A quick update…

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Hi all,

First off, I wanted to let you all know how much the outpouring of support has meant to us.  It’s been a rough couple of days (for me), and I really have been buoyed up by the “Tripawds Cheer Squad.”  It’s one thing to have support from friends, but its another to have the support from people who’ve “been there” or are currently experiencing a lot of the same things we’re going through.

Secondly, I wanted to give a quick update…  Rio’s cytology came back yesterday, and there were no big surprises.  It was simply a confirmation of what we already suspected.  After two nights of Google-mania, I have decided that we will give the Kinivet (masitinib) a try.  We’ll monitor CBC and some protein-urine thing and recheck her ultrasound in 3-4 weeks.  If at that time there doesn’t seem to be a significant reason to continue the meds, then we will stop.  Fortunately, Rio has a wonderful dog-ter friend who has offered to get me the meds at cost, since they are newly approved and quite expensive.

Rio will also need to take benedryl and pepcid everyday from now on.  There is a significant risk of degranulation, in which the Mast Cells basically explode and send histamines rampaging through the body.  The risk at this stage is pretty high for stomach ulcers, bleeding, and anaphylactic shock, so the meds are precautionary. The benedryl makes her pretty sleepy, but I think the extra naps are good for her.  (Gayle said so!)

When Rio started this journey at the beginning of this year, I told my husband I wanted to do a road trip with Rio.  I’ve always wanted to see the Grand Canyon, and I want her to be there with me when I do.  This summer has been pretty busy, and it’s been easy to make excuses for why it wasn’t possible to do this trip — who would take care of my clients, water my garden, where’s the gas money coming from, etc.  I want you all to know, we are going!  We are making the final plans and arrangements, but we are going.  We’ll probably leave in a couple of weeks, stop and see some family and friends along the way, but Grand Canyon or Bust!!!!  Those squirrels better look out!!!

The Wooooo!

 


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Not my favorite day….

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I took Rio in this morning for her 4 month ultrasound recheck.  If you’ve been following my occasionally very rambling posts, I will  apologize in advance for their lengthy nature.  This one may very likely take on a life of it’s own….  Enter at your own risk.

The outcome of a 4 hour wait at the vet’s is that her cancer has come back.  Given my less than sunny nature, I can’t say that I wasn’t sort of anticipating the worse, especially given how AWFUL (no drama here, seriously) this entire year has been for our whole family — in fact, I  spent several hours googling like crazy yesterday in order to prepare myself should the worst occur.  But it still was a punch in the stomach when the vet tech took me into a room to hear the outcome of the results…

At Summit, most of the interaction between the client and the dog-ters and techs takes place in the waiting room.  Symptoms are discussed, courses of treatment, surgical outcomes, etc. — quite fascinating to me, an unabashed people watcher — but if it’s really bad news, they take you into an exam room.  They don’t tell you going in that its gonna be bad news, but trust me, I’ve spent enough hours here to know, watched enough comings and goings, seen the devastation on people’s faces.  I know that if you go into the room, nothing good is going to come from it.

As usual, I digress (or maybe its just stalling tactics.  If I don’t type it, then it isn’t true…. but, sadly, it is…..).  Rio’s cancer has reemerged in the form of an enlarged lymph node and “suspicious” activity in her spleen.  For Mast Cell cancer, this is “normal.”  This is what it does.  It moves to the spleen, the liver and then into the bone marrow as a form of basophilic leukemia.  Some of the niggling little things I’ve been noticing lately — the persisant cough, her being out-of-breath following any sort of activity, the weird, lumpy bruise along her scar that a quarter-sized piece of skin peeled off of — these were starting send up red flags in my little pea-brain.  Enough to send me running for my computer and re-reading a lot of my original research.  Turns out, most of these “nothings” were actually symptoms that could be contributed to mild granulation — when the mast cells start breaking free of the tumors and moving about the body.  And while they “could be,” I held on to the hope that they could also be symptoms of other less life-altering things.  The cough, it could be allergies.  It’s been a weird summer weather-wise.  We planted a new garden.  There could be more/new dusts, molds, plants, etc.  The bruising could be a spider bite or other insect.  I was hoping, hoping, hoping that I would be able to post this evening:  Rio’s Ultrasound Results Were Clear!!!!  But this has SOOOO not been our year….

I was still thinking positive and was actually quite cheerful when the vet tech came and said the doctor had my results and would go over them in the exam room, and then I faltered.  I looked down at my little girl, and she looked up at me and said, “Come on, mom!  They have cookies in that room!”  And the whole time the dog-ter was giving me the run-down on options and treatments and time lines and quality of life, Rio kept shifting in the room to catch her eye.  “Did you not see me sitting here?!  Why are you NOT giving me cookies?  Hellll-llo!!!”  Even while the tears were falling, I kept laughing at her and her less-than-subtle begging!  That’s my Woo…  She never forgets a place that someone may have given her a cookie!  It might have been years ago!!!  And even if, in my opinion, it was less than optimal circumstances that put her in said place.

As a wrap-up, I could apologize for the lengthy nature of this blog post, however, let it not be said that I led you into it without a warning.  I had a boss once who always got impatient with my project updates (not sure why…), and would always ask for the “net-net.”  Well, here it is:  The enlarged lymph node was aspirated, and we’ll get cytology back shortly (hopefully before the end of the week), but our oncologist is pretty certain that it is metastatic MCT.  The “grainy” texture of her spleen has gotten worse, and her adrenal gland has a “mass.”  Because the lymph node has changed since her last US (April), the change has either occurred while she was still on chemo, or has appeared post-chemo (in the last month).  Neither of these situations is optimal.

My take on these findings:  She’s always had a somewhat grainy appearance to her spleen, and has had cytology done every single time she’s undergone an ultrasound.  I’m hoping that this is just more of the same.  Her adrenal glands were different sized last time around as well, and although they usually see both of them enlarged with pituitary Cushings (and this is what we’re assuming Rio has), they weren’t overly concerned with their appearance last time ’round.  I’m hoping that when they measure and compare, it won’t be too much more concerning this time.  As for the lymph node, you can be certain that I have used my share of expletives (no children were present).  Rest assured that we are still fighting!!!  The options keep getting slimmer, but I’m not giving up on my girl!  Mainly because that would constitute acknowledging that I am coward and life has beaten me, and I’m not quite there yet.  However, I can use any and all support that you might feel inclined to shoot our way.  I am certain that Rio will fight her way through all of this, as she has managed to do for the past 4+ years, however I am only human, and I am struggling to be as strong as my little rock(head).

Give your pups an extra large hug for us tonight!

Rio’s momma

 

PS:  If any of have any firsthand knowledge about Kinivet (masitinib) and/or chlorambucil, please send me a PM.