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Update on Mina's recovery
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Forum Posts: 15
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29 November 2008 - 1:37 am
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Mina’s mom, Nancy, here.  Previous posts were authored by my darling tripawd, but I’m in the mood to do this myself tonight.  I have good news and bad.  The good news is that Mina’s last radiograph series was clean, and so she was officially enrolled in the clinical trial at Ohio State University (a 3.5 hour commute for us!) and had her first chemo treatment last Thursday (carboplatin followed by gemcitabine 4 hours later).  

As you can probably imagine, the combination of two chemo drugs is quite a toxic cocktail and she was definitely feeling the effects for a couple of days afterwards.  Fortunately, the prescient oncology staff sent us home with a four day supply of an anti-nausea drug (Cerenia) that helped keep her food down, at least.  Poor thing looked like hell for two days and was extraordinarily weak…I had to help her move from room to room – she couldn’t even stand up by herself.  And, speaking of, here’s the bad news: she is still struggling to get around by herself.  It’s been a week and her appetite still isn’t 100% normal (I’m able to entice her to eat her dry food by mixing it with Evanger’s or Wellness 95% canned meat, so she is eating) and it seems like the progress she’d made in gaining strength in her remaining hind leg has been lost.  She was having some trouble with recovery prior to chemo: she could only hop short distances and needed assistance going to the bathroom (she couldn’t get enough elevation with that back leg for a #2), but she was making progress…very slowly, but steadily.  Now she won’t support any weight on her back leg unless she’s standing perfectly still.  She crawls from room to room, practically dragging her rear leg, and won’t try to walk unless I’m supporting her with a sling.  She moves slowly, too.  She was stronger and more energetic pre-chemo, but shouldn’t the side-effects have worn off by now?  

I just don’t know what to think.  Could the chemo have facilitated a degenerative type of condition?  Or am I still witnessing side-effects?  The oncologist at OSU said that all the dogs in the study to date have tolerated the chemo with relatively little, or no, trouble – no more than with other, standard treatment protocols.  Why can’t the same be true for Mina?

I have no idea where to go from here.  Her lungs are clear, aside from a blurry area the oncologist attributed to aspiration pneumonia, which I’m hoping explains the mystery cough she’s been suffering from.  She’s on Clavamox for it, so we’ll see how that goes.

I feel so emotionally drained…I want to give her the best possible chance at beating the cancer, but at what cost?   How far do you go, where do you draw the line…?  This is a decision I don’t feel at all comfortable, or confident, making.


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29 November 2008 - 1:25 pm
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I do not have experience with gemcitabine but carboplatin is usually tolerated well by most dogs.  2 drugs together could certainly increase the odds of side effects, and lethargy or muscle weakness is definitely possible.  Tazzie always gets sleepy and doesn’t move around much for 1-2 weeks following her carboplatin, but by the third week she is back to her playful self!

A less likely scenario is that the cancer has metastasized to Mina’s spine, but that can usually only be seen with an MRI.  This isn’t a common site for mets, especially so soon since the amputation.

I’m sure that the vets at OSU will keep close tabs on her.  Just make sure to keep them updated on all of her symptoms.

Good luck with this new drug!

Pam and Tazzie

The Rainbow Bridge



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29 November 2008 - 8:06 pm
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Mina said:

How far do you go, where do you draw the line…? 


How far to go is a difficult decision indeed. But truth be told, no matter what you do, it will never be enough. You’ll always wonder what if we did that one more thing.

So here’s a suggestion that should help … redraw that line every day. You’ve already done so much for Mina. And now, every day is a great day. Enjoy each one to the fullest.

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
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29 November 2008 - 9:50 pm
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Nancy,

I will keep Nina in my prayers while she goes through this battle.

I know she is in the most wonderful hands with the OSU Oncology department! I would trust Dr. Couto & his team with any dog I have! The OSU team has graciously donated chemo drugs & written protocols for a few of the greyhounds I have adopted out when they became ill. I agree with Pam, keep them informed of any symptom she may have no matter how trivial you believe it to be. Keep a journal.

