Teddy had his second chemotherapy infusion two days ago, and he is feeling pretty good right now. He was a little shaky coming home from that one because they sedated him to biopsy that cyst on his back. I had no idea they would have to shave such a large spot on his back to do it. Now he has a bald spot on his shoulders in addition to shaved strips around his legs and very short fur on half of his tummy where he was shaved for surgery. He looks like a patchwork retriever. He seems to be feeling pretty well now, although the storms last night kept him and Maggie (and, therefore, me and Art) up last night.
What could make him feel even better? Jelly beans...
So, overall, Teddy handled his first chemo pretty well. He did get sick one night, five days after the infusion, but we gave him some additional anti-nausea medication, and he got through it. I think it scared him, and he became really clingy, which may be difficult for the casual observer to detect, as he follows me constantly even when he feels his best. "Clingy" just means that he wanted me to offer constant comfort and to accompany him out in the backyard when he needed to heave a little and to nibble some grass. And that's okay, because that's exactly what I wanted to do andyway, so I could see just how sick he was and to make sure he didn't nibble too much grass. So what if it was 1:30 in the morning? And 3:00 in the morning...and 6:00 in the morning...He is feeling better now.
Teddy had a blood test at OSU on Tuesday, and that was fine, but his oncologist didn't like the look of a cyst on his back. We were aware of the cyst and had it previously tested, and at that time it turned out to be a not-uncommon, not dangerous sebaceous cyst. But now we have cancer, and the nature of the cyst may have changed. It looks a little different, a little more raised, a little angrier. They took a scraping at OSU and sent it to pathology, and now it has some "atypical cells." They are going to do a bigger biopsy in two weeks when Teddy goes back for his next infusion. I offered to bring him in sooner, like immediately, but they didn't think it would make a difference. The scary thing is that the myxosarcoma that he had in his spleen is usually found on or just under the skin...like a cyst. So now, there's two weeks of waiting. Or two weeks of denial. I'm thinking about going with denial. In the meantime, I have his "carry out" chemo to give him on Friday and Saturday at home.
And now the survival story...after Teddy's operation, we kept him downstairs until his staples came out because we didn't want him to go up and down stairs very much and we especially didn't want him to jump up on or down from the bed. He also needed to go outside much more frequently because all the fluids during surgery affected his kidneys for a while, and he had to be on a leash to go out even though the yard is fenced because he could not run or roll or jump. So, it seemed easier to stay downstairs with him and sleep on the couch in the family room. I did that for almost three weeks. It may sound like a hardship, but I actually enjoyed our little slumber parties and our peaceful sojourns out into the moonlit snow-covered back yard at all hours of the night. When it was time to move back upstairs, I disassembled the bedding on the couch and washed it (which I did along the way, too, but the final time had a special urgency to it. Just sayin'......) So, the sheets and blanket went into the washing machine, along with my ipod, one of my favorite possessions, and one that I use daily, for dogwalking, artmaking, and lying awake while the rest of the world slumbers. And of course, Art had to be the one to discover it in the washing machine. Full cycle, wash, rinse, spun dry. For a few days, it didn't look good, but I kept it in a box of rice, and every day it got better. Once we dislodged a grain of rice that had stuck in the charging port, my ipod is fully functioning with no water visible under the screen. I fear that the insides are corroding, but right now it works fine. So that's one little victory. Yay.
