W.I.N.

Week 15 Recap and Oncology Visit #16

“You can’t get back what you’ve lost.

What’s Important Now is what it is that you still have.”  ~Jimbei

Week 15 Recap

As of last week, Margarita is officially done her CHOP chemotherapy treatments.  Unlike many other unfortunate dogs, Margarita made it completely through her entire round of chemo,  and we’re taking that as a WIN.  However, as with many other warriors, she did not end this battle without acquiring some battle wounds. Some of this damage is temporary…Margarita’s hair on her face and belly should begin to grow back, and the dark pigment on her nose and muzzle should eventually fade to reveal her signature pink-piggy-nose …But a cardiology evaluation revealed a devastating battle wound that will scar her permanently.

July 1, 2019

After a heart murmur was discovered during Margarita’s Emergency Room visit, we scheduled a Cardiologist appointment with Dr. Bossbaly at VSEC.  Dr. Bossbaly is the cardiologist Limoncello sees as well.  During that appointment, we received some shattering news.  Margarita, like our Limoncello, was diagnosed with Dilated Cardiomyopathy.  However,  Margarita’s case is much more severe.  She also has a grade 3 heart murmur (the blood is not flowing properly through her heart, particularly the mitral and tricuspid valves) as well as a significant cardiac arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat in the form of ventricular premature contractions).

So what does this all mean for our Sweet Reet? Below is the information conveyed to us by Dr. Bossbaly:

Dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM)  is a disease where the heart muscle becomes a weak and has difficulty pumping blood out of the heart throughout the body. Because of this weakening, the heart chambers become enlarged, one or more heart valves may leak, and signs of congestive heart failure (fluid in the lungs) may develop. The cause of dilated cardiomyopathy is not known; however, given the prevalence of this disease in certain breeds there is a suspected genetic basis for this condition. Occasionally, DCM-like heart muscle dysfunction develops secondary to identifiable causes such as toxins or an infection. More recently, it has also been thought to be connected to grain-free diets due to the fact that legumes in grain-free kibble block the body’s taurine absorption.  In Margarita’s case, it is believed the DCM is caused by the toxic effects of the chemotherapy drug, Adriamycin.

Early in the disease process there may be no clinical signs detectable, which is why this was not discovered in Margarita earlier. As the disease progresses, a heart murmur or other abnormal heart sounds and or irregular heart rhythm can be detected upon physical examination, as when the ER doctor heard Margarita’s murmur during her ER visit. The presence of heart muscle may weaken and her ventricular arrhythmias may result in weakness or lethargy, exercise intolerance, or fainting episodes for Margarita. I am finding this hard to type, but Margarita is also at risk for sudden death. As the heart’s pumping ability worsens, the heart enlarges and pressure builds up within the heart. When the heart is unable to compensate for the disease further, fluid may accumulate in the lungs, in the chest cavity, or in the abdomen. These are signs of congestive heart failure. The presence of fluid in these areas can cause difficulty breathing or coughing, so we will have to monitor Margarita for those symptoms.

The prognosis with dilated cardiomyopathy is guarded. Despite medical therapy, this disease will continue to progress with further weakening of the heart muscle. Margarita is at risk of developing congestive heart failure and is unfortunately at risk for worsening of the ventricular arrhythmias. Periodic echocardiograms and a halter monitor (if warranted) will help keep an eye out for disease progression and can dictate changes in medications which can help Margarita continue to have a good quality of life. Often, with the discontinuation of the chemotherapy, the heart may partially recover.

Dr. Bossbaly placed Margarita on a daily dose of Pimobendan. This is a medication used in Dobermans with dilated cardiomyopathy. This medication improves the strength and efficiency of the heart and dilates blood vessels to promote blood-flow out to the body. Side effects are very rare, although it is possible that Margarita could have some G.I. upset.  It is not known if Pimobendan helps with toxicity-induced cases of DCM, however Margarita’s heart is significantly enlarged and the contractility is severely compromised, so we are hopeful that this medication will help our Sweet Reet’s heart get strong again. Margarita also has major activity restrictions. She is not allowed to run freely, and should not be put in any situation where she is upset.

