reMISSION Accomplished: 1 Year in Remission

First and foremost I hope that everyone is staying healthy during this uncertain time with the Covid-19 outbreak. All schools in the state of New Jersey have been shut down at this point and I am teaching remotely from home. Due to the statewide quarantine measures that are in place, I did not take Margarita to any special stores or restaurants to celebrate this day. Once it is deemed safe to do so, I definitely plan to make it up to her!

1 Year in Remission

Margarita reached a major milestone: Officially a SURVIVOR at 1 Year in Remission as of March 19, 2020!

When Margarita began chemotherapy one year ago today, the oncologist told us that without treatment, Lymphoma patients such as Rita usually have a survival time of less than 2 months. The doctor also told us that with chemotherapy treatment, the survival times for patients with Margarita’s type and stage of Lymphoma is 1 year to 18 months, with many patients not surviving the 16 weeks of chemo. I am overjoyed and overwhelmed with tears at the same time as I type this post. Margarita’s bravery, strength, resilience, and demeanor through her Journey has been extremely inspirational and astounding. She is a SURVIVOR!

Remission

What does “remission” really mean? In Rita’s case, it means that tests, physical exams, and scans show there is no evidence of cancer. However, this does not mean she’s cured. What it does mean is that the chemotherapy knocked down the cancer cells to a level undetectable by tests or microscopes. Margarita’s next milestone will be in October 2020 (the 18-Month Mark). I would be lying if I said I wasn’t worried about recurrence, and the unknowns that lie ahead. However, I am choosing to focus on Rita’s accomplishments and the positive choices and mindset that helped carry her through the last year with hope-filled days. Moving forward I will do my best to have optimistic thoughts only – there’s no time to waste worrying about the things I cannot control… so onward we go on this Journey together.

Lessons from Lymphoma

  1. Rita is a SURVIVOR – there are far too many who weren’t fortunate enough to celebrate this – so CELEBRATE!
    • In my opinion, one year ago today when Margarita was fully diagnosed, she became a cancer survivor. She conquered each day with such grace.
    • Each day with her is a gift, so I made sure to do fun, meaningful, and memorable things with her such as her Adventure List. I made sure we celebrated in some way each and every day so that I didn’t remain focussed on the past, or on the disease itself, as I knew my negativity would effect Margarita.
    • Don’t be afraid to share your pup’s Journey – and your feelings about their story! Cancer is a part their history, but don’t let it define their future, or your emotional state. Have faith that God has a plan, and will guide you and your pup through this. I truly believe His plan was for Margarita’s Journey to help others.
    • Keep a journal or start a blog about your pup’s journey. Each post that was written after Rita’s weekly chemo treatment included uplifting things that happened to Rita including nice gestures from others and special food treats she had that week. Doing happy activities and sharing those moments helped me celebrate all things big and small with Margarita.
  2. Embrace help from others and pay it forward when you can.
    • It takes a great deal of strength, positivity, and resilience to support your fur-kid through cancer and not have a daily major melt-down. Let others help you when they offer – accepting assistance or gifts is not a sign of weakness. People who care about you and your pup are upset about the diagnosis and may find it healing to offer their help, or to give meaningful gifts.
    • At the same time, don’t be angry with those who can’t be there for you. Not everyone is capable of sharing their emotions, and not everyone feels the way you do about your 4-legged child.
    • Use your knowledge and experiences to help others who are on a similar Journey by sharing your story. If you hear of others on the same Journey as you and your pup – reach out and let them know you are there for them.
  3. Be grateful!
    • By no means am I grateful that Margarita has Lymphoma. I am, however, beyond appreciative for the people and pups that were brought into my life as a result. Both my life and Margarita’s have been enhanced by these amazing people in our extended family.
    • Be thankful for EVERY day and for EVERY moment you have with your pup. Feelings are contagious and dogs are sensitive to your emotions. A positive attitude and a happy heart transfers to your fur-kid. Choose to be happy for every second your pup is alive!
  4. Let your faith win over your fear.
    • Some days were very difficult – both for Rita and for me. Having faith instead of worrying about what was out of my control helped me get through the toughest of days.
    • I needed something to keep me occupied and focussed and that made me feel like Rita and I were helping others who were on the same journey, so I started this blog! Each chemo treatment post referenced a powerful and meaningful quote or mantra. These words gave me the strength to help Rita through that week.
  5. You can’t take care of your pup if you don’t take care of yourself !
    • Mental and physical health is important on this journey for both you and your pup. A healthy canine body has a better chance of taking a bite out of cancer. A healthy human body has more strength to carry a canine cancer patient on their Journey. Good nutrition and healthy exercise (to whatever level is appropriate for you and your fur-kid) helps keep the mind and body alert and strong. Stay optimistic and keep moving!
  6. Never, EVER give up!
    • Research and explore all doable options
    • Educate yourself
    • Stay focussed
    • Stay positive

