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For the Love of Honeybear

Osteosaracoma survivor in the making

For the Love of Honeybear

Somewhere Along The Journey We Forgot This Day Would Come

September 27th, 2017 · 10 Comments · Uncategorized

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It hurts me so badly to say HoneyBear lost her fight Monday afternoon and took her last journey to Heaven. I feel more than heartbroken, I feel broken. She was such a joy to have in our lives. She amazed us everyday with her strength and abilities. She made us laugh with her huge smile and silliness. Most of all she was lovable and sweet, so very sweet.  She loved life so much and embraced every situation she was in.  She fought cancer with a smile on her face and a twinkle in her eye.  We love her so incredibly much and we will miss her more than words can say.

I know this comes as a shock since she has been doing so well. She really has felt great and been very happy up until the last couple weeks. From a medical standpoint her chest x-rays the last couple visits were progressing pretty quickly but luckily they weren’t affecting her ability to breathe. A couple weeks ago she got a stomach ache. The Dr called in some meds and within a couple days it was under control and she was eating again and feeling great. She did start coughing more. Then about a week and a half ago she lost complete function to her hind legs. She still acted happy, ate and drank but couldn’t walk or stand on her own. The Dr said the good news is she wasn’t in any pain and still had her spirit. She said it could either be a spinal tumor growing and pinching a nerve or a stroke to her legs. Since she seemed happy Dr. Wiley told us to go home and enjoy some down time but that “it was getting close.”

We came home and within a day had a routine down for her new handicap.  We carried her in and out for potty breaks.   She seemed fine for a couple days but then she started being very picky about food and was coughing more. I tried everything food wise and then she finally refused and literally pushed the bowl away with her nose. Her coughing got to the point a couple nights ago that she couldn’t sleep and yesterday she was struggling to breathe. We knew it was time. Somewhere along this journey I forgot this day would come. I always stayed so positive and hopeful that I think I lost reality.

We knew it was a long drive but we wanted her to be with Dr. Wiley and her staff in San Antonio. They love her so much. The 2 1/2 hour drive up there was cloudy and rainy. I sat in the back seat with HoneyBear so she could rest her head on my lap and I could love on her for the last time. Dr Wiley and techs came to the car so she didn’t have to be moved. Even though she was struggling to breathe she still found a way to give me, my husband and Dr Wiley a kiss. She went very peacefully surrounded by love. About 20 seconds after she passed there was a break in the clouds and the sun beamed down on us. My husband and I then looked at each other with tears of joy as we felt God’s presence.  It was as if he was extending his hand for HoneyBear to follow him, lifting her spirt with her new angel wings. Since she loved life on earth so much I can imagine how much she must love Heaven.

HoneyBear took a huge piece of our hearts with her and it is definitely going to take some time to heal and as a friend said “relearn life without her.” I am very blessed to have a husband who cares just as much as I do and is being strong for the both of us. He got up for work yesterday at 4 AM then drove us to San Antonio then drove us home and today he had to be up at the same time again. I know he feels the same pain that I do so to me that is the ultimate strength. It is just us now, I know it will take time but we will heal together.

I will continue “HoneyBear’s Hope For A Cure” in any way I can. I will continue to fight in her honor so others have the same fighting chance she did. When we first decided to proceed with her treatment we knew at best we would get 9 months to a year. It has been 16 months. She beat the odds and we had so much fun along the way.  In the last year HoneyBear ran on the beach, swam in the lake, floated the river, made tons of new friends, went with us almost everywhere, swam in her pool in the backyard, went to movies in the park, saw the blue angels, celebrated her 10th birthday and raised so much awareness for Osteosarcoma. I am so grateful we spent so much quality time with her and made special memories we will cherish for the rest of our lives. I would go back in a heartbeat and do it all again.  The hardest part about loving them is losing them. It is so hard but I believe we will all be together again one day.

Thank you so much HoneyBear for everything you taught us. You were such a gift and a part of you will always live in us.  We will miss everything about you; your kisses, your smile, your sweet eyes, your snuggles, your high fives, your wiggly booty when you were excited, your happy dance when we got home from work and your presence that was always by our side.  You were always ready for the next adventure.  I know you will embrace Heaven with the same passion.  We love you “so much” and we know you will always be with us. Until we meet again my love.

~Chogan and HoneyBear are together again, forever~

 


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Another Scare Beaten by Prayer!

August 20th, 2017 · 6 Comments · Uncategorized

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HoneyBear’s check up was coming up this week but we had to unexpectedly take her Friday instead.  Thursday night when we got home she seemed happy, walked fine but kept laying down.  We noticed that her back left leg seemed really weak.  Any tripawd parent can understand the worry we had.  Three legs work great but two would be impossible.  The next day she seemed worse, didn’t want to step on it and acted like it was painful.  So we headed up Friday afternoon fearing the worst and as always hoping and praying for the best.

