Week 5 recap and Oncology visit # 6
“And though she be but little, she is fierce.” ~Shakespeare
Week 5 Recap
They say God gives the toughest battles to his strongest soldiers. Our little Margarita is the sweetest soul, but she truly has proven to be a fierce little warrior! I am certain her strength and resilience is fueled by the daily encouragement and prayers received from family and friends, as well as the amazing medical care and advice from her oncologist, Dr. Risbon, and her primary veterinarian, Dr. Campbell. Margarita’s amazing support team is also what lessens our fear as her PAWrents, and provides us with the positive energy, strength, and courage needed to assist her through this challenging journey. Our dogs are very sensitive to our mindset and moods. Knowledge is power, and a positive attitude leads to positive outcomes…the more knowledgeable and positive we are, the better we can assist Margarita to continue to be a fierce warrior in her battle.
I must admit – this is easier said than done. I don’t think my mind and heart will ever be completely cleared of the emotional upset of Rita’s cancer diagnosis, but I have vowed to make a conscious effort to shift my worry of what could go wrong – to focusing on what a what could go right. Attempting to clear my mind of upset and worry is no easy feat – but it does allow my brain to make more room for learning how I can help Margarita, rather than obsessing on the “what-if’s.” A good friend of ours, whose dog also has been through a cancer journey, suggested I read The Dog Cancer Survival Guide. This book has inspired me to write Rita’s Journey into the blog, and to plan the fun weekly “chemo day” experiences for Margarita. Watching her enjoy those pleasant activities and treats helps maintain my positive outlook as well. We would quickly lose direction on our path without our amazing team of friends, family, and doctors walking beside us through this journey.
This past week Margarita has been eating well, active, and in great spirits. She had an amazing week!
During last week’s oncology visit, Margarita was cleared to go on our Easter camping trip. We originally had a vacation planned that would have led us about 4 hours away from home. Considering this was the first camping trip since Margarita began chemo, we were a little nervous. Instead of canceling the trip completely, we booked a last-minute reservation at a campground about 45 minutes from us. This way, we could still enjoy camping, but also remain in driving range of both Margarita’s primary vet at Old York Veterinary Hospital, as well as her oncologist at VSEC.
Margarita enjoyed hanging out around the campsite at Crystal Springs Wilderness Lodges and RV Resort :
Walking around the campground and taking in the views:
…And of course – napping in the RV!
Oncology Visit #6
Arriving at VSEC
This visit is Week #2 of the “3-weeks-on, 1-week-off” 16 week CHOP protocol.
Margarita is always such a good girl in the waiting room!
Waiting for the oncology nurse
The oncology nurse took Margarita back to first be examined by her oncologist, Dr. Risbon.
Waiting for Dr. Risbon
When Dr. Risbon returned to our room, she told me that she did a physical exam and blood test. Dr. Risbon reported that there were no abnormalities with Margarita’s physical examination, and noted that Margarita even gained some weight back! Her CBC revealed a normal white cell count, and in addition, her anemia has also improved!
Week 6’s Treatment:
- Cyclophosphamide 40 mg
- 2 tabs by mouth 4/24 and 4/25, then 1 tab by mouth on 4/26
- Administered at home
- Wear gloves when administering. Do not split/crush tablets
Today Margarita was sent home with Cyclophosphamide – an oral medication that we will administer ourselves over the next couple of days. This drug is known to cause irritation to the bladder (called sterile hemorrhagic cystitis) in 10% of the patients receiving it. We will have to monitor for Rita straining during urination, urinating small amounts frequently, incontinence, or blood in her urine. If any of those side effects occur or any additional concerns arise, we are to call VSEC for further instruction from Dr. Risbon. If you remember from her Week 2 Recap, Margarita has a good week following her Cyclophosphamide, so we are hopeful the upcoming days will also be uneventful for her in regard to side-effects.
This Week’s Treat:
Since I am on Spring Break this week, I made a very-early appointment so that we could enjoy the rest of the day doing something fun. Considering that it was still so early when we finished Margarita’s appointment, I decided that a breakfast treat would be the best choice for us!
We stopped at Dunkin’ Donuts !
Margarita enjoyed part of a bacon/egg/cheese Wake-Up Wrap.
And who doesn’t like a little something sweet at breakfast?! Margarita also enjoyed a piece of an Old Fashioned donut!
I was inspired to incorporate a “Special Treat Day” on days Margarita has oncology visits after reading The Dog Cancer Survival Guide. The author suggests a “Cheat Day” because it is new and unexpected, which helps your dog’s mind stay optimistic and stimulated. I like to include these fun trips on Margarita’s treatment days so she continues to associate car rides with positive and enjoyable experiences.
Life is not always a walk-in-the-park …so always take one when you have the opportunity!
The weather was absolutely amazing, and we had the rest of the day to enjoy it, so we visited Tomlinson Park – a nearby recreation area that I must drive past about 4 or more times a week – but never had bothered to explore. I’m sure glad we stopped – You can’t see the whole park from the road, and I had no idea the park was this beautiful!
It’s a shame that someone installed an electrical outlet over top of the “N!”
The walking path followed along a beautiful stream.
“Of all the paths you take in life, make sure a few of them are dirt.” ~John Muir
Keep up, Mom!
Taking in the beautiful pathways
The best surprise of all was the lake at the far end of the park!
After we explored Tomlinson Park, we took a short walk down Main Street in Historic Medford.
We stopped at one of Margarita’s favorite places: Pride Paws!
Pride Paws is a retail pet store located in the heart of historic Downtown Medford. Pride Paws provides job training and transitional employment experience to individuals with developmental disabilities who could not independently succeed in a traditional work environment. The participants in this program greet customers, track inventory, create a bi-weekly schedule, prepare payroll, make dog and cat related items such as blankets, toys and note cards…and (Margarita’s favorite reason for stopping in!!) ….bake their famous dog treats right in the store!
Margarita not only loves the treats here, but she adores the participants of the program, and all of the attention and love they give her during our visits. One of the Pride Paws employees noticed that Margarita’s underbelly had been recently shaved, and asked what happened. I explained that she had surgery, and is undergoing chemotherapy treatments. I also told them that after each oncology appointment, I choose somewhere special to go, and today’s pick was Pride Paws to purchase a bag of their famous homemade treats! They were so happy we decided to stop in, that they gave Margarita an additional bag of treats for free!
We hope that upcoming days bring Margarita another amazing week!
Thank you for joining Margarita in her journey to take a bite out Lymphoma.
Print credit: Ginger Oliphant. Purchasable on her Etsy account.