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!
Wednesday, August 20, 2014
Yesterday was Henry's first full day at home and I think he did remarkably well!
He spent most of the day sleeping, but that was to be expected. And we were happy that he was able to find comfortable positions to sleep in. In addition to sleeping, he also ate a few small meals and kept hydrated with some small sips of water throughout the day. He was most lively for a few hours in the evening, when he hung out with us in the living room while we ate dinner and he walked through the house for a bit while we were doing some chores. Then it was back to bed for some much needed rest.
All in all, I think Henry had an awesome first day of recovery. Here's to a great second day of recovery.
Tuesday, August 19, 2014
Henry is home and is doing remarkably well. When we picked him up from the vet we certainly did not expect him to have as good of a night as he did. In fact, he almost didn't get to come home with us yesterday.
When we went to pick Henry up, he was quite frantic and pretty worked up. The vet said around 3pm he started to howl and whine in his crate. The howling got so bad that they let him out of his crate (thinking that that would calm him down). Not only did that not calm him down, it almost made things worse. He started pacing around the room. Fresh from surgery, he was getting himself very worked up.
When we got there, our vet expressed his concerns, but could see that our mere presence started to calm him down. So we decided it would be best that he goes home with us. Of course, we had a list of things we needed to monitor and strict advice to take him to the emergency vet if we had the slightest of doubts about how he was doing.
Henry was calmer, but still a tad worked up on the drive home from the vet. But, after about an hour of being home, he was a completely different dog. He was no longer panting, his breathing was no longer labored and he was much more relaxed.
We took turns sitting with him, trying to keep him comfortable, but you could tell that Henry wanted to get back to his normal routine as quickly as possible. When we sat down to scarf down a quick bite to eat, Henry wanted to lay in the spot that he always lays in when we eat dinner. He was ready for things to get back to normal.
He slept well through the night. There were a few times he was awake and sitting up, but his pain seemed to be under control. As I write this now, he is snoring away, getting some much needed rest.
Thank you for the well wishes yesterday! They were much needed and worked!
Monday, August 18, 2014
Today is Henry's big surgery day. Needless to say, our anxiety is pretty high, but we are trying to stay positive and up beat so that Henry doesn't pick up on too much of our nervous energy.
To maximize his recovery time at the vet, Henry is the first surgery of the day. Which is great for a lot of reasons, but also means that we should hear from the vet mid morning.
I will do my best to post an update after we get Henry home and settled.
We have received an outpouring of support for Benjamin, Henry & Luna. I can not express how grateful I am for all the emails, cards and gifts. With everything going on, I am a bit behind in responding and thanking everyone. Please know that I blown away by the kindness of everyone in the OBP family I will be getting in touch soon.
UPDATE: Henry's surgery is over. He is in the recovery room now. The vet said it was not an easy surgery and there were a few things that made it a little tricky but Doc navigated them and now we are on to the next phase. The next 24 hours are critical. Doc said Henry is moaning and howling. While we know Henry can be a bit vocal, hearing that he's so uncomfortable that he's letting the world around him know about it and not just for his at home peeps is heartbreaking. We will be sure to up his meds tonight so we can get him as comfortable as possible. Thank you all for you continued good vibrations. Herny and his OBP peeps are feeling them. (And they are working!)
Friday, August 15, 2014
We heard from our vet yesterday after he consulted with the oncologist. After reviewing Henry's biopsy, it was decided that the best course of action would be to remove the kidney with the tumor. After the kidney is removed it can be sent for a complete biopsy and we can determine what course of chemotherapy is needed.
The oncologist confirmed that this is a very aggressive type of cancer, but based on what we know so far, thinks we caught things early (although there is no way to be 100% sure). Because of the aggressive nature of this cancer, removing the kidney is a top priority and our vet scheduled Henry for surgery on Monday. Before the surgery, Henry will have a chest x-ray to make sure his lungs are clear. The most common place for metastasis for renal cancer is in the lungs. If Henry's lungs are clear, he will have surgery that day to remove his kidney.
I appreciate the well wishes for Henry. His spirits are high and we are going to make sure he has a wonderful weekend. I will keep you updated as best I can on Monday.
Wednesday, August 13, 2014
We finally received the biopsy results late yesterday evening. Unfortunately, the news is not good. Henry has renal cancer.
We are absolutely devastated. But beyond our incredible sadness, we do not have a good plan for how we are going to move forward just yet. Our vet is going to present Henry's case to an oncologist. From there we will have a better idea on how to proceed.
In the little that we know, we were told this type of cancer rarely occurs in dogs (especially pugs). Henry is also showing no signs of sickness (which apparently is sometimes the case with renal cancer).
As I write this, Henry is laying on the bed, licking his feet, oblivious to the horrible news we just received that affects him so personally. He is happy and content in this moment. The worries and fears for what the future is going to bring keep creeping into my brain, robbing me of this happy time. Right now that is my challenge. Enjoy these moments with Henry and not let worry take them from me.
We are hoping to have more information about how to proceed with treatment by Thursday. I don't know what treatment options are available to us or what that process is going to look like, but I can tell you that we will do whatever needs to be done for Henry as long as it supports him living a quality life.
Monday, June 2, 2014
Poor Benjamin and Luna had a very rough weekend. Both of them have collapsed tracheas so there is generally a chorus of coughing and goose honks echoing throughout the house. However, this weekend was extremely bad.
Benny got so bad on Sunday, that we sent a video to our vet to get his opinion on Benny's condition. (Our vet totally rocks! He was crazy enough to give us his cell phone number and we text him or send pictures and videos to him from time to time to answer some of the many questions we have while caring for a group of senior pugs). After viewing the video, our vet suggested that we give Benny a shot we have on reserve for Benjamin in case he gets too worked up. We had the shot on hand for quite some time now and unfortunately on Sunday, we needed to use it.
Benny took the shot like a champ. I think it was harder on us than it was on him. We tested our strategy (how we would hold him, etc) for administering the shot on Henry since he was nice and calm at the time. Henry was a good sport, but he did look at us a bit like we had lost our mind. If he could talk, I'm sure he would be saying, "You have the wrong pug!"
While were aren't 100% sure what caused Benjamin and Luna to have such a hard time this weekend, we are pretty sure the weather was the culprit. It was disgustingly humid this weekend. With summer looming, I'm hoping this weekend is not a preview of what's to come.
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