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.

 

 

Happy, Alive, and Built to Survive

Week 11 Recap, and Oncology Visit #12

“A positive attitude gives you power over your circumstances instead of your circumstances having power over you.”

Week 11 Recap

We don’t have much to report this week other than Margarita had a good week so far and is officially moving into her last 3-week round of chemotherapy!

The sky last night was pink for Sweet Reet!

Oncology Visit #12

This week was Rita’s “off-week,” where she just had to visit the oncology office for blood work.  Her test results revealed no abnormalities, and another CBC will be repeated prior to her treatment next week.

This Week’s Treat 

Brian and I took Rita to Rita’s Italian Ice !

Rita waited patiently in the truck as her Pop was in line ordering her a yummy treat.

Margarita enjoyed some licks of a peanut butter milkshake!

YUMMY !!!!!!!!!

***REMEMBER***

Early detection is paramount. Stay informed, remain observant, pet your dog often to check for abnormalities, and take your pup to your family veterinarian regularly. If you are not sure how to check your pup for the more obvious cancer signs, click HERE for a comprehensive guide. Please also remember to take into consideration any other observations that may be out of the ordinary such as:

  • abnormal swellings that continue to grow
  • sores that do not heal despite antibiotics by mouth or an ointment applied topically
  • weight-loss that cannot be explained by a weight-loss diet
  • loss of appetite
  • difficulty eating and/or swallowing
  • bleeding or discharge from any body opening
  • offensive odors
  • reluctance to exercise or loss of stamina
  • persistent lameness or stiffness
  • difficulty breathing, urinating, or defecating

 

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

When Cancer Bites, Bite Back

Week 10 Recap and Oncology Visit #11

“There will be roadblocks, but we will overcome them.” ~ DJ Khaled

Cancer tried to take another bite out of Reet this week, but she bit back!  The dogs were outside enjoying the beautiful weather this past Memorial Day Weekend on Saturday evening.  Margarita was laying in the grass when she suddenly popped up and nervously began to pace, pant, and spin.   It quickly became apparent that she was straining to urinate.  We knew the drug used in her last chemo treatment (Cyclophosphamide) causes sterile hemorrhagic cystitis  in approximately 10% of the dogs.  Symptoms include straining during urination, urinating small amounts frequently, incontinence, or blood in her urine.  She had this same treatment during week 2 of her chemotherapy, and did not have any complications.  However, what we were observing was exactly what we were cautioned to look our for.  We followed the protocol and called VSEC to share our observations, and their suggestion was to bring her in to the emergency room for evaluation.

On the way to the ER

While Rita was at VSEC, they performed the following:

  • Physical exam
    • No concerning findings
  • Ultrasound
    • Revealed that her bladder was slightly inflamed
  • Blood work to check her kidney and liver values
  • Urinalysis
    • Results were normal

ER Treatment:

Know What to Expect

Nice try, cancer – but this was just a hiccup, and won’t hold Margarita back in her progress. I had prepared my self each week for Rita’s chemo treatments by reviewing the side effects for each week’s drugs with Rita’s oncologist, Dr. Risbon.  Each week I show up with a notebook and pen ask what side effects to expect, in what time frame we should see symptoms, and what to do if Rita begins to feel poorly.  I also often refer back to the “What to Expect” list I was given during our first oncology appointment. This keeps my mind from racing and reduces my anxiety if I happen to see something out of the ordinary.

More Ways to Help Your Fur-Kid Take a Bite Out of Cancer:

Chemotherapy kills the cancer, but also is extremely harsh on the body.  During chemo – especially during the “hiccups” that may arise – we wanted to be sure Margarita’s body was as equipped as could be to fight these little “side battles” if needed.  After speaking with others who have been through chemotherapy with their fur-kid, Rita’s primary veterinarian, and her oncologist, we chose a special diet and specific supplements to best prepare Rita’s body for it’s best defense against the chemotherapy and possible side effects.

Diet

There are many articles that suggest certain diets for canine cancer patients (most are carbohydrate-free / sugar-free diets).  However, Margarita is a unique, complex case, and therefore is on a special prescription diet due to her intestinal disease. Other than her weekly “cheat day” after her chemo appointment, we stick to her special diet as close as possible.  Every dog’s nutritional needs before, during , and after cancer and through chemotherapy are unique,  and should be discussed in detail with your primary vet as well as your pup’s oncologist.

