D&L's Amazing Gracey
Gracey pictured to the left in July 2006.
03/27/08 - Well I never thought I would be using this page for this but wanted a way that everyone can keep a check on Gracey since her diagnosis today. You can email or call at anytime but wanted you to have updates whenever you were curious, day or night. In case you don't know, Gracey started limping on her left rear leg a couple of weeks ago. We thought she might have a minor sprain due to running and playing in the pasture. A few days later she got worse and advanced from limping to toe touching. I took her to the vet for x-rays to see if she may have injured her ACL or needed treatment of some kind. We were informed immediately that it appeared to be tumor. The x-rays were performed immediately and the diagnosis is Osteosarcoma or bone cancer. This cancer is extremely common in Dobermans and large breeds. It is extremely fast and very painful. We also x-rayed her lungs, since this is where the cancer usually goes first. Her lungs appear to be affected as well. The veterinarian said that this most likely occurred very recently since this cancer is so fast and she just started showing symptoms days earlier. The veterinarian said that Gracey has weeks to months left. We are checking our options for Gracey with an oncologist immediately.
03/27/08 - Photo of Gracey and I at the vet clinic just before she was x-rayed. The vet's children were playing with my phone and took this photo. We didn't know for sure what we were about to see on the x-rays at this point.
03/27/08 - Gracey at home in her bed after returning from the vet. She started acting sad at this point because she knew Dwight and I were upset about something.
03/28/08 - Gracey received flowers from a friend, Brandy Hawkins. Excuse the foot in the photo. I was trying to take a photo of Gracey with her flowers but she wanted to touch me at the same time so she laid her head on my leg as I took the photo. Gracey actually liked her flowers. As I was preparing her food, I turned and she was licking one of the flowers. So they had to go on the counter where she could see them but couldn't lick them.
03/30/08 - Gracey is doing well but her leg started swelling over the weekend. Her leg is now 2 to 3 times its normal size. We did not want to consider amputation but we are checking all options for Gracey at this point. Her leg seems to be in her way and we can't imagine the pain it will cause as days pass. I have been reading articles this weekend preparing for the meeting with the oncologist and have found that amputation is recommended for pain control. The articles say that this cancer is so extremely painful in the areas where the bone is affected. The information states that you can amputate and have 4 months of pain free time with your pet or not amputate and your pet may live 4 months in extreme pain. So we are more open to amputation now than in the beginning but will discuss this further with an oncologist.
03/31/08 - Gracey is doing well today. Her leg is still swollen and maybe even a little more but she acted happy today and even rolled around in her bed playing with her bear. She and I took a walk to the barn, where she had some water since she seems to think the water in the barn tastes better than the water in the house. She jumped in and out of the stall to check things out and the other dogs wanted to play with her in the yard but she wasn't too interested in that . Then she walked back to the house and I put her bed by the open door so she could feel the air blowing and she could watch the dogs and the horses in the pasture. Redford even came up and laid around with her for awhile. We have to keep her activity restricted because her leg could break easily at this point. The support that has been shown to Gracey today has been amazing and we so appreciate all the calls and emails. Today has been crunch time for us to learn as much as possible from you all and your experiences before the oncologist visit. We will be updating you all with more info very soon. Gracey, Dwight and I have an appointment with the oncologist in the morning at 10:00 so hopefully we will have a clear picture of where the cancer is and what we need to do to keep Gracey comfortable and if there are treatment options that are recommended.
03/31/08 - Gracey getting a bath tonight before her trip to the Oncologist. She loved the warm bath and good smelling soap but wasn't sure at this point about her new bed on wheels. Dwight added casters to her new cot/bed after she was diagnosed. We thought the rolling bed would be great for baths and moving her around to different areas so she doesn't have to get up and she doesn't get board laying in the same spot. We can even roll her outside in the sun. You can see in the photo that her left rear leg is swollen quite a bit at this time.