As always they got her right in and did exactly what I was hoping for, blood work, chest X-rays and left rear leg X-rays.  We didn’t get to see Dr Wiley right away because she was with other patients but the critical care Dr did a great job.  After waiting a very long and worrisome hour for results they called us back.  We were so relieved when the Dr confirmed it was just a sprain in her knee ligament! We were dreading to hear a metastic bone tumor so a sprain was great news in our eyes!  Rest and pain meds for a week.  Dr Wiley came in and said she looked at the X-ray as well as the in house radiologist and there was definitely no cancer.  She was still very pleased with HoneyBear’s progress but having lung nodules progress slow/stable for about a year means there are quite a few in her lungs at this point. They aren’t causing her pain or discomfort but she does cough a little more now.  Dr Wiley also added she doesn’t think she has had any other patient with lung metastases that has progressed this slow/stable.  I wish I could say it was this or that that has helped with the slow progression but honestly I feel like it is the combination of everything we do for her.  Of course the chemotherapy, then you have the supplements, diet, love and happiness.  Some other good news is her kidney values went down quite a bit!  We are thinking her new raw diet is helping with this!!

We also got to talk to Dr Wiley more about what else we can do.  We have been playing with a lot of ideas but the most hopeful medications we have come across is Rapamycin, Aratana’s Vaccine AT-014, and Zoledronate.  There are numerous phase 2 trials going on right now on Rapamycin directly following amputation and chemotherapy but HoneyBear doesn’t qualify because she already has metastases.  That doesn’t mean it won’t work against the metastases but just harder to get our hands on since she doesn’t qualify for the trial.  Dr Wiley is checking into getting this medication if it is available.  Aratana is a pharmaceutical company that has recently released an amazing vaccine for lymphoma.  They already closed a clinical trial on an immunotherapy vaccine for osteosarcoma called AT-014.  It showed great results against stopping/preventing metastases in dogs following amputation and chemotherapy.  The vaccine is awaiting FDA approval and should be available the later part of this year.  We are checking into getting it early through a law called compassionate use but it is unlikely the company will be able to release it early.  So then we have Zoledronate.  It is a biphosphonate drug that is given intravenously to help with bone metastases.  It is supposed to strengthen bones and stop the cancer from spreading to the skeleton.  Auburn University is currently enrolling dogs in a trial to test this same theory on lung metastases.  They have tried it in people with pulmonary metastases with great results.  Dr Wiley uses this drug on dogs that cannot undergo amputation for whatever reason.  She is very comfortable with its safety and is willing to give it a try in HoneyBear.  We figure we have nothing to lose at this point (except $ :-)).  If it doesn’t work we are still waiting on the other 2 medications and if it does…….then Hallelujah!!!!  Everything we are willing to try has very minimal side effects.  We would never give her anything that would compromise her quality of life

Yes I know what you are thinking and yes it IS getting expensive!  We love HoneyBear so much we are willing to make sacrifices for her well being.  At the moment we are having a garage sale, selling anything that we do not need right now.  We are playing with the idea of a Go Fund Me, but we both feel weird about it because we have never asked anyone for money EVER!  At the same time we are trying so much to buy time, find answers, research, learn, and educate others on what we learn every step of the way.  Our main goal is to of course give HoneyBear the best quality and quantity of life that we can but we also want to help others along the way.  We have had good results selling her “HoneyBear’s Hope” bracelets but that only puts a small dent on what is ahead of us.  Thank you so much to everyone who have supported us in  purchasing a bracelet and to those that have followed and are following her story every step of the way!

HoneyBear is resting her knee right now and hopefully within a week we can get started on the Zoledronate.  As always we remain hopeful for the best and continue to pray for healing, strength and guidance for our best friend.  I will update everyone as we continue this fight to whoop cancer’s booty!!

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HoneyBear’s Hope

August 9th, 2017 · 7 Comments · Uncategorized

So much to talk about!  First of all I apologize for being M.I.A. for the last couple months!  HoneyBear’s last check up was the same as the others…….pretty much stable, maybe one more, maybe a millimeter bigger, very slow progression.  Given HoneyBear’s situation this is good news but lately I find myself thinking can we do more?  I know the facts HoneyBear is 10, has pulmonary metastases from a very aggressive cancer and has already done very well statistically.  We know how much we are doing for her and I know it sounds crazy but we want to try harder.  I have been researching everything from Stereotactic Radio Therapy to clinical trials to new and promising immunotherapy medications.  I won’t stop until I have exhausted all options with HoneyBear’s well being of course being top priority.  With the hope something will come our way to help her soon we started a fundraising effort.  We made bracelets and are selling them to raise funds for treatment and also to raise awareness.  They are yellow for Osteosarcoma and they say “HoneyBear’s Hope For A Cure-honeybear.tripawds.com.”  HoneyBear’s hope that one day there will be a cure for people and animals alike.