And Jerry is right, redraw the line each day. Take it day by day. When it’s time for her to go, she will tell you, we won’t have to guide you. Just live each day to the fullest and enjoy what she is giving to you now.

Take a deep breath & try to relax.

Janie & Calamity

Janie & Calamity http://www.trix.....gspot.com/

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30 November 2008 - 3:55 pm
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Cherry’s dad here!

Our whole family is very sorry to hear about the complications to Mina’s recovery. We are new to this as well with our amputation and first chemotherapy just ten days ago. The problems you describe with the appetite are just what we are presently going through. Two things that have helped us cope are:

1) write down everything Mina eats daily onto a 3×5 index card. This has helped me to fully access how much Cherry is getting and to measure if the day has moved forward or back.

2) I started with chicken broth and a past of dog food, cottage cheese, baby food, cooked chicken, etc. and hand placed it into Cherry’s mouth. To say that I force fed her is not really true since she actually provided little resistance. If I placed it deep into her mouth, she would chew and swallow. It appeared that it was the taste that she resented. Now that we are ten days beyond the chemotherapy, Cherry does not have the strong chemistry taste to her mouth. I still often freshen her mouth by brushing her teeth before atempting to feed her. It appears to help.

Cherry’s first chemotherapy was just hours after the amputation. This is clearly the best for treatment, but makes her recovery harder. However, we are in this for the longer haul.

All our prayers and thoughts from the Greater San Fracisco Bay Area.

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2 December 2008 - 12:25 am
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tazziedog said:

I do not have experience with gemcitabine but carboplatin is usually tolerated well by most dogs.  2 drugs together could certainly increase the odds of side effects, and lethargy or muscle weakness is definitely possible.  Tazzie always gets sleepy and doesn’t move around much for 1-2 weeks following her carboplatin, but by the third week she is back to her playful self!

A less likely scenario is that the cancer has metastasized to Mina’s spine, but that can usually only be seen with an MRI.  This isn’t a common site for mets, especially so soon since the amputation.

I’m sure that the vets at OSU will keep close tabs on her.  Just make sure to keep them updated on all of her symptoms.

Good luck with this new drug!

Pam and Tazzie


The thought that it had metastisized to her spine crossed my mind…not a pleasant thought, for sure, but I think it probably is unlikely since her mobility wasn’t hindered in the slightest pre-amputation.  They would have to be some amazingly fast-developing mets (this is what I shall tell myself, at any rate!).  Degenerative myelopathy was another thought, because it can progress rapidly following a traumatic surgery, but I could probably drive myself crazy with all the What Ifs, you know?  

When you said that Tazzie doesn’t move around much 1-2 weeks post-chemo, that helped to ease my mind tremendously.  I didn’t think it was possible for Mina to be affected several days afterwards, so I feel like we aren’t alone now, that this is within the parameters of a normal recovery.  Annnnd, wouldn’t you know it, Sunday morning Mina was hopping around by herself…she’s feeling stronger now and is regaining the footing she’d lost (literally!).  Her one week post-chemo CBC results were great, everything was within normal ranges, so that also bolstered my confidence in continuing the chemo.  I guess I’m just going to adjust my expectations for her recovery until we’re finished with it.  Three more treatments to go…

Thanks for your kind words and encouragement!   

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2 December 2008 - 12:29 am
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jerry said:

Mina said:

How far do you go, where do you draw the line…? 


How far to go is a difficult decision indeed. But truth be told, no matter what you do, it will never be enough. You’ll always wonder what if we did that one more thing.

So here’s a suggestion that should help … redraw that line every day. You’ve already done so much for Mina. And now, every day is a great day. Enjoy each one to the fullest.


Wise words, indeed!  We appreciate them very much Laughing

 

(The smilie is supposed to be at the end of the second sentence, but they keep magically appearing where they’re not supposed to be.  I just thought I should mention that, since this might be a tech issue.)

