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.

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.”

Seacoast DockDogs Hosts “Hops and Hounds” at Raitt Homestead Farm Museum; Eliot, Maine

This was our first time competing at this event.  We were super-excited since we were able to camp on the Raitt Homestead Farm Museum for the entire weekend!

Limoncello:  Team Coach

In between yelling at the boys and after the competition, Cello had a chance to jump off the dock and swim in the pool. In our eyes, she won 1st Place for prettiest girl on the dock this weekend.

Hooch

Hooooooooooooch had a great weekend! He is brand new to competing in Speed Retrieve and Iron Dog AND to learning the Chase Method during Big Air … and he rocked the dock in all 3 areas, despite the mistakes his Mama made, and with him being a beginner in all three “new” games! We have a lot to work on as a team, but I am so proud of this little guy!!

Big Air:

20’3″

22’0″

Finals:

21’2″    🥉3rd Place Elite Division Big Air Finals

Extreme Vertical:

6’0″     🥉3rd Place Top Gun Division

Speed Retrieve:

6.690 seconds 🏅New Personal Best score!

Iron Dog:

2939.05 points    🥈2nd Place Gladiator Division 
🥉Out of all the competitors this weekend, Hooch won 3 Place Overall in the Iron Dog competition!

Lager

Lager started off the weekend in a little bit of a slump, and was hesitating a bit on the dock. He pulled it together by the end of the competition though!

Big Air:

17’6″

17’8″      2nd Place Senior Division

19’10”    1st Place Senior Division

Finals:

20’1″     🥇1st Place Senior Division Big Air Finals

Speed Retrieve:

7.310 seconds    🥉3rd Place Turbo Division Speed Retrieve

The announcer at this event was a Massachusettes Law Enforcement Officer, and he “coined” Lager! The history of “coining” began in the ancient Roman army, where coins were presented as rewards.  The U.S. tradition goes back to the 1960’s.  A member of hte 11th SFG over-stamped old coins with a new emblem.  The 10th SFG was the fist to mint a custom coin and remained the only Army unit with its own coin until the 1980’s.  Originally the coins were given to recognized outstanding achievements. They are now used to build unit morale and cohesion. During the Vietnam Era, the “challenge-response” was added to the tradition. A soldier can be “challenged” to show his or her unit coin. Those that cannot have to “buy a round.”

 

Margarita:  Team Cheerleader

Sweet Reet took a break from cheering on the team and caught up on some beauty rest this weekend in preparation to kick some Lymphoma butt this week!!! 💪🏼.

Whiskey

Despite the brand new toys Mom bought for this competition, Wish the Fish decided she would rather be a Land Shark this weekend, and timed-out in her jumps.

 

Porter:  Team Manager

Porter had a great day of napping and taking walks around the farm on Saturday.

However, even though his meds have just been increased, the second night on the farm around 10pm he had another series of seizures. Luckily, his emergency injection of Midazolam brought him out of the seizures and he did not have to go to the ER. It had been 20 days since his last episode.

Overall, we had a great trip to Maine and enjoyed this competition!

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.

 

 

Lila

On June 9, 2019 we had the pleasure of transporting sweet Lila for Pointer Rescue, Org to help her get to her foster home in Vermont.

Lila is a 3 year old Pointer who was found near a plantation in Georgia. She is very timid in new situations and afraid of loud noises. She is good with calm dogs, but does not appreciate hyper dogs. Lila is heart worm negative.

Lila was super sweet and had an adorable spot on the top of her head!

Lila fell fast asleep and used her stuffed monkey as a pillow!

To find out more about Lila or other adoptable PRO Pointers, please visit pointerrescue.org for adoption information to fill out an application. PRO is always looking for foster homes or transport volunteers too!

Welcome to your new life, Lila!

Sport

Meet our Pointer Rescue, Org transport buddy, Sport!

We transported this cutie patootie on May 25, 2019.  Sport is 6.5 yr old blind Pointer and belonged to a huge hunting preserve in NC. He suffered an infection, which caused him to lose sight in one eye then the other. His owner was going to just euthanize him but an employee convinced him to let him find a home for Sport. Although he has never lived inside, Sport loves people, and craves attention. Sport is Heartworm negative.

Sport was an absolute doll during our 1 hour ride.

He loved to cuddle!

I am thrilled we were lucky enough to spend some time with this sweet soul!

Whiskey Turns ONE !

Whiskey’s First Birthday

December 31, 2018

Birthday breakfast:

Fried Egg, tater tots, bacon, pancakes, and banana

Birthday dinner:

Filet mignon, salmon, mashed sweet potatoes, carrots, green beans, and pineapple

 

 

Birthday cake:

Birthday fun:

First “Big Girl car ride” using a car harness instead of traveling in a crate with her idol, Limoncello

 

Swimming indoors at Green Leaf Pet Resort with her idol, Limoncello

First Hike at Estell Manor Park

 

Beadling’s English Porter (AKA Porter 182201-P-D-NC)

As soon as our GSP Rescue of NJ foster, Maxeen, went home with her new FURever family, we contacted Pointer Rescue, Org, to let them know we were ready to welcome another foster into our home.  They told us that they had a female pointer named Lacey, who was in danger so we told them we’d foster her.  A few minutes later, they sent another message that they had a safe place for Lacey, but a young male who was found as a stray was just days away from being euthanized in a high kill shelter in North Carolina.  We immediately responded that we would foster him.  I asked what his name was… Porter! 🍺

Porter’s transport was set, and he was to arrive in New Jersey on December 15th.

Porter in the NC shelter:

Porter was picked up at the shelter in North Carolina by a PRO volunteer and taken to a veterinarian.

Porter in the veterinarian’s office in North Carolina:

Great friends of ours signed up to do the last two legs of the transport and bring him directly to our home!

With a name like Porter, we had to give him a big Liver Killer welcome of beer-themed toys and even a beer themed collar!

Porter was completely emaciated and exhausted from his travels.

Porter was “weighed-in” on our antique scale.

Porter did nothing but sleep for almost an entire week.  He then began to show interest in playing with Whiskey when he started to gain some strength.

On January 2, Porter began to have cluster seizures.  After several months of medication adjustments and trips to the ER, we decided that Porter needed us, and had already found his FURever family. On May 9, 2019 we officially adopted Porter!

 

 

Whiskey on Pointer Rescue, Organization’s Shirt

While Whiskey was still our Pointer Rescue, Org’s foster dog, “Wish,” I had shared a screen-shot of her from a video I took of her on “point.”

One of the volunteers took that shot and turned it into one of the rescue’s fund-raising shirts!

You can view the fundraising event and buy a shirt by clicking HERE!

We are so proud of our little girl as her image helps other needy Pointers!