Supplements

We chose to add supplements to Margarita’s diet to help strengthen, support, and balance her immune system.  Just like the main diet, supplements should be discussed with your primary vet and your dog’s oncologist as to which ones are appropriate for your pup’s individual needs and diagnosis.  Also be sure to ask your oncologist about a schedule of administering these supplements, as some antioxidants and ingredients will decrease the effectiveness of the chemo if given too close before or after your fur-kid’s treatment day.  Here are the supplements we chose for Margarita:

  • Fish Oil
    • Shown to improve survival times slightly in dogs with Lymphoma by helping to boost the immune system
  • CAS Options
    • A powerful blend of four functional mushrooms: Maitake, Reishi, Shiitake, and Turkey Tail,  combined with antioxidants to provide extra strength immune support. Formulated to support and balance the immune system to promote overall health and well-being for pets, especially during times of stress
  • Nupro Silver
    • Holistic product, it will provide your dog with the full range of vitamins, minerals, enzymes, amino acids, and essential omega fatty acids which promotes optimal overall health and well-being
  • Natural form bee pollen
    • Known to help reduce side effects of chemotherapy
      • Be sure to choose unprocessed
  • Probiotic
    • Beneficial bacteria that can exhibit anticancer properties.
    • Margarita also has an intestinal disease so the safe and effective strain of beneficial bacteria in a probiotic promotes and restores normal intestinal microflora for her.

Oncology Visit # 11

Margarita’s physical exam was normal, and her blood work displayed appropriate levels to continue chemotherapy.  Rita’s oncologist, Dr. Risbon, suggested that we continue the Rymadyl and Oxybutynin Chloride until next week’s visit to help with her bladder issues.  Dr. Risbon was not overly concerned about Rita’s elevated ALT value.

Treatment

During this week’s treatment, Margarita received Adriamycin intravenously.

  • We are to monitor the site for any inflammation, oozing, or discharge.
  • Side effects of this treatment may cause nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, and/or diarrhea.
    • As  a preventative, we were sent home with:
        1. Cerenia 24 mg
          • To be given (2 tablets) once a day for 5 days to prevent nausea/vomiting
        2. Metronidazole 250 mg
          • To be given (1 tablet twice a day) at the first sign of loose stool/diarrhea

This Week’s Treat

This week’s cheat day was a visit to Wendy’s !

Margarita enjoyed a few bites of a bacon cheese burger and a couple of chili cheese fries!

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

 

No One Fights Alone

Week 9 Recap and Oncology Visit #10

“When someone has cancer, the whole family, and everyone that loves them does too.”  ~Terri Clark

When we first found out about Margarita’s diagnosis, there was no question or hesitation for us to put all other things on hold if needed, and fight right alongside Rita in her biggest battle.  We vowed to do anything we could to help our 4-legged family member survive, as long as her medical advocates deemed the actions appropriate to continue to improve Rita’s quality of life. We are extremely fortunate to have an amazing medical team behind Rita, whom we trust wholeheartedly.  Our family has been understanding, encouraging, and sympathetic. Additionally, thanks to dog sports and social media, we are beyond blessed to have a large network of extended family and friends who have not only been equally supportive, but also have been invaluable resources.

That doesn’t mean we haven’t come across those who do not understand, or cannot relate to our efforts or our bond with our 4-legged family member.  I’ve been asked by people who don’t know our family well:  “You’re getting chemo for your…DOG?!?!”… “Is it really worth it?” … In keeping the tone of Margarita’s documented journey positive, I won’t even go there – just consider yourself extremely lucky if you are like us and have friends and family who support your efforts to help your fur-child fight such a serious disease.  At the same time, be prepared as a PAWrent to be criticized or questioned by those who “don’t get it,” and think your 4-legged child is “just a dog.”

———————————————————————–

JUST A DOG

From time to time, people tell me, “lighten up, it’s just a dog,” or “that’s a lot of money for just a dog.” They don’t understand the distance traveled, the time spent, or the costs involved for “just a dog.”

Some of my proudest moments have come about with “just a dog.” Many hours have passed and my only company was “just a dog,” but I did not once feel slighted.

