February 28, 2011

Back on Track (?)

Abby started back up on her Palladia today, so hopefully we won't have any tummy problems this time. Keeping an eye on her, so we'll see how it goes. Last Friday she had a check-up with the oncologist and he said her lungs sounded great, so that was good. I had mentioned that we'd need to keep an eye on her weight, and she'd only lost 1/2 pound so that wasn't too bad, especially considering the 24-hours or so of tummy troubles she had. 

This weekend we took her to Fiesta Island both days and interspersed her walking/playing with bits of running. On Saturday, she was still spunky enough when we finished (after over an hour there) that she tried to take off, running down the beach away from us. She did NOT want to go home yet. So the next day we really tried to wear her out and walked/ran/played for 90 minutes! Here's a little video of her running, and leaving Mike in her dust:
video

And here are some cute pics I took of her. 
"How cute am I in my new collar?"


"Do we have to go home?"

"After a run, I recommend a recovery smoothie."

Today I took her to FI again by myself and ran into two women back to back, about 2 minutes apart, who had both lost dogs to osteosarcoma. The first woman sort of rubbed me the wrong way. I guess she must have had a bad experience, so she was giving me advice I didn't ask for - telling me to research everything (Hello, librarian here. Used to get paid to research everything...) and not let my oncologist talk me into anything. Anyway, the second lady was much nicer, but she had me in tears. Her poor doggy got bone cancer after she'd only had him 7 months (she adopted a 'senior' dog - I think she said he was seven). But she had him another 18 months after his diagnosis, and she said he was a "special gift." Just like Abby is our special gift.

Oh, one last thing... Abby is doing well in the 'popular vote' for the Orvis Cover Dog Photo Contest - she has made the first page (out of over 500 pages - not 500 dogs, 500 pages, with 21 dogs per page) for "Most Unique Voters," so thanks to everyone who voted. [The dog who is winning for "Most Money Raised" looks like she was a very sweet baby. A sweet baby who had some very rich friends.] I think the voting is open until end of March, so if you still want to donate/vote, click here: Vote for Abby There's a minimum of $5 to vote and each $ = 1 vote and all the money goes to fight canine cancer.

February 23, 2011

Taking a Break

So... after 3 doses of her palladia, Abby got hit by some fairly bad diarrhea starting yesterday. I called Dr. Vancil and he said to skip today's dose. (BTW, someone asked why there were 2 pills in the pic on my previous post - in case you wondered too, it's because she's taking 60mg, which comes as one 50mg pill + a 10mg). Anyway, he said not to worry - he's seen other dogs take a little while to adjust but then do fine on it.

I told him that part of the problem could be the wide variety of things she ate over the long weekend. (What with people handing her treats left and right at the the Canine Cancer Walk Saturday. Plus she got another Flying Dutchman on Monday night... I mean, come on, it was a holiday!... Oh, and there was the salmon I made for her on Sunday... We are bad pawrents...) Anyway, today she is on a bland diet and she seems to be improving in terms of how often she needs to go out. Even w/ the diarrhea, she’s still hungry and still FULL of energy (Monday we went for a 90 min. walk/run at Fiesta Island. 90 minutes!) So overall I’m not too worried about her (yet…). Hoping we’ll just have a little palladia break here for a dose or two, and then be back on it. Hoping that with greater consistency in her diet she’ll adjust a little better to the pills and do well on them.

In related news, I entered this pic of Abby in the Orvis catalog cover contest. (As I've blogged about before, Abby has a cozy "deep dish" Orvis bed, which she loves and I've posted some pics of her in it during her recovery.) There are two different aspects to the contest: one part (for the cover) is just for the Orvis judges to vote on, but the other part is a ‘popularity’ vote to have your dog's pic included on the Orvis site. In order to vote, you have to make at least a $5 donation ($5 = 5 votes), but all the money goes to the Morris Animal Foundation’s Cure Canine Cancer campaign – the same folks behind the Canine Cancer Walk we did. So… if you want to donate money to that cause anyway, please consider donating it via votes for my pretty girl. Click here to Vote for Abby! I know folks hit you up for money probably every other day, so seriously - no worries if you don't wanna/can't donate. Just thought I'd post in case you were interested. Thanks for reading and keeping good thoughts for our girl!

February 20, 2011

Canine Cancer Walk

On Saturday, Mike, Abby and I as well as my sis, Terry, and her corgi, Lou, all participated in the Canine Cancer Walk in Walnut Grove Park, San Marcos. Funds raised are going to the Morris Animal Foundation Canine Cancer Campaign. We were a little worried we might not make it, as the forecast was not good and we didn't want to drive the 50 min. to get there in pouring down rain, but the weather held for the most part and it ended up being really nice during the walk.