Like Limoncello, Margarita’s sleeping respiratory rate (SSR) will have to be monitored on a daily basis for the rest of her life. The sleeping respiratory rate is a subtle indicator of changes in Margarita’s condition; increasing trend may suggest the development of congestive heart failure. Normal sleeping respiratory rate should be less than 30 breaths a minute, so we will be tracking her SSR along with Cello’s using the app, Cardalis. Unfortunately, this app only allows for tracking one patient, so we have to chart the results ourselves. We will be in search for another app that allows for easier tracking of multiple patients, if possible, and welcome any recommendations our family, friends, and followers may have. Increases in respiratory rate and effort while sleeping will be reported to both Rita’s primary veterinarian (Dr. Campbell) as well as her cardiologist (Dr. Bossbaly) immediately.

Margarita will return to VSEC to be re-evaluated by Dr. Bossbaly in 4 months, and will also have an exam scheduled with     our primary veterinarian, Dr. Campbell, in approximately two weeks.

We wholeheartedly do not regret our decision to get chemotherapy for Margarita, as it did help her WIN this round against Lymphoma.  Had we not chosen that path, Lymphoma would have taken Margarita from us months ago, as Lymphoma patients generally only survive 1-3 months when left untreated.  Considering the rough life Margarita unfortunately was forced to live prior to us knowing her, we were confident that she deserved a second chance at living a (longer) happy life. All that being said, the news of Rita’s severe cardiac disease on the last week of her chemotherapy plan sure felt like a punch in the gut.

We understand that just because Margarita is done with chemo doesn’t mean she is done with Lymphoma, as 90% of dogs with this disease will relapse.  We are remaining optimistic about her cardiac issue and focusing on being grateful for the WIN that others have not been so fortunate to celebrate – the WIN of our little warrior taking a big bite out of Lymphoma, and making it to the end of her chemotherapy treatments.  As we celebrate that WIN, however, we will also focus on the W.I.N. This “end” is really just the beginning of a new chapter.  What’s Important Now is that we remain positive and help Margarita become healthy and strong so that she can combat her heart disease. What’s Important Now is celebrating each and every day that we are blessed to still have her in our lives.

We will also start planning some of those escapades on that Adventure List of hers!

This Week’s Treatment

Week 16:  The Final Week of the CHOP Protocol

Hey, Lymphoma…Guess What …You LOSE!

No chemo this week (YAY!), as Margarita completed all of the CHOP treatment plan.  Instead of chemotherapy drugs, Margarita had an abdominal ultrasound, blood test, and physical exam.  I also had the opportunity to sit down with Dr. Risbon and discuss the plan for long-term monitoring.

Abdominal Ultrasound

No abnormalities were found during Rita’s ultrasound.

Blood work

Margarita’s white blood cell count was a bit low, so she was placed on an antibiotic as a preventative.

Physical Exam

Rita’s physical exam was good.  Her mammary gland still feels like there is abnormal tissue present, so this will have to be closely monitored.

Discussion with Dr. Risbon

Dr. Risbon explained that Margarita is a special case, which is very concerning.  Lymphoma usually resurfaces in 90% of patients in the same manor it did before chemo.  However, now that Rita’s spleen is removed, it is not known how or where the Lymphoma will show itself. We will have to be very observant, and vigilant in regular check-ups at Rita’s veterinarian as well as Rita’s oncologist.  She will be seen once a month by the oncologist for the next year, and more frequently by her primary veterinarian.  Even with Rita’s current heart issue, there are treatment options if relapse occurs, if she is deemed healthy enough at the time to receive those treatments.

Dr. Risbon said that preventative medications (flea/tick/heart worm) are fine to continue, but it is recommended to hold off on vaccinations in order to reduce unnecessary stimulation of the immune system.

This Week’s Treat

WINner WINner, chicken dinner! After Rita’s WIN in her first battle with Lymphoma, she sampled the Big Chicken Deluxe sandwich (minus the lettuce and tomato) at Checkers !

I will continue to post updates with any visits to the veterinarian, cardiologist, or oncologist.

As always, thank you for joining Margarita in her journey to take a bite out Lymphoma.

Life Has Many Choices…Choose Hope (Last Chemo Treatment!!!)

