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.”

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!

 

 

Lilly’s Painting

Remember our Pointer Rescue, Org foster, Lilly ?

Well JJ Kelley, who drove a part of her transport from TN to NJ, painted her from a photo her new FURever family took of Lilly and her new Bro-fur!

JJ Kelley plans to sell her paintings, and donate 50% of sales price to various rescues, fosters, and other groups involved in rescuing pets!

You can see the full post here: Bluej Imagery & Art

Iris

Meet Iris!

She is a 3 year old English Pointer who was found as a stray in GA, and ended up in a kill-shelter where she had limited time. Then a nice volunteer from Pointer Rescue, Organization offered to foster her!

We are happy to have been able to be a part of her freedom-ride up the East Coast to help get her to her foster home in NY!
🌸the Iris flower symbolizes:
Freedom•Hope•Trust•Faith•Valor•Royalty
Check the many  adoptable Pointers on the rescue’s FB page! ✌🏻❤️ 🐾
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Meet Bob!

Meet Bob!

bob10

Today we did a transport for Pointer Rescue, Org (PRO).  We picked up an English Pointer named Bob in South Jersey, and drove him to an airport in North Jersey for a private flight! Bob started out in Tennessee and is in transport to his foster home in Maine!  

We had the pleasure of spending an hour with him in the car as we drove him to an airport in North Jersey, to meet Sam the Pilot.  During our ride, Bob was an absolute angel…he played with his chew toys, enjoyed looking out the window, and snoozed on my lap for over a half-hour! 

We picked up Bob from PRO volunteer, Kelsey:

photo

Look at this face!…

photo 1

Catching a snooze…

photo 3

Soaking up the lovin’…photo 2

PRO volunteers Sam and Jaya offered to do a leg of this transport by AIR in Sam’s plane! (How cool is that?!)  Sam and Jaya flew Bob to Connecticut, for Bob to catch his next car ride closer to his foster home.

Bob going out to the plane with Sam and Jaya:

BOB 6

Sam boarding the plane (look closely – Sam is lifting Bob in to the plane in this picture):

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Bye Bye, Bob, Jaya, and Sam! (Video of Bob taking flight!)

Views from Bob’s flight:

BOB 4

…and thanks to Sam and Jaya, Bob safely landed in Connecticut:

BOB 2

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Best wishes to Sam on the rest of his car rides to Maine…and to finding a forever home and family to start his new life with !

Unfortunately, English Pointers end up as strays, abandoned, or (if lucky) in rescue because like German Shorthaired Pointers, they are very active. The English Pointer is also bred to be a hunting dog who can work in the field ALL day long. If not properly exercised, these beautiful pups can be a bit too much for people who have not researched the breed before getting that cute little puppy they fell in love with.  Sometimes pointers are given up by hunters because they don’t hunt well or are gun-shy. Pointers are extremely sweet and loving and are sure to charm their way into your heart!

Thinking of a pointer?  Think rescue!  the Pointer Rescue, Org (PRO) is a non-profit group of coordinators and volunteers across the United States dedicated to the rescue of purebred Pointers (sometimes called English or American Field Pointers). Contact them to inquire about Bob, Pointers in general, or to find out how you can volunteer to help this wonderful breed!