We also switched her diet.  I have struggled trying to find the right diet for her.  I want no grains and carbs for the cancer keeping in mind higher amounts of protein will make her kidney values rise.  This is nearly impossible but we seem to have found our answer!  Answers raw dog food. I know what you are thinking #1 Ewwwww and #2 that has to be unsafe!  Well that is exactly what I thought but the food is grown and processed at a small farm that is %100 organic and free range.  HoneyBear is on their detailed formula that is fermented for safety and as long as you’re open minded its not that gross.  I will keep you updated on this but so far so good.

HoneyBear’s new excitement is the kittens the neighbors have in the yard behind us.  She runs out there every morning/night straight to the back fence and waits for them to come to the small opening to basically have a stare down. 🙂  She will stare at them for hours if we let her! I am actually glad this is her fun right now because honestly it is too hot in south Texas to do anything else!  When we do take her out and about she lays on her cool pad, wears her cool vest and……don’t laugh…….we also have a fan for her! 🙂 I am serious people its scorching down here!

Despite the lung mets HoneyBear remains happy and that is the ultimate goal.  We wouldn’t do anything to jeopardize this.  I am praying for guidance on the next step for HoneyBear and also praying there is a next step.  Our hearts are in this %100 and we have to follow what we feel is right.  I know we are on this journey for a reason and if HoneyBear can be a part of finding a better treatment it would not only benefit her but other dogs and people living with this awful disease.  Standard care right now is simply not good enough.  We will never lose hope and we will do all we can to find another way.  One day there will be a cure and God willing HoneyBear will see that day.

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One Year and Going Strong!

June 7th, 2017 · 7 Comments · Uncategorized

Today is a very special day!  It is HoneyBear’s one year amputation anniversary!!!  I can’t believe a year ago we were walking into the clinic praying we were making the right decision.  The look on Honeybear’s face clearly says we did!  Her smile is always the first thing people notice about her (even before they realize a leg is missing :-))   I remember being so scared when we brought her home!  How was she going to walk, lay down, get up, play, swim, etc.???  She sure showed me by running on day 3 and swimming the first chance she got!

This year has been full of adventures!  From traveling around Texas to digging a huge hole in our backyard for HoneyBear’s pool. 🙂  Most recently we took her to Canyon lake and the Frio River in our inflatable raft/boat.  It is rare that you see a large dog float the River but even more rare to see a three legged large dog float the river!  It was awesome!  She loved every second of it!  We are hoping for more trips up there this summer.

HoneyBear recently had her check up with Dr Wiley which was her first one since her chest infection.  She literally ran in the clinic with a smile on her face giving everyone kisses!  I got a little teary-eyed because the staff came out and were so excited to see her!  Last time they saw her she couldn’t even walk!  There was no evidence of infection in her X-ray and her lung mets were “stable!!”  No one knew what the infection would do to the cancer cells, especially since she had to be off her chemo pill for about a month.  Thank God for being with us and delivering good news!! She will have to stay on the antibiotics for 3 months just to make %100 sure the infection is history!  Fine with me and fine with HoneyBear since that means more turkey and mozzarella balls! 🙂

It is true that this journey changes the way you view life.  HoneyBear has inspired me to enjoy and be thankful for every day.  Not a minute has gone by this last year that I wasn’t hopeful.  I have believed from day 1 that God wanted us to be on this path and can make miracles happen.  Even after her lung mets were found I still believed she could live a lot longer pain free and happy.  Even when she got really sick with her chest infection a couple months ago I still believed she would pull through.  My faith has grown so much this year because I feel God is with us answering our prayers.  I have faith her lung mets will remain stable and she will continue to inspire others embarking or about to embark on this journey.  She has not only adjusted to life on three legs, she has embraced it.  Many thanks to God for today, it means so much to us.  HoneyBear is a special member of our family and I pray and I believe she has a lot more time with us to enjoy life and go on more adventures.

“If you believe, Miracles CAN happen.”

  

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A Scare That Turned Into A Miracle

April 25th, 2017 · 12 Comments · Uncategorized

My last update stated we were about to have more fun……..well maybe I jinxed us because fun turned into frustration, heartbreak, exhaustion, and anxiety.

