steps for the beach instead of the streets getting there.  I found a rental place in Rehoboth that rents the big beach wagons, so we won’t purchase one here and try to figure out how to transport it there.  I called the hotel to make sure we have a first floor room.  We could do a flight of stairs, but why?  I’m trying to figure out the feeding piece—we do have one of those mini fridges in the room, but is it big enough for 4 days of meals times two dogs?  I’ve got a good amount of time to figure this out.  There will be more questions and dilemmas.

Fallon, her angel sister Willow, and Dad at the beach a few years ago. We are going to walk this beach in the spring.

 

We bought pet insurance for Maggie.  It wasn’t *that* expensive, especially when compared to the devastating bills we get every few weeks for Fallon.  Part of membership of the Greyhound Health Initiative is a discount for Embrace Insurance.  We got the highest deductible plan that will hopefully keep us out of the financial struggles we’re facing with Fallon, should anything scary happen to Maggie.

 

So anyway…More to come…

Jan 13

We’re out to beat the odds.  I am all over this.

So much has been happening.  Fallon has been doing GREYT, and we’re working hard to keep it that way.  My focus is making this new normal run smoothly, and it gets better all the time.  There are many elements to this, but it’s all based on being more effective in all we do.  We have invested so much in this horrible, wonderful time that it would be a shame to see it crumble away because we missed a detail. And Fallon’s rockin’ this.  Cancer is horrible.  Osteosarcoma is horrible.  The odds aren’t in our favor—but there are dogs who break the odds.  We’re trying to do our best to make Fallon one of those statistic-busters

Maggie is always the cheerleader.

Rehab is going awesome.  Fallon seemed a little more nervous when we got there this week, but was all better once we got into the rehab office—and she worked the underwater treadmill like a champion.  I really believe she enjoys it.  This week she increased in speed and duration.

Treats always help

Dr. Laura measured her swollen ankle, and it’s down slightly.  So all’s good there.  We made a plan to go every three weeks.  It’s optional, really, but it’s the one appointment we take Fallon to that she really seems to like.  Plus I like another doctor feeling her all over—just in case there’s something we miss.  For example, Dr. Laura noticed one of Fallon’s hip bones was more prominent than the other.  This was new, not noted before.  After feeling around a bit more and watching Fallon walk, she postulated that because of Fallon’s strong triangle base, when she ambulates, she compensates to one side, making one hip work harder than the other.  Nothing to worry about, just to watch.

 

I’m still home cooking for 1 meal per day, and supplementing with kibble.  Last time Fallon was weighed, she was up slightly, but an insignificant amount, not enough to worry.  We’ll monitor.  I only guess at what the correct amount of food is.  I’m also guessing it is relatively balanced nutritionally, as I use the recipe in the Dog Cancer Survival Guide.  Probably we should consult a nutritionist, but funds are limited—and this is working, so far.  The process is getting easier as I learn the ropes.

Yum, right?

Two more chemotherapy to go.  We’ll see what happens in 6 weeks when we’re at that point and the 6 carboplatin are complete.  We’re very hopeful Fallon will be able to get the new osteosarcoma vaccine.  We’re considering a clinical trial at the VCC, and this week I am leaning toward Fallon participating…but I want to talk with Dr. Sue once more first.  My dealbreaker last week was it could entail some more trips to the VCC, and that’s a long day trip.  This week—if there’s even the smallest chance that the vaccine being studied shrinks tumors, I would regret so much not making the drive.  In the clinical trial, there’s a chance Fallon could fall into the control group and get a placebo, we have no way of knowing.  But I’m up for trying everything.  A cool thing this week–Fallon is featured in Dr. Sue’s Vlog–it’s very sweet

VLOG 22: New Year

New Year! We start this year off with Pokey, Fallon and Jake. Today we are treating lymphoma, osteosarcoma, & malignant melanoma. We got this! #KickCancersButt #Tripawds

Posted by Dr Sue Cancer Vet on Wednesday, January 10, 2018

 

I’m working on me.  I let quite a bit go when I was trying to figure out how to help Fallon.  I haven’t been taking good care of myself.  I’ve started a new healthy focus, taking care of myself inside and out.  The Dog Cancer Survival Guide starts out reminding you to take good care of YOU, and I read it way back when (like 3 months ago—seems like 3 decades).  Now it’s finally sinking in.  It’s like when the flight attendant tells you to put the oxygen mask on yourself first, to make sure you can take care of those who need you.  I’m trying to chill more.  These last three months I’ve not been myself.  I get upset easily.  I have a very short fuse.  But stress feeds cancer, so I am doing all I can to keep Fallon stress-free.  I don’t want to get her upset.  I want her to have every advantage.

 

Time to set another goal.  I already made hotel reservations for Spring Dewey—Dewey Beach, DE in April.  We leave 82 days from today.  Dewey Beach is one of Fallon’s favorite beaches, and Spring Dewey is one of our favorite greyhound events because it’s low key with nice people—and it jump starts the summer.  We are on our way!!! (in 82 days!!)