Week 14 Recap and Oncology Visit #15

“Once you choose hope anything is possible.” ~ Christopher Reeve

Have Only Positive Expectations.” I have never had a fur-kid with canine lymphoma before, and although Margarita is the one going through THE toughest battle, it certainly was a challenge for me as well.  This rollercoaster-of-a-time has included “lows” of gut-wrenching fear, as well as many “highs” of extensive hope. I realized that especially for Margarita’s sake – if I wanted her to have THE best chance at taking a bite out of cancer and making it though all 16 weeks of the chemotherapy plan, I had no choice but to choose hope over despair, focus on positivity, and start believing something good will come of this unfortunate situation. But HOW was I going to Have Only Positive Expectations as my beloved fur-child is battling her way through Lymphoma? Here’s how hope helped me:

  • Finding the courage to put my trust in Rita’s medical team and the science behind chemotherapy promoted my hope for a favorable outcome.
  • Maintaining hope encouraged me to not take one single second of any day for granted, and celebrate the little things every day, creating happy memories to look back on in the future.
  • Finding hope in the desire to make sure Rita still did the things she loves (when she was feeling up to it of course) fostered productive thoughts for her life-after-chemo.
  • Talking with others who have canine cancer survivors built-up my hope and boosted my capability to have constructive notions about Rita’s destiny.
  • Having hope that each day would be better than the one before and that each sunrise would bring Rita closer to taking a huge bite out of cancer cultivated promising beliefs. 
  • Planning future adventures for Rita provided me with hope and encouraged me to have feelings of optimistic possibilities.
  • MOST importantly, hope fueled my positive attitude, which ultimately helped Rita feel protected during a difficult, confusing and insecure time for her.  

Lastly, I hope that sharing both human and canine experiences, the information and resources I found to be beneficial, and the strategies that helped me stay positive will assist someone else in walking their pup through a difficult journey.

I have not been strong – or positive – or even hopeful – every moment during these past 15 weeks.  I have never cried so much and so hard as I have in the last few months. Yet the number of times I smiled overpowered my tears thanks to the support, generosity, and continuous acts of kindness from the wonderful people in my life – some I have known for a long time, and others I have met more recently through our fur-kids.  It’s absolutely amazing to me how dogs bring people together, strengthen family bonds, and create new friendships.

This week I received several more very special gifts from friendships forged by Cello’s Corner.

The first was from a friend whose dog was also diagnosed with cancer. We have been corresponding regularly about our experiences, supporting each other through this difficult process.  It just so happened that this gal’s pup is being treated at the facility where we have been taking Hooch to use the underwater treadmill.  At Hooch’s last appointment, there was a gift bag waiting for me…Within the note, our friend included, “Your attitude towards these challenging times is very Zen!” …and in the beautiful gift bag was an adorable ceramic pup in the half-lotus pose.

This pup even looks like our Sweet Reet!

This half-lotus-posed-pup will surely help me maintain serenity in our home as we move forward to life-after-chemo with Margarita.

The second wonderful surprise this week was from my friend who made Margarita’s Lymphoma Awareness collar.   I have even been lucky enough to meet this gal and her wonderful pups in person as they began their obsession with dock diving at the end of last year’s season!  This friend sent personalized decals that she made herself for Brian and I to put on our vehicles!

How amazing are these?!?!

 

I love one of the statements written in the card:  “The Reet Fleet needed to be outfitted to indicate that there is a warrior on board.”  I can’t wait to apply these awesome decals to the windows of our cars and RV!

A third gift was planned to be given by friends at the dock diving event we missed this passed weekend. Because we could not make the event due to the medical issues that arose this week, these friends messaged us with the photo below and told us that they would be saving this glass for us for the next time we are all together. We met this couple at a DockDogs competition, and sadly, they had a fur-child with cancer as well. This amazing couple has checked in constantly with us to see how Margarita is doing, and how Brian and I are holding up. Their support and prayers have contributed a great deal to our entire family’s well-being.

The man who makes these beer glasses has a Golden Retriever named Indiana Jones, who unfortunately was diagnosed with osteosarcoma just days after his seventh birthday. You can view Indy’s Facebook page by clicking HERE where Indy’s dad shares his beloved pup’s story of cancer.

I am so appreciative for these gifts – but even more grateful for the friendships!  These wonderful surprises surely lifted my spirits during one of my toughest weeks.

