Our last Sasha update was Jan 6th. Since then, Sasha has had 2 more check-ups/treatments. And she has been doing well, for the most part.
Her check up on January 23rd showed no disease progression since December 2013. This was such awesome news!
Her next checkup was on February 21st. Putting her on the scale revealed that she had lost 2.2 lbs since her visit in January. Her appetite had been good, so we attribute the weight loss to decreased activity, and a loss of muscle.
Sasha and daddy at NCSU:
On Wednesday March 19th, we’ll be heading to Pennsylvania. We are visiting Carlos’ mom who has been ill, and we will be taking Sasha for a visit/check-up at Penn Vet. Last time we were at Penn was in September. This is the longest time between visits to PA, and we are excited to see how Sasha will react to seeing Dr. Mason again. I am sure it will be a treat for Sasha to see her favorite doctor.
Sasha has been enjoying going for rides in her garden cart:
We do get her out of the cart and let her do whatever she feels up to at the time, and what she feels up to often surprises us. Check her out at Mordecai:
And at a school near our house where we often take her and Argus for short strolls:
Sasha has been eating well; here she is, enjoying a Taco:
Update within an update:
This post was supposed to go live several days ago. We had planned on writing, basically what you’ve already read above, and maybe adding another photo or two. Unfortunately, Sasha has taken us for a bit of a ride over the past couple of weeks. She seemed uncomfortable for a few days, and experienced a loss of appetite. She also started coughing, which of course, made us think about the tumors that had developed in her lungs. We decided to let her ride it out for a little and see how things progressed. Happily, Sasha started to feel better. She was getting up to greet us when we got home from work, which had not happened for a little while. She was getting around much better in the yard, and at the neighborhood park. Carlos even decided to see how she would react to seeing her Kong flying disk, and she was amazing. As soon as she saw what Carlos had in his hand, she turned on her laser focus and locked on to the disk. Carlos got her worked up a bit and then tossed the disk just a few feet away. It was amazing, Sasha got up and took off after the disk Carlos threw the disk once more, and then finished the game with a little tug-of-war. We cannot tell you the happiness that seeing Sasha go after her flying disk brought to our hearts.
Sadly, after the awesome day with the flying disk, Sasha, again, seemed to feel under the weather. She would often be restless while laying on one of the dog beds. She sort of spins herself around in circles seemingly in search of a comfortable spot and position, but she never quite seems to find the perfect bump to lay her head on, or valley to sink her body into. Carlos usually likes to help Sasha get up when it’s time to go outside to do her business (we have slippery floors), and she usually does her 50% of the work to get up, but recently she hasn’t seemed very motivated to go outside.
Even though Sasha is not showing a great deal of motivation to go outside, she does not seem depressed either, and is still very much interested in what we are doing, and what we might have in our hands. Carlos often tells me that she’s always listening attentively to what I’m doing when out in the kitchen or another room, and I see the same thing in her when Carlos is the one in another room. Her appetite has change a little. She’s very interested in treats and human food, but in the mornings she sometimes does not finish her regular food. One good thing is that the cough she had only occurred a couple of times in the morning and she has not coughed again. We are hoping this is good news. And we are hoping that now that she is no longer on Cephalexin, that she will bounce back to normal in a couple of days. She was on Cephalexin because she broke a nail and hurt one of her toes. To prevent infection, the Dr. prescribed antibiotics and this particular one can cause upset stomach even if its taken with food.
If being off the Cephalexin does not help, then I’m afraid that Sasha’s discomfort if the result of something more serious. To help her with this, we are not sure if we should increase her pain meds and/or maybe also add some radiation treatment to her arm (no more radiation to her back end). It is difficult to think this way, but we need to consider whether or not it is worth putting Sasha through more treatments (and recover from those treatments) just to buy her a few more weeks. We have to realize that when we think of buying her more time, we may actually be thinking more about buying US more time with her. We want to do what is best for our girl, no matter how difficult it is on us. If we had our way, Sasha would be with us forever!
We will write again soon to let you all know how Sasha is doing, and what her next step will be.
Sasha has this new thing that she likes to do. Or, at least, she gives me the impression that she enjoys doing it. I call it flying peepees.