Some of my saddest moments have been brought about by “just a dog,” and in those days of darkness, the gentle touch of “just a dog” gave me comfort and reason to overcome the day.

If you, too, think it’s “just a dog,” then you will probably understand phrases like “just a friend,” “just a sunrise,” or “just a promise.”

“Just a dog” brings into my life the very essence of friendship, trust, and pure and unbridled joy.

“Just a dog” brings out the compassion and patience that makes me a better person.

Because of “just a dog,” I will rise early, take long walks and look longingly to the future. So for me and folks like me, it’s not “just a dog” but an embodiment of all the hopes and dreams of the future, the fond memories of the past, and the pure joy of the moment.

I hope that someday they can understand that it’s not “just a dog,” but the thing that gives me humanity and keeps me from being “just a woman.” So the next time you hear the phrase “just a dog,” just smile–because they “just don’t understand.”

~Author Unknown

———————————————————————–

If you cross paths with those who don’t quite understand the love you have for your fur-child, you may start to doubt yourself – or may wind up feeling alone and helpless. In addition to the possibility of unsupportive friends and family, you could have financial constraints or other situations that may make chemotherapy difficult or impossible.  Remember:  NO ONE FIGHTS ALONE! There is support in each area that you can find elsewhere to assist you in your part of the battle to save your pup.  First and foremost, ask your veterinarian and/or oncologist if they can suggest any helpful and reputable emotional and/or financial support groups.  I’m sure there are others out there if you search, but below are some options for emotional, informational and financial support that I found either through a friend’s suggestion, or a quick Google Search.

Emotional or Informational Support:

  1. Put out a post on social media
    • You will be surprised at how many others have been through cancer with their pup, and can provide some very helpful tips and information
  2. Pick up a copy of The Dog Cancer Survival Guide
    • This book was recommended to us by a friend of ours whose dog also battled cancer
  3. A list of suggested reading from Help Your Dog Fight Cancer :
  4. Watch The Dog Cancer Series
    • Also recommended to our by a friend of ours whose dog also battled cancer
  5. Join a Facebook support group such as the examples below or search for groups on Facebook specific to your dog’s needs:

Financial Support 

  1. If you have pet insurance, contact them to see what they will cover
  2. Apply to CareCredit.
  3. Attempt to secure a bank loan.
  4. Contact the organizations below, or search for others:
    • The Magic Bullet Fund
      • Nationwide financial assistance for people who have a dog with cancer but cannot afford treatment costs.
    • The Pet Fund
      • Assists owners in covering medical costs beyond the normal expenses of vaccination, spay and neuter surgeries, food and routine veterinary care.
    • Brown Dog Foundation
      • This organization is dedicated to helping families who find themselves in a temporary financial crisis at the same time their pet requires life-saving treatment or life-sustaining medications.
    • The Onyx and Breezy Foundation
      • This is a privately run nonprofit started in memory of the founder’s dogs.  This foundation has helped animals in a variety of ways: from spay/neuter programs, to getting dogs on death row out of high-kill shelters, to providing emergency medical care to animals whose owners have fallen on hard times.
    • Breed-Specific Support
      • There are many rescue groups and associations that support specific dog breeds. Reach out to your local breed clubs for information on local, state and national groups involved in dog breed-specific veterinary care assistance programs. Examples include groups like CorgiAidSpecial Needs DobermansLabMedPit Bull Rescue Central.
    • Joshua Louis Animal Care Foundation
      • Assists owners of pets who are in need of cancer treatment.
    • The Mosby Fund
      • Provides financial assistance for dogs in need of critical care.
    • The Riedel & Cody Fund
      • Provides hope, knowledge and funding for owners of companion animals diagnosed with cancer.
    • RedRover Relief
      • Assists animals in crisis through emergency sheltering, disaster relief services, financial assistance and education.
    • Rose’s Fund
      • Financially assists pet owners and Good Samaritans who have an animal with a good prognosis for a healthy life, but are at a financial loss.

Week 9 Recap

The week following Oncology Visit #9 was a good one!  Rita experienced some mild diarrhea on day two after her treatment, but one Metronidazole did the trick, and she had normal bowl movements the rest of the week leading up to oncology visit #10.

