May Update

Addie waiting NOT so patiently for her food to be prepared. She still LOVES to eat!
Odd, but in the last year or 2, she hates to have her picture taken – this is a rare moment as she was distracted by food!

I was reminded yesterday that it has been over 2 months since the last post.

I remember the urgency and the stress when Addie was first diagnosed.  Because of that  I posted every 1-3 days because so much was happening and everything was so new.  I am glad those days are over.  However, when we receive a blog comment or an e-mail from someone who is entering week 1 of the hemangiosarcoma battle, I recall that time like it was last month.

For the past 2 months, Addie has been doing well cancer wise.  She is now 14 1/2 years old.  Very soon we hope to be celebrating her 4 year, post diagnosis anniversary which is just a few short weeks away.

I feel we did everything we could do for her then and still today.  But as she gets older day by day, I know that we will have the face the inevitable sooner rather than later.  I honestly don’t think it will be from the cancer.  Although she does have many lumps (on her paws, on her sides, etc)  they are internal and do not seem to be growing at an alarming rate.  She has had these types of lumps for more than 4 years.  I think when the time comes, it will be age related.  It chokes me up every time I think of it but I keep telling myself that she has had a good quality of life for each of those 14+ years.

We ask ourselves those quality of life questions on a more frequent basis now: Is she in pain?  Does she still like to be around us?  Does she still love to eat?  Does she still want to play on occasion?  At this time we can say an absolute yes to all but the first.

How do you know if they are in true pain or just achy from age?  It is harder for her to get up and down but it doesn’t look like she is in pain.  However, we know that dogs are great at hiding pain sometimes, aren’t they?  For now, we do not believe her pain (if any) is at a high level.

I think we really just need to keep cherishing every day she is with us.  We have had a lot of practice with that since we have been doing it every day for over 4 years.  I guess that is an upside to the cancer.  We now make sure to appreciate our dogs every day with hugs and kisses.

Have you given puppy kisses to your pups today? 🙂

Updated Blood Report

She is NOT excited to wear the Santa hat!

Let me start by saying, we felt so blessed that we were able to spend another Christmas with Addie!  She enthusiastically opened another fun toy to be enjoyed until she or Finigan decide to annihilate it 🙂

Addie was scheduled for follow-up blood work before Christmas.  Earlier, there was great concern over her kidney’s.  As mentioned, her regular vet clearly stated that Addie would be lucky to live another 6 months.  Well, new blood tests reveal that her kidneys are fine.  Go figure.

Unfortunately, her ALT Is very high, as is her Alk Phosphatase.  At this time, they are thinking liver damage or possibly a thyroid issue.  We increased her dosage of Hepagen-C and also added Sam-e to her list of supplements.  We will retest again January 10th.  Her holistic vet believes the liver deterioration is a greater concern than the cancer at this point.  We need to keep her ALT below 200 to limit the negative effect on her body.  Currently it is 190, up from 129 in September and 93 in July.

Signs we need to look for concerning her liver include:

  • enlarged abdomen
  • vomiting
  • yellow around eyes and/or gums

So far, we have not seen any of those signs.  We are thankful.

Time for a Change of Scenery

No more snow for Addie!

Looking back, it is hard to believe we picked up and moved from Indiana to Colorado 9 1/2 years ago with our little girl Addie.  At the time, Addie had a little white on her chest, but not the gray she has today.  But she wears it well and with pride!

It is now time that we start the next phase of our life and Addie of course is coming with us!  In January, we will be packing up and moving to Costa Rica.

We have been very apprehensive about the move with Addie.  We have been considering it for over a year, but now the time has come.  My concerns were of course for her health.  Not only was she diagnosed with cancer – hemangiosarcoma 3 1/2 years ago, but she did just turn 14 in October.  But she has been doing wonderfully.  We spoke to both of her vets (I still laugh internally when I think about the fact that Addie has TWO vets!), and they both agreed that although it would be a little stressful for her, it would not be a problem.  We made sure we did find an airline that had a direct flight from Denver and is known for being wonderful when it comes to flying our furry friends (Frontier Airlines).  I have spoken to them no short of 4 times now regarding taking both dogs and they have always been great.

I was also concerned about having to give her all kinds of shots prior to leaving.  But Costa Rica only mandates rabies vaccinations, so my worries were greatly alleviated.  She had her rabies shot about a month ago.  The last step is for her to have a heath certificate completed within 10 days of departure, which just means a general health exam and a form to be completed.

Addie has never seen the ocean and although it may seem “cheesy”, we can’t wait to take her to the beach and let her play in the Pacific 🙂

Indy’s Blog

Indy’s Mom recently reached out to us as her dog Indy had just recently had a splenectomy and the Dr.’s were pretty sure it was hemangiosarcoma.  Never a good diagnosis. While she waited the biopsy results, she found Addie’s blog and neoplasene. Unfortunately, the diagnosis was Histiocytic Sarcoma which is actually worse than hemangiosarcoma is one can believe that!  Indy just started on neoplasene and they started a blog to help others.  Follow Indy’s journey here.

I saw a "dead-head" sticker on a Cadillac…

Summit of Schoolmarm Mountain

As weird as it would seem to celebrate a cancer diagnosis and an even more dire prognosis, we are doing just that because Addie is still with us over three years later!!

After hearing from the veterinarian that performed the splenectomy back in July of ’08 that she would only have 3 or 4 months to live we are absolutely elated that she has lived well for over 36 months since that time.  Of course, she is showing her age just as any dog her size who is getting close to her 14th birthday would be.  However, given the alternative we were presented with back in ’08, we are more than happy to be dealing with her old age issues.

Yes, she has more fatty lumps, has a harder time getting up and around, tires more easily, and is absolutely worn out when we take her for even short hikes now.  Although we know she won’t be with us forever, we know that we have done everything we could do to prolong her life.  The greatest thing about that is that she has managed to not only have a longer quantity of life but also to have a good quality of life during that time.  She demonstrated that again just this past weekend when we took her on a relatively short hike to a small mountain summit.  We had to be careful to keep her from overheating, and we had to stop and rest frequently.  But she had a great time along the way playing with Finigan, sniffing every possible item, and finally scaling the summit to have her picture taken yet again on the top of one of Colorado’s numerous mountain tops.

When the day comes that we are forced to say goodbye to our girl, we WILL look back (regardless of what Mr. Henley says) with great joy because we know that we were able to help Addie enjoy life for as long as it was possible for her to do so.

On a more somber note, we will be speaking with Addie’s veterinarians tomorrow to discuss her urine’s elevated specific gravity levels which were discovered during her most recent UTI battle.  Elevated specific gravity is an early indicator of kidney trouble so we are concerned.  We will post more as things develop.