When Liliana and I get home from work, we each have our jobs to do. Actually, it starts at the end of our road. When I turn on to our road, I accelerate to about 35 mph, (the posted speed limit) and then put the car into neutral and coast all the way to our driveway. Stealth is the name of the game, and only when we reach our driveway do I need to shift into 1st gear and zoom up the hill. Almost simultaneously, when the car comes to a stop, I turn the ignition off and pull the key out, pull the handbrake up and open my door. Liliana is also hurriedly exiting the vehicle at this same time. As I walk the few steps from my car to the house, I find the house key and bring it into position to slide into the keyhole. The key goes in, I twist and the tumblers slide and fall and the door opens. I dance my way in through the tangle of dogs with Liliana no more than a pace behind. We are moving as quickly as possible while doing our best to avoid stepping on any of the sixteen quickly moving paws of Argus, Alli, Tommy and Shelby. I take the western route past the dining table while Liliana takes the eastern pass and opens the French doors to the backyard releasing the long-cooped up pack. As the last of the dogs, usually Argus, flies off the deck stairs, I am speeding back through the dining area with Sasha in my arms. I never know how far I’ll make it. Sometimes I don’t make it off the deck, and sometimes I almost make all the way to the back fence when it happens. FLYING PEEPEES!!!!
I think Sasha’s aerial urination practice began one day when we took a little too long getting home, and she just couldn’t wait for me to put her down on the grass – or whatever the green stuff is that we have growing in our yard. After that time, flying peepees has become a daily practice for Sasha. Sometimes, Sasha will do flying peepees even if she has recently been outside. This is why I have come to the conclusion that Sasha simply enjoys relieving her bladder from a higher place.
The last Sasha update on Lili’s Notes was over three months ago. Sasha had just come back from a visit from Penn Vet from receiving her 5th dose of the vaccine. Needless to say, an update is long overdue.
Here’s a video of her swimming one week before Thanksgiving:
After the last dose of vaccine in September, Sasha was doing very well up until a little before Thanksgiving. Her left leg/pelvis began causing her more pain, and walking had become a little difficult for Sasha. It was time for more radiation.
We spent Thanksgiving in Hagerstown, MD with one of Carlos’ cousins and his grandfather. We had a great time, and so did the dogs. I’m sure Sasha would have been a little happier if not for the pain that she was obviously feeling. She spent most of her time lying around instead of enjoying the cold weather. As we’ve mentioned before, Sasha comes alive when the mercury drops.
When we were back in NC, I scheduled Sasha to receive radiation at NCSU on December 2nd because she was already scheduled to receive Zolindronate on that day, but unfortunately it could not be done. She received radiation on the 3rd and 4th that week. Unfortunately for Sasha, this meant that she’d be at NCSU 3 days in a row! Sasha was not happy at all. In fact, she was quite miserable for having to go 3 days in a row, and the treatment did a number on her. Our girl normally bounces back quickly after her treatments and is usually back to normal within a week, but this time it took her longer to bounce back. Sadly, the radiation didn’t seem to help relieve Sasha’s pain as much as it usually did. Also, the radiation seems to be causing problems in Sasha’s colon. For several days after the radiation, Sasha would feel that she had to poop, even if she didn’t need to. She strained, and this caused her to bleed. After several medications, pumpkin, and time, she started to feel much better. Two weeks after the radiation, Sasha had to go back in for blood tests to see if she could continue taking Palladia – which she had started between her last vaccine on September 19th, and her radiation, December 2nd. The decision was made to discontinue the Palladia.
By the week before Christmas, Sasha was back to normal, or as normal as she can be at this point. On Saturday, December 21st we took her and Tommy swimming. It had been a while. Here’s a video of her swimming:
Since then, Sasha has been doing OK. The progression of the disease is obvious, and the symptoms are difficult to witness. Sasha almost never bears weight on her left leg any more, and she has started to roll her foot in a way that causes her to step on her knuckles instead of the pads of her foot. However, she has stopped bearing weight on her left foot, and steps on her knuckles instead. We believe this is probably due to the tumor pressing against her spine.
On Monday, December 30th, she went in for Zolendronate, Carboplatin and some blood which came back looking good. She was a bit under the weather on Tuesday, December 31st, but she’s back to ‘normal’ again.