Week 14 Recap

If you follow us on Instagram or Facebook, you already know that Margarita had a trip to the Emergency Room last Saturday.  Last week Margarita had her oncology appointment and chemotherapy on Wednesday, June 19.  By Thursday morning, she was not looking like herself.  She would not eat her breakfast, and became continuously more lethargic as the day progressed.  When she was outside, she was trying to eat grass to induce her own vomiting, and she did not eat her dinner.  Luckily, she was still drinking little bits of water throughout the day.  Friday  – same thing – she would not eat, and didn’t have an interest in getting up from her bed.  I called VSEC to notify them of what was going on, and the Emergency Room nurse told me to bring Rita in on Saturday morning if she was still not improving.  Brian and I were supposed to attend a dock diving competition Saturday and Sunday at a somewhat local event about an hour from our home.  However, when we woke up Saturday morning, Margarita appeared even more lethargic and again was not interested in food.  I also noticed a lumpy area near one of her mammary glands.  I texted a friend to have the event administrators scratch us from the competition, and I headed out to the Emergency Room at VSEC with Margarita.

Saturday, June 22

Upon arrival to VSEC, Margarita’s vitals and CBC were normal.  This was a great sign, but she was barely moving and was shivering.  I held her on the floor for a bit, and then one of the front desk staff members brought us a big fluffy blanket for Rita to use as a bed, and another blanket to cover her for warmth.

The nipple where the mammary lump was began leaking fluid, and a newly developed heart murmur was heard.  Subcutaneous fluids were given for dehydration, and Dr. Frankel, The ER doctor on staff, called Margarita’s oncologist (Dr. Risbon) to let her know what was going on.  Both Dr. Risbon and Dr. Frankel thought it was best that Margarita stay the night in the ER for IV fluids and observation.  Although it was very difficult to leave her at the hospital, I knew she was in the best hands possible.  As I held Margarita and cried, Dr. Frankel said how sweet Margarita was and that he understands how unfair it is that she has to go through this.   He assured me he would care for her as if she was his own, and shared that he has a Pointer-mix at home.  It was a very long, emotional day filled with many tears, but Dr. Frankel and all of the staff at VSEC that day were so kind and comforting – I cannot thank them all enough.

Brian called to check on Margarita after a few hours of me leaving her, and the ER nurse reported that she was resting comfortably, and even ate a few pieces of chicken. We were thrilled with this news!

Sunday, June 23

The nurse Saturday evening told Brian that we could call Sunday morning after 9 or 10 am to check on Rita.  Of course we called at 8am ..HAHA! The doctor luckily had already evaluated Margarita.  The doctor reported that Rita was more alert and had again ate some chicken, so she was comfortable sending Rita home as long as we were going to monitor her the rest of the day.

When I arrived at VSEC, the ER nurse reviewed Margarita’s discharge papers.  We were to monitor her for progressive lethargy, lack of appetite, vomiting, or diarrhea.  If those symptoms persist, we would have to contact our primary vet or VSEC for further advice and supportive care for Margarita.

After I arrived back home with Margarita, she again had no interest in eating for us Sunday afternoon and evening.  She did seem in better spirits, and enjoyed some Sunday porch sittin’.

Monday, June 24

Still no appetite.  We called our primary vet, Dr. Campbell at Old York Veterinary Hospital.  It was suggested that we bring Rita in to see her.  Dr. Campbell did a physical exam and took some chest x-rays. Dr. Campbell noted that she did in fact now hear a heart murmur, and it was a significant change.  Dr. Campbell also told me that she felt some extremely firm stool in Rita’s bowel. Dr. Campbell called VSEC to leave a message for Dr. Risbon, and to see if we could get an appointment with the cardiologist at VSEC to evaluate Rita’s sudden onset of a heart murmur. Dr. Campbell also instructed me to give Rita lots of fluids and walk her often throughout the rest of the day to see if we could get her bowels moving.

A cardiology nurse from VSEC called me in the afternoon to let me know they could fit Rita in on July 3rd.  This worked out well since she also has an ultrasound appointment and blood work both scheduled that same day as her projected 16th oncology appointment.  If all goes well, July 3rd would also complete the CHOP plan for Rita.

Rita did drink water – and even drank some homemade chicken broth.  I walked her, and although she had some difficulty, she had a bowel movement.  I offered her liquids throughout the day and walked her again in the early evening, at which point she had another bowel movement.  She had some trouble, but was able to pass some very firm stool.

I bought some chicken, a few beef bones, and some goat’s milk.  Margarita did drink the goat’s milk, so I was thrilled.  I cooked the chicken and soup bones in two separate slow cookers for experimenting with Rita’s appetite tomorrow.

Tuesday, June 25

Rita ate a few pieces of the slow-cooker chicken, but was more interested in the broth.  She did also eat a few pieces of the bone marrow, but was not interested in the bone broth.  I continued to offer chicken, bone marrow, both broths, and goat’s milk throughout the day.  She was not able to have a bowel movement during the day.