If you have been following along with us for a while, you are probably tired of hearing me say how blessed we are to have found ourselves involved in GSP Rescue of NJ , Pointer Rescue, Org ,  and  DockDogs – and our ever-growing extended family that came about because of those groups.  I am blown away with the continued friendship, support, motivational messages, prayers, gifts, and gestures from these wonderful people.

This week, one of our extended-family members who attends daily mass lit a candle for Rita and prayed to St. Rita of Cascia on the St. Rita’s Feast Day this week (May 22).

Another one of our extended-family members sent us two of the “No One Fights Alone” Lymphoma bracelets from the Delmarva DockDogs Canine Cancer fund raiser she orchestrated in the name of our Sweet Reet at the last Delmarva DockDogs event.  This amazing woman had no idea that my “theme” this week was going to be No One Fights Alone!

 

Oncology Visit #10

On our way to VSEC with some new “bling!”

This week Margarita’s passed her physical exam with flying colors, and her CBC was normal (aside form the mild anemia that is continuously monitored).  Margarita’s chemotherapy this week is an oral medication that is administered by us at home.

This Week’s Treatment:

  • Cyclophosphamide 40mg
    • Give 2 tablets by mouth on 5/22, and 5/23 and 1 tablet by mouth on 5/24
      • Wear gloves
      • Do not split/crush tablets
    • This drug can cause some irritation to the bladder (called sterile hemorrhagic cystitis).  This week we will have to monitor Rita for straining during urination, urinating small amounts frequently, incontinence, or blood in her urine.

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This Week’s Treat

Margarita was excited to indulge in some grilled chicken nuggets and waffle fries from Chick-fil-A !

Grilled nuggets!!

Waffle fries!

Have a great week, everyone!

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

 

 

Losing is NOT an Option

Week 8 Recap and Oncology Visit # 9

You beat cancer by the way you live, why you live, and the manner in which you live.”  ~ Stuart Scott

 

Week 8 Recap

Overall, Margarita has been a complete trooper though her chemo treatments.  In fact, I was beginning to think that we were on Easy Street.  No complications…halfway through the 16 week protocol …we got this, right?! But then Sunday night rolled around, and I began to think otherwise.

Last week, Rita had her “off-week” which means she only had to visit the oncology office to get blood work. We assumed this would be one of her best weeks, as it had been when she had her last “off-week.”  However, this was not the case.  On Mother’s Day evening (May 12), we noticed a drastic change in Margarita’s overall spirits, appetite, and energy level.  She had no interest in coming out of her crate, in eating – or anything for that matter.  She would not leave her crate, and if she did, she would only go as far as the dog bed next to her crate.  Sunday night she didn’t eat her dinner, would not get up to go outside, and would not sleep in bed with us.

I must admit, all my positive-thinking strategies went out the window, I slipped into immediate panic-mode, and thought the worst:  The chemo is not working, the cancer is spreading, she’s not going to make it….

Monday morning she was still exhibiting the same symptoms.  She had her weekly oncology appointment scheduled for the next day, Tuesday, but we were afraid to wait that long.  We took Rita to her primary veterinarian, Dr. Campbell, Monday evening.  Blood work was drawn and resulted in some less-than-desirable levels.  Her CBC revealed a very low neutrophil count (~600-700) and more concerning, showed that Rita’s body was producing premature red blood cells. We learned that this could mean several things:

  • her anemia could have worsened
  • she has infection
  • her body could be rejecting the chemo, or
  • there could be a bone marrow issue.

As long as her symptoms did not worsen, Dr. Campbell said it would be safe to wait for our oncology appointment the next day.

Margarita remained lethargic and uninterested in food Monday night into Tuesday morning.  Needless to say I was very anxious to get to the oncology appointment Tuesday afternoon. Although I felt like I prepared myself at the onset of Rita’s diagnosis by planning for the worst while hoping for the best, I was anything BUT prepared to see our Sweet Reet feeling so awful.

Oncology Visit # 9:  May 14, 2019

I had texted my mom a picture of Rita before leaving for the oncology visit, and let her know about Rita’s decline.  My 6 year old nephew, James, (who is also one of Rita’s biggest fans!) was at my mom’s house at the time, and had asked how Rita was doing. My mom told him that she wasn’t feeling very well at the moment, and James took it upon himself to stop what he was doing and pray for our Sweet Reet.

