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30
April
2010

Last Chemo and 3 month Ampuversary!6

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"I guess this raft will work as a pillow for a little beach siesta"

Today Abby had her last chemo treatment and tomorrow is her 3 month Ampuversary! I can’t help but think about how far we’ve come.  Its amazing how noticing a limp in your pup can change everything. 

Abby taking a dip at dog beach in her new tripawd life vest

3 months ago I had never heard of canine osteosarcoma (please excuse my ignorance) and it was just my 4 legged lab and I.  So much has changed since then.  I went from loving a 4 legged lab to adoring and admiring my beautiful tripawd.  I went from not even knowing dogs could get bone cancer to knowing all I possibly could about the disease, diagnosis, progression, symptoms, treatment, protocol, clinical trials, etc.  We organized and executed a highly successful fundraiser and donated half the proceeds to the National Canine Cancer Foundation.  I have become an advocate for canine cancer research and Abby will soon be an honored guest and participant in a canine cancer survivor’s fashion show and luncheon.  We have grown our pawsome family by adding a rescued choc lab who although at times can be a challenge makes me laugh every day and Abby adores. And finally Abby is currently training to become a therapy dog for amputees (and LOVING every minute of it)

Abby's Grandpa (my dad) came to visit. This is the two of them making dinner for everyone on the beach

If I had my wish we would never have been put in this situation, but we were and we’ve made the best of it.  I’m sure all tripawd pawrents know all about the “double-take” that our pups seems to bring out of everyone.  Whether on a walk, at the dog park, dog beach or even at the vet it never fails…ppl can’t help but stare, but the one thing I hear from everyone is that despite the loss of her leg Abby is so happy. 

So now here we are…so much has changed but my eyes have been opened like never before.  We are lucky to have dog beaches, dog parks and dog restaurants/bars galore near us and we are making the most of it.  Although I still get upset and wonder why this had to happen to us I refuse to let those thoughts get us down.  I only give myself 3 minutes to pout, cry etc and I move forward .  I keep hope in my heart that I have a miracle puppy and I’m thankful for every minute I have with her.


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19
March
2010

Pawty, Chemo and A Birthday!6

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First of all I want to tell everyone how incredibly successful our Canine Cancer Awareness Pawty was. I was blown away by the support and generosity of everyone that came. We had a great turn out and were able to raise a little over $2000.00 which we split between Abby’s treatment and the National Canine Cancer Foundation and my wonderful Oncologist even donated a free chemo treatment.

 

Abby and Kaya enjoying some shade at the fundraiser

So here’s where we stand at the moment. We are rotating Carboplatin and Cisplatin every 3 weeks. I had no idea what to expect and my primary vet had very little experience with it. Turns out its been a much easier journey than I exected. Granted we have only had 2 treatments and I know that as we go further along the chemo will most likely begin to take its toll of Abby but so far we have seen zero side effects. The treatments take about 3 minutes and then my little lab comes bee-bopping out of the back room ready to go. I haven’t seen any nausea or vomiting and she’s maintained her labby appetite (aka always pretends she’s starving).
This afternoon we went to our primary vet for chest xrays, blood work and an exam and so far everything looks good. Its been about 2 months since diagnosis and so far no visible chest mets, lymph nodes look good and her liver seems normal. We should get the blood work back early next week and we have our paws and fingers crossed that everything comes back normal.

Birthday Girl!

In addition to our good news today Abby celebrated her 6th Birthday on Wednesday! She was spoiled all day, got to play outside with her friends and watch a softball game (one of her favorite things to do) I’m starting to notice a few more gray whiskers on her little chin and they make me smile…there was a point a couple of months ago where I didn’t think we would see her 6th Birthday but here we are. I couldn’t be prouder of my Tripawd!

3
March
2010

Fundraiser Madness!1

Enjoying the Florida sunshine...her stump is healing so well!

I continue to be amazed at how well Abby is handling everything. We have gotten back into our old routine and I often forget that she even has cancer. She’s a master on her three legs and impresses people with her positive attitude everywhere we go.

