Why did I pick NOW to become a blogger?

A few days ago I was given a diagnosis that rocked my world. I'm a 10-year old Corgi living in Portland, Oregon. I am reasonably healthy, except for that abdominal surgery I had last summer. Ok - I don't know WHY I ate that piece of wire but it seemed like a good idea at the time.

In the middle of March, I was told by the folks at the Veterinary Cancer Referral Service that I have K9 lymphoma. I was gobsmacked! My mom immediately tried to find out everything she could and, while there were many sad stories, there really wasn't much else to go on. There are "support groups" but my mom's not much of a joiner when it comes to those things.

What we decided to do was chronicle this journey so that others can follow along. Those who have their own dogs fighting cancer - lymphoma and other forms. Those lucky enough to have a Corgi. Those just SO abysmally bored they have no better way to waste their time.

So we'll see how this works. Be well - The Barney Dog

Sunday, July 24, 2011

CHEMO DOGS BEWARE: NO VACCINES!


Has it really been a month and a half since last we spoke? Time certainly DOES fly when you’re in remission, doesn’t it!
 
 One can assume in this instance that no news is good news, at least for me. Since June 11, I have undergone three more chemo sessions with either vincristine and/or doxorubicin. My weight is maintaining and I’m feeling rather cheeky if I do say so myself. Next week I start those nasty little cytoxan pills at home.
 I DID have a little eye issue and there was a disaster averted with my other veterinarian.
 Every once in a while my eyes get a little runny. It happens to people with allergies and perhaps when they don’t get enough sleep. I actually had a tiny growth removed from my eye when I was a little lad and it just gets irritated from time to time. Dr. Freeman with the Veterinary CancerReferral Center thought that I should try some antibiotic eye drops just in case. You see – since my immune systems is rather screwy right now, any infection could do irreparable harm. Now the prescription called for an ointment to be applied twice a day. When my mom ordered it, she thought it would be around $15 to $20 and the pharmacist confirmed that. Well! Imagine her surprise when the same pharmacist called back and said that while the generic form of the drug comes in drops, it wasn’t available in the ointment and the ointment was going to be $117! Now I understand why my mom yells at the television on Sunday mornings when the talking heads mention big pharmaceutical companies. Dr. Freeman saved the day again and switched it to drops. No worries.
videoNO VACATIONS FOR YOU!
 The other close call was more disconcerting. My kennel cough vaccine was up for renewal. We need it in order to be kenneled. My mom made the appointment (for all three of us more mature dogs, as a matter of fact) and that was that. Fortunately, she happened to mention it to the people at the Veterinary Cancer Referral Center when we were there last Tuesday and they said, “Absolutely under NO circumstances is he to get ANY vaccines!” 
 Once my mom thought about it, it made perfectly good sense. After all a vaccine is simply a small dose of the disease you’re trying to avoid. With my immune system in tatters right now, it might have killed me. (Forgive the melodrama but that’s how it hit me at the time!)  When my mom called Banfield, she was understandably furious and you don’t ever want to see her furious. They KNOW I am undergoing chemo. It is in my record. But they scheduled it anyway. A vet assured my mom that they would have caught it when we came in but what if they hadn’t? It was only caught because my MOM caught it. She’s still debating whether or not to ever go back to Banfield!
Bottom line – I cannot get ANY vaccines until two months after my last treatment, which makes it sometime in November. My mom was a tad upset because that meant several trips – to Phoenix, to Disneyworld, to Mexico – had to be canceled. She’s okay with it now but wanted to string up either the woman who made the appointments or the vet or, most likely, both.
 Here’s the thing: my mom spends an inordinate amount of time worrying about me. What I’m eating, when I’m pooping, whether my eye is goopy, if I’m sleeping too much, if I’m not sleeping enough, if I’m getting my pills... And for some incompetent buffoon behind a desk to almost throw all that caution out the window is utterly incomprehensible! She makes sure I get my fish oil and mushroom extracts every day. I also get a probiotic powder sprinkled on my food in the morning and the Onco-support powder (which tastes like something even a dog wouldn’t eat so she meticulously fills up little capsules to ensure that I get the necessary vitamins and extracts). No one knows which of these little goodies are working and which are worthless but I AM taking them and I am STILL in remission. Have been since April and I intend to stay that way. There you have it. Cheers! 
 The weather has finally cooperated here in Oregon and our household has calmed down somewhat. I got to sit on our deck and soak up some rays with Willow and Fred and Tomo and Yuki have finally signed a peace accord. At least for now.
 There were two other dogs I met at Dove Lewis over the last few weeks who are not that lucky. Jack is a great mixed breed who has a strange stripe of missing fur on his butt. He was only in remission for a short period of time. The lymphoma came back and Dr. Freeman has him on another regimen. And then there’s Ollie. Ollie is a pitbull/Bassett mix. Now, I don’t mean to sound harsh or be one to judge a book by its cover but Ollie…how shall I put this. Ollie looks like a full-grown pitbull who had his legs put in the dryer and they shrunk. He is the goofiest, friendliest guy I’ve met in a while. And he puts that pitbull myth to rest. Ferocious, my arse! He is built like a brick outhouse, however.
Ollie the Pitbull/Bassett baby
Ollie was diagnosed with lymphoma in January and HIS came back so, again, he’s on what Huey Lewis would call a new drug. Both companions in chemo are in great spirits and have GREAT mom’s worrying about them.
In the mean time, my canine circle of friends has been greatly diminished of late. My mom’s friend owns a fabulous place called Vino Vixens on Powell. Her name is Lesa. Lesa’s beloved Cloud passed away last week. Cloud was a cool dog. NEVER flummoxed or upset even when I was attacking his little sister, Marley.  (I wouldn’t have seriously hurt her. It was one of those silly territorial displays.) And another family of friends, Patty, Sayde, and dear, sweet Gertie, bid a sad farewell to Roscoe. Billy, another canine companion in chemo, is doing well so keep up the good work, dude. So stop in to Vino Vixens, buy a bottle of wine, and give Lesa a hug. And go see Patty, Sadye & Gerty at their DoodlebugDuds booth at Saturday Market. They’ve got amazing things for every size and shape dog – backpacks, bowls, raincoats, beds, and a Doodgebuggy. (You’ll have to go to their website to see what it is!)