With Sasha not bearing weight on her left foot and therefore not using that leg much, she doesn’t walk as much as she did just a little over a month ago. But please don’t think that Sasha is just lying around all the time. This girl gets up and ‘runs’ when she feels like it…if she’s not up to it, she knows that mom and dad will pick her up and take her outside to enjoy fresh air and/or do her business.
Now that taking long walks is not really an option for Sasha, we’ve started to use something to help her enjoy outings to some of her favorite places.
Out for a Christmas walk:
Yeap, she is in a Gorilla garden cart. I’ll write a short post about Sasha’s Gorilla cart in the near future.
Along with going for walks in the park and playing in the snow, swimming is one of Sasha’s favorite activities. We’ve shared with you all, in the past, that she loves to swim, but we have not shared what has become her favorite pool toy.
That big eyed, silly looking thing, is Sasha’s addiction when she is at the pool! It’s a battery operated, swimming puppy: The “Rescue Pets Swim to Me Puppy”. It is a children’s toy, and is not meant to stand up to bulldog jaws, but Sasha just loves it so much. We’ll keep bringing it to the pool for her until it no longer floats (it currently has a big gaping wound on the top of it’s head). Actually, the brown one in the photos is her second one. Sasha’s first experience with these puppies was with a white and black one that Lap it Up had for visiting dogs to play with. The owners of Lap it Up saw how much Sasha loved the puppy that they gave it to her! Sasha did a number on that one!
And her swimming buddy, Tommy, is not afraid of sharks. As you can see by his diving into the pool so close to one
Here are a couple videos of Sasha’s last swim session, but sadly, no puppy. More to come with the puppy
Hi everybody. I wanted to give you all an update on Sasha. I’m happy to say that she is doing very well. Her left leg continues to be a little painful, but she is getting around just fine. The last few days have been particularly good. I think part of it is that Liliana and I are back to a normal work schedule, and when we return home (we commute together), Sasha greets us with all the other dogs by barking and making a variety of sounds to express her displeasure with us for having been away for too long! She has a bit of a temper when she is upset. She then trots over to us for a quick pet, and then runs to the French doors to be let out in the back yard. All the other dogs do the same thing, but Sasha is COMPETITIVE, and she barks and tries to work her way to the front of the pack. Liliana and I are afraid that she will get knocked over and hurt by the other dogs, but you should see the excitement and intensity in her eyes! She continues to surprise and amaze us!
I wrote, in my last post, that Sasha would be going back to UPenn to be re-vaccinated. Liliana and Sasha made the trip on their own this time. They arrived in Philly on Wednesday, September 18th, and spent the night in a hotel. Sasha has always enjoyed hotels, but this time was her first time being in one without the whole family. From what Liliana told me, Sasha didn’t seem to mind.
The next morning, the girls headed out to the hospital. As usual, Sasha was super happy to see Dr. Mason. Liliana captured this short video of their reunion on her phone.
The re-vaccination went well. In Sasha’s discharge papers, Dr. Mason wrote “Sasha tolerated her 5th vaccination relatively well.” As expected, Sasha developed a fever, and in fact, it was the highest fever recorded in any dog participating in the trial. The fever was brought down by the use of fluids and anti-inflammatory treatment. Sasha also vomited several times, but this was brought under control with an anti-emetic. Dr. Mason wrote, “Her white blood cell changes today are not typical of what we usually see, and one possible explanation is that her immune response is somewhat suppressed by her tumor burden. Her clinical signs following vaccination, however, do indicate that her immune system was able to ‘see’ the vaccine, and respond in the immediate post-vaccination period”.
Liliana and Sasha said their goodbyes to Dr. Mason on Friday, 20Sep, and started driving to Hagerstown, MD to spend the night with my aunt and my grandfather. Sasha enjoyed being out in the yard in the cool air, but I think, even more than that, she enjoyed the food! She got to eat some Lil’ Wieners, Lil’ Smokies, Cuban chicken salad, and some of her mom’s taco! She was spoiled, but that’s ok – she’s been through a lot.
I was very happy to see my girls return on Saturday. I missed them, but I know that they had a good time out on the road, in the hotel, and at my aunt’s house. Plus, Sasha got to see her friend, Dr Mason. I know that made her happy. We know the disease is progressing, but we hope that, along with Sasha’s strong spirit and stubbornness, the vaccine will help keep her with us for longer. For now, we’re just going to keep enjoying life.
