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Griffin's Journey

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Nov 21

Griffin is loving the mostly cooler fall weather, although in the last few weeks we’ve had coat-less days in the high 60s and other mornings with temperatures below freezing.  We are on day 18 of Griffin’s latest metronomic chemotherapy protocol, and so far, I have not observed any side effects.  Griffin’s appetite is great, his energy level is high, and he remains playful and affectionate.  He was groomed recently, and I noticed some changes in his hair that are likely a result of the chemo.  Specifically, the hair along his back is darker than before and the texture is wavier.  I wonder if those changes will be permanent since they are confined mostly to his back and not all over his body, but regardless, he remains the most handsome boy!  We will return to the Animal Medical Center on November 24, 2020 for a physical exam, bloodwork, and a urinalysis (cyclophosphamide is known to irritate the bladder), but we won’t repeat x-rays until January to give the drugs time to work.

To make up for the rather short update due to life being pretty normal, please enjoy these autumn photos and videos of Grifin!

What a difference a few weeks make!  On the left, pretty fall foliage on October 30th.  On the right, bare trees on November 20th.

Pre and post haircut…shaggy versus sleek!

The temperature hit 68º on November 7th and on November 19th it was 31º!

Enjoying a little nibble of grass…

…and a good back scratching session…

…and a romp in the leaves (I only caught the tail end of his zoomies that day)…

…and no day is finished without a round or two of fetch!

Nov 06

It has been a good week since I last updated on Griffin’s progress.  He restarted the anti-inflammatory (Piroxicam) after his last oncology appointment and began the new chemotherapy drug (Cyclophosphamide) on Tuesday.  So far, so good – I have not noticed any side effects and my fingers are crossed that things stay that way!  Griffin’s appetite is consistent, his energy level is great, and he is happy.  And November 2nd marked Griffin’s 7 month ampuversary!

Our Halloween was very quiet, although our apartment was a stop on the scavenger hunt that a few families in our building put together for their kids.  How cute is that clue (and my boy)?

The weather has been gorgeous in NYC lately.  Griffin’s stamina is pretty amazing – he walks over a mile each morning and still has the energy for a few rounds of fetch.  He enjoys watching the ships in the Hudson River and continues to make new friends wherever we go.

It does still take my breath away sometimes watching how fast Griffin can run on 3 legs!  I hope these videos bring you joy! xoxo Stacy


Oct 29

Yesterday was a hard day.  Griffin had an appointment at the Animal Medical Center for his next round of chemo (Doxorubicin).  Last week I had noted a new small, hard nodule on Griffin’s ribcage and during the physical exam, the oncology team noted another one in his armpit.  They aspirated both, and while the ribcage one was benign (fat), the armpit one was deemed “sarcoma” by the pathologist.  Chest x-rays revealed that existing lung tumors have grown larger and new ones are present since his last set of radiographs that were taken on September 26, 2020.  While Griffin completed only one round of Doxorubicin 3 weeks ago after we stopped Palladia, the oncology team determined that it is not working.  We have decided to resume Piroxicam and will be starting a new metronomic chemotherapy drug called Cyclophosphamide.

This was not the post I was planning to write because the last 2 weeks have been great.  Griffin is eating regularly, has great energy, walks over 1 mile each day, and stopped losing hair.  He resolved his aural hematoma on his own, which avoids a surgical procedure.  And most exciting, the Yale clinical trial vets contacted me last week to say that Griffin was producing antibodies in response to the vaccine.  So, this post should have been one celebrating successes, and instead it is overshadowed by his cancer spreading.

Yesterday was a hard day, and we woke up to a rainy morning today, which seemed appropriate for my mood.  But living in NYC means there is no opening a back door to let Griffin out, and so I dragged myself into the shower and debated how long of a walk we would take.  I wasn’t really up for our regular 2-mile walk, but that’s usually when I need them the most.  After briefly arguing with myself that the wagon would survive getting soaked and I would not melt from the rain, Griffin and I donned our raincoats, I grabbed my coffee, and out we went into the raw, wet morning.  As we walked, I watched Griffin follow his regular routine of sniffing and peeing everywhere before his tank ran dry.  I watched him bouncing energetically and easily catch himself when he slid on wet leaves.  I watched him look for his best friend Murphy when we arrived at the park and then head down our usual path when his friend was not found.  I watched him gleefully run and roll in the wet grass over and over again, not caring how dirty or wet he got.  I watched Griffin be wholly and enthusiastically present in the moment, making his own fun and in the process, bringing me joy as he has done each day of his life.

Yesterday was a hard day, but I was reminded by Griffin’s surgeon that he is a fighter.

Yesterday was a hard day, but Griffin has the support of an amazing oncology team.

Yesterday was a hard day, but Griffin is still happily by my side.

Yesterday was a hard day, but we are not out of options.

Yesterday was a hard day, but today I choose joy.

Oct 19

A lot has happened in the last 3 weeks since I last posted on Griffin’s blog!  Griffin slowly regained his appetite after we stopped using Palladia and had gained one pound by his next oncology appointment on October 7th.  On that day, he was administered a round of Doxorubicin (IV chemo), ate a McDonald’s cheeseburger after his appointment, and then did not eat again for 3 full days.  Oy vey!  Griffin was prescribed 2 different meds – Zofran for nausea and Entyce as an appetite stimulant.  Entyce caused diarrhea, so we discontinued it after 3 days.  He remained on Zofran for 8 days during which time I regularly lowered the dose and discontinued only after I was confident that his appetite had fully returned.  Griffin has been eating consistently for about a week now, a mixture of his regular dry food (Taste of the Wild) with a low quality wet food and shredded chicken breast.  While the wet food he currently enjoys is not up to my usual standards, it is a compromise I’m willing to make if it keeps him eating.  Griffin weighed in at 53.5 lbs (a loss of 1.5 lbs) six days after his chemo treatment, and I am hoping that he will be back to about 56 lbs when we return to AMC next week.

