Friday, December 21, 2012

It's over

It is with a heavy heart that I report that my precious baby Jake passed away on Tuesday Dec 18. He became weak over the weekend and by Monday was vomiting, unable to stand or hold up his head.  His doctors think he had a reaction to the Chemotherapy, but we cannot be 100% sure. He went into respiratory arrest and  did put up one hell of a fight, but the cancer won the battle.  The cyberknife treatment gave us an additional nine months with him and I would not have traded one second of the time.   We hope our posts here will give encouragement and support to other families who face this type of cancer as well as information on making decisions about treatment for your beloved fur baby.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

7 months post cancer diagnosis- Doing great!


We went away for our honeymoon and Jake was home for 2 weeks without us. His "nanny gail" came to the house several times a day, walked, fed and played with him and he did great!!! We had been so afraid to leave his side- which we haven't done since his cancer diagnosis 7 months ago.

Remarkably we're still seeing improvements - his gait his more steady, eating great, wants to be with us all the time (when he doesn't feel well he would "sulk" in the hallway by himself) and he's taking longer and longer walks now!

He is ready for his 6 month post cyberknife MRI scan to recheck the tumor size and check on his progress. We'll schedule it this week and are eager to find out if the test confirms what we already suspect- that nasty tumor must have shrunk or, as the dr described may be the case, the tumor may have become 'deactivated' by the radiation so its no longer growing or causing the brain to swell. We are beyond happy with the result since cyberknife.

7 months ago my baby dog was lifeless laying flat and couldn't get up. I have had all this extra time with him an it is filled with an awesome quality of life for Jake (and us). Proof of how good he is feeling is last night he made 20 (yes that's T-W-E-N-T-Y) laps around the dining room table during dinner. It was always his habit to make circles around the dining room table to show he was excited about what food was on the table that night for dinner (especially on steak nights!) but I NEVER remember him doing this many laps. He had just taken a good long walk and then ate dinner and then started circling our table hoping for table scraps. Completely amazing! He's not only holding his own - he's still improving little by little.

Will post pix again soon. Big paws up to all Jake's followers. We hope your doggies are doing well too :)

Monday, August 27, 2012

Still doing good!!

Some of Jake's loyal blog friends asked how Jake is doing so we're posting a quick update. He is doing great!!!! He is eating well, taking his walks (slow but consistently getting good exercise) and happily engaged and interested in being with us. He is back to barking at "possible intruders" outside the house and all the animals he sees on tv. His ears are on high alert whenever he sees a bunny in the yard. And he puts on his sweetest begging face everyday sitting next to the dinner table eagerly waiting for a snack to fall his way.

Yesterday we went for a car ride to carvel to get his favorite ice cream and he was in heaven. Yesterday he also got excited when I came home from work and went right over to his tennis ball to ask for play. His personality, though less enthusiastic than before, is still there. He lays on my lap, gives kisses, and "purs" when you pet him. He's happy and we love every minute with him.

We haven't started chemo yet because we need to wait until we are back from our delayed honeymoon. We'll have to watch him carefully during that time and can't risk doing it while away.   He is down to 1/2 a dexamethasone pill daily and we don't intend to lower it any more since he truly seems to need it and it is a small dose. Our strategy that's working thus far is keeping him eating, drinking and going for walks to pee frequently so he doesn't get a UTI again. At the times of the day he has the most energy we take longer walks to help keep his strength up. He still doesn't walk up stairs (although he does this randomly when he feels up to it) but otherwise walks around fine. We lovingly call him "wiggle butt" because he his back end seems to drift as if he needs an alignment still but he makes it work. He has learned to compensate for whatever that tumor is doing to his balance. He is superdoggy after all.

Will post updated pix soon. Best to all fur friends, those present and gone to doggy heaven (RIP Roxy).

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Jake is 10 and doing great!

Jake turned 10 years old and is doing great !!!
On July 8 Jake turned 10 years old and his birthday was even more meaningful than ever this year. It's now been five months since he got sick and three and a half months since he had cyberknife radiation. It's been a rough road but Jake is still smiling and happy and we cannot be more grateful.

He has resumed some interest in playing with his toys and is extremely engaged with us and happy to be 'part of the pack' everyday. He's had some setbacks with urinary accidents as we taper his steroid dose down but generally tolerating it really well. He's now taking .25mg of dexamethasone daily down from needing 1mg daily.

Next stop chemo...... Will update more soon.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Our bestest man at our wedding yesterday- Jake- our Superdoggy
Haven't posted in so long because I was planning my wedding, which was yesterday and it was GREAT! The best news is Jake is doing well and he made it to the wedding and was able to be one of the groomsmen (see above). When we first set our wedding date and then found out Jake's diagnosis we wondered if he would make it. We're SO grateful he is OK and was able to be part of our most special day.