Wednesday, June 26:  Oncology Visit #15

Margarita’s CBC was normal.  Dr. Risbon was able to hear the heart murmur, and suggested that we move forward with an echocardiogram next week.  Dr. Risbon also felt the irregular tissue on Margarita’s right 5th mammary gland.  She said that it did not feel like a mass, but more like thickened tissue, and it was not producing a discharge today.  Dr. Risbon explained that a needle aspirate is not sensitive enough to distinguish the difference.  She would recommend finishing the course of the antibiotics that were administered at our ER visit the is past weekend.  We could consider having the tissue removed and/or biopsied in the near future.  Margarita is scheduled to have an ultrasound, echocardiogram, and blood test next week.  Her echocardiogram appointment was moved up to Monday morning so that Dr. Risbon and Dr. Campbell will have all the information needed to formulate a plan for long-term monitoring.

This Week’s Treatment (LAST ONE!!!)

Considering the week Margarita had, I was surprised that Dr. Risbon suggested moving forward with this week’s treatment.  I had mixed emotions about moving forward …While I was so relieved that Rita was blessed enough to have made it through the entire round of chemotherapy that some dogs are not as lucky to complete, I was extremely nervous wondering if Rita’s body had become too exhausted to take another treatment.  Because of the newly discovered heart murmur, the additional symptoms Margarita had exhibited, and the fact that the drug she was supposed to receive today (Adriamycin) can cause toxicity on the heart, Dr. Risbon substituted a different drug (Mitoxantrone) which has less potential to affect the heart, but is still very effective against lymphoma.  The other benefit of Mitoxantrone is that there is less chance of GI side effects.  Dr. Risbon also dispensed Cerenia and Metronidazole for us to have on hand in the event Margarita displays signs of nausea or diarrhea.

This Week’s Treat

This week we stopped at Applebee’s.  I bought Margarita a corn dog, mozzarella sticks, and mac-n-cheese.

She wasn’t very interested in any of the food this week, as she was still feeling a bit nauseous, so I packaged them up in hopes of her enjoying these treats later.

I had also planned on doing something special to celebrate Rita making it through the complete round of chemotherapy, but because she was not feeling well, we have postponed that celebration until we observe that she is feeling up to PAWtying.

Margarita also now has an Adventure List!  I am not setting a time-frame in which to complete the list, I am just going to enjoy working our way through these escapades as the opportunities arise.  Hopefully I will also be able to find some friends who can help Margarita check-off these adventures!

 

As always, thank you for joining Margarita in her journey to take a bite out Lymphoma.

 

 

 

Margarita Featured in BluePearl’s Newsletter

Margarita’s Lymphoma case and how it was “accidentally” discovered was very unique.  BluePearl, owner of VSEC, contacted me to see if they could feature Margarita in their newsletter, and of course, we said yes.  Below is the story published by BluePearl:

 

Last January, the Beadlings woke up to what would later lead them to a life-changing discovery: Margarita’s canine lymphoma.

LEVITTOWN, Pa. – On the night of January 7, Jenny and Brian Beadling were suddenly woken up by their beloved English Pointer, Margarita (Rita). Rita was pacing anxiously around the bedroom, urinating uncontrollably, and refused to eat. Worried by this unusual behavior, Jenny called their veterinarian the next morning and made an appointment for that evening.

Dr. Helen E. Campbell, veterinarian and owner of Old York Veterinary Hospital, examined Rita and ordered an ultrasound and bloodwork. Results showed that Rita had a 2.5 cm splenic mass and was anemic. Realizing that the symptoms may be caused by something more, Dr. Campbell referred Jenny and Brian to Veterinary Specialty and Emergency Center (VSEC) in Levittown, Pa.

After consulting with a radiologist and an internal medicine specialist at VSEC, Jenny and Brian met with VSEC veterinary surgeon, Dr. Jennifer MacLeod. Dr. MacLeod reviewed the case and recommended that Rita undergo exploratory surgery to remove her spleen, and have a biopsy of her liver and intestines.

“Unlike children, pets can’t tell you where it hurts, or how they’re feeling, so that makes our job as parents and the veterinarian’s job very difficult,” explained Jenny. “In Rita’s case, we had to rely solely on observed behavior and diagnostic testing. Although Brian and I were worried about the procedures, we were hopeful that the results would bring us closer to a diagnoses.”