Brian left work early to meet us at VSECDr. Risbon reviewed Rita’s CBC from yesterday, and suspected that Rita had a late neutrophil nadir.  (A late what?!) We learned that instead of Rita’s white blood cell count dropping at the usual 7-day mark after her Adriamycin treatment, it dropped later (around the 10-day mark) leading to her side effects of lethargy and decreased appetite. Dr. Risbon also explained that the premature blood cell production was most likely Rita’s body responding to her increased anemia (common in dogs without spleens going through chemo). PHEW!  As soon as I saw that Dr. Risbon was not bothered by this setback, my state of panic lessened.

Dr. Risbon did some additional blood work upon our arrival to VSEC. Rita’s neutrophils were already at 4400 which was a good sign.  Margarita was also gobbling down every treat the oncology nurse was offering – also a great sign!  Dr. Risbon explained that the drop (and the rise) in Rita’s CBC results could happen pretty quickly, and Rita had already rebounded from the drop.  Since Rita has not had a fever and her counts were improving, Dr. Risbon held off on administering antibiotics.  Dr. Risbon decided it was best to postpone this week’s chemo treatment for another couple of days, so we rescheduled treatment for later in the week.  Dr. Risbon also dispensed Cerenia for Rita to take over the next 4 days to help Rita maintain a healthy appetite.

Medication:

  • Cerenia (24 mg (each)
    • Give 2 tablets by mouth once a day (every 24 hours) for nausea

What we experienced this week taught me that setbacks are not only OK,  but something to be celebrated. Why the heck would we celebrate a setback?? Setbacks are unpleasant, but are a blessing in disguise . They are wake up calls to remind us not to get too comfortable or too confident. Setbacks force us to stop, regroup, question, and most importantly learn. Analyzing and digesting setbacks is only going to make us more knowledgeable – and knowledge is power…the power needed to help our girl take an even BIGGER bite out of Lymphoma, and to turn her setbacks in to COMEbacks!

It’s normal to be upset when you see a loved one feeling so badly, and I am the first to admit that I am THE Queen of Panic.  It’s easy to lose focus and freak-out, thinking about the worst case scenario.  I realize now how important it is to stay grounded – that even though there will be road blocks we encounter along the way, it is imperative that we focus MORE on the faith we have in the superior medical team of Dr. Campbell and Dr. Risbon and the amazing strength and resilience of our Sweet Reet…  and less on the fears that cancer so easily implants in our minds.

Setbacks are nothing but a teaching tool to make you stronger…This was a very slight delay – a temporary detour…and no where near the defeat I had thought we were facing…. no matter how big the setbacks may be, we will figure it out, because losing is NOT an option.

Nice try, Cancer.  Our game isn’t over yet – and Margarita is still kicking your BUTT!!

 

Oncology Visit #9, Take 2:  May 16, 2019

Back to VSEC we go! …This time with Rita feeling much better.  Rita was completely back to herself:  eating normally, playing in the yard, and the sparkle was back in those sweet eyes!

Rita was in much better spirits, and was very excited to see her favorite oncology nurse, Sherri, who always carries treats for Sweet Reet!

Margarita’s physical examination was normal, and she even gained a little bit of weight!  A new CBC taken at this visit was acceptable for continued chemotherapy.

This Week’s Treatment

  • This week Margarita received Vincristine intravenously.
    • We will have to watch the site for any inflammation, oozing, or discharge.

This Week’s TreatS

It’s only fair that when you have two oncology visits in one week, you get TWO cheat-days!

After Rita’s initial weekly oncology visit on May 14th, we stopped at Sonic Drive-In !

Rita had been eating the treats from her oncology nurse at VSEC, so we ordered her a plain hot dog in hopes that her appetite was continuing to  increase.

Hot dog for the win! We were thrilled that she was eating again!

Keeping with our Drive-In treat theme, following oncology visit #2 on May 16, Rita and I stopped at Weber’s Root Beer , a “true” drive-in where you pull up, put your lights on for service, and a server brings out your order on a 1950’s metal tray that hooks to your window!

Weber’s has been around since 1951!

