On June 23, 2021 I traveled back to Ohio to bring our Sweet Reet home. 💖✈️
Today Heaven became even more beautiful…as the most special angel has arrived.
This morning, much sooner than expected, Margarita lost her battle with liver cancer. Just a few minutes after she woke up, she had a seizure while getting a drink at the water bowl in the camper. In addition, her abdomen looked to be distended and her gums were pale. A phone conversation with our veterinarian, Dr. Campbell confirmed what we had suspected- the mass on her liver most likely had ruptured.
Luckily there was an emergency veterinary hospital 10 minutes from the competition. By the time we reached the ER, Margarita was having trouble breathing. An ultrasound confirmed that she had internal bleeding. Dr. Campbell spoke to the ER doctor and agreed it was time to help Rita cross the rainbow bridge. Brian and I held her in our arms until the very end.
I am grateful that Brian and I were there with Rita when she had the seizure, we were able to go into the emergency animal hospital, and that we were able to be with her until she passed, kissing her and hugging her- telling her how much she was loved and thanking her for all she has done for us and all the love she has shown to us. We are fortunate and thankful to have a veterinarian who is always there for us and our pack no matter how far away we are.
The Emergency hospital offered to ship Rita’s remains to us in NJ. As much as I appreciated that, I will be driving or flying back to OH when Rita is ready to return to us – to bring her back to our family.
Brian and I were beyond blessed that Margarita chose us as her forever family. Margarita changed my life and taught me so much. The connection her and I shared was like no other and although I will cherish that bond forever, I will be lost without her.
Señorita Margarita is reunited with the love of her life – her fiancé and fellow Pointer, Mr. Spock. I know in my heart Spock was waiting with flowers for her (as he always did) at the other side of the rainbow bridge.
Words cannot begin to describe the devastation and pain of Margarita’s passing. Five years was nowhere near enough time with her. It has been comforting to be surrounded by our dock dogs family.
Those of you who have been following along for a while know that Margarita was diagnosed with Stage 4 Lymphoma in 2019, and is officially a survivor. Throughout Margarita’s Lymphoma Journey, she periodically had elevated liver values. Through the guidance of her medical team, we were able to get these levels under control by adjusting her prednisone dosage. As a part of Margarita’s oncology check-ups, our primary veterinarian, Dr. Campbell at Old York Veterinary Hospital, suggested that we continue with regularly scheduled bloodwork to keep an eye on those liver values. More recently, those levels skyrocketed and Rita also had lost weight. Margarita’s prednisone dose was increased and an earlier-than-usual re-check of her bloodwork was scheduled. Despite an increase in both her prednisone dose and daily food intake, she continued to lose weight, her liver values more than doubled, and she just didn’t look or seem herself. She also began to display some incontinence – which we assumed was from the increased prednisone.
Margarita also gets routine abdominal ultrasounds as a part of her Lymphoma check-ups. Although her last ultrasound showed a few small nodules on her liver, the findings were consistent with age-related liver appearance and thought to be unremarkable. Margarita was not due for another ultrasound, but with the recent observations and blood test results, Dr. Campbell advised us to do a an early re-check.
On June 3, 2021 Margarita had an abdominal ultrasound at Blue Pearl Pet Hospital. During this procedure Margarita’s radiologist, Dr. MacLeod, discovered that one of the small nodules on her liver suddenly developed into mass that was 3 cm in diameter. Dr. MacLeod also saw that Rita’s bile looked thicker than normal. A non-invasive needle biopsy of the liver mass was taken, as was a needle aspirate of her bile and her urine.
On Friday, June 4 we spoke to Margarita’s internal medicine specialist, Dr. Peter Chapman, as well as her Primary veterinarian, Dr. Campbell.
- During the initial cytology report, the cells of the liver mass were observed to be consistent with those of well differentiated carcinoma. This is not lymphoma- nor is it related in any way. In fact, there is absolutely no evidence of lymphoma. Brian and I are not yet uncertain if we will send this sample out to pathology for further testing, as Margarita’s other symptoms are consistent with what was noted in the cytology report.
- The bile sample showed significant bacteria in Rita’s gallbladder, so the sample is being sent out for further testing in order to give a better direction on what type of antibiotic would be beneficial to treat the infection- we should know the results by sometime this coming week
- There was no evidence of bacteria or white cells in her urine sample. We know that frequent urination and incontinence is common with higher doses of prednisone, but we did have this sample sent out for further testing to confirm to ensure Rita is not also dealing with a urinary tract infection- we should know the results by sometime this coming week as well
The hepatocellular carcinoma discovered in the liver biopsy does not respond well to chemotherapy. Additionally, due to the liver’s function, this type of cancer is also very rarely primary (in other words, cancer cells are most likely in multiple areas at this point). In a perfect world, the prime choice would be to remove the mass on Margarita’s liver and also remove her gallbladder. So which path do we take on this new journey? As much of a gut-punch this new diagnosis is after Margarita surviving stage 4 Lymphoma, we also have to set aside our immediate desire to fix these issues and instead do what’s best for Margarita. In addition to chronic hepatitis and intestinal disease, Rita also now has significant Dilated Cardiomyopathy (induced by her prior chemotherapy). There is a high possibility that she would not survive the surgeries needed. After a long discussion with our primary veterinarian who we trust wholeheartedly as Rita’s advocate, we have decided it is in Margarita’s best interest to forgo any type of invasive surgeries, and instead “treat the treatable.” Many of you who have travelled a similar journey with a fur-kid and have been faced with this same situation yourselves, know this was an EXTREMELY difficult decision. We are not giving up on her by any means. We will wait for the results of the bile and urine cultures and treat any findings as best we can with medication. Margarita will also have regular abdominal ultrasounds to keep a close eye on changes in the current mass on her liver and/or any new questionable developments.
I definitely was not ready for this news and immediately was overcome by a rush of disbelief, anger, sadness and fear. I truly believe that positivity is powerful, so although managing the above emotions is not an easy task, I will be certain to shift my focus to gratitude to ensure Rita is in the best atmosphere possible. I cannot forget that in March of 2019, as Margarita began her chemotherapy to treat her lymphoma, we were told that she may not survive even a couple of months due to her significant liver and intestinal diseases. Instead, Margarita kicked (stage 4!!) Lymphoma’s butt and is a SURVIVOR. I am thankful to have been blessed with over 2 additional years with her that I thought I wouldn’t have. Margarita has beaten the odds before, and I will remain hopeful that she will once again somehow find a way to take a bite out of cancer. At the same time, Brian and I will respect Margarita’s wishes when this amazing warrior “tells” us she is tired of fighting her battles. Until then, I will enjoy and be thankful for each and every additional minute I am blessed to spend with this 4-legged angel.
I hope that you will join me in walking beside Señorita Margarita on this difficult path, and continue to send positive thoughts and healing prayers throughout her journey. As always, thank you ALL for your love and support for Sweet Reet.
When it was decided by our veterinarian that Margarita should retire from walking 5K’s due to health related reasons, I bought her a Vergo brand dog stroller so that we would still be able to walk together. Below is the video of Rita’s maiden voyage in her new stroller. She gained her angel wings before we were able to complete a 5K using the stroller.