We’ll be there with one fewer leg in April

 

Jan 05

It’s been 100 days since it was confirmed that Fallon had a bone tumor…85 days that Fallon has been Tripawd.  We’ve come a long, long way.  I forget what life was like before.  What did I do all day?  These days are structured around Fallon, but nothing like the first month or two.  That new normal is really kicking in.  It’s more like trying to figure out better ways to do things—meals that make sense and are healthier, day structure, etc.  I re-read sections of the Dog Cancer Survival Guide as now they are in context and make more sense.  I regularly check the prices of Apocaps and K9 Immunity to see where it’s less expensive.  I’m learning sections of Tripawds beyond the blogs and see how much I missed by not figuring this out earlier.  I cry some still, but not for days at a time like before.  I’ve got to work on getting myself back together–‘cause Awesome Fallon’s got this.

 

Chemotherapy #4 is in the books, and went well, as the prior ones have.  We feel very grateful that Fallon hasn’t had any nasty side effects afterward, and that she’s doing FABULOUS, per Dr. Sue.  I wanted to discuss the new osteosarcoma vaccine, as I desperately want Fallon to get it, but there wasn’t much time for the level of detail I wanted (it was the day after holiday and the hospital was VERY busy).  BUT, Dr. Sue brought it up first and said they will be getting it at the VCC, but they haven’t received it yet, and we’d re-visit this in 3 weeks when we’re back for carboplatin #5, AND that Fallon is a great candidate for the vaccine.  So YAY!!  We also discussed another clinical trial for osteosarcoma that they have at the VCC, to examine anti-tumor immune responses to proteins EFGR and HER2.  I don’t know what that means.  But long story short on that one—I read through material provided to us, and the main thing that is turning us against this one is we’d need to make an extra trip to the VCC that we would not normally for a blood collection the week after the protein vaccine.  It is 2.5 or 3 hours depending on traffic, and we’re in Winter here, so we are considering the benefits carefully—and the fact there may be none, as there is a control group that receives a placebo.  However, if the stars align, any tumor growth could be slowed.  So we’ll decide before chemo #5.  We can do this concurrently with the osteo vaccine.

Moral supporter Maggie generally likes to socialize at the oncology appointment, but she was hypnotized by a nearby cat.

I have been working the home cooking HARD.   I’ve made 3 batches, and we get the process down better (mostly) every time.  Most recent tries are adapted from the Dog Cancer Survival Guide recipe—first mix was beef and chicken, red peppers, cabbage and carrots, and brown rice.  There were some ingredients I just could not find that time (turkey necks (or any necks, for that matter), so I added ground up calcium tablets, as that substitution was mentioned, and also could not find liver of any kind, so I left it out, because I just wanted to get started).  Next recipe was better, chicken, beef liver (found it!), cottage cheese, brown rice, fresh broccoli, fresh cauliflower.  Found turkey necks, but lazied out by using Citrical again.  My big mistake this time—trying to save work by doubling the recipe.  I don’t have any container big enough to mix a double recipe!  It took much longer to mix than it had to, and we actually added work.  Boo.

 

I decided to feed a big morning meal, and then put down kibble later in the day in case the girls are still hungry.  I did step up the quality of kibble a little and decided on Taste of the Wild, as it was rated really well, mentioned in the Dog Cancer Survival Guide as a good food, and was the most cost-effective of the options named.  Fallon’s weight was up a tick at her last chemotherapy, but not a concerning amount, so we’ll just monitor.  Her weight is perfect now, and for mobility’s sake we want it to stay that way.

Next week—rehab again!!  Fallon’s favorite!!

 

More to come….

Dec 31

A friend (“friend”, I guess) recently said to me, “you’re fighting a losing battle” in regard to Fallon’s treatment.

 

I didn’t know what to say about that.  It wasn’t what I wanted to hear.  Fallon is doing better than we had hoped.  She’s rockin’ this from every angle. She is doing AWESOME.  But understood, maybe she won’t always be.

 

So, what is losing?

 

Despite Fallon’s diagnosis, we have lots to be positive about.  Fallon’s feeling greyt.  We still have her.  She has a perfect team helping guide her (and us) through treatment.  She’s happy and energetic.  She is more loved than you can imagine, and gives it back to us in abundance.  She has a fantastic sister and best friend in Maggie.  We’re settling into our new normal—which, three months ago, I wouldn’t have believed.  It’s coming together, though.  We have support from all directions.  I’ve survived layoffs at work twice.  We have what we need to all keep warm and fed.  Good stuff is happening.  I have hope that 2018 will be wonderful.  I hope we’re doing all we can to make it so for us all.

Daddy loves Fally

We’ve already won, no matter what else happens.

Here’s our girls playing together in the yard.

Happy New Year to all!!!  Hope your 2018 is Greyt.