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Zoey, we're nearing the end
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Forum Posts: 2
Member Since:
19 December 2018
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4 April 2019 - 4:07 pm
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I’ve been an observer of this site for over a year, struggling through the fact that my now 3 year old dog has a fatal cancer diagnosis.  

At this point in Zoey’s life, we’ve had 5 ribs removed in April of 2018, gone through carboplatin chemo, metronomic chemo, and now find ourselves at the point of palliative care with lung metastes, a bone tumor on her ribs/spine, and 2 lymph nodes with metastes. 

In the spring of 2018 I was in my 3rd year of my PhD program in Industrial Engineering in Buffalo NY. My only hobby was dog training my two year old mutt (Boxer, GSD, Rottweiler, Australian Cattle dog, etc) Zoey. She had completed her CGC, did therapy dog work at a local nursing home, did competitive scent work, and was taking some agility classes for fun. I noticed a small bump on her side (after a few glasses of wine) while petting her in bed. I asked someone at her daycare/trainer’s if they had noticed before and no one else had. My boyfriend didn’t notice it either before this point. Being the paranoid mother I was, I made an appointment at my vet’s office for the next day (luckily my vet knew I was overprotective of my pets and fit me in). My primary vet was local and didn’t have much experience with this type of mass so took an aspiration biopsy. A few days later, while at my boyfriend’s parent’s house I got the call from my vet that it was cancer. I immediately made the first appointment available with the closest vet oncologist for 1 week later. We went and had advanced imaging done to find out atleast 3 ribs were now involved in a cancer I now know as osteosarcoma. 

I tried to find the first time a skilled surgeon could take this invader out of my baby’s body. I called animal hospitals and universities within hours of where I lived, most were booked out for months. I didn’t trust the surgeon at our local oncologists office as he’d never done this surgery before. I finally got a call back for an opening at PennVet, where I had looked up and google scholar’d their whole staff and was convinced these people could help us. At the same time I suffered from a lot of emotions which made me want to leave my PhD program and get a job so I could pay for my dog’s care. (On a side note PennVet was thousands cheaper than my local vet) 

We had an appointment with an oncologist and surgeon at PennVet in April 2018, the next day I had scheduled an interview in Connecticut for a job. Well, life has its way of throwing blessings and curses at you. The surgeon at PennVet offered to do Zoey’s surgery the next day. So I left my baby behind and drove out for my interview while she was having her surgery. I have never been so nervous on so many fronts at one time. Some how the universe pulled through and Zoey had clean margins (taking 5 ribs and part of the diaphragm) and I had gotten a job. 

Fast forward end of May. Zoey was recovering well from her surgery, other than some naked skin on her side. I had moved to Connecticut for my new job, while my boyfriend of 8 years was still home waiting to find a job in my new state. We had begun Zoey’s carboplatin chemotherapy treatments that were going well. I was able to go home on lunch breaks to make sure she was ok. Everything was rainbows and butterflies. 

In October 2018 I went to a professional conference in another state so my mom house and babysat Zoey in CT. 2 days after I came home, we had another follow up chest xray (which I had no worries about). However, this one had shown 2 small lung metastes. My world was crumbling down, my baby was acting normal but I knew we were heading in another direction. My boyfriend moved down to CT with me despite not having a job yet, our baby girl was not ok. We planned on going hollistic and pain management only. We had met with a hollistic vet, did some accupuncture and were now home cooking her food. 

When December came and we checked in with our oncologist, Zoey was still her crazy 2 year old self. I never expected her to survive this long. So in a last ditch hope we started metronomic chemotherapy . Yet again my little girl took the new meds with strides and didn’t seem to have any side effects. I felt rainbows and butterflies as the new year came through and she had made it to 3 years old. 

Well the inevitable started to come back to us. February of 2019 crept in and I felt a bump along Zoey’s spine/ribs. She had been pretty normal, still completing over a mile walk a day and having a great appetite. Our oncologist started Zoey on Gabapentin. We also decided to stop her metronomic chemo when we ran out of her current script. Within 2 week her behaviour had started to change a bit and she was aggressive towards the cats she had lived with since we adopted her. Our oncologist added in tramadol assuming it was her pain. I went to yet another professional conference while my mother and boyfriend diligently covered her so she was not along a single minute of the day. When I returned Zoey was no longer the dog I had known. Her zest for food and kisses and jumping wasn’t there. I feared we had reached the end, and didn’t know what that would look like. I called her oncologist desperate. We realized that when I had stopped her metronomic chemo I had stopped her nsaid and diuretic. In my mind I had associated these two other drugs with her metronomic chemo and didn’t realized the nsaid was keeping her pain at bay. 

I’d like to mention I consider myself to have high health literacy. I’ve done extensive research in healthcare and currently work in the field. However, I was stuck in the forest and couldn’t see past the trees when it came to Zoey. Our oncologist had added the nsaid back in (which my boyfriend drove an hour to their office at 7pm to pick up) and increased the frequency of her gabapentin. 

Now we are at today, Zoey has had 2 amazing days with her current medication concoction. Zoey woke me up for her breakfast, I had taken the day off as a personal day to enjoy the good weather with her. We were able to go to the beach (breaking some rules) and chased some seagulls. I’m currently looking at her on the recliner staring out the window at the squirrels and cars going by. I never thought I’d see this day over a year past her diagnosis. 

I’m always scared of the unknown of the future and the unknown. I don’t want Zoey to live a single day not enjoying her life. I have a hard time thinking about if we should increase her pain meds in the future with a fentanyl patch or if we should help her cross that rainbow bridge

But where we are now, is living every second as best we can. Feeling blessed that this amazing girl came into our lives and changed them forever. 