Hi everybody. It is time for another Sasha update. The first thing that I want to tell you all is that September 14, 2013 marks eighteen months since Sasha’s amputation. We certainly are not celebrating the amputation, but we are so happy to still have Sasha with us. She wasn’t supposed to survive this long, but Sasha is a fighter! She is a strong and stubborn girl, and she doesn’t know how to give up. We love Sasha so much, and we will continue to be by her side every step of the way and help her as best we can. Thank you to everyone who comes here and reads this blog and sends their love, thoughts and prayers. We all hope that medical intervention helps our loved ones feel better and live longer, but I think that love may be the most powerful medicine, anesthetic and motivation to keep going that there is. Every day that Sasha continues to beat the odds is a gift that will last us a lifetime. Here’s to more months!!
On with the update – Sasha has been feeling well and has been much more active than she had been a few weeks ago. I think the palliative radiation did its magic, and now Sasha is very mobile once again. I still like to help her down the deck stairs to do her business, but sometimes she is simply too fast for me to catch when I open the door to the backyard. She has been a little spoiled when it comes to eating, but you’ll read more about that in a bit.
Sasha is going back to UPenn to see her friend, Dr. Mason, and to be re-vaccinated. I am sure Sasha will be so excited to see Dr. Mason as she always is. Liliana and Sasha will be making the trip to PA on their own this time due to my work, the short notice of this visit, and all of our other dogs needing care. I wish I could go, but I know that Liliana and Sasha will have a great mother-daughter bonding experience during their time together at the hotel and on the road.
Since it is late on Tuesday night, and the girls head out for PA tomorrow, I am going to copy and paste an e-mail here that I recently sent to Dr. Mason. I sent the e-mail on September 10 (Sasha has continued to improve since this e-mail).
Hi Dr. Mason. I am forwarding you radiographs of Sasha that were taken at NCSU on 06Sep2013. They also did a bone scan; you may be able to request those views if you like (you certainly have my permission if that is needed). The news is not good. It appears that your suspicions were correct. The doctors at NCSU say that Sasha has a lesion on her humerus, and that her femur and pelvis look worse. The way that Dr. Wilcox explained the lesion on Sasha’s humerus is basically this: If it were not for the fact that she knows Sasha has osteosarcoma, she would not feel certain about what she sees on the radiographs. It is only because she knows Sasha’s condition that she feels confident that the cancer has spread to Sasha’s humerus.
Sasha went in for palliative radiation to her rear this past Friday, and for her humerus this past Monday. So far, we cannot really tell how much better Sasha is feeling, if at all, due to the radiation. She is using her special manipulative powers to gain sympathy from Liliana and me. Here is the story with that: Sasha has been whimpering a lot since we brought her home on Friday, and even more after Monday’s session at NCSU. She has been looking at us with a sort of empty expression and parted lips so that her gums are visible. When I brought her home on Friday, I was very concerned because she refused to use her legs. I assisted her in the house and in the yard via her harness, and her rear legs were absolutely jello-like. Her feet were limp, and they actually turned so that the top sides rolled and dragged as I assisted her around the house. Now, here is the other side of the story: After seeing how bad Sasha looked, I was scared and my sister and I were talking about how she looked. Liliana walked past us into our bedroom and I guess she took too long for Sasha’s liking, because to my sister’s and my amazement, there went Sasha. She was doing her three legged gallop in search of Liliana!! There’s more. Sasha seems to only whimper when someone is with her. If she is left alone in a room, the whimpering mysteriously stops! She seems to have no appetite unless there is Feta cheese in her kibble, or some very special soft food mixed in with her kibble. For this special treat, she came galloping out to eat with the rest of the pack – something we have not had her do for a few days. It seems that the right motivation makes her legs feel better and her appetite improve!
So, as I said earlier, and as I told Dr. Mason, Sasha is feeling much better than she had been. We’ve taken her out to a couple parks, and she has really enjoyed herself. The weather is cooling down, so that will help perk Sasha up, too! We’ll write again soon to let you know how Sasha’s trip to PA goes. Wish her well!