I HATE CANCER!

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I have the need for a momentary lapse of control.  And I’ll apologize in advance if I offend anyone, but I have to say this.  I FUCKING HATE CANCER!!!!  I HATE IT!  I BEYOND-WORDS HATE IT!!!  If cancer was a person, I would stab it in the eye, beat it to a bloody pulp, and then I’d do a little dance on its dead carcass.

We just got the news that my father-in-law’s prostate cancer has progressed to his skull, his spine, his shoulder blade, his ribs and both of his femurs.  My mother-in-law isn’t handling the news very well — she lost her first husband to cancer (melanoma) too — she’s been having some heart issues, and the added stress isn’t helping.

I know we usually reserve our collective Tripawd mojo for our canine friends, but we could really use some for Rio’s gramma and grampa, too.


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My Special Day!

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Hi everypawdy,

My momma usually writes my blog posts, but today I asked if I could say something.  Today is my ampuversary!  I’m on number ELEVEN!!!  And because I’m super special (everypawdy says so), my momma got me something super special.  She knows how much I’ve been wanting to try one of my friend Abby’s Flying Dutchmans, but it’s a really long buh-bye in the car, and so I only get to drool whenever Abby talks about them.  But today, everything changes!!!!!  Check it out!

Rio's very own "Flying Dutchman"

Isn’t that awesome???!!!!  The only thing wrong with it is that momma said it was too big for me to eat by myself, and she made me share with the dorkus twins.  Oh well.  It was still sooooo goooooood!

Yummmmmmmm! Burger and benedryl.

We wanna share!!!

Snarfing the last bite! (Note all the drool in Zeffy's cone of shame.)

And yes, Monkey Patrol, that is Zephyr wearing the cone of shame!!!  Hahahahahahaha!  Look!!!!!  Here’s another picture!  What a doof!  It makes her shiny friend when the sun shines on it, and she keeps running into everything chasing her shiny friend.

 

Itchy Joe (aka Zephyr and the Cone of Shame)

Hoppy Woo Year!

I, for one, am not sorry to see 2011 fade into the blurry past.  As a year, it got the dubious distinction of being The Absolute Worst Year Ever.  (Although, now that I think about it, our run of crappy luck started clear back in the summer of 2010.)  Digressions aside, though, I think I would rather focus on what remains now that the year is over.

First off, I honestly didn’t think I would still have Rio with me this far (4 years and 7 months) into the cancer drama.  When we were facing the amputation this past January, our oncologist told us that Rio would have probably just a few weeks to a couple of months without the surgery.  When the doctor discovered the metastasis in August, we were given a similar time frame for her survival.   We are now looking at our 11 month ampuversary — despite the mets in her spleen and her lymph nodes.  With the added “bonus” of Cushings Disease, there is an average of a two-year survival rate post-diagnosis.  With all of this, Rio continues to buck the odds, and although I can see that her health is definitely on the wane, she continues to be the happy, beautiful girl she’s always been (although a lot less energetic).

Despite the difficulties of this past year, I still feel like it has also been a gift.  I have had the time I needed to come to terms with the inevitability of life and the swiftness of it’s passing.  I have also been given the opportunity (and the urgency) to make some treasured memories with my precious girl.  Living with the clock ticking has given me the impetus to do things now rather than pretending I have all the time in the world.  I have battled my own inner demons through this experience, and although the war is not yet won, I feel as if I have made some definite inroads.  So far, I have survived this blasted rollercoaster, and despite all the times I’ve begged to be let off this ride, I’m still not quite ready for it to end.

For now, we still have today, and dammit, it’s gonna be a great day!  And if we get tomorrow, then we’ve won the lottery!  (And if we do win the lottery, color me delirious!)

HOPPY WOO YEAR!!!

Hoppy howlidaze, my Tripawds pals!

 

 

A candle in the darkness

This year, of all my years, has been the most challenging and the most painful, but also the most revelatory. I’ve discovered a strength I didn’t realize I possessed, an ability to look for the ray of light in a dark place that I’ve never known before. I’ve developed a caring bond with complete strangers and found solace in trying to comfort others who are confronted with life altering diagnoses.

None of this would have been possible with this community. The diagnosis alone would have crippled me, I fear. You’ve given me a shoulder to lean on, to cry on, and an audience when I need to unload. You’ve been answers when I have questions, you’ve made me smile when my heart was breaking. You’ve been friendship when I was lonely, and kind words when I’ve been hurting.

For all this (and much, much more) I am eternally grateful.

Merry Christmas, my friends!

Hoppy Holidaze

I wanted to wait to post this until I knew for certain, but now I dont feel so much like I’m tempting fate to say it: my Christmas wish is coming true! My girl is still with me, and she’s still going strong. She continues to amaze me with her resiliency and fortitude, her continued grace in battle.

