Pupdate: Stella the Tripawd Bulldog
My girl Stella is a BADASS. She is handling life on 3 legs and chemo treatments like the champion I know she is.
Quick catch-up on the diagnosis process. We noticed a limp starting in January, but we figured she tweaked her knee (again). We ended up at the vet for an x-ray and thats when we got the dreaded news that this was not a tweak of the knee. We were referred to a specialist in Columbia, SC (an hour from us) so they could get a sample of the mysterious tissue growing around her leg bone.
We had to do 2 procedures to finally reach the outcome of osteosarcoma - Bone Cancer. The recommendation was to amputate the leg and begin chemotherapy to give her the greatest chance for survival. This was a VERY hard decision for us. She was 9 1/2 at the time of diagnosis which is pretty old for a bulldog (average lifespan is 8-10 years). So we weren't sure if we wanted to put that kind of stress on her older little body. We had them do a full body CT scan to make sure that the cancer wasn't anywhere else. When that came back clear, we knew our answer was to amputate.
Stella went in on March 17th for her amputation. She spent 2 nights in the doggy hospital recovering and learning to walk on 3 legs. I was overjoyed when I picked up my sweet girl that Friday and she came walking out like she didn't care about losing a leg. She rolled over at my feet for a belly rub and my heart was about to explode.
We had to keep her on strict rest for a few weeks so her wound could heal and miraculously she healed perfectly. We had to keep Sarge away to be sure he didn't lick or disturb her sutures. But every chance they got to snuggle, they would! Sarge even broke into her pen to be with her. It was so sweet we couldn't be mad at him.
|Sarge sneaking in to cuddle|
|Stella's set-up for recovery|
She got her sutures out on April 1st and then we were referred to Oncology (at the same place) for further evaluation and to set up a plan for treatment. She had her 1st round of chemo on April 16th. Before they would do chemo, they did some blood work and also a chest x-ray to be sure everything was still good. And it was!! We were in Columbia about 4 hours for the first round.
During her 1st chemo round, they wanted to check her blood at key intervals to make sure she was doing ok. Thankfully we could go to our local vet for this and not have to drive an hour away. Her 10 day post-chemo blood draw was good, but her 14 day draw showed her platelets to be low. So our vet came in the next day (on a Saturday) to draw some more blood for her. Thankfully, she had some improvement.
|Her "Cancer Warrior" shirt for chemo days|
Her second chemo was scheduled for May 6th, so we went up to Columbia so they could draw blood and follow that with dose #2. Unfortunately her little body wasn't quite ready for another dose, so we went back home. She was borderline, but we rather not push her too hard so we waited another 5 days to try again. And we had success! They lowered her dose about 10% to be sure we didn't encounter the same slump in levels.
|Post chemo, hanging out with Sarge|
She has now had her 3rd and 4th treatments as well with #5 yesterday. This time they did another chest x-ray which showed her lungs to remain unchanged and clear! YES! Her pre-chemo bloodwork was perfect - all levels were just where they needed to be.
There is risk for some side effects like nausea and vomiting, but so far this girl has been great. I give her a zofran (prescribed of course) the evening of her chemo just in case she feels alittle funny. Other than that, she is definitely sleepy for the next 3-5 days after treatment. But, she always gets up for food! HAHA!
After her amputation, she was on a lot of pain medicine to keep her comfortable and calm. We were able to wean her off the hard core stuff, but she's still taking 200 mg of Gabapentin twice a day. We had weaned her off that as well, but she began panting a lot in the evenings so I knew she was uncomfortable. Her oncologist had us put her back on to help with discomfort. She does have arthritis in her other joints and the added weight to the remaining 3 legs definitely takes a toll. So, we'll keep her on the meds as its not one that is known to cause kidney damage and it makes her feel better.
|Doing great learning to walk on 3 legs|
We also added in some CBD oil to her regime. I did a lot of reading about the benefits and I wanted to give it a try. What could it hurt? She tolerates it well, and so does Sarge! Might as well give he some of the added benefits of CBD...he isn't getting any younger either.
We got Stella a new life jacket to wear in the pool and she does really well. Unfortunately, she hasn't got to swim in the river in WV this summer. I'm keeping her in a protective little bubble and don't want to risk her catching some freak thing from being in the water.
|The new shark life jacket.|
The first 72 hours after chemo, I say she is "radioactive". LOL. We just have her use the bathroom in a separate area as her body is eliminating the chemicals. She hasn't killed any of my plants yet - yay!
I could go on and on about how great she's doing and how proud I am of her. She truly has amazed me and shows that you can push through any challenge. We were so fortunate to be able to celebrate Stella and Sarge's 10th Birthday over July 4th weekend in WV.
|Birthday Family Photo|
I got them birthday bandanas, hats and a doggy birthday cake from our local pet store. We had everyone sing to them and celebrate them! It was fantastic and I'll cherish our time celebrating my pups!
My girl is a fighter and I love how hard she's kicking cancer's ass!! And if you want to follow her on Instagram, be sure to check her account out!! @stella_the_tripawd_bulldog
|Love this one of her|
|And we can't forget out precious, Sarge!|