Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Plan B...Chemo.

After our "wonderful" news on thursday that the tumor itself had disappeared, Leroy's symptoms returned. Keep in mind, that though the tumor had gone away, he still has lymphoma and the lymphnodes around his heart are enlarged and pressing on his airways. This left Jeff and I with a new amount of hard decisions to make regarding treatment plans. When faced with the large mass he had in the lung, it was "easy" to say, "well, we are doing EVERYTHING we can within our budget and personal feelings regarding surgery then chemo". But knowing that lymphoma can often respond pretty well to Chemo we were torn as to what we wanted to do, and could afford to do. Leroy was progressively getting worse, especially at night. Saturday night his resting heart rate was 116-120 and respiration over 40-50, no fever but his body is running very hot and rather than seeking heat as he has done his entire life he was finding cool places to hide, often using the hardwood or tile floors but this would cause positional respiratory distress so he would get anxious and pace. The coughing is still very minimal, but the labored breathing is what was concerning us.

We met with Dr. Steve Blauvelt at Sage clinic yesterday morning. Leroy's pulses were low, chi was stagnant, and toungue slightly lavendar, all indicators that he was wearing down physically, the look in his eye told the same story. So we put him on another herb called "General Tonic" http://www.gfcherbs.com/catalog/index.php?main_page=product_gf_formulas_info&products_id=10301 which will help his blood flow, energy level etc.

This morning was not a good morning. I woke up and Leroy was not on his bed which told me something was not right. I found him on the couch in the living room, he was walking very slow, and could not really catch his breath, I for the first time wondered if today was "the day". He showed little interest in his food, he did eat a few cookies, and hopped up on the couch for some love from Jeff and I, but it still was not our Leroy. I had talked with Dr. Emily yesterday about trying a low-key form of chemo for Leroy that would hopefully buy us some time for the Iscador from Europe to come in. We made the decision this AM to give it a shot. 2 pills cost 158.00, and he will need this treatment every 3 weeks, along with blood work to make sure his WBC and Liver values are staying within a reasonable range. When we did his blood work this AM, his liver values were slightly elevated but we decided if we do nothing than we will lose him, so this is the last ditch effort to see if we can get him back into a remission.

I gave him his first 2 pills of Chemo, we are using Lomustine, at 2pm this afternoon. He is in great spirits this afternoon after such a rough morning, playing tug-of-war with Percy over a stuffed duck, he is laying beside me on the couch with regular, slow, breathing. This form of lymphoma is presenting itself so oddly, with the off and on symptoms, but we will keep our fingers crossed! The chemo is not likely to "cure" the lymphoma, but hopefully we can get him a few more weeks or months of being comfortable and happy!

This photo was taken in October 2006 at a podunk little motel in Moab, UT. on one of Leroy and I's many travels. He is my trusty road companion, and has protected me for thousands upon thousands of miles. He's a good dog!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Kicking cancer in the A*&(&!!!!!

So, wonderful update to report today!!!! After about a 2 week period of being relatively cough free, eating like a champ, and even getting into the trash which he NEVER ever does, Leroy went in today for a re-xray to see where the tumor is at. The tumor is GONE!!!!!!!!!!!!! As in completely, absolutely, NOT a trace of it anywhere in any of the radiographs!!!! : ) He does still have lymphoma, but even the enlarged lymphnodes and fluid around his heart have decreased in size by about 40%. This is excellent news! I am still however being very realistic about the seriousness of what we are fighting, and the point of this blog is still to remain hopeful, and most of give people a feeling that they are doing the BEST that they can WITHIN their budget and ethics. Had we opened him up for surgery 2 weeks ago, spending 5-6k for a very invasive surgery, I feel in my heart that would have killed him. I am NOT saying don't do surgery, we did surgery for his mast cell tumor in 2007, but I am saying do NOT beat yourself up if you cannot afford surgery or chemo and radiation in these situations. Every person and every dogs situation is unique, and you need to do what you believe in, and what you think will work, all within your financial means.

Dr. Blauvelt (Steve) at Sage Veterinary services has had me start Leroy on another Chinese herb called "Bloods Palace" it is meant specifically for thoracic tumors and heart support. We started this 2 days ago, and we have ordered the Izcador from Europe. The Izcador takes 4-6 weeks to get through FDA, shipping etc. and I asked Steve if he thought we had that long, he said he is thinking positive as that is the biggest part of fighting these battles. Leroy has no idea what he is going through, the amazing thing about treating animals as opposed to humans is there is no placebo effect. So, I need to stay strong and optimistic so he does not pick up on my energy creating more fear and anxiety for him. So, whether this bit of remission he is in currently, lasts a week or 3 mos. I know what I am doing is the best I can do for myself and for him, and I am giving him the best quality of life that I know how to give, and just thanking every single day and night I have with my best friend! I will keep you all posted as we go along!! : )

Leroy laying on the couch saying "if this is what cancer gets me, than I am going to live FOREVER with this treatment!!"