Our fundraiser is in full swing and with only 5 days to go we’re extremely busy. I have been blown away by the support the community has shown through donations and volunteers. The National Canine Cancer Foundation is even coming down from Tampa to attend the event. We’re so excited! I plan to take plenty of pictures and post them here as well as on facebook. Abby has recently gotten a facebook page to help promote the event and would LOVE to have anyone friend request her! She’s under Abby Bream in Sarasota, Fl.

Our little tripwads truly are amazing. Thanks so much for all the support and comments, and for everyone following Abby’s journey. I know I’ve said this before but can’t say it enough…it helps so much to have the support of people that really know what you’re going through. This is an amazing website full of amazing tripawds and pawrents. You guys are the best, thank you so much!

21
February
2010

First Chemo Friday6

This past Friday was Abby’s first chemo treatment.   I was expecting to leave her with the oncologist  for most of the day but it literally took 5 minutes.  We walked in, they drew up her shot, gave it to her and then charged me an astronomical amount of money :-/  I was expecting to have a tired, sick puppy on my hands within 24 hours but we’re almost to 48 and she’s still the same old Abby.  Much to my relief she’s eating normally and doesn’t seem to be feeling badly at all. 

Tripawd Nap

Other than chemo we’ve pretty much gotten back to our normal routine.  Abby and her new little sister Kaya are getting along very well.  Since Kaya has learned that Abby is the alpha things have been going smoothly. 

Our new addition, Kaya

Its a pretty typical Sunday with both the pups squirrel watching on the front porch while I’m working on a few little things for our fundraiser and starting to think about what to do for Abby’s 6th birthday,(St.Patty’s Day), which a few weeks ago I wasn’t sure she was going to see.  Its a great feeling to see her doing so well and such a relief to feel confident that she’ll be here for her birthday bash.   Looking forward to three weeks with no vet visits (crossing our fingers and paws) and getting back to our normal routine.

13
February
2010

A New Addition!3

So much has happened since our last post.  Abby’s appetite has returned and she’s full of energy once again. I can tell that she’s relieved to have the pain of her affected leg gone.  One more day and she gets her stitches out!  Abby’s been out and about, running around town getting donations for our fundraiser, going out to lunch and even a spectator for a couple of softball games….loving EVERY minute of if.

I knew that at some point I was going to get another dog. Before this diagnosis I thought I’d wait a few more years…probably when Abby was 8 or so, but our timetable has unexpectedly been moved forward so we have been hunting for a little sister.  I’m happy to announce that this morning Abby and I brought home a rescued chocolate lab which we named Kaya.  She’s two years old and reminds me of what Abby was like at 2…full of energy but wants to please you and just needs a little consistent training to become a lovable, obedient companion.

I would LOVE to post pictures of Abby, who looks so much better now and Kaya but everytime I try to upload a picture when it says “crunching” I get an error at the top of the window saying HTTP Error and it never uploads the picture.  I”m not a computer person so I have no clue what’s going on.  I WILL get someone too look at it and hopefully next post we’ll have plenty of pictures to share.

Abby amazes me every day with her positive attitude.  You’d never know she was sick and half the time you wouldn’t know she had three legs if you weren’t looking at her left side!  For anyone who’s getting ready to go through this or is in the first few days I can say (as everyone told me) its rough for a bit to see your little one in pain but they bounce back and are better than ever. Abby has always loved attention (almost as much as food, which for a lab is a BIG deal).  Now that she’s a Tripawd she gets more attention than ever and eats it up!  She’s always been such a happy girl and this surgery and diagnosis hasn’t changed that a bit.

If anyone has any idea why I can’t upload my pics please let me know!

6
February
2010

Days 4 and 5 Making Great Strides!5

Yesterday and Today have been wonderful.  After a visit to the vet, a couple of injections to treat ulcers and a few more pills Abby is almost back to her old self again!  Thanks so much to everyone who posted suggestions and support, it helped so much.

