Friday, August 29, 2014
We wanted to take a moment to sound like a Public Service Announcement (PSA). We say that with a bit of sarcasm, but really, we want to express the importance of early detection in cancer cases. Since early detection played such a critical role in our good fortune (and who refers to cancer as good fortune?). But seriously, it was truly by happenstance that Henry's cancer was uncovered. It was only discovered because we were looking to help his health in a different area. Henry still has IBD and that is manageable. But if we had overlooked his poopy problems and if our vet had not been diligent and opted to keep going down a road of not just "tying new foods" then we would not likely not have noticed Henry's cancer until it was too late.
Here is the moral of our story.....if you or your puggy (or anyone you love) is "not right" and you know that there is something more going on, keep pushing to find answers. Your suspicions are probably right. Don't put off a test that could ultimately save a life because you think it's frivolous or that they won't find anything anyway. If we had not had Henry get that second sonogram, we would like be talking about how Henry only has x amount of time left, rather thank looking forward to a more positive future. We know, of course, that this is not always possible and by nature we have a tendency to let "little things slide" but I urge you all to at least try to pay attention to the little warnings and don't let them go until they are so big that your lives are so forever changed that you can only think of how things would be different if you could set the clock back in time.
We are truly so thankful that our vet suggested another sonogram (and also grateful that he did not charge us for it) and how it revealed more than we bargained for but that without that second screening we would not be in a place where we could so confidently move forward.
Just as Solsey Baby, Baby Benny and Little Looney have all taught us life lessons, let us also learn from Handsome Henry what he is teaching us now as we go along the pug loving path. Early Detection. Early Intervention. Henry Strong. All day long.
Thursday, August 28, 2014
We've shared that Henry has always been extra brave in the world of pugs as we know them. Baby Benny was kind of timid around new adventures or things that were not safe seeming (sewers, steps, high spaces, etc). And Luna, well, if she could see it to be afraid of it, then she would be probably be afraid of it but if she couldn't see it, then full speed ahead (which often got her into trouble).
One of the things that always got Benny worked up though, was a wooden planked walkway. You know the kind that are like boardwalks or piers or little bridges over water. I think he thought that he might fall through the very tiny little cracks where the wooden slats slightly parted. Isn't that cute? But Henry would just plow through and shoot Ben a glance to ask him what he was waiting for or what the hold up was. Until now, that is. Now, Henry, too does not like that type of pathway. This is the type of path that was near the lake near our hotel. It was bad enough that Henry had to go down brick steps to get there but then to land on a wooden slatted walkway?! What was going on?
Henry, however, being the problem solving pug that he is, saw that there was a retaining wall next to the wood path. Albeit 3 feet above the wooden path, but it was made of cement and dang it, that was going to be the trail he took. It also put him closer to our hip than at our feet and he liked that better, too. We didn't get any decent shots of him on the wooden path (because he was having none of that) and there are not a lot of photos that are clear, but we've shared a few. Next to the sliver of cement he marched on, there was a low mossy/bushy type of ground cover. Henry's favorite for each type of pottying style. So, this made him as pleased as punch, too.
So, worrying about the wooden slats is how he turned into brother Ben. However, Henry did not seem to inherit Benny's fear of elevators. While Hank did not love to hop over the threshold of the elevator, once on the elevator he had no idea we were even moving. Whereas sweet baby Benny would have flattened himself out like a pug pancake nearly melting into the floor itself in order to avoid the dangers that the elevator ride brought his way. Poor kid. Henry, on the other hand, well, he just stood there (like the good boy he is) and waited for the door to slide open so he could get out of the boring little room.
It never ceases to amaze me how they each have their own unique little personalities. How they are their own selves but sometimes they, too, get like the company they keep. So, another piece of Ben Ben lives on while Henry remains true to himself in many other aspects of his Henry Strong outlook on life. Gotta love a pug!
Wednesday, August 27, 2014
As you know, we recently had a journey to South East Veterinary Oncology (SEVO). Well, in order to quell some of our worries and also have Henry think this trip was "fun" we wanted to actually make it fun for him (since we anticipated 26 weekly visits---whoosh! ---narrowing that down to a mere 6 trips was a great relief). Anyway, we wanted to to make the trip exciting for Henry. We planned on going up to Jacksonville (about 90 miles from our home) the night before and we would stay in a hotel so that we would have a good night's sleep, avoid possible local rush hour traffic and in general dodge any of the Monday morning rush angst that would have likely ensued.
