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.”
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:
- 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
- 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
- A list of suggested reading from Help Your Dog Fight Cancer :
- Watch The Dog Cancer Series
- Also recommended to our by a friend of ours whose dog also battled cancer
- Join a Facebook support group such as the examples below or search for groups on Facebook specific to your dog’s needs:
- Note: Not all Support Groups have the same goal. Some groups provide support and comfort, and others are focus on the technical side of handling canine cancer. You may want to consider joining more than one group to explore which ones suit your needs best.
- If you have pet insurance, contact them to see what they will cover
- Apply to CareCredit.
- Attempt to secure a bank loan.
- 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 CorgiAid, Special Needs Dobermans, LabMed, Pit 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!”
One for Reet, one for me!
Wearing my half
Rita’s half is added to her collar 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.
This Week’s Treat
Margarita was excited to indulge in some grilled chicken nuggets and waffle fries from Chick-fil-A !
Have a great week, everyone!
As always, thank you for joining Margarita in her journey to take a bite out Lymphoma.