Although Abs still needs a little assistance going up the steps to my apartment she’s going down all three flights unassisted.  In addition to that milestone I woke up in the middle of the night last night and she was in bed with me!  She’s figured out how to get on and off my bed by herself…I’ve got my little spoon buddy back!

Its so great to see her doing so much better and acting like her sweet self again.  Unfortunately there are no picture updates today because my computer’s acting up, but I’ll be sure to add in some extras tomrrow!

YEAH ABBY!

4
February
2010

Day Three…Taking it Easy3

First of all thanks so much to everyone who gave us suggestions on how to get Abby to eat, unfortunately still nothing worked.  We’re lucky that she’s drinking plenty of water but food is still not something she even wants to smell,  I’m guessing she’s just in a lot of pain since the only time we were able to get her to eat was when she still had some morphine in her system. 

I should note that this is TOTALLY out of character or Abbs…she eats any and everything and as much of it as possible.  In fact the smart little girl figured out how to open my pantry and get into her dog food!  She would wait until I left for work and then hit up the bag of food and eat until she looked liked a buddha…little head, little legs, huge belly  (We had to do a little creative placement of kitchen furniture to prevent this from continuing)

Last night I started to get a little concerned about her lack of appetite since I knew she had to have food in her belly for her pain meds and antibiotic so I called the emergency vet who said I needed to force feed her just enough to coat her belly (1/4 cup) so we could get her pills down.  She definitely wasn’t happy with it and my hands smelled like dog food for hours but it worked.

She’s also gotten very sneaky with her pill taking.  She’s learned that if she fake swallows I assume she swallowed the pill which I’m learning is not true.  I’ve found them snuck between her gums, spit out 10 minutes after I though she swallowed them and even found one she was laying on.  What a nut!  It doesn’t do any good at this point to put the pills in food because she’s not eating, but I’m assuming once she gets her  lab appetite back the pills shouldn’t be a problem.

We decided that a trip to the vet to check on her would be necessary today so we going this evening around 6:30 to make sure everythings ok and there’s no temp or sign of infection.  Other than that we’re laying low.  Our old roommate is coming into town this evening so it will be nice to have someone around who knows Abby almost as well as I do  to help with feeding and lift Abby’s spirits some. 

Sleepy Girl

Here’s hoping all is good and we get a clean bill of health from the vet.  She’s still moving around perfectly well and even likes to pick up the pace when we go outside so these are all good signs.  Tomorrow’s another day and hopefully she’ll show some signs of improvement in her eating.  I do think she’s feeling better and better every day and again want to thank everyone for their supportive posts, its helps so much to hear from people that have been where I am.

Abby and I would also like to thank her Aunt Susie and Jon for allowing us to crash at their place, vomit on their carpet and climb through their kitchen window when there was a perfectly good key under the mat. (I swear we looked EVERYWHERE for that key!) We really appreciate you guys.

3
February
2010

2 Days Post Op9


Last night was a little rough.   My apartment is on the thrid floor and we weren’t quite ready to conquer that obstacle on day one so we’re lucky that Abby’s Aunt Susie was generous enough to let us stay at her house…which is stair free.  Abby was sick from all the injectable pain meds the Vet gave her during the day and vomited on the car ride to her Aunts house and a couple times on Aunt Susie’s carpet (SORRY AUNT SUSIE!!!)   She had no appetite and I was starting to become concerned.  Luckily around 3:30 am she woke me up, ate an entire serving of her food and drank a ton of water.  Since then, however, I haven’t been able to get her to eat anything else.  I’ve offered her all her favorites…peanut butter, cheese, bread, butter…nothing seems to peak her interest.  I wouldn’t be too concerned but she’s clearly in pain and I cannot give her Metacam without a meal.  I was able to get some Tramadol down her (that wasn’t pretty and she was a little mad at me for a while) and that has seemed to help ease her pain some.