To Jenny and Brian’s disappointment, malignant cells were found in Rita’s spleen and on March 13, she was diagnosed with Diffuse Large B Cell Lymphoma. At this time, Rita was also diagnosed with chronic hepatitis and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).

“Brian and I were in disbelief when we were informed of her diagnosis,” Jenny noted. “But we knew that she was in really good hands. Not only did Rita’s medical team take time to answer all of our questions, but with each response, we felt more confident, empowered, and mentally prepared to assist our fur-child in fighting the most difficult battle of her life.”

To improve Rita’s overall health and make her better equipped to handle cancer treatment, Dr. Campbell prescribed her steroids and put her on a specific diet aimed to treat canine IBD.

Once Rita was ready to begin cancer treatment, the Beadling’s were again referred to see a specialist at VSEC. This time it was oncologist, Dr. Rebecca Risbon. Dr. Risbon explained Rita’s diagnoses of Stage IV/A Lymphoma and recommended chemotherapy.

“The duration of the treatment depended on the type of cancer, the extent of the disease, and how responsive Rita would be to the treatment,” said Dr. Risbon. “Working closely with Jenny’s veterinarian, we determined the best plan for Rita, which, in addition to the chemotherapy, included additional exams and tests such as blood work and ultrasounds to monitor her overall health and cancer status,” Dr. Risbon explained. “Any changes in Rita’s eating, drinking, or elimination habits, signs of illness, or changes in behavior are relayed from Jenny to her veterinarian, and then onto myself. It’s a necessary partnership that leads to better patient care and outcomes.”

Today, Rita is on her final weeks of chemotherapy. As a reward after her weekly appointments, Jenny treats Rita to a “cheat day,” which has included licks of a Rita’s peanut butter milkshake, bites of a Taco Bell cheesy roll up, and nibbles of a Wendy’s cheese burger.

By working collaboratively, Dr. Campbell and VSEC specialists got to the root of Rita’s unusual symptoms, and developed a customized treatment plan that they hope will extend Rita and the Beadling’s time together.

“Brian and I are grateful to have had such an amazing medical team to educate and guide us through this difficult process,” Jenny expressed. “As Margarita approaches the home-stretch of her chemotherapy plan, we are hopeful that her future will not only bring us many more occasions to spoil our fury kid, but also open up opportunities for her as a registered Therapy Dog to comfort and inspire others experiencing similar challenges.”

Be a Warrior, Not a Worrier

Week 13 Recap and Oncology Visit #14

“Worrying does not empty tomorrow of its troubles. It empties today of its strength.” ~Corrie Ten Boom

Margarita has been the ultimate Warrior.  Both her primary veterinarian, Dr. Campbell,  as well as her oncologist, Dr. Risbon, have told me that Margarita is doing much better than some dogs do when going through chemo.  Not only do some dogs have many more or worse side effects, but some dogs unfortunately aren’t even able to complete the 16-week plan for different reasons.  I am in awe of Sweet Reet’s strength and resilience, and she has inspired me to transform my worrier tendencies into Warrior energy these past 13 weeks.

As her PAWrent, it was extremely difficult at times over the last 13 weeks to clear my mind of distress, transform that negative energy into the positive strength needed to make clear decisions, and to physically and emotionally assist Margarita in her most important battle.  Keeping a calm, upbeat demeanor was important to me, knowing the vibes I emitted would undoubtedly transfer to Margarita.  A positive attitude and a calm, gentle peaceful voice made her feel happy and secure.  Like all dogs, Margarita is extremely sensitive to silent communication as well – so it was just as important for me to keep my mood and body language optimistic, despite the anxiety and heartache that I felt.

However, the mind is a treacherous battlefield, and if I was not careful…if I let my guard down jus a little…the Warrior in me disintegrated into a worrier instantaneously. So what have I done to help train my heart and mind to be a Warrior like Sweet Reet?  Call me crazy – but I watched Rita – closely.  Despite not feeling well 100% of the time, I saw Rita still take joy in small things.  Undeterred by the side effects of chemo, she still woke up with her tail wagging and happy to be alive.  Her bravery and endurance truly inspired me to start each day anew with an optimistic mind and happy heart, no matter what transpired the day before.  How do you like that? SHE was the one going through battle, yet she was helping ME all along…A true example of a Warrior.

