Rosie’s “New Normal” Life

Rosie is not the only dog that has done well on Palladia.  The Today Show did a follow-up story on Palladia.  It is extremely positive.  In my opinion, I think they should have made people aware of some of the most common possible side effects, but said “Buddy” the featured 10-year-old Golden Retriever did not have any.  Anyone researching Palladia needs to be made aware of these side effects and discuss them with their oncologist.  It is still a good video.  Here’s the link to the Today Show Video.

Rosie is doing great.  However, the definition of “normal” has changed in our house as it relates to Rosie and her treatment.  Her daily routine is 4 small meals a day with medicine before, during, and after each one.  The reason she has the 4 small meals is to make it easier on her stomach while she takes Palladia.  My “normal” evening is now spent fixing several “lunches” for Rosie for the next day. 

Since Rosie has to eat and take medicine 4 times per day, we only leave her at home during the day if one of us can go home for lunch.   On the days we can’t make it home for lunch, either she will stay with a family member or she will go to doggie daycare. 

The oncologist said that since her blood counts were normal that it was o.k. for her to be around the other dogs.  The folks at our doggie daycare, Barks 5th Avenue,, have been great.  Rosie always likes going there.  They love her, give her belly rubs, and feed her and give Rosie her medicine during the day.  We are very grateful to their owner because she is the one who first discovered Rosie’s lump.  It was so tiny at that time, I would not have thought anything of it.  Thank goodness she recommended we take Rosie to the vet.  I don’t know where we would be today if she had not notified us.

I feel like our house has turned into Rosie’s pharmacy.   Rosie takes 6 medicines, counting the Palladia.  The other 5 are to prevent side effects from both the cancer and Palladia.  See post “Week 2 after 2nd Palladia Chemo Dose” for a list of her meds.

Life goes on.  I just received Rosie’s Halloween Costume in the mail.  It is sooooo cute….and she looks cute in it.  However, that will be the topic for another post.  Stay tuned!

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2 Comments on “Rosie’s “New Normal” Life”

  1. starbeau Says:

    This comment is for “Rosies” Mom”
    I put this up on the Cancer site, but I am at a decision point and would like your input.
    Our almost 10 year old miniature poodle Starbuck (14bs) was diagnosed with a Grade III mast cell tumor following surgery on April 30, 2009 to remove a rapidly growing tumor in his inguinal area. The surgery margins were clear and a lymph node next to the tumor was free of cancerous cells. The surgeon said that he could not understand the Grade III classification since the margins were clear and no indications of cancerous cells in the lymph node. The surgeon felt that Starbuck would be fine.

    The tumor returned in the suture line and on July 15, 2009 our regular Veterinarian referred us to an Oncologist and an MRI etc. were performed on July 21, 2009. The Oncologist recommended Palladia treatment and advised us he was part of Pfizer’s experimental program and that the Palladia was free.

    A chemotherapy program involving Palladia was begun on July 22, 2009. The medicines were:
    Palladia – (two 10mg tablets) every other day
    Prednisone – 5mg Once daily with full meal
    Benadryl – One 25mg tablet every 12 hours
    Pepsid – 10mg, 1/2 tablet every 12 hours
    Thyroid – Soloxin, 0.1mg, two daily (a holdover from our regular Veterinarian)

    A program of weekly visits to the Oncologist was initiated, primarily for blood tests.

    After the first week the Oncologist stated that the tumor had shrunk 1/4 of an inch and he was pleased, but did not know if it was the result of Palladia or Prednisone.

    After the second week the tumor had grown and surgery was recommended to reduce the load for the Palladia.

    A second surgery was performed on August 14, 2009. The margins were not clean and the tumor was graded Grade III.

    Beginning with Week 9, Prednisone was discontinued. Starbuck has shown steady weight increases (he has reached 17.2lbs) and has had a voracious appetite. During walks, cigarette butts were always a target and you had to watch his every step because he could “sniff” them out even if he could not see them. If he was observed picking one up, a command to “spit spit spit” usually resulted in him spitting it out. However, if it got to the back of his mouth, he would not spit it out. He also loves sun dried earthworms which are common in the street where we live.

    On September 15, 2009 (Week 9) Starbuck vomited four times in fairly rapid succession and the Oncologist sent us to our regular Veterinarian for “hydrating” and Cerenia. There have been no recurrences of vomiting. The vomit contained strange items and it was my conclusion that it was something he had eaten during the morning walk.