The walk itself was pretty short - only 1 mile on a flat path, so definitely not enough to wear our girl out - but there were a lot of dogs there and lots of vendors handing out goodies for the dogs. Mike and I scored some free T-shirts that say "Cancer Bites" which were really supposed to only be for the team from the Veterinary Specialty Hospital. We offered to buy them, but she said they were just extras and gave them to us. (Technically, they were not free since we easily spent about five large there when our last dog, Bailey, got sick...) Anyway, the organizers said they'd hoped to have 100 dogs and raise $15K, but they ended up with ~250 dogs (I think that's what she said) and raised $23K! Our family has lost many great dogs to cancer, so we were happy to take part.

I'll let the pics tell the story (if you want to see any of them larger, just doubleclick):
Lou on the way. Silly boy hates car rides, so we were surprised and happy that he came along.

At the start, the organizer said 25% of dogs will get cancer and 62% (!) of Goldens!
Our familial unit.

The walking hoards

Lou and Abby on the trail

Abby bursts into the lead!

Left this one a little bigger so you can see the crowd streaming along waaay in the background

Celebrity sighting: Chopper!

A hoard of happy Goldens

We met another tripawd!

Lou, happy & tired, on the way home.

"I got this cool ball and a bandanna!"

"Here's all my swag."

"The Blue Buffalo folks gave me a frisbee! (Not everybody got one. They thought I was special."
The best thing would be if Abby's able to go again next year...

February 18, 2011

OK, It's Only Been 2 Pills, But So Far...

...So good! 

Today, Abby took her second dose of Palladia. Like I said, we have to keep a close eye on her, so here's the checklist:
1. Appetite? Excellent! I just bought her a new flavor of dry kibble yesterday (same grain free brand - Blue Buffalo Wilderness formula - but they were out of her usual salmon flavor, so I bought the duck instead). Normally, she's not super excited about her dry kibble, so we mix some really high quality wet stuff in too (like Newman's Own Organic dog food, which she loves). But today, when I poured the new food into her bin, she stuck her head in and started smacking out. Definitely no loss of appetite with this girl so far. (She is her mother's daughter. If I ever go off my feed, you know something is terribly wrong...)

2. Poop? Solid! Sorry - TMI? But it's the reality of my world - gotta monitor the poops now. I'm actually keeping a little diary about her poop.

3. Energy level? Ridiculous! She is Full. Of. It. She was making me nutty yesterday. Took her for 2 good walk/runs in our hilly neighborhood, plus played some more at home with her toys. Then she was still bugging me while I was trying to do yoga. I'm on the ground, eyes shut, hands on tummy - supposed to be concentrating on my breathing - and she comes over and starts corn-cobbing my hands. (Corn-cobbing is this weird little nibbling thing she does where she runs her tiny front teeth back and forth along your arm/leg/nose, just like she's eating corn on the cob. She's so odd.) Hard to relax when you are being corn-cobbed. 

As for the process, here are some pics.
I have to wear these oh-so-sexy gloves. Powerful stuff.

As you can see, she is not adverse to this process.

"Mmmmmmm. Chemo-meds..."
Thanks for reading. Post at y'all soon. (Oh, my sis and her dog, Lou, and Abby & I signed up for this Canine Cancer Walk that's supposed to happen tomorrow. But the weather forecast is pretty dire. Don't really want to drive the 50 min to get there if it's really going to be pouring down rain, so we will probably skip it - but at least the money will still go to a good cause. If we do manage to make it, I'll bring my camera and post some pics!) 

February 16, 2011

Hope in a Little Plastic Bottle

After much research and agonizing, we decided to try the Palladia with Abby, so I went and picked it up today at the Vet Cancer Group office. It's the first drug developed specifically for treating dogs with cancer and was only just approved in 2009, so it's still pretty new. It has, and I quote, "direct anti-tumor and anti-angiogenic activity." I don't totally know what anti-angiogenic means, other than it goes after the type of rapidly growing cells that you get with a tumor, but if you meet someone who bandies that type of word about, they are likely either a doctor or have been through this whole cancer crap before. 

Apparently it can have some rough effects on the tummy, so we have to keep a close eye on her for the first couple of weeks. I'm hoping she'll do well on it since she did so well on the carboplatin (which was her intravenous chemo). We go back to see Dr. Vancil on Feb 25, so hopefully she'll have a good check-up then. One of the side effects can be weight loss, so today she was just under 48lbs, and we'll see what she weighs next time. (I was pretty surprised that she'd gotten up into the 48 lb range! That's practically what she weighed pre-amp!) If she does well on the Palladia (which she will take every M, W, & F) we might add in Cytoxan (another home-dose chemo that works slightly differently) on T, Th, Sat's. Give that stupid met the ol' one-two punch! Take that YOU STUPID MET.