Although I understand that at this stage of the game her situation could change pretty rapidly, I just am beyond-words grateful for her still being here today! That was the only thing I wanted this Christmas. (World peace would be nice too, but I’ll settle for a snuggle next to the fireplace with Woo.)

Me and my girl

Beach girl


Photos by Images by Isabel. Used by permission.

Hoppy Holidays??

So, I was originally going to post this under a topic on the forums, but then I thought it was maybe a little too off topic, but I still wanted to share:

I’ve never really been a big fan of the holidays — growing up dirt poor, we often didn’t have any money for Christmas, and relied heavily on charity to even have a holiday.  When I first started spending the holidays with my husband’s family, it was a little overwhelming for me — so much holiday cheer.  Really?  People actually enjoying the holidays????  However, these last few years have really put a damper on even their Christmas cheer.

Rio’s cancer treatments have fallen around the holidays — radiation for Christmas 2007 and surgery and chemo around the holidays in 2009.  Three years ago this week our beloved cousin lost her battle with breast cancer.   Last Christmas, we weren’t sure if my husband’s grandmother would make it to Christmas following a spill (and subsequent head injury) on Thanksgiving day.  And my husband had just lost his job.  And, this year, I am still worried that Rio might not make it to the holidays, plus my husband is still unemployed.  Merry Christmas to us.

Now to my point in all of this:  In this life, there are things you can control, and others that you can’t.  Although I’ve been feeling very bah-humbug-ish, I had a bit of an ah-ha moment this afternoon after one of my Tripawds friends asked me about holiday traditions that got me into the spirit.  I got to thinking about my favorite Christmas tradition — putting up our tree.  We don’t do theme trees at our house — all of our ornaments are specific to an event, a time, a place, something special for each year.  The year we went to France, I bought a blown glass Eiffel Tower.  Australia, I bought a kangaroo carved out of some strange palm tree.  The year we got Rio, I have a little brown and black puppy ornament.  You get the picture — our tree is like a journal, and every year, it’s like getting to read and remember only the happy moments.

In thinking about this tradition, I had a small epiphany — this will likely be my last Christmas with Rio, and, damn it, I want it to be the best one she’s/I’ve ever had.  Not in terms of gifts, because dog knows we can’t afford that, but in terms of the holiday spirit.  I want lots of warm and fuzzy memories to carry me through the dark days ahead.    I’m going to listen to my Tripawd Warrior Code and live in the moment.  I may not get to “It’s a Wonderful Life” kind of bliss, but I will make it through the next few weeks without gagging and bah-humbugging on “holiday spirit.”  (Although if I hear one more TV or radio commercial butcher some poor innocent and unsuspecting Christmas song, I may rethink this whole thing.)

Feeeeeed meeeeeeee!!!

I mentioned in my last post, that we’d started feeding Rio 4 times a day as a means to compensate for slower processing in the ol’ puppy pooper.  Between that and the (almost) cup of pumpkin a day, it seems to be helping — we’ve not had any more vomiting for several weeks, and she’s struggling less when she goes #2!  That’s the good news…  The bad news is….   I have created a monster.  She’s decided that 4 meals a days isn’t nearly enough, and is lobbying hard for additional portions.   She is eating us out of house and home.  She doesn’t seem to be gaining any weight with all the additional meals which is a little troublesome, and I can definitely feel the “bad guy” in the V between her stomach and her hip, but looking at this from a purely “happy in the moment” point of view (which, I’ll admit is pretty rare), she is doing really good.  Maybe even great.  She’s been funny and playful and spirited, and yes, demanding, these last couple of weeks.   And so, I say, if the appetite is good, and she wants to eat, I will feed her.  I love this monster!!!

Keep it down. Can't you people see I'm trying to sleep.

 

I’m thankful…

A couple of weeks ago, I was wondering if Rio would make it to Thanksgiving.  She was doing poorly, and I was freaking out.

She threw up nearly every day for almost a week and a half.  Some days more than once.  We made some adjustments to her care — it’s obvious that the tumor in her lymph node has grown larger and is putting pressure on her colon.  So, we went to a four-times-per-day feeding schedule to slow down her intake.  A little less food to digest at any given time…  I also have taken her completely off dry food — she is only getting my special “soup,” fresh, cooked meat, pumpkin, and “wet” food (Wysong makes one that only has meat, liver and water) and Honest Kitchen.  We also are giving her Pepcid morning and night instead of just once a day.  And I took her off the Meloxicam, because that can cause stomach upset.