To recap the past month:

Steroid taper:  Memorial Day weekend we attempted to taper again and he reacted the same way, had a really hard time getting up, started throwing up and having urinary accidents in the house. Dr Joseph put him on an antibiotic (even tho bloodwork showed no issues), reverted back up on his steroid dose and he was good as new! With the wedding coming we didn't want to risk him taking a downturn so we didn't initiate another taper but will starting tomorrow. This time we will not let him skip a day of steroid and will try going from 1 full pill, 1/2 pill, 1 pill, 1/2 pill.... to 1/2 pill, 1/2 pill, 1/2 pill, 1 pill and then repeat. We've learned how senisitive he is and that skipping a day of meds is torture for him. A slower taper is better than no taper.

Other updates: The gag/cough thing he was doing is only 1-2 times per day now (best ever), he's willing to go on longer walks but is still slow. He's wagging his tail a lot showing he's happy and wants to spend more time bein in the middle of the family action again rather than going off in the hallway by himself. When family comes over he greets them and wags his tail. He now even barks at the tv again when animals are on- I think either his vision has improved or he is less dizzy so he's able to see the tv more clearly again. He walks more straight, leans on the wall less often but his back end does still drift at times. He's able to stand stronger and pee without us holding him so he doesn't fall over.

Back legs: Jake still doesn't seem to have proper strength or control over his back legs. He won't go up stairs but there are times when he tries. He has started to put his front paws up on the 1st step of the staircase but then stops. A few times I've been able to encourage him strongly to try and he goes up a few steps but seems to be dragging his undercarriage. However 2 days ago he came back from the groomer and was strong enough to walk up 2 flights of stairs completely by himself- totally weird and don't know why. Another reason we know there's a problem with his back legs is because he used to do agility and could jump up very high and he would jump up during dinner time to ask for his carrots. Now he tries to jump but can only lift his front legs and his back legs stay firmly planted on the ground like they're glued down- very weird.

Overall, Jake is a blessing and we are grateful for every moment we have with him. As long as he continues to have more days than not when he's wagging his tail, smiling, happy to see us and eating and drinking well it is a great day!

Friday, May 18, 2012

Jake continues to have good days and bad days.  He will have 3 good days, then a bad day.  A good day is one where he doesn't lean, barks a lot (duh, he's a Sheltie) and wants to go out for a walk. A bad day is one where he leans, looses his balance, vomits, spins in circles, moans in pain and eats very little. He is moving slower than he did before CK, but there is improvement.  He is still on Dexamethasone (steroid) on a tapering dose.  His next step is starting chemo.  We need to make sure he is not vomiting or having diarrhea.  He still has his wonderful personality and still makes me smile everyday.

Friday, May 11, 2012

1st post- cyberknife follow up doctor visit

Driving to 1st follow up

1st follow up done! Jake had his first follow up visit with Dr Joseph this week and the dr was pleased to see his progress. Even though he still leans and is much slower than his normal self he is making good strides. Jake was a trooper, glad he wasn't poked as much as last time but was sad he missed seeing his nurse Emily (her day off).

Not feeling well. The morning we were set to go to the dr follow up Jake got sick in the middle of the night.Truthfully it's unclear if he threw up or had diarrhea because it was hard to tell what we found. If that's the case then this would be the first time ever that he went to the bathroom in the house. Also, he peed in the house first thing in the morning just as we were about to take him outside (He's done this 1 or 2 times since he first got sick but these are the first times in his life he's ever had accidents in the house). Then to cap things off he threw up in the drs office that morning. Not sure what this was all about but he definitely didn't feel too good.

What to expect. The dr wasn't overly concerned about this all and said he will have good days and bad days. He took a blood and urine test to check for infection just to be safe. He says the goal now is to let the steroids buy us time while we wait for the full effects of the cyberknife treatment to set in (which could be several months). We tried lowering his steroid (dexamethasone) to 1 pill per day and he started leaning much more and was having a hard time so the dr said we should give him 2 pills one day and 1 pill the next and then in 2 weeks try to re evaluate. The goal is to get him to the lowest possible dose of steroids.I wish steroids had no negative long term consequences because he is so much better on them and wish he could stay on them forever.

Chemo Discussion. We were supposed to start him on chemo at this visit (hydroxyurea) but considering the diarrhea, throwing up, etc Dr J says we should wait a week and then start him. We're concerned about the potential side effects of chemo but we understand from our reading that dogs handle it much better than humans and if all goes as expected he should take it and not feel sick. More to come on this when we start.....

Had to mention this. We're pleased to say Jake is back to some of his old tricks. Jake always used to place himself right in from of the tv staring at us as if to say "hello don't ignore me, stop looking at the tv and look at me!!" He's still the same old Jake :)