    On October 13, (Week 13) Starbuck had diarrhea three times in rapid succession on a short 3 block walk. The Oncologist recommended ceasing Palladia and called in a prescription for Flagyl. There has not been any subsequent diarrhea and all stools have been normal.

    It was not possible to get an appointment with the Oncologist due to scheduling problems until Wednesday, October 21 for blood tests and review.
    Since Starbuck has been on Palladia ~14 weeks the Oncologist said he was going to reduce the amount of Palladia and said to give him Palladia Monday, Wednesday and Friday. I opined that MWF was not a significant change from every other day at which time he got a little testy and said he would go and re-calculate. Upon his return, he said that Starbuck was on the minimum dose and that MWF was what it should be or that we could take him off Palladia if we wanted to. It was up to us.

    During the time Starbuck was off Palladia, Benadryl and Pepsid (continued with Thyroid) his demeanor improved daily and he returned to some of his prior personality such as requesting to be in my wife’s lap during coffee in the morning and climbing on the couch behind me to sleep in the “computer” room. He never did those things once while on Palladia.

    He is losing hair color (from a slight reddish toward white) and his skin appears to be going toward an albino kind of pink.

    We questioned the Oncologist about his itching which had been a long time problem of licking his feet, sometimes on the bottom and sometimes on the top and then rubbing his eyes. He stated that he did not treat itching and our regular Veterinarian would have to treat that. I should have, but did not, remind him that he set the schedule with Palladia to include Prednisone and Benadryl.

    The “Remission Status:” prognosis from the Oncologist began with “no evidence of disease until August 24th when it changed to “Partial remission” until September 12 which then stated “Apparent complete remission”.

    We resumed the Palladia on Wednesday evening October 21. It is now Thursday ~noon and Starbuck has returned to his demeanor while on the Palladia. When not active in eating or walking, he lays down and goes to sleep. Although he appears to be sleeping soundly, he is aware of his surroundings and watches the kitchen because he knows his “treat” of a pill of some kind will be forthcoming wrapped in a thin slice of roast beef.

    We are agonizing over the known side effects of Palladia over long term use and the possibility that long term use could be fatal, and are seriously considering stopping the Palladia before the cure becomes worse than the disease. The thought, however naive, would be to restart the Palladia if it recurred.

    We invite comments from knowledgeable people who have faced Starbuck’s type tumor and survived.

    Fred (aka Starbeau)

    • rosiesmom Says:

      Fred / Starbeau,

      First of all, congratulations that Starbuck is in “appararent complete remission.” That is wonderful. There are many doggie parents that read this blog that would love to get to that point. Unfortunately, many never do.

      Please know I am not a vet and cannot give treatment recommendations. I am another doggie parent in a similar situation and we can share our experiences.

      One thing that is very important to have have good communication with your oncologist. Only you know your dog’s “normal” behavior and can observe changes in behavior and other symptoms that are different than the norm. Then we have the responsibility to communicate that back to our oncologist for their own observation of our dog and their interpretation with regard to the disease and the treatment. If that communication is not a thorough 2-way conversation, I’d consider visiting another oncologist. It certainly can’t hurt to get a second opinion. I realize that many areas do not have an abundance of oncologists and that there may be financial constraints. However, if you are not satisfied with your current oncologist, seek the opinion of another oncologist.

      Have you asked the oncologist about the change in behavior and the possible relationship to Palladia or any of the other medications? I think some of the other drugs, including Benadryl, can cause sleepiness.

      Since the drug is so new, I don’t think all the long-term side effects are all truly known yet. Maybe Dr. Dressler of the Dog Cancer Blog, will write another article on the long term side effects of Palladia.

      You and I are in new territory with this drug and our pets. Not many have been where we are. I assume that probably one of the reasons the drug is temporarily free is for the drug company to gather more information about the drug and its effects on their patients, our beloved pets. That is why I think it is so important that we have good communication with our oncologists.

      As a dog parent we have to decide if the risk of known and unknown side effects of this new drug is worth the potential benefit of preventing recurrences of cancer. Only you can make that determination based on discussions with your oncologist.

      I’m sure I will be writing more about this issue so stay tuned to the blog. I recommend following Dr. Dressler’s Dog Cancer Blog. I find he has a great deal of information on his blog about MCT and Palladia.

      Keep us posted on Starbuck’s progress and let us know what you decide.

      Good Luck,

      Rosies Mom

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