Despite his lack of appetite some days, Griffin is always up for our morning walks, even if he is hitching a ride!

As if the issues with appetite and weight loss were not enough for him to deal with, Griffin has an aural hematoma that formed in his left ear flap from his excessive head shaking after swimming for hours each day on our summer vacation in August.  Our local vet has drained it 3 times, but it keeps returning and so it needs to be dealt with surgically.  I am thankful that Dr. Spector, the surgeon who performed Griffin’s amputation, will also handle his hematoma.  He assures me that the procedure is minor (15 minutes) with a great rate of success but putting Griffin under anesthesia always makes me nervous.  His procedure is scheduled is scheduled for November 13th, sandwiched in between his upcoming oncology appointments on October 28th and November 19th.  My understanding is that Griffin’s ear will look a bit Frankenstein-ish with a lot of stitches, so it’s too bad the timing didn’t allow for him to have a cool look for Halloween! 🎃

While October has certainly presented a good number of challenges, it has also been filled with good times!  A trip to New Jersey on October 1st allowed us to meet baby Zane and have fun with big brother Miles (and his parents and dog sisters, too – that’s Callie in the background!). 🐾

A few days later, we hung out with our Monkey Bread crew in Mahopac, NY.  Griffin was a big hit with Noah, Julius, Zion, and Sebastian (and Mabel, too!) and loved playing fetch in the huge backyard. 🇩🇴 🇵🇷

This past weekend, we scooped up 3 of the godchildren and headed back to Beaver Creek in Lancaster, PA (where we vacationed this summer) for a long weekend of autumn fun with our Baltimore family.  Griffin did not understand why I wouldn’t let him into the pond, although you can see what happened when I turned my back for a minute…I guess it was really too cold since he didn’t manage to get all the way wet! 😆

We are back home in NYC and looking forward to enjoying the crisp weather and watching the leaves slowly turn to beautiful fall colors! 🍂🐶🍁

xoxo Stacy

Sep 26

Can you tell who was rolling in the grass still wet with morning dew?

Today’s oncology appointment at AMC was a mixed bag.  On the not so great side:  Griffin lost a lot of weight (more than 3lbs in the last 2 weeks and over 6lbs in the last 7 weeks) and one of the 3 tumors in his lungs appears to have grown (after previously decreasing in size).  On the pretty good side:  the other 2 lung tumors appear to have remained stable in size, no new tumors were detected, and his bloodwork was normal.  Griffin started taking Palladia (chemotherapy drug) and Piroxicam (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug) 7 weeks ago and for almost that entire time, his appetite has been off and eating a struggle, as evidenced by his significant weight loss.  Given the increase in size of the one tumor, Griffin’s oncology team and I agreed that the Palladia doesn’t seem to be having a positive impact, and with the quality of life issues around not eating, it is not worth keeping Griffin on that protocol.  We are also discontinuing the Piroxicam on the chance that it is upsetting his gastrointestinal tract.  Griffin did well on a different NSAID, Galliprant, and we will consider restarting that in the future.  For now, Griffin’s body is going to have a rest from drugs for about 2 weeks, at which point he will return to AMC to restart Doxorubicin (IV chemotherapy).  Griffin previously did 2 rounds of Doxorubicin, which shrank 2 tumors but a third one developed in that time, which is why we paused the to allow for the administration of the Yale canine cancer trial vaccine.  Now that Griffin has received both doses of the vaccine, we are optimistic that restarting Doxorubicin will have a positive impact and if history repeats, Griffin will sail through the IV chemotherapy treatments.  While I was hoping for more positive results of his chest x-rays, I remain grateful that Griffin is doing well overall, that his disease spread is relatively stable, and that we have options to pursue.  To celebrate ending meds that messed with his appetite (and to jump start his necessary weight gain), Griffin devoured not one, but two double cheeseburgers from McDonald’s after his appointment!

When I joined the Tripawds community, I became part of a group of 9 families whose pups underwent amputation surgery in April.  Jake, Ziva, Aspen, and Griffin continue to do well, but our hearts have been broken by the losses of our friends Franklin, Holly, Finn, Oakley, and Arktik.

Finn’s mom, Casey, and I would often check in via private messages, and she was such a tremendous support to me when Griffin’s first chest x-rays revealed the growth of lung tumors.  Finn’s recovery was difficult, but Casey left no stone unturned, including acupuncture, the Yale vaccine, and supplements (the remainder of which she sent to me for Griffin’s use).  I learned about the Yale trial from Casey and the information she shared helped so many others.  Finn was almost 7 years old when he passed on July 20th.  While they never met in person, I know the little boy born two weeks ago is being watched over by his big brother, Finn.

Arktik’s mom, Patricia, and I called our boys the Tripawd Twins.  Arktik’s surgery was just one week after Griffin’s for the same limb and the same type of cancer, they were the same size, and almost the same age.  Arktik’s recovery was pretty smooth and he was quickly back enjoying hikes through the woods and a vacation on the beach.  A mouth abscess turned out to be a metastasis of the osteosarcoma, and Arktik crossed the rainbow bridge on September 14th, just a few weeks shy of his 11th birthday.

In the midst of their heartaches, Casey and Patricia have continued to cheer for Griffin and support our journey.  Please join me in celebrating the lives of these beloved pups and send healing thoughts to their families who so desperately miss them.  sp_hearticon2 xoxo Stacy