Anyway... of course, I'll keep you posted on how all that's going. On to funner things: in my last post I mentioned going to Fiesta Island without my camera. Made up for it by taking it along this past weekend and snapping a ton of pics. She had such a great time. We ran a bit and she ran along with us. She had tons of energy and people were very impressed with her! Here are some of the best pics:
I love this one. So cute.

My friend said there are never pics of me on the blog, so here...



She met a super cute beagle!

Action shot! Only one paw on the ground!
OK, not dog-related, but on V.Day-eve there was a big pink heart in the sky. (Squint a little to really make it look heart-shaped...)

February 9, 2011

It's Official . . .

. . . the cancer has spread to Abby's lungs. That wee damn spot that the oncologist noticed in her lung x-ray 6 weeks ago has grown -- it hasn't grown super fast (went from ~0.6cm to ~1.0cm), but it's grown and therefore confirmed itself as a "met." Dr. V. says this is not all bad news -- he said we should celebrate the fact that there were no other mets, so we are trying to hang on to that. 

But still . . . it's not great to know that it is officially in her lungs. Also, the fact that it's there brings up more treatment options. He sent us home with info on two different drugs we could try: palladia (a cancer drug developed very recently specifically for dogs) and cytoxan (a chemo drug that I believe is also used in humans and has been around a lot longer). We are trying to do some research and figure out what to do. The goal would be to stop that lone met from getting comfortable and growing and inviting friends over to stay. We do not want her lungs to be a nice place to live!

Anyway, in the case of palladia some dogs have seen the tumors shrink or disappear. The problem with the palladia is that it can have some harsh side effects, so she would need to be monitored closely on it. She's in such great health otherwise, and has such great energy, that I don't want to give her something that will mess that up. Not sure what we are going to do. Might try the palladia and see how it goes. Since she had so few side effects with the carboplatin, maybe she would be fine on the palladia as well. And if not, there is the cytoxan to fall back on. 

Still trying to decide. The other potentially scary thing is that some folks commented online that when their dogs had bad reactions to the palladia and had to go off it, the tumors came back like gang busters. Don't want to piss the tumor off and have it come back all Incredible-Hulkish on us . . .

In happier news, we are definitely going to enjoy every day with her. Today is a beautiful day here in SD, so I took Abby down to Fiesta Island. I didn't bring the camera along because going by myself and carrying her water and her leash and keeping an eye on her seemed like a bit much to also be trying to snap shots of her. But then, of course, I wished I had the camera because (a) there was another tripawd down there (not that she cared, because he was swimming and she was not interested) and (b) there was this 8-mo-old smaller version of a Greater Swiss Mt. Dog down there that she's played with before and they had a great time racing around. 

Abby is so energetic and rambunctious it's hard to believe she is "sick." Dr. V. said that her body really has no idea that little spot of cancer is in there. She's certainly in the envious position of being blissfully ignorant. Of course, even if she did know, I'm pretty sure she'd still be racing around enjoying every minute to the fullest - that's just how dogs are. Definitely need to take a cue from them!

February 1, 2011

Super-Model Dog

Not much is new with Abby this week, although I can happily report that she seems to have bounced back very quickly after not feeling so great post her last chemo. She's been full of energy (maybe a little too much energy) and very much her usual puppy self the past few days. We took her to Fiesta Island this weekend (aka: her favorite place in the world) and she had a great time. I also got a new camera this weekend -- primarily for taking better pictures of her (she moves so quickly and my old camera was so slow, I was always missing shots of her) and for trying to take better pictures of the sunsets we've been having (of course, ever since I got the camera, the sunsets haven't been super exciting). 

The Humane Society has a calendar that they put out every year with pictures from contest winners. I've sent in pictures of Bailey in the past, but most of the dogs that "win" are rescue dogs or have some sort of story. Well, we are thinking this might be our year: a rescue dog, with cancer, AND it helps that she's like the Gisele Bündchen of dogs (super slim, gorgeous, and with that poutty/serious expression the camera loves!). 

So, in place of much news on Abby, I give you a whole mess o' pictures - and even a wee video I made from some shots. (OK, I admit the video is not exactly Oscar-worthy, but I wanted to play with the camera/video software...) (P.s. If you want to see any picture larger, just click on it.)
video
 
She met an Anatolian Shepherd...

...he out-weighed her by 2.5 times
She mostly held her own...


Then tried to hide behind Daddy
Cricket anyone?
Downtown waaaaay in the background


Love this action shot with ears & paw up


She loves getting dried off...
...here she is smiling to prove it.