The Rainbow Bridge



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4 April 2019 - 4:31 pm
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We are so glad you decided to post. What a beautiful story you have written. I want to absorb every word when I can focus later or first thing tomorrow, Zoey sounds like such a treasure. For now I wanted to get your post approved so others can read about your beautiful girl too OK? You can post all you want now, your next ones won’t need approval. Talk soon.

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
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New Hampshire
Forum Posts: 64
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4 April 2019 - 6:45 pm
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I felt all of the emotions as I read through this. Because I was there, in the same situation a few short years ago.

You’ve done your absolute best for Zoey through all of this and her unfairly-short time on earth. At this point, there are no wrong decisions…. just prepare for the future while finding energy and joy to cherish each day.

Please let us know how things go … you’ll always have a listening ear and an understanding heart *here*.

The Rainbow Bridge



Forum Posts: 24755
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4 April 2019 - 7:51 pm
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WOW. Just had a chance to read your story, and I’m both sad that you had to walk on this path, and happy that your girl has received so many gifts along the way. There is so much to be thankful for, and heartbroken over when it comes to this disease, if that makes sense? 

Of course your girl is living every day to the max! It’s Team Zoey’s dedication to making each day the best it can be despite this piece of crap disease. It’s the pawsitive energy you have surrounded her with, despite your own heartache and all of the ups and downs in the rest of your life. YOU are the best medicine for her and it shows. What a gift you have given her.

Regarding the pain. As I mentioned in the Tripawds Chat earlier, many vets are giving the unofficial nod to CBD for treating cancer pain. You may want to try it before you resort to the stronger stuff. Here are our articles about CBD:

https://nutriti…..g/cannabis

In fact, just read an article in the current AAHA Trends Magazine, which discussed vets who are managing pain with CBD. One in particular, Dr. Fred Metzger DVM, who has been studying it for a while, took “worst case” cancer patients who were close to being euthanized, and said “80-90% of the dogs we tried it on– and we put it on some really rough cases–showed significant improvement with no side effects.” It goes on to say “I was not a believer. Now I’m a complete believer because we’ve seen what it’s done, and we have at least 200 dogs on it.” 

Deciding when “it’s time” is sooo hard. Here is an article that may help give you some insight:

How to Prepare for Pet Loss Before It Happens

I hope this helps. Please, let us know what we can do to make this time with your girl as good as it can be. We are here for you.

Oh and we would love to see some photos! Here is a post that explains adding images to the Forums. Let us know if you’d like help.

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
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Virginia




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4 April 2019 - 9:28 pm
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WOW!  What a journey you and Zoey have been on!  And make no mistake about it, Zoey is still here being Zoey because  of your devotion to her!  You jave left no stone unturned when it comes to giving her as much bonus quality  time as humanly possible.   She is soooo lucky to jave uou as her hoomans! You jave dar exceeded  ehat jist people would do for their dogs, so please take comfort in that!

You are doing a beautiful  job of staying  in the moment and making every mome6 count.  Continue  to follow Zoey’s lead,  And she is still leading  you from one blissful moment for you to treasure …..and to take lots pf pictures too!

I think you’ve already sort of drawn your line in the sand as far as signs from Zoey when she’s  had enough.  You mentioned  earlier that she lost her zest, basically  she wasn’t Zoey anymore.  You had very Zoey specific ways to guage her quality.   Fortunately, you were able to revisit  a good treatment plan and turn things around!  Way to advocate for Zoey!! 

Just continue  to spoil, spoil, spoil and keep on breaking the rules!!!  Seagulls beware!!

Stay conn and let us know all the ways you are making everyday ZOEY DAY!!!  WAoukd love to see pictures of this sweet girl.

Hugs

Sally and Alumni Happy Hannah and Merry Myrtle and Frankie too!

PS…. Interesting  info on CBD oil for pain Jerry posted.  As long as pain can be controlled in a way that allows Zoey to be Zoey, that’s  a good thing.  I know the Fentynal  patch can make dogs a bit whacky.

Happy Hannah had a glorious additional bonus time of over one yr & two months after amp for osteo! She made me laugh everyday! Joined April's Angels after send off meal of steak, ice cream, M&Ms & deer poop!

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15 April 2019 - 3:59 pm
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Thank you so much for everyone’s support. 

We went back to the vet last week and found out all those bumps popping up on her body are tumors, although the vet said it is uncommon for metastes to show up this way. 

We’ve really been focusing on keeping her happy, so that means icecream and walks on the beach. 

Back Seat Ice CreamImage Enlarger

Zoey at the BeachImage Enlarger

Virginia




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15 April 2019 - 6:57 pm
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Well, we always knew Zoey was unique.  So of course,  leave it to her to have something  rarely  seen!  And we also  know Zoey is already a WARRIOR  LEGEND  around here when it comes to beating the odds!  

I love these pictures of enjoying  the bliss of ice cream and the beach 😊 That expression of her eyeing the ice cream is priceless😎  

Thanks for staying connected .  We’re  all on TEAM ZOEY❤

Hugs

Sally and Alumni Happy Hannah and Merry Myrtle and Frankie too!

Happy Hannah had a glorious additional bonus time of over one yr & two months after amp for osteo! She made me laugh everyday! Joined April's Angels after send off meal of steak, ice cream, M&Ms & deer poop!

The Rainbow Bridge



Forum Posts: 24755
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15 April 2019 - 8:31 pm
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Pretty Zoey! She looks totally in her element, you can see her soaking up the attention and enjoying herself out there on the water. 

What beach is that? What a gorgeous day! How perfect the weather cooperated.

I’m sorry about the latest development. Stupid cancer, it makes us so mad around here. Zoey isn’t mad though, clearly. She’s making the most of every second and not wasting one bit of the day. What a role model for us all.

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
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