Week 13 Recap

The week following her treatment day was great.  Margarita did not have any reactions to the Vincristine, and was feeling well enough to enjoy a trip to Maine with us.  The hair from her splenectomy surgery area has not grown back yet – which we kind of expected. But more recently, Margarita has had a bit of hair loss in her face, and some pigment discoloration in her muzzle.  Below are not the best of pictures, but I tried to show a “before'” (left side) and “current” (right side) for comparison.

We first noticed that her nose, the skin around her eyes and lips, and her muzzle were all turning darker:

Then we noticed hair loss on her face…

…and on her muzzle:

Definitely some noticeable changes – but still one of the prettiest gals we know!

Oncology Visit 14

Margarita’s CBC revealed a very mild drop in her white blood cell count, but the levels were still acceptable for continued therapy. Her physical examination was normal, and her weight was stable.  Dr. Risbon said that after the chemotherapy is completed, Margarita’s hair should fill back in, and she should regain the original pink coloring in her muzzle.

This Week’s Treatment

Dr. Risbon changed the treatment for today.  Rita was supposed to have Cyclophosphamide today.  However, the last time Rita had Cyclophosphamide, she displayed was suspected to be  sterile hemorrhagic cystitis , a side effect with this drug seen in about 10% of dogs.  To be sure this didn’t happen again, the Cyclophosphamide was substituted with Chlorambucil .

This Week’s Treat

This week’s treat was extra special.  Margarita surprised her 2-legged cousin, James on his last day of school!

First car in the Parent Pick-Up Line!

Margarita was patiently waiting for James.

James was happy and surprised to see Rita when he opened his door!

Rita’s Grammy drove us all to get a treat.

We went to Evergreen Dairy Bar . This well-known restaurant and ice cream stand opened in 1949 and is a popular spot for locals, as well as road-trippers passing by on their way to or from the Jersey Shore.

James and Margarita enjoyed a hot dog for lunch.  As you can see, Rita thinks her lunch is lip-smackin’-good!

Diggin’-In!

After lunch, James and Margarita also enjoyed a delicious ice cream treat!

As always, thank you for joining Margarita in her journey to take a bite out Lymphoma.

 

Believe: Let Your Faith Be BIGGER Than Your Fear

Week 12 Recap, and Oncology Visit #13

Believe…Accept what is, let go of what was, have faith in what will be.

As Margarita moves into her last 3 weeks of the CHOP plan, I must admit I let fear start to creep in.  What if when the treatments stop the cancer comes back? If the Lymphoma does come back, how long do we have left with Sweet Reet?  I realize that negative feelings like fear and anxiety are normal emotions when dealing with a loved one who has cancer, but living with the uncertainty will not be easy.  Eliminating these limiting thoughts will be extremely important in the upcoming weeks.  Believing in my faith and Rita’s medical team will put myself in the best position to not only make it through this difficult time myself, but also to ensure that Rita is in the best spirits possible. The power of belief is an amazing thing. Countless stories describe how believing has helped people accomplish goals that others have considered impossible. It would be foolish for me to believe that every story ends happily, no matter how much faith and belief is exercised. However… I am going to choose to believe that Margarita still has many happy chapters to add to her story.

Week 12 Recap

Margarita had another great week, other than her putting her paw down about her special diet for her intestinal disease.  Rita decided that she had enough of her special diet and would not eat.  At first we thought she was experiencing nausea as a side effect of her treatments, but we quickly realized that was not the case when we offered her other options and she gobbled them down!  Originally we were going to wait-her-out until she ate her special diet, but after speaking with our primary vet, Dr. Campbell as well as Rita’s oncologist, Dr. Risbon, they agreed that it was best for Rita to eat what she wanted to eat rather than miss an meals during this important time of her treatment schedule.

This week, Margarita received an incredibly thoughtful gift. A past Pointer Rescue, Org adopter had this beautiful piece of artwork made just for Margarita!

This Week’s Treatment:

Margarita ‘s physical exam showed no abnormalities, and her CBC was acceptable for continued therapy.

Next week she is due for cyclophosphamide.  Since this is the drug that is suspected to have caused the side effects at the last dosing, Dr. Risbon will be changing Rita’s chemo drug in order to avoid further irritation to her bladder.

This Week’s Treat:

This week Rita visited Taco Bell! She had a few bites of their Cheesy Roll Up !

As always, thank you for joining Margarita in her journey to take a bite out Lymphoma.