Monthly Primary Veterinarian Visit

On March 3 Margarita had her liver values tested again – and we are thrilled to report that all values are continuing to decrease and get closer to normal levels! Margarita will have her liver enzyme levels tested again on May 4, 2020. Because her liver is doing well, Rita’s current doses of Prednisone and Denamarin will remain the same for now.

I am currently exploring changing Rita’s probiotics from Fortiflora to Visbiome, as our primary Veterinarian, Dr. Campbell suggested Visbiome may be a better choice for Margarita’s Irritable Bowl Disorder. In addition, I am actively researching a Holistic Doctor and Nutritionist in hopes when all calms down from the Covid-19 virus, we can explore those further options with intentions to support Margarita in the most well-rounded methods possible.

Things of Note This Month

  • March 4
    • Double Digit Birthday!
    • Click HERE to see the post of her birthday activities
  • March 13
    • One year since the detailed results came back that told us:
      1. the type of Lymphoma Rita had (Diffuse Large B Cell Lymphoma)
      2. Rita’s liver showed inflammation patterns that represented chronic hepatitis
      3. Rita had a severe degree of inflammatory bowel disease, causing loss of proteins
  • March 17
    • St. Patrick’s Day
  • March 19
    • One year since we were told the details of Rita’s Diffuse Large B Cell Lymphoma
      1. Stage 4
      2. Substage A
    • First Chemo treatment 1 year ago
    • One YEAR IN REMISSION!!!!!!
  • New collar bling!

9 Years Old

Limoncello turns 9 years old today, March 14, 2020!

Birthday Breakfast: Eggs Benedict, blueberries, and raspberries

Birthday Dinner: New York strip steak topped with crab meat, mixed veggies, and roasted potatoes

Birthday Dessert: Lemon tart

Cello enjoyed a hike at Camp Ockanickon as one of her birthday activities.

Limoncello also visited the iconic Maple Shade Custard Stand for a yummy vanilla custard cone!

Happy 9th Birthday, Limoncello…We love you!

YMCA Camp Ockanickon, Medford, NJ

For Limoncello’s 9th birthday, she took a hike through Camp Ockanikon!

We are lucky enough to have a YMCA Camp Ockanickon in our “back yard.”  This 800 acres csmp is located in the heart of the South Jersey Pinelands.

This is alsp were I took Lager for first hike on March 31, 2016, where he was accompanied by his 2-legged cousin, James.

lager hike

 

Rita’s first hike was also at Camp Ockanickon on July 11, 2016. We took the same route as we did on Lager’s first hike!

File Jul 11, 8 30 17 AM

10 Years Old: Double Digits!!

March 4, 2020

We are so very excited for this birthday because Rita was lucky enough to hit double digits!

Margarita’s Pop helped this English Pointer celebrate by cooking her customary English meals for her birthday!

Traditional English Breakfast

Bacon, fried egg, buttered toast, bangers (sausage), and raspberries.

English Birthday Dinner: Traditional Sunday Roast

Roasted beef, roast potatoes, peas, carrots, and Yorkshire pudding.

English Birthday Dessert: Bread Pudding

Margarita went on a birthday hike with brother Porter and Cousin Clyde at Historic Smithville Park.

Birthday gifts were chosen by Rita as she shopped for the first time at Tractor Supply Company!

Margarita also helped pick out her birthday balloons at Binkley’s 5 & 10 !

We have a lot to be thankful for and celebrate this month!

💖Happy 10th Birthday to our Sweet Reet!💖

Historic Smithville Park, Mount Holly, NJ

For Margarita’s 10th birthday, she hiked at Historic Smithville Park with brother Porter and Cousin Clyde!

Limoncello hiked here on January 2013:

3.8 mile hike in Historic Smithville Park

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