Teddy's first chemotherapy treatment went well yesterday. He was at OSU for about four hours for an infusion. He was very brave, and his chemo nurse and yesterday's oncologist were really nice. And they loved Teddy, declaring him a very sweet boy. He gets three different drugs to fight any uncomfortable effects of the chemo, and so far, so good. His appetite is great and we had a nice walk this evening. They did say that if he is going to feel sick, it would probably be three or four days after the infusion, so we'll see. Right now, every good day matters. And there's nothing like a good snooze in the sun to make a good day great:
Teddy had his oncology consultation on Tuesday, and we learned two things. The first relates to his cancer, and that is that myxosarcoma probably is better than hemangiosarcoma, but it is still likely to spread, so he will start cheomotherapy next Tuesday. Teddy's oncologist, Dr. Vicario, related that there is only one study of this kind of cancer occurring in the spleen of dogs, and it included only 6 dogs, none of which were given chemotherapy. Teddy's case differs from the dogs' in the study because he will be given cheomotherapy, and his mitotic index (go ahead and Google it; my time is precious...) was considerably lower than that of the dogs in the study. So, we still have hope... but you can never trust cancer.
The second thing we learned is that golden retrievers are irresistible. I kind of already knew that, but Dr. Vicario confirmed it when he asked why anyone who knows how prone the breed is to cancer would have one...and answered his own question by stating the he, a veterinary oncologist, owns a golden retriever. They are beautiful, loving, gentle thieves of the heart. We also learned that Teddy's surgeon at Ohio State, Dr. Bertrand, had a golden retriever that had to be put to sleep just after Teddy's operation for medical problems not related to cancer, and it was just a year and a half old. That broke our hearts and made us realize that we are lucky to have a dog who has lived long enough to have cancer.
With all of this attention on Teddy, we can't forget about our little Maggie. She was diagnosed with Cushing's disease (again, go Google....) just about a month ago, and she has been undergoing lots of testing and monitoring to confirm the diagnosis and regulate her medication. So, she has her issues, too! We're doing all we can for both of them, and they both seem happy and comfortable.
We took Teddy to visit the OSU vet hospital last Thursday because he was having an issue with his incision. It turned out to be a type of staph infection, which should be cleared up with some antibiotics. They also removed all but 4 of his staples, leaving them in where the infected area is. He was also outfitted with a nifty little stretchy net "shirt" which securely holds gauze pads in place over the seeping infection. Not only does it look adorable (my opinion), it works much better than the cast-off t-shirts of Art's that we were using, as they caught the seepage, but they also probably distributed oozing staph all over the house. So, good call on the stretch fabric! His new duds also show off his new svelte post-mass shape.
We also learned what kind of cancer caused that giant mass. It was not hemangiosarcoma, which was predicted to be the problem because it is so commonly found on the spleen, in dogs of a certain age, and in Golden Retrievers. It turned out to be myxosarcoma, which is apparently very unusual to find on the spleen. We won't know how this diagnosis applies to Teddy's case until we meet with the oncology department on Tuesday, but you just know I had to look it up online. From what I can gather, it seems like this puts Teddy in a better position than having hemangiosarcoma. Now it's more like, "we got it out, and we'll consider some follow up treatment," as opposed to "get your affairs in order and enjoy the next 90 days." So, we are cautiously optimistic, and we are looking forward to learning more on Tuesday. One thing is for certain: You can never trust cancer.
I suppose our goal remains the same: to make each day really special, and to make him feel loved all the time. That's always our goal, with or without cancer!
We feel fortunate that it doesn't seem as devastating as it could be. Unfortunately, we know of someone who recently received the other kind of news about his cancer. It is hard to celebrate our cancer "victory" (I'm not sure that is the correct term) while he struggles on. He is a child from our church community, and he has been fighting his battle for years (and he's only 6 or 7 years old.) Despite the non-stop efforts of he and his family, his news was of the devastating variety, and it is heartbreaking.
I know that Teddy would change places with him if such a thing were possible.
Teddy's home! He had his surgery yesterday and was able to come home this evening. He seems to be feeling good, and I know he has to be feeling better given that he is now several pounds lighter following removal of that nasty mass, and his spleen. When he arrived at the OSU vet hospital, he weighed 86.6 pounds, and tonight he weighs his normal 72 to 73 pounds. (So we truly were NOT feeding him milkshakes and Oreos.) He is tired and looking forward to some chicken that is cooling on the kitchen counter (as is Maggie.)
