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Griffin's Journey

Dec 02

 

 

Today is Griffin’s

8 month

ampuversary!

 

He continues to live his life to the fullest and regularly amazes people we meet who cannot believe he has been a tripawd only since April and will turn 11 years old next month!  He looks forward to our daily walks, rain or shine, and has really enjoyed playing in the leaves this autumn.

Griffin’s appointment at AMC last week went very well.  He gained back about 1.3lbs and he is still considered to be in ideal body condition.  The results of his bloodwork and urinalysis were normal, and his oncology team is very pleased how well he is doing with the new metronomic chemo protocol.  So, I was extra thankful on Thanksgiving!

My dad and I traveled to northern Virginia to visit my sister’s family for the holiday.  My nieces, Valerie (11) and Victoria (5), both adore Griffin, but that wasn’t always the case.  Valerie is only 5 months older than Griffin and as a toddler, would literally climb her father’s body while screaming to get away from Griffin.  Over the years, Griffin worked his magic on Valerie, and she was such a tremendous help this trip, coming with us on every walk, holding Griffin’s leash, pushing his wagon, and getting him water on our hikes.  Victoria has always loved Griffin, giving lots of hugs (a bit too tight sometimes!), tucking him in under a blanket at night, and having him sleep next to her.  I think it is pretty funny that Griffin’s smile matches each of the girls’ smiles in the photos below!

One excursion we took without Griffin was to Meadowlark Botanical Gardens (Vienna, VA) to experience their Winter Walk of Lights, which was fantastic!  I look forward to other outdoor holiday events this season and hope that you are finding moments of joy in spite of the continued challenges of 2020!

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