Monday, March 12, 2012

Travel is so good for the body and soul!!

After a not so great week last week, with last Tuesday night being a day I thought Leroy was going to die very soon due to such severe breathing issues, I decided come hell or high water I was going to bring Leroy to his favorite place, the beach! You cannot even say that word around him without him making the cutest little puppy face and getting all wiggly! We saw Dr. Emily on Wednesday AM. She had us leave him for x-rays for an hour where they determined he had a lung infection (hence the non-existent appetite and fever) the tumor appeared to have grown 15-20% in size, and he had fluid around the tumor. They gave him IV Dex, Lasix, and we started him on Doxycycline 3x daily and oral Prednisone 1x daily. I had to teach lessons in LaPine all afternoon so I took Leroy with me, it was like a miracle, every hour he got better and better..he did cough up a half-dollar size of bright, red, blood, but in my opinion that is the body clearing the cancer out of his lung. That night he had NO coughing, and his breathing was slow and regular. He ate a tiny bit of breakfast and dinner on Thursday, and Friday AM we left for the coast. I gave him one lasix on Friday to help with some mild coughing. We made it to the coast, he had a great run on the Beach Friday afternoon and devoured his dinner on Friday night! I had forgotten the ever so important staple of his previous cancer diet, Sardines in water!!! He LOVES sardines, and they are loaded with essential oils and nutrients known to fight cancer. The rest of the weekend he was AMAZING!!! He ran like a puppy, he coughed a few times on Saturday so I gave him a Lasix and he has not coughed since then! His energy and spirit is back, he is taking his pills like a champ! I have decided to take him off the raw diet while he is on Prednisone as it can be an immune supressent, I go with my gut on these things and right now full raw does not feel right. So he is back to home cooked food, mixed with his grain-free taste of the wild, sardines, veggies,cottage cheese and flax-seed oil. His daily regime of pills and supplements are currently:

Chinese medicine: Livaplex, Circu-VET, and Stasis Breaker (I switched from the powder to tea pills and he gobbles them up in little cheese balls)

Holistic: Protandim, Spirilina, Zinc, Vit C, Pro-biotics (forco) Equerry's Spunk II

Conventional: Prednisone 1xdaily, Doxycycline 2x daily, and Lasix as needed.

He has another appt. with the Holistic Vet in a week or so, and we are going to re-xray the lung the day before his re-check to see what the tumor is doing!! But for now he is HAPPY, VIBRANT, and doing wonderful!!! Kiss your pups, tell them you love them, love goes such a long way!!! Here are some photos from the weekend!!! Enjoy!!

                    Leroy and I having a photo op. at the amazing beach house we got to stay at!
                Leroy NEVER is interested in sticks, today he was very interested in the stick!! LOL!
                                                                 My Best Buddy!!
                           Mischeivous faces...this is their lets go to the beach already face!!!
                                               Pointers doing what Pointers do best!!!
                                                                     Family Photo!!

                                                           SO HAPPY!!!!!
                                                                Lee and I dancing!!!!

                                               Relaxing after a great day in front of the fireplace!!
                                                      Lee and I surfing!!! ha ha ha!!!

Monday, March 5, 2012

Funky day..

So, of course there are good days and there are not so good days. It's so hard to tell sometimes with Leroy, since he can be a bit "Emo" and finicky when it comes to certain things like eating. He has had a little belly ache since he woke me up a few times to go out on Saturday night. I had to really coax him to eat yesterday, and today he wants nothing to do with it..though he did act extremely interested in Jeff's Maple Brown Sugar granola bar, which he ate with ease!! I think he is just being picky but he does seem a little more depressed then usual. I called Sage Vet and talked with Dr. Blauvelt who was encouraging as always..we are just going to give him the Circu-vet since that is a great GI support, once he starts eating then he'll go back on the StasisBreaker (but this time in a pill form, as I think the powder is the reason he is not eating) and his LivaPlex..He seemed fine when he was outside and he might just be "working it" a bit so he could get some couch time with mom. He wins..we are snuggled up doing homework together while the wind whips insanely outside. That's it for now..keep fingers crossed he eats soon.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Holistic Vet=great day!! and better yet..a PLAN

