Am I Saving Her or Killing Her?

Cancer is such a confusing beast. So many questions. No clear path. Don’t worry – they’re all rhetorical questions. I have an amazing vet oncologist but sometimes there just aren’t answers.

Did she puke blood because the chemo is eating her stomach or because it’s killing the bad cells in her lungs?

If all she’ll eat is Little Smokies, shouldn’t I just let her have them?

Why do those damn little sausages smell so bad on the way back up?

How do you know when you’re helping her and when you’re hurting her? Where is the line and why can’t I see it?

We’ve dropped the dasatsnib dose and are trying the every other day plan. And there are still good moments. I know the picture below is sideways, but I’m on my phone and it doesn’t like the edit buttons. Hanging in there. Thanks for all the support.


Missing her Spark

First, I have to start by saying I’ve had a good week with Abby. She is snuggly and cuddly and the best behaved she’s ever been in her short 18 month life. She is eating her food and happily running in her dreams while she sleeps. She even had a chance to play in the snow for a few minutes.


On the other hand, she isn’t our typical Abby who can be quite a handful if she hasn’t had her proper exercise. We’re only one week post lung mets diagnosis, but the signs are there. She simply has no energy. This morning she went outside, did her business and then just laid down on the cold rocks. She also wheezes periodically, particularly outside in the cold air. It’s just a few breathy coughs and then she’s back to normal, but, as an asthmatic, I can relate to her struggle. It’s hard to believe that 5 weeks ago her lungs were perfectly clear.

She seems to be tolerating the dasatsnib (new daily chemo pill) with the help of anti-nausea meds. I give her that pill first, then breakfast and dasatsnib about an hour later. I’m reminded of how poisonous it is when I put on the required rubber gloves to handle it. I just pray that it’s poisoning the bad cells and saving the good ones. Tomorrow, we will up her dose from 11mg to 13mg.

Moving to another stage…

It’s been a while since I’ve posted and I’m wishing I had come back sooner with good news because there have been lots of good times in the past several weeks. Abby is such a sweet girl who makes friends everywhere she goes. Anyone who thinks Rottweilers are evil and ferocious has never met her. Here she is in one of my favorite poses which I refer to as her donut look.


Unfortunately, today I come back with not-so-good news. Abby was supposed to have her 4th chemo session just before the holidays, but her white blood cell count was low so we opted to wait until after Christmas. Today was one of those days when you go to the vet with a single-minded focus – just get the chemo dose. She looked good so I assumed her blood count had recovered and we’d be in and out in under an hour. Her numbers were fine, but they found a mass on one of her front legs. In the end, the mass was nothing, but it prompted x-rays which revealed lung mets.

We had x-rays done just 4 weeks ago and everything was normal, so–even though I know osteo spreads to the lungs– the diagnosis was still unexpected, and devastating, to me. She’s so young and so full of life and cancer can be so unfair!!!

We are moving to the next stage of medication which is a daily oral dose of dasatinib, which, as I understand it, is a tyrosine kinase inhibitor. As my vet explained, the carboplatin was designed to target microscopic cancer cells and prevent them from rapidly dividing. Since we’re no longer at a microscopic phase, we’re moving to a drug that has the potential to work in a different way (which I can’t effectively explain). Sadly, she has many mets in her lungs and two of them are at least 5 cm. This is apparently very aggressive growth in 4 weeks and is likely just the way cancer behaves in a dog that was struck at such a young age.

The medication is coming from a compounding pharmacy so we’ll get started tomorrow. We’ve been told that in clinical trials, it has been very effective in 30-50% of dogs. Unfortunately, there isn’t definitive data out there right now that says exactly which dogs with which disease the drug will be effective on, so we’re relying on HOPE!!!

It’s been a long day, but at the end of it, I am faced with the realization that we don’t go through all these extraordinary measures just for the hope of extra years of life. We go through them for the here and the now. If we get extra years, that is a bonus. At the end of the day, I cherish each and every moment I have with her. Even the hard times.


Second chemo success

IMG_7245Abby had her second chemo yesterday and is doing well. The vet was concerned that she’d lost 5 pounds since her first round, but I actually think that the original weight (66 pounds) listed on her chart was immediately post-surgery, rather than 2 weeks later when she started chemo. She was a very picky eater those first few weeks, but has steadily gained weight and is gobbling up her Honest Kitchen meals. She’s 61 pounds now which is small for a Rottweiler, but I’m sure her growth was interrupted by getting cancer so young. And, besides, she only has 3 legs!

They are going to check her bloodwork next week, but if all goes well we will be on the every 3 week plan. They also plan to do x-Rays before the third chemo and a quick ultrasound check of her lymph nodes (since the osteo had spread to the node behind her amputated knee). I did ask if the post-carboplatin treatment we are planning is a form of metronomics since I was unsure. The oncologist said it’s actually a different class, but some people think of it as similar since it would be a daily dose of chemo in pill form. It is a tyrosine kinase inhibitor which she prefers for dogs with osteosarcoma. If Abby tolerates it well, we will do this after the 5 rounds of chemo.

Abby has been loving her time at the dog parks and on the trails. Every single dog sniffs her leg–I originally thought this was because of the incision, but she’s healed now. Dogs definitely notice the difference, but transition quickly into playtime. Most of them get reprimanded by their owners for sniffing the missing leg area, but I tell them that Abby can handle herself just fine.IMG_7276

The most common question I get from the people is, “Did they get it all?” so I have to explain that osteosarcoma doesn’t usually work that way, but that we wanted to alleviate her pain and let her enjoy life. Abby usually backs me up on this by running by at that moment. For anyone who thinks that chemo is rough on Abby, I would offer this blurry picture as evidence that she is doing just fine. And the pug is too.