Other than the lack of appetite, however, all is good on day 2.  We’re having a lazy day (Vet’s orders) and laying in my sister’s tv room watching terrible daytime television.  We did have the opportunity to get outside and Abby’sstill walking around and using the bathroom all on her own.  In fact she even picked up the pace to a trott for a little bit…testing out her new wheels.  She definitely enjoys being outside so I’ve taken  her bed outside for some squirrel watching.

Getting a little fresh air

As you can see in these pictures Abby’s wearing the Ruff Wear harness.  I checked with my vet to make sure she could wear it while her wound was still healing and he gave me the ok.  I have to say its been a huge help.  The handle has made it so much easier for me to help her up and down steps and in and out of my car.

Although its hard to see Abby in pain I know that soon enough she’ll be bouncing around like the same crazy girl she was.  We have a big weekend ahead with our friend from college coming into town tomorrow and Abby’s Uncle Chris coming Friday.  I’m sure she’ll love the attention and it will be great to have the help when Abby and I return home and conquer our biggest obstacle….the 3 flights of stairs that lead up to my apartment!

This is definitely not one of the easiest things we’ve been through but with the generosity of family and friends and the amazing rebounding of my little Abner its much better than I expected.  I know its still a long road ahead until she’s completely recovered from her surgery and in two weeks we start chemo which will be a whole new challenge.  I try not to worry about whats to come and just be thankful that she’s here with me now.  We celebrate every little victory and take things one day at a time, for us that has been the key to making it through with a positive outlook.

2
February
2010

Day After Surgery8

Yesterday Abby had her left hind leg amputation performed.  I was a nervous wreck all day and couldn’t wait to go see her last night.  She was completely out of it but wagged her tail when she saw us which was so nice to see.  Our vet assisted her with a blanket in front of her back leg and she was able to walk around a bit but tired quickly.

Well…you can imagine my surprise when I went to see her this morning and she walked around like she’d never had four legs to begin with!  I couldn’t believe it.  The tech said they heard her whining this morning around 1 am and assumed she needed more pain meds.  When they walked to her crate to administer the meds they found her standing up, wagging her tail…she just needed to go potty.  They took her outside and she used the bathroom with no problem.

It was such a great relief to see her up and walking less than 24 hours after surgery.  I prepared myself for weeks of working with her and helping her ambulate, but apparently she had other plans for herself!

Abby less than 24 hours post op walking around like a master Tripawd

Here’s a picture of my girl walking around the vet’s office.  Definitely not a glamour shot but one of my favorites.

I’ve heard time and again how resiliant dogs are and how they amaze you and I have to say it is 100% true. 
So now we move forward to chemo and continuing the fight. 
When I recieved Abby’s diagnosis I was not only emotionally unprepared but also financially unprepared.  I knew very little, if anything about Osteosarcoma and amputation and without pet insurance and very little savings the financial burden has been a tough one.  I am fortunate to have a very supportive family who loves Abby very much and has helped me immensly, but still the bills pile up.  Because of this and the lack of awareness of canine cancer I have organized a fund raiser.
With the help of my amazing dog sitter, friends and family we have been able to set up a “Canine Cancer Awareness Pawty” in Sarasota, Fl at the 17th st Paw Park on Feb 20th.  We’re having a silent auction of items donated by local stores, a grooming station, personalized t-shirts with your pets picture made on-site, snacks, bandannas, a Vet to answer any questions about canine cancer and much more.  We’re also having Safe Haven Animal Rescue set up a station and they’ll be having an adoption event.  The park is open to the public and admission is free. All of the proceeds will be split between Abby’s medical bills and the National Canine Cancer Foundation.  Hopefully this event will not only help my little girl, but also help raise funds for cancer research and raise awareness of the disease.
If there are any Tripawds in the Sarasota, Fl area we’d love to see you there!
I’ll be sure to keep you updated on “Amazing Abby’s” progress!!
31
January
2010

Last Day as a Quadrapawd8

Abby is my almost 6 year old black lab (birthday’s St.Patrick’s Day!)  I’m in my mid 20′s and have had my girl since college.   We’ve both been through surgeries, moved multiple times, been through job lay-offs, stupid boyfriends breaking our hearts and everything else two young girls go through but have always had each other.  She’s my best friend, my constant companion and my spoon buddy just about every night. 