Rita’s order was a pork roll and cheese sandwich (or Taylor Ham for you North Jersey folk!) and fries…and  I ordered a root beer for my self!

YUM! Lip-smackin’ good!

Taking a bite out of her first pork roll sandwich:

Margarita decided she was not in the mood for the fries, and was most interested in the pork roll itself, so I pulled pieces of the meat out of the sandwich for her to enjoy.

 

 

Thank you for joining Margarita in her journey to take a bite out Lymphoma.

 

 

Be Your Dog’s Hero: Chase Away Canine Cancer

Week 7 Recap and Oncology Visit #8

Margarita had a slightly rough time this past week, but she did get to spend some time outside enjoying the softness of our newly sodded yard.

The side effects of chemo usually show up 3-5 days after the treatment day.  Although we started her on anti-nausea medication on the day of her treatment as a preventative, by Sunday Margarita was very lethargic and was not interested at all in food. This continued for about 3 days.  However, she slowly began to find food enjoyable again, and ate well the rest of the week.

Oncology Visit # 8

This was Rita’s “off” week for treatments, which meant she only needed to get blood work and a physical exam done to make sure she was healthy enough to continue treatment.  Her CBC showed no abnormalities, and her nurse noted that Rita was a good girl during her visit!

This Week’s Treat:

This week we stopped at Arby’s !  Margarita enjoyed a few bites of a roast beef and cheese slider.

She also had a curly fry for the first time!

 

“Chase” Away Canine Cancer

Chase away Canine Cancer is a division of the National Canine Cancer Foundation, and is an organization that is near and dear to our hearts. Chase was a female black Labrador Retriever, who was an Elite division dock diving competitor.  Her PAWrent, Cera Reusser, discovered a lump under Chase’s chin while petting her. The lump turned out to be metastasized cancer, which spread from nasal carcinoma. Unfortunately, even after the best possible care from her oncologist , Chase lost her battle to cancer, and passed away three months shy of her seventh birthday. Chase’s steadfast devotion to her family and her courage throughout her battle earned her the title of hero.

Cera became Chase’s Hero

Driven by the loss of her beloved Chase, and determined to find a cure for this devastating disease, Cera Reusser committed herself to being a hero for Chase, and set out on a mission to do all she could to help others in this difficult battle.  Through fundraising and the start of Chase Away Canine Cancer, Cera’s efforts in conjunction with hundreds of volunteers and donations from across the USA & Canada have made a huge difference in the fight against canine cancer.

Chase Away Canine Cancer posts resources for people who have fur-kids battling cancer.    Click HERE to view the current posts.

Chase Away Canine Cancer also has a volunteer-run online store , which carries products such as the personalized reversible bandana Rita is wearing in this post.  Profits from the K9 Trading Company’s sale of Chase Away Canine Cancer merchandise go directly toward the Chase Away Canine Cancer Organization. A portion of all other merchandise on the site also goes to Chase Away Canine Cancer.

How can you be YOUR dog’s hero?

  • Take a few minutes to do a body check each month.
    • Choose a monthly date (Chase away Canine Cancer suggests the 14th since this was Chase’s birthday) and do a body check on this date each month. The National Canine Cancer Foundation has graphics you can print out or save to help guide you through your monthly checks:
  • Be sure to schedule and attend your dog’s routine veterinary appointments.  
    • Follow up with an additional exam outside of your routine appointments if you observe something suspicious
  • Keep notes on any growths or abnormal behavioral observations
    • This will help you track important information about your dog’s health, and also will be helpful if you need to share notes to your veterinarian or a specialist on quick notice

As you may have read in our very first post about how we found Margarita’s Lymphoma, we did not discover any lumps. Sometimes cancer does not show itself in the form of visible lumps bumps. So what do you look for?  The National Canine Cancer Foundation lists these top 10 early warning signs of Cancer:

  1. Abnormal swellings that persist or continue to grow
  2. Sores that do not heal
  3. weight loss
  4. loss of appetite
  5. bleeding or discharge from any body opening
  6. offensive odor
  7. difficulty eating or swallowing
  8. hesitation to exercise or loss of stamina
  9. persistent lameness or stiffness
  10. difficulty breathing, urinating, or defecation

 

Thank you for joining Margarita in her journey to take a bite out Lymphoma.