As I write this, he is sprawled out on the floor behind me, and I can hear him gently snoring. What a sweet sound...
Check him out when he got home, with his "power band" legwarmers (holding bandages where his IVs were) and his OSU bandanna, a complimentary parting gift from the fine folks at the vet hospital:
We will hear pathology results sometime in the following week, so we'll keep hoping and praying. For now, we are grateful to have him home with us again, and we are grateful that he is much more comfortable. Thank you Ohio State! I have said this before, when Sophie was being treated there, but we are so lucky to have a top veterinary hospital practically in our back yard. Go Bucks!
We received some difficult news about our sweet Teddy this weekend: He has large mass in his abdomen, probably on his spleen, and it has to come out tomorrow (Monday). We took him to the vet on Saturday, asked for an x-ray, and there it was. We then had to take him immediately to The Ohio State University, which is just across town, but seemed so far away given the seven inches of snow that was still falling at the time of transport. Teddy remains at OSU in intensive care until tomorrow morning. We thought they would operate immediately, but the vets at OSU thought he was stable enough to await a full surgical team on Monday. We had to leave him in their care until then because the mass could rupture, and then all bets would be off if he were at home. It could be cancerous, or not, and we won't know until it is biopsied. So, it has been a stressful weekend, and tomorrow will be a difficult day of waiting and hoping. So, if you are so inclined, think of our good boy, Teddy, and say a little prayer for him, and us, that God might smile on us all tomorrow. Let us hope that a really good dog gets to come home to the people who love him.
We love you Teddy!
I'm having a holiday open house, and you're invited!
A great opportunity to pick up something for the animal lovers on your holiday shopping list, and a nice break from shopping at the mall! There will be refreshments, an opportunity to meet Teddy and Maggie, and a chance to win some jewelry and a mini portrait.
Everyone who makes a purchase can choose an envelope from the Christmas Tree for their very own discount.
So, where is this place?? It's at my home, and I'll be happy to provide directions if you go to "contact me" and send me a message saying that you'd like to come. I hope you will!!
This coming Friday and Saturday is the Studio Sale at the Columbus Cultural Arts Center. I will be there both days, with jewelry only. Here's the official postcard for the event:
There is a Facebook promotion for this event (through Nov. 13th) whereby the Cultural Arts Center is giving away ART cash (a couple of certificates to be used like cash) for any purchase at the event. For information about that and a chance to win, visit https://www.facebook.com/columbusculturalartscenter. You can also find out more about the sale and the center on their Facehbook page.
In case you can't read the address on the card above, it is 139 W. Main Street, Columubus, OH 43215. It is across the street (Main St.) from Bicentennial Park, at the corner of W. Main and Second Street. Parking is a bit of a hassle if you're not used to downtown. There are meters all over, and a couple of lots nearby...the one that comes to mind is at the northeast corner of W. Main and Second St., and there's one on of Mound Street just after crossing Front Street (Mound St. runs a block behind (south of) the arts center. Hopefully, parking won't be too bad in the lots because it will be after work hours and court hours (the arts center is not far from the Franklin County Courthouse.) I hope you'll give it a try!
Here's a look at some pieces I'm working on....I hope at least some of them will be finished and ready for the studio sale!
If you want a chance to shop some of my work for holiday gifts (or for yourself) and you can't make it to the sale at the Cultural Arts Center, I will be having an open house on Sat., Dec. 6th, but that information only goes out to my emailing list. So, if you're not on my emailing list, and you would like to come to the open house, or at least get notice about it, go to the "Contact Me" heading of my website and send me a message that you'd like to be added to my emailing list. I hope you will, as it would be great to see you at either event (or both!)
Or, Happy Hallowiener ...
OK, I admit it...it's more like Unhappy Hallowiener.
All images and designs are copyrighted and the property of Dana Keating Marziale and may not be used or reproduced without express written permission. Copyright 2011