Napping

Here's Abby napping on one of her 3 beds...spoiled girl! She likes to use her toys as pillows...her choice here is her new elephant, edgar

Since this is our first post I’ll provide a little background about how Abby and I ended up here…the day before her hind leg amputation.  A week and a half ago I took Abby to the vet after noticing a limp that wouldn’t go away.  When she was 8 months old Abby was hit by a car and had knee surgery which involved 4 pins being placed in her left hind leg.  All the pins were removed within a year after surgery however the knee has never been 100% and limping was something that was somewhat commonplace, especially  in cold weather and after long bouts of playing.  This limp, however, didn’t resolve itself and continued to worsen so I took her to our wonderful vet, Dr. Cole,  expecting a small fracture or some sort of ligament strain.  Until last week Osteosarcoma was not a word in my vocabulary and I was planning Abby’s 6th birthday and how we would spend our next 6+ years together, so you can imagine my surprise when after the xrays  the vet came in looking very solemn.  I will never forget his words as he entered the room with his laptop, xrays displayed, and turned off the lights…”Well, I’m glad we did the xrays, but I’m not happy with what we found”. Of course, myself being the eternal optimist I was thinking “oh boy, Abby needs another knee surgery, she’s such a little mess!”  But I was way off-base on that prediction.  As Dr. Cole  put the computer up so I could look at the films he mentioned “bone cancer”.  “Ok” I was thinking “Cancer..but only in her knee…we’ll get rid of the tumor and she’ll be fine”  just as I was thinking about treatment  my vet drops the bomb. “As far as treatment options there’s really not much we can do.  The average life expectancy is 3-6 months” At that moment my whole world crumbled beneath me.  There I was, just myself, my sedated 80 pound beautiful girl (they sedated her to get good xrays and not irritate her already sore leg), and our vet and I couldn’t stop crying. This couldn’t be happening, not to her, not to my Abner.

I did as much research as I could, took Abby in for xrays of her whole body, saw an oncologist and asked a million questions, talking to my vet just about every other day. We were fortunate that Abby’s xrays showed no evidence of tumors anywhere other than in her hind leg and her Alkaline Phosphatase levels were normal.  Because of this and the amount of pain she was in I have opted for amputation and chemotherapy. 

So….here we are.  The day before her surgery.  Its cloudy and chilly (well, chilly for Florida) but Abby’s enjoying the cool weather in her favorite spot, the front porch, watching all the people coming and going in the parking lot of our apartment complex and barking at anyone who heads towards our stairs.  I can’t help feeling sad that today is her last day with all four legs, however when I see her limping, even with Metacam and Tramadol, I know I must be doing the right thing.  I’m nervous and scared and am so worried about what she’s going to think when she wakes up after her surgery, but I know I can’t dwell on these thoughts.

Here are some pictures of my girl’s last day “limping on four legs”

Tongue Out

This is a new look for her…sleeping with her tongue stuck out!

Porch Bone

Showing her bone off for the camera

 All in all today is a very low-key Sunday for us.  Abby’s been napping a lot and we even watched a movie in bed.   So wish us luck as we begin our journey.  All the diagnostic tests have been done and now we start our fight. We are lucky to have tremendous support from family and friends to help us through what I can only imagine is going to be the toughest fight of our life.  However, we keep hope in our hearts.  When we recieved the diagnosis my Mom gave me a little advice that helped her when her Mom (my grandmother) was battling cancer.  You have to think of them as living with cancer, not dying of it.  With these words in mind I have re-gained my positive outlook and gone into action to do all we can to fight this disease.I want to say a special thanks to my Mom, brother and sister whose financial and invaluable emotional support has helped Abby and I more than they’ll ever know.  You guys are the best.

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