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1st Oncology Visit

It’s been a couple days since Ellie rejoined the pooper club, and it’s gone pretty dang smooth… Except for it freaking snowing every other day (Spring pleeease hurry up).

woke up to 5 inches of fresh snow. I’m over it.

We have our routine worked out, and there have been no accidents since. She has also started laying on the carpet again (but still says no to her fancy bed). She’s moving around fantastic, but definitely tires out pretty quick. She will need to stay pretty mellow for the next week, but after that we will start going on short walks, and slowly increasing the duration (vet said to start with 5-10 minutes, then add ~5 minutes a day, but watch carefully and pull back if she shows any signs of being uncomfortable that night or next day). Since she’s bound to get a little cabin fever over this next week I’ve made sure to have a selection of mental stimulation toys on the ready. I’ve already shown ya’ll the woof pupsicle, but I also made a snuffle mat for her to search for bits of her daily meal. I made it out of one of the sides of those metal cubes that use to be all the rage because you could arrange them however you wanted? along with some scrap fleece and t-shirts. I think I’ll have to make a few more, she loves the current one, but it only takes about 5 minutes to find all the goodies. Any other ideas for mental stimulation? I’ve hidden food around the house/wrapped it in a towel for her to find, but always looking for more ideas!

Ellie’s Snuffle Mat!

Yesterday we went for a little car ride, because I wanted to test if I would need help getting her into my SUV for the appointment we had today. I got this ridiculously long (7.25 feet!) ramp. Glad I did, because it’s still a decent incline, but Ellie (with my guiding/supporting in the harness) gets in semi-easily. It really shines when she gets out, I’m able to support with a harness so no heavy bounces down. Anyway, so since I already had her loaded up we went for a drive. She tried to stand for a little bit, but thankfully laid down and enjoyed the views comfortably.

Today is exactly a week since Ellie’s amputation and she is currently at CSU for the first step in the clinical trial she is in. They are giving her the study drug called Vismodegib orally and then doing an 8 hour serial blood collection to evaluate the safety and molecular effects of the drug. Vismodegib is currently used to treat humans with basal cell carcinoma that has spread to other parts of the body. From the study: “It appears that canine and human osteosarcoma, like human basal cell carcinoma, rely on a cell signaling pathway called the Hedgehog pathway (which is inhibited by vismodegib) for cell growth, survival and spread, treatment with vismodegib results in delayed osteosarcoma spread.”. In 2 weeks she will start the traditional chemotherapy Carboplatin, while also taking vismodegib daily. This study is top heavy- we will be going in every week for the first 5 weeks to do blood work, most of these will be short 1 hour visits except for her carboplatin days which will be closer to 4 hours every 3 weeks. I do feel anxiety about putting her in more stressful situations than necessary, and fear that this drug will have adverse effects. With that said, I never want to say no to treatment based on financial costs. Full disclosure between the diagnostic testing, surgery, and hospital stay I am close to spending $6,000.00 already. For a dog Ellie’s size chemotherapy would be over $5,000.00. This clinical trial will allow me to go ahead and get a PT appointments for Ellie without having to crunch numbers as well as taking some well deserved time off for her and I to enjoy whatever time the world decides to give us. It also allows for money for future appointments as well. Even if everything goes swimmingly, Ellie will need x-rays multiple times a year to check for lung mets so being prepared for that is necessary. Another alternative reason I went with the clinical trial was it bumped me up the lists. When I originally called CSU for an oncology consult they were booked out almost a month, but when I did a consult for the trial, I was able to get in, in less than a week and her amputation a week after that. It also gets Ellie seen by some of the best veterinarians in the country. So yes I am anxious, but also very confident in my decision.

her bandana reads “Cancer Researcher”

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6 thoughts on “1st Oncology Visit”

  1. I can’t say thanks enough for sharing your journey with Ellie through this tough time. Your story has truly been an inspiration and beacon of hope to my family as we embark on this journey. Probably 10 times in the past day have I said to my wife, “Ellie looks like she’s doing good, etc”. She knows exactly who I’m talking about – lol

    It’s funny you are working with CSU as when I started researching this issue they kept coming up. They have the name Flint so I thought they might be in Flint Michigan near me, but it was Colorado. The wife was like, “let’s go!”

    I completely understand the money portion of all this. Between Riley’s surgery and the pilot immunotherapy program, we will be looking in the $10,000 range. Maybe more. I feel deep down that I’m going to give him the best chance I can to live as long as he can. (comfortably)

    Luckily, between my father and me, I was able to come up with that money, but it is still very stressful.

    I’m so glad you are able to get some financial help during this time.

    Yesterday, Riley grabs a toy and brings it up to us to play which was nice. He really hasn’t been in a playful mood as I’m sure his leg is bothering him.

    We chuckled like he knew what was coming up and was like, “see, I’m good. no need for drastic measures”

    Please keep sharing and our family wishes you the best of luck going forward.

    Take care,


    1. Hey Bill! That warms my heart! Thanks for keeping an eye out for her 🙂 🙂
      That is hilarious! I would have made the same assumption as well. CSU has so many differently named buildings, mostly donors I suspect.
      The cost is no joke- I actually looked up a couple pet insurances to see if it would have been worthwhile to have- Ellie hasn’t had a single vet visit outside of preventative care but even with that if I had gotten it when she was a puppy I would have spent 2500-5000 up to now (at 7 years old) in premiums to get 10k of annual coverage… definitely something I will seriously consider in the future.
      Ugh- I can’t wait for the days when Ellie brings her monkey demanding to play fetch again… we aren’t there yet, but it’s coming! I’m glad Riley was up for it, also remember if he is on Gabapentin, that has a sedative effect so that might be more what is bringing down his playful moods 🙂
      Thank you for all your kind words. Riley is in my thoughts- wishing him healthy vibes and more playful moods.

  2. She looks so happy to be out in the world! I’m impressed she did the ramp, what a good girl. Must’ve been really excited to get out again even with all that snow. What a crazy dump you guys got!

    You should feel really good about being at CSU. They are brilliant and so compassionate! The treatment she is getting will help in so many ways. She’s a science dog!!

    Hope we get to meet you guys when we return to FoCo in summer. I want to smoooooooch your beautiful warrior!

    Paws crosssed for smooth sailing.

    1. Thanks Jerry!
      I feel incredibly lucky to be going to CSU. They have been a dream to work with, and I know that’s not always the norm mostly due to lack of qualified veterinarians so to have so many in abundance is not taken for granted in the slightest.
      Oh how fun! I hope we can meet up for sure! when do you usually pass through?

  3. Somehow mopizsec this post earlier. So for now, will just say that glad everything is working out for Ellie.
    For you and Bill both, please know you are doing everything possible for Ellie and Riley. Many people aren’t even able to garner enough finances for amputation surgery, much less ” normal” chemo. And I know all too well how devastating it can be to not be financially able to give care options, testing, scans, MRI, etc.
    Soooo….. point being, even though it’s a financial struggle you have figured out ways to leave no stone unturned and you will never jave any regrets about that.
    As always, love pictures nof Ellie and I k ow she will be playing with her toys soon…..and we want pictures!
    Sally and Alumni Happy Hannah and Merry Myrtle and Frankie too!

    1. Thank you for the kind words and encouragement Sally! It so very much appreciated ❤️❤️❤️

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