With all of these changes, we’re not exactly sure which did the trick, only that it worked.  Because now, she’s back to her normal self.  Her appetite is insane (you’d think I never feed this dog…  EVER!).  She opened a can of whuppass on Tosca yesterday, because T thought she’d help Rio with her lunch.  Today, she played chase with her friend Rayna around the house for a bit after dinner.

And for this, I’m thankful.  Whatever comes tomorrow, at least I had today, and it was good.

Happy Turkey Day!!!

Ruff days….

The last few days have been pretty stressful here at Casa de Perro.  Rio’s cough has gotten more prolific over the past few weeks, and her Dr say that she’s hearing a lot more “noise” in the lungs.  To make matters worse, Rio’s been vomiting almost daily for the last week. I’ve struggled to maintain a positive outlook, but have mentally bounced back and forth between “she must have gotten into something in the yard (since Zeffy barfed on one of those days too)” to “we are winding down to the end………….”

Today things are a little better.  Rio hasn’t thrown up for more than 24 hours, and you have no idea how much relief this brings.  I spoke with her vet this evening.  Her chem panel actually was pretty good.  Her red counts are a teensy elevated, and the Dr thinks its because Rio’s a little dehydrated.  Makes sense cuz of the throwing up…..  So, we’re gonna “spike” her water with broth (she LOVES this) and we’re going to put her on a really bland diet for a few days until her tummy feels better.  Her Dr also recommeded upping her Pepcid to twice a day.

Right now, she’s asleep on the couch, and aside from the kicking and twitching, she’s sleeping peacfully.  Me, on the other hand, I f*$%ing hate this roller coaster…  I’m taking deep breaths, and trying to live in the moment.  I’m trying so hard to focus on her quality of life.  But all this worrying is gonna give me an ulcer (and let’s not even talk about how many new grey hairs)….  I wish I knew for certain if this was just a bump in the road or something worse.  I wish I could forget all this nonsense and just look at my Rio as if she were invincible and immortal — the way I look at the Monkeygirls.   I wish I wasn’t thinking in this vein, but this has been a really long journey for us….  And we’re both tired.

In the meantime, anybody got a good recipe for carpet cleaner????

Puppy Up!

Rio watching the Disc Dogs do their thing.

We just got home from today’s walk.  It wasn’t a huge turn out, but this foundation has only been in existence since the inaugural walk of 2008, when man and dog walked from Austin to Boston to raise awareness for canine cancer. I think in a few years, it will gain momentum and attendance, because there was serious dedication from the folks that were there.

We arrived and checked in, got our t-shirts and a special light blue cancer survivor bandana for Rio and dark blue bandanas  for the two Monkeybutts.  We didn’t wear them, instead we opted for the pink Puppy Up bandanas that I had purchased a while back.  Rio wore her Tripawds bandana, but then switched to her cape and tiara before the walk started.  (A star always needs a wardrobe change!)  And the humans wore our Tripawds Have a Ball! Team Tripawd shirts!

We got a chance to meet fellow Tripawd Kess and her Disc Dog posse, and they wowed us with their Frisbee tricks.  Those dogs seriously catch some air!!!!!  I expected to be impressed with her athleticism and speed, but I was bowled over.  I KNEW she was a Tripawd, and yet I could easily forget that fact as I watched her move and leap.  I have to say, I was so inspired by her that it brought tears to my eyes.

We played a little in the off-leash area with our friends Rayna and Yoshi, and then it was time to start the walk.  We found out when we registered that our C0-Canine Marshall, Jetson’s mom was hospitalized for a really bad case of strep the night before the walk, so they weren’t able to attend.  It was just Rio and her human cancer survivor counterpart, Shani.  When we were swapping stories, it was ironic how nearly identical their paths were, except for the type of cancer.   The walk coordinator introduced Shani and Rio, and then I shared Rio’s story.  I did pretty good, only getting a little caught up in it towards the end, and I must have struck a chord with the crowd because I could see quite a few people dabbing at tears as I wrapped up.  Then Shani told her story and cut the ribbon (yellow caution tape — I found that kinda funny), and we were off.

The trail ran through the park, following the curves of the White River.  The air was crisp and the leaves were falling….  All in all, I doubt Mother Nature could have dialed up a better day.  As we walked, several people caught up with us and we got to hear their dogs’ (past and present) cancer stories.  We talked up Tripawds — our sign and banner got lots of conversations started.

And now we are home, with full bellies and I hear a lot of snoring…  The girls had a very busy day.  It’s not easy being so adored by so many…  Here are a few more photos from today:

 

Group photo - Rio's posse

That's PRINCESS Grand Marshall to you, Monkeybutts!

 

Waiting for the walk to start.

My pretty girl.

Mom and the girls. (Read the sign, Monkeydogs!)

Monkeybutt Zephyr

Monkeybutt Tosca