So, yesterday was the worst day I had yet through this whole process. Between car trouble, my horse Cortez being laid up with a nasty abscess, and Leroy coughing up blood for the first time yet, I had hit the end of my rope with everything and was an emotional disaster from sun up to sun down. We went to the specialist yesterday at Bend Vet Specialist ie; BVS and visited Dr. Dougherty. She was super nice, but the appt. was very frustrating with the fact that his x-rays which were supposed to have been overnighted from a Portland Specialist were not there so everything was up for speculation on her end. This was her report that she e-mailed me:
March 1, 2012


        Leroy Fairfield, nine year old male neuter German Shorthair Pointer. Lives on a horse farm and has access to a lot of things. He is otherwise healthy. Coughing started about 1 month ago. He had a bit of coughing last year and cxr was done and was normal. CXR done last Saturday showed a pulmonary mass. Today Leroy coughed up some blood. Films were sent to VDIC and report says 4.3 cm mass and lymphadenopathy. Recommended repeat films or wait for originals to allow measurement and aid in locating the mass via ULS.  Discussed waiting for original films to be delivered or take films today and proceed.. If cannot locate with ULS then consider bronchoscopy and BAL.

PE) mm pink, heart nsa, no murmur, normal auscultation, abdomen ok, fundic nsf. Beautiful and well fleshed dog .
Submit CBC CHEM UA on Monday
Get films back from VDIC : received after appointment time today. Evaluation of CXR, a spherical left caudal lobe pulmonary mass is present. There is marked hilar lymphadenopathy and right cranial lobe infiltrate.
ULS mass and do FNA : not sure given location that I can reach mass with ULS. Will try to locate.
IF unable, bronchoscopy and BAL, cyto, cultures…Need to gas sterilize the scope today first. Scheduled for Monday.

 Basically I was in tears at that point because the estimate for all of this was 1800-2100.00. Which I DO not have with just one income at this point. I also had to reach the hard realization that even if we did these diagnostics we still were faced with the fact that we already know is that HE HAS CANCER, which means potential surgery 5-7k and then probably Chemo. which is very invasive and around 6k. I knew in my heart, even if I was rich and could afford it It was not the best quality of life I could provide my dog. I left there devastated again, and extremely frustrated with a lack of plan. I drove straight to Sage Veterinary Clinichttp://www.sagevet.com/Welcome.html knowing deep down this was the place I needed to get peace of mind, find treatment I could justify and wrap my head around. They got us in this morning at 9:30. I met with Dr. Steven Blauvelt. Right away I felt at home. The rooms are very cozy with a nice mattress on the floor for the animals, I was able to sit on the floor with Leroy, and you never felt pressured by the clock. We spent an hour with Steven where he asked a thorough history of Leroy, and looked him over carefully. Leroy was having an extremely "energetic" day (mildly obnoxious) because he knew there was a cat in the next room, so he was very whiny and pacing, he does NOT look like a "sick" dog.

 Leroy has a very strong constitution, and everything, heart and lungs sounded great! Steven explained a lot of Chinese medicine theory and practice and explained how Tumors are caused by excess Phlegm in the body. It is also an issue with stagnant heart and liver so we devised a treatment to boost these organs and move Phlegm out of the body. He was highly praising of the diet I have Leroy on..it was wonderful to be validated in what I was doing and have done in the past with success. The vet at BVS was not so supportive of the diet, I told her I understand the pros and cons of raw diet..there is a lot of controversy regarding raw, but right now I cannot justify feeding him something I don't know where it comes from. The raw food he is eating is raised right here on our farm, disease and antibiotic/drug free. I can visit his "food" anytime I wish lol!! So, we went away with a plan some:
1. Livaplex capsules to help cleanse the liver-we start this slowly 1 pill/day for 5 days, 2 pills a day for 5 days, then 3pills a day.
2.CurcuVET-SA150 capsules that are Hepatic, muskulskeletal &GI support 1x a day.
3. StasisBreaker-which is an "herbal chemo" it is meant to cleanse and move the phlegm out of his body that is assisting in his tumor growth.

We are going to look into a new and extremely succesful in Europe, product made by Weleda, called Iscador. http://www.iscador.com/index.aspx Check it out, he has had amazing results and he is going to call the company with Leroy's results to find the treatment that will work best for him.

So, anyway, this is a lot of information, we have a recheck in 3weeks, Leroy has had a GREAT day and is eating his food very well... as you can see from the photo of his dinner tonight! I feel back to myself at least knowing we have a plan. I am not looking to "cure" cancer. Cancer is cancer and it &*(&(*ING sucks..BUT..what I do feel is that I am now doing the best that I can within my budget and based on my personal moral feelings on Leroys quality of life. If it works GREAT, if not, then it is the Universe and Nature doing what it is supposed to do and there is nothing anyone can do about that. So for now..we keep educating and researching and I will keep you all posted on how the Lee-man is doing!! xo