Two weeks ago Sunday HoneyBear woke up early (about 3 AM) acting sick.  She woke us up by the noise of her coughing/hacking something up.  She was shaking, drooling and her breathing was labored.  We had a check-up 3 weeks prior that showed her metastasis remained stable and was not affecting her quality of life.  So we were extremely concerned and honestly scared when we woke up to her this way.  I kept thinking there is no way the cancer could have  spread and affected her this quickly.  All of the sudden she was acting so sick.  We rushed her to the closest emergency vet to figure out what was going on.

The doctor on call said she looked great, heart sounded normal, lungs sounded “beautiful,” and that she was probably suffering from an upset stomach.  She gave her an anti-naseua shot and sent us on our way.  We watched her all day and were becoming frustrated realizing she wasn’t getting any better.  After numerous calls and messages to the emergency clinic we took her back Monday morning at about 5 AM.  At this point HoneyBear was already acting weak and could hardly walk.

The doctor on call suggested x-rays of her chest and abdomen along with blood work.  We agreed these were good ideas and proceeded.  Before the doctor came in the room the x-rays were loaded on the computer screen in front of us.  I felt compelled to read them myself thanks to Dr Wiley who has showed us in the past what to look for.  From what I could tell HoneyBear’s lung met’s looked the same compared to 3 weeks ago.  When the doctor came in she told us HoneyBear’s chest looked bad because of her metastasis and fluid build up.  She also felt the need to tell us in the most heartless way that HoneyBear had a “very poor prognosis.”  I felt crushed hearing this news.  Even though her x-rays don’t look that bad as far as metastasis is concerned, fluid build up didn’t sound great at all.  What can this be caused from?  At this point I am going to make a long story as short as possible and say the doctors at this clinic (supposedly the best in town) blamed the cancer %100 and kept HoneyBear in hospital care for 24 hours.

Unfrotunately we live 2 1/2 hrs from Dr Wiley and this happened on the weekend when she was off.  Tuesday morning finally came. The local clinic had kept HoneyBear on fluids and a high dose of pain meds.  They “forgot” to give her the injected antibiotics we had talked about so we were beyond frustrated with them and decided to rush her to Dr Wiley.  Her breathing was so labored on the way there but she sat up several times, looking out the window curious where we were going.

My husband carried her to Dr. Wiley’s office and even though we were in this crisis I felt at peace being there.   The receptionists and technicians looked at us with sympathy knowing the dog we brought in was not the HoneyBear they knew and loved.  They were able to withdraw and examine the fluid.  When Dr Wiley came to talk to us she said the fluid was cloudy so that can mean the cancer cells metastasized outside the lungs or there is an infection which would be very rare in this location.  She asked us to bear with her as they were very busy that day until she could look at the slide.

My husband and I sat in the exam room waiting for some answers.  The only thing we could do is pray and ask our family and friends to pray.  I asked God for a miracle.  I knew HoneyBear had everything against her but the look in her eyes told me she has more life to live.  If anyone could make this possible its God.  Right before Dr Wiley opened the door I told my husband “If you believe, miracles can happen.”  With a relieved look on her face Dr Wiley told us “I had to double check with a colleague but we confirmed the fluid is bacterial, no cancer cells!”  I don’t think I have ever been so relieved in my life!  My Shoulders literally rose with the weight being lifted off of them.  We knew HoneyBear was still in a critical state but now there was hope.  We had to wait until cytology confirmed the fluid as bacterial the next day before we could proceed with treatment.

Cytology confirmed the cells were bacteria and in fact Staph bacteria.  Dr Book proceeded to put chest tubes in HoneyBear which was a risky procedure in that he could have punctured her lungs.  Thank God he didn’t and treatment was started.  Every 6 hours for 6 days they had to flush her chest with a sterile saline solution.  These tubes were very painful so they had her on pain meds which made her nauses, which made her not eat for 6 days!  Anti-naseua meds did not work so great so she did lose a bit of weight.  It was so hard for us to leave her there but we had to come back to work.  Obviously, can you imagine our bill??!!  🙂  Totally worth it! We were back and forth this whole week but I felt confident that she was in good hands.  Finally the treatment process was done and we were able to bring her home.  She will have to stay off her chemo pill until her check-up May 12th.  She is also on heavy duty antibiotics.  Like always we are staying positive and praying for the best!

During her stay in the hospital HoneyBear turned 10!  The amazing staff at STVS helped us sing happy birthday to her and make her day special despite the situation.  I can’t even put into words how grateful and appreciative I am to Dr Wiley, Dr Book, Dr Stafford and their staff for literally saving HoneyBear’s life.  She had everything against her but we believe in the power of prayer and have faith that God can make the impossible POSSIBLE.  This was  an incredibly scary and emotional situation for us but we are confident God is giving HoneyBear another chance to fight cancer and enjoy life.  We can’t thank him enough for putting the people in our lives that support us and help us in this journey.

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