We looked high and low for a hotel that was not only pet friendly but also that was not near the meth labs of the city. We found a cute little place and it was not exactly next door to SEVO but much closer than our from home commute. To our surprise, none of the closest hotels were even pet friendly. We were shocked. What a market they are missing out on and not to mention, pets that have to come from far away would rather be closer to their doctor than further.
Henry is always one to but up for an adventure. He's always been the one to take the road less traveled and gone off the beaten path. So, this was right up his alley! (As we have been telling him 100 times a day lately, he's "such a good boy!"---said in a sweet but slightly gravely doggy styled loving voice.) This trip was no different. We set out to have a mission of fun and that is what we had! It started with a cool car ride where Henry started out wide awake but that faded fast. He knew that this was going to be a longer haul than most, so he just settled in and conserved his energy for the other end of the ride.
We landed at the hotel and there he was a well rested happy pug! There was a big grass area where we got to see him do something he had not really do in a while and that was run in an open field! He took time to strike a pose in front of the fountain in front of the hotel and being his ever nosy self, he spied every passer by that crossed his path. Always making vigilant attempts at getting a belly rub or at least a pat on the head. King Henry loves him some positive attention!
There was a lake nearby where we could enjoy a short walk. We spotted the lake but from afar we could not see the type of path. We will share more about that in another post! That is a whole other story! (Henry was slightly possessed by his inner Baby Benny. Yikes!)
We will also tell you about the elevator rides and the room service! There was so much fun had that we almost forgot we were there for chemo! As it should be! Stick with good stuff!
Tuesday, August 26, 2014
Yesterday Henry had his initial consultation with the oncologist in Jacksonville. While not too far away, Jacksonville is not very close to us so we decided to stay in the area the night before. Our appointment was at 8:45 am and we figured we could get a jump on the Monday morning commute if we stayed nearby. Plus, an adventure to a new place is always something Henry is up for!
I'll tell you more about Henry's adventure at the hotel a little later, but first let's talk about the oncologist appointment.
We were a bundle of nerves when we pulled into the parking lot, bracing ourselves for potentially very bad news, but we were immediately put at ease when we started walking to the door and saw a sign with Henry's name on it welcoming the new patients of the day. What a way to start the visit! Instantly heartwarming. Everyone we met was exceptionally warm and caring.
When we met with our doctor we received some very good news. Yes, Henry had renal carcinoma. Yes, this cancer is very rare in dogs. Yes, this cancer is extremely aggressive and yes most dogs with renal carcinoma do not have much of a life expectancy. However, we caught Henry's very early! Most dogs with renal carcinoma don't present signs or symptoms until the cancer begins to spread to other places. But, we (us by bringing him and our vet by doing his due diligence) were lucky enough to spot Henry's tumor while doing a sonogram for his "gut" issues. And let me tell you, I have never felt luckier in life. The early detection greatly increases Henry's odds and gives him an above average chance of surviving longer than the median 16 months of most dogs with kidney cancer. It was so good to hear this news!
With that being said Henry will still need chemotherapy. Because with this type of cancer if just one cell managed to make its way into the bloodstream, there is a great risk of metastasis.
We reviewed all of our treatment options and decided to treat Henry with traditional systemic chemotherapy. The frontline chemotherapy would be adriamycin (doxorubicin).
The type of treatment is administered via a drip. So, Henry gets a catheter and gets to hang out with a tech that pets him while he receives treatment. It takes about 20 minutes for the IV drip to finish and then he is monitored for a while after to make sure there are no adverse reactions.
Assuming Henry responds well to the adriamycin (doxorubicin), he will have a total of 6 treatments. 1 treatment every 3 weeks. Yesterday, Henry received treatment #1 of 6.
In addition to the chemotherapy, Henry will have lots of other things going on to make sure treatment is going ok. He will have his blood tested in 7-10 days to see if his chemo dosages need to be tweaked. Sonograms and chest x-rays around treatments 3 and 6 to check for possible tumor growth. EKGs to make sure his heart is doing ok. Blood draws to monitor cell levels. The list goes on and on.
It is so very much, but the main thing I am taking away is that Henry received the very best possible news you could get considering his circumstances. We have a plan of action now and that helps me feel better.
I can't thank everyone enough for the positive vibes, prayers and good juju! So far they seem to be working!