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2 December 2008 - 12:44 am
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kcgrey said:

Nancy,

I will keep Nina in my prayers while she goes through this battle.

I know she is in the most wonderful hands with the OSU Oncology department! I would trust Dr. Couto & his team with any dog I have! The OSU team has graciously donated chemo drugs & written protocols for a few of the greyhounds I have adopted out when they became ill. I agree with Pam, keep them informed of any symptom she may have no matter how trivial you believe it to be. Keep a journal.

And Jerry is right, redraw the line each day. Take it day by day. When it’s time for her to go, she will tell you, we won’t have to guide you. Just live each day to the fullest and enjoy what she is giving to you now.

Take a deep breath & try to relax.

Janie & Calamity


Dr. Couto was extraordinarily kind and professional, as was his assistant, the day we visited OSU, and it’s good to hear that you’ve also had positive experiences with them.  I think he hit the nail on the head with the pneumonia diagnosis because Mina’s cough is finally improving (yay!).  

Never fear, I’ve been taking detailed notes regarding side-effects, etc.  I’m sure they need to know this stuff for their records, if not for Mina’s benefit.  

Thanks so much for your support and good advice. Laughing   

 

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2 December 2008 - 1:11 am
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Cherry said:

Cherry’s dad here!

Our whole family is very sorry to hear about the complications to Mina’s recovery. We are new to this as well with our amputation and first chemotherapy just ten days ago. The problems you describe with the appetite are just what we are presently going through. Two things that have helped us cope are:

1) write down everything Mina eats daily onto a 3×5 index card. This has helped me to fully access how much Cherry is getting and to measure if the day has moved forward or back.

2) I started with chicken broth and a past of dog food, cottage cheese, baby food, cooked chicken, etc. and hand placed it into Cherry’s mouth. To say that I force fed her is not really true since she actually provided little resistance. If I placed it deep into her mouth, she would chew and swallow. It appeared that it was the taste that she resented. Now that we are ten days beyond the chemotherapy, Cherry does not have the strong chemistry taste to her mouth. I still often freshen her mouth by brushing her teeth before atempting to feed her. It appears to help.

Cherry’s first chemotherapy was just hours after the amputation. This is clearly the best for treatment, but makes her recovery harder. However, we are in this for the longer haul.

All our prayers and thoughts from the Greater San Fracisco Bay Area.


I agree, I think it is crucial to keep track of how much they’ve eaten.  I very quickly learned the value of measuring her dry food intake.  Ordinarily I allow her to free-feed, but that method just wasn’t working for us anymore.  Now I make sure that she gets at least the minimum recommended amount for her weight every day, divided into two meals.  So far her weight is stable – she’s at an "ideal" weight, so maintenance is our goal – and she loses and gains very easily, so I think we’re doing all right.  

I’ve done the hand feeding business, so I can empathize.   If you can believe it, she actually turned her nose up at what I call "doggie stew", which was dry food mixed with chicken broth and Halo dinner seasoning.  Then she turned her nose up at yummy Merrick canned food…I was at my wit’s end until we discovered the natural canned meat they make for dogs (Evanger’s, Wysong, Wellness).  She used to really enjoy eating the dry all by its lonesome (Orijen Senior), but, alas, no more.  I hadn’t realized that the chemo could alter their sense of taste, but it makes sense.  I’ll have to try brushing her teeth before a meal to see if that makes any difference – I’m glad you mentioned it!

Wishes for a cancer-free recovery and good thoughts are going your way, too.  It’s a shame we can’t explain to them that their suffering is not in vain, that there really is a point to it all, but I’m sure it will be well worth it in the long run.  Good luck!  

The Rainbow Bridge



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2 December 2008 - 1:12 am
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Mina said:

Wise words, indeed!  We appreciate them very much Laughing 

(The smilie is supposed to be at the end of the second sentence, but they keep magically appearing where they’re not supposed to be.  I just thought I should mention that, since this might be a tech issue.)


Hi Mina, thanks for bringing that up. Here is a Forum thread about Placement of Emoticons. I hope it helps!

 

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