Monday, August 25, 2014
We received a letter last week from ACVO Vision for Animals Foundation. We noticed the return address and were confused. We did not recognize the name or location. At first we thought it was from Henry's oncologist. They are SEVO (SouthEastern Veterinary Oncologists). But this was from somewhere entirely different.
Curious, we opened it and were so touched that it was a donation made to ACVO in Luna's name on behalf of her eye vet. This meant a lot to us. Her eye vet, Dr. Heidi Denis of Affiliated Veterinary Specialists (AVS) (aka: "Animal Eye & Skin") made the donation.
This came on the heels of the very nice card that AVS had sent. They had sent one for Benjamin, too but Benny was not a "frequent flyer" there and the card was sweet but not necessary special. (I don't mean that in a bad way. We still appreciated it but it was not personalized in the way that Luna's was.) The card they sent for Luna was very personal and reflected that they truly had a relationship with Luna and now this donation backed that up. It was incredibly sweet and touching as it is an ever lasting reminder of the good she brought to people and pets.
When Sol and Luna died, our general vet also made donations in the girls' names to the University of Florida School of Veterinary Medicine (his alma mater). I am not sure if they do this for all "rescue" dogs, but it was very meaningful to receive that notification, too.
This also reminds us of Solsey's fund for Central Florida Pug Rescue. It has been a long time since we have talked about the fund that benefits senior pugs, but it is still very much in use. If you have anything to offer, please consider making a donation. Every little bit helps. We thank you and we hope Solsey can continue to help other aging pugs have a wonderful retirement.
Friday, August 22, 2014
We were given a few simple rules that Henry is to follow post surgery. Most of them are pretty easy and things naturally do anyway. But some of them are just asking to be broken.
The easy ones to follow are that he is to be crated when we are not home (which we already do). No walks for a week (only go out to potty, and come back in). That one is easy for now since we are not going to push him beyond any limits just so he can go to the mailbox with us to get the mail and we are definitely not taking him on a long walk (the boy just had his kidney out! we are amazed he CAN even walk!).
After this, the rules get a little harder. He is not supposed to jump up on anything (i.e. the sofa, a chair, etc). This means that if we are not right next to him he may get a wild hair and take measures into his own paws. So, this has actually happened twice already. Grr! Turn your back for one second and he's got a stubborn mind of his own.
Then the rules get impossible! He is not allowed to have any "sun" time. The vet is concerned that if he is out in the heat too long he could be at risk for dehydration. (And that his wound could get infected by laying on his belly.) It is crazy to me that this is the hardest of all the rules to follow. And, of course, we have to confess, that this rule, too, has been broken two times. Each time, around midday after a little snackie and relieving his bladder, his routine is to spend a few minutes catching some rays. So, we have permitted him to have 3 minutes of sun time a day. We set a timer. The bonus is that Henry is such a good boy that he always comes in right before the alarm actually goes off. And so far as his wound...well, he lays on his side or back usually, so his stitches are not even in the grass or dirt. We know that these are reasonable precautions and of course we want to do all the right things but to deprive him of his favorite thing: refilling his vitamin D supply by soaking up the sun for 3 minutes just doesn't seem right. It really is the one thing that makes him the most happy. Especially as of late. So, we've been "flexible" with the rules. He's been sticking to the time limit, so i think we are good.
#HenryStrong all day long! #TeamHenry
Thursday, August 21, 2014
Henry has always been the tortoise (in comparison to Benjamin being the Hare in the infamous fable). So, in his healing we expect no different. He is simply pacing himself and taking each day as it comes.
We will see the oncologist on Monday and since they are 90 miles away, we are going to stay up there in a hotel the night before. This will not be routine or habit and we are bit concerned about this working him up into a frenzy since it will be new and exciting but we hope to stay relaxed and mellow so that it seems natural. The first appointment will be a big one for us. They said plan between 2 and 5 hours for the appointment. And we don't even have the full results back yet from the kidney biopsy from this Monday yet. OBP people stress is starting to spike, but calm, cool, collected Hank is his ever even keeled self. He truly never ceases to amaze us.
We are all playing on Team Henry. He is for real #HenryStrong. And maybe some day we will think of some quirky challenge to raise awareness for dog cancer (like the ice bucket challenge that's going on now for ALS). Maybe it would be something like lifting your leg to pee on a tree. Just kidding. Gotta laugh to keep from crying, right?
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