04/01/08 - Today was Gracey's appointment with the Oncologist and the day turned out very interesting to say the least. Our appointment was at 10:00 am and we finished/left at 6:30 pm. Sorry I didn't get a photo of her at the clinic today since it took Dwight and I both to keep her from sliding down on the slick floor while she try's to hurry along at her fast pace on 3 legs with the 4th tripping her up. She loves to visit the vet so this was a good day for her. Luckily she doesn't remember the feeling she usually has by the time she leaves. She had numerous tests done today which is exactly what we wanted. No time wasted. The Oncologist was amazing and she explained all the tests very clearly and the things we were facing as well. Gracey's tests included: complete blood count, blood chemistry tests, urinalysis, x-rays of her chest/lungs, ultrasound of her body, Cytology (fine needle aspiration) of the tumor in her leg. The results were better than expected. The chest/lung x-rays appear to be clear of tumors and the ultrasound of her body seemed to be clear as well. The tumor in her leg was confirmed of course but we knew there was no question there. The Cytology test was done just to confirm without a doubt that this tumor is of the type Osteosarcoma so we know what we are dealing with before treatment begins. The results will be available within 24-48 hours. Now, traditional therapy is immediate amputation to remove the painful leg and prevent any more spread of cancerous cells which are most likely already in her body. Then follow amputation with at least monthly chemotherapy for 6-9 months. The cancer will most likely come back later in another bone or another area of the body but this is the only chance to fight the pain/cancer and to give Gracey any chance with traditional therapy. One of the side affects of chemo in dobies can be heart issues and this could take her life in the end. I did talk to someone last night who did lose her dobie to a heart condition that developed just after her dobie was cleared of cancer (following amputation and chemotherapy). So that is one option for Gracey which we are going back and forth on but need to decide within days because this cancer isn't waiting on us. Now, here is where the day got interesting. Through my veterinary pharma sales position/coworkers/friends, an alternative treatment for osteosarcoma has been uncovered that has been used over the last few years and has actually cured osteosarcoma in dogs. "CURED" osteosarcoma in dogs and saved their leg as well. Not just saved the leg but the bone regenerated to a functioning leg again. This drug has not been licensed yet. This treatment is being performed in NE Colorado. Tonight, I actually had the opportunity to talk with the doctor that is pioneering the use of this drug. We discussed Gracey's case and the history/specifics of the treatment as well. He was amazing. Dwight and I are planning on leaving Sunday to drive Gracey to Colorado receive this alternative treatment immediately. This treatment has shown very quick results so we should know very shortly if the treatment was a success for Gracey. If it is not then we will move forward with the decisions regarding plan B (amputation and chemotherapy). The way the wheels have turned for Gracey in this situation are amazing. We can only hope for the best and know that miracles can happen. This may not work at all, but Gracey enjoys riding in a vehicle so she will enjoy the trip and possibly have a slight chance at beating this disease. What do we or Gracey have to lose with this? Based on the discussion with the doctor and the plan B options, it can't hurt to give it a shot in Colorado!
04/03/08 - I talked with the Oncologist today and the test results came back at 90% that the sample taken this week from Gracey's leg is Osteosarcoma. No big shock there for anyone. I discussed the options with the Oncologist and she was 100% behind us taking Gracey to Colorado for the experimental treatment. She was very excited about the opportunity and wants to know all that we can tell her when we return. Gracey had a great day today. She was very happy and ate very well. She wanted to go outside several times so we finally left the door cracked so that she could go in and out as she liked. She loves the outside and loves to go to the barn. A walk to the barn and back is just enough exercise for her and she is happy to lay in her bed after that. I massaged her leg often today. Not sure if the increase in exercise combined with the moving and massaging of her leg worked or not, but her swelling decreased some in her leg and she actually toe touched occasionally while walking. Our plans for the week are to leave Sunday evening and drive as far as we can. Then we will drive to Denver on Monday and have dinner with my coworker/friend that helped us get this all set up. Then we will either stay in Denver or drive on to Greeley, Colorado on Monday night. We plan to have Gracey at the clinic at 9 am on Tuesday for her treatment. We will stay in Greeley all day on Tuesday and Tuesday night in case we need the vet. Then if Gracey is ok to travel, we will leave Greeley on Wednesday morning and drive back thru Lincoln, Nebraska to have dinner with the Lawsons and Greta (red female 12/15/07 litter). We will drive as far as we can on Wednesday night. Then we will finish the trip home on Thursday. I will update this page when we return. Feel free to call or email because I will receive email on my phone and will have plenty of time on the road to respond. :) Dwight and I are very excited and ready to hit the road!
04/04/08 - Photo of Gracey in her bed with her new "booties" on her feet. She likes to run so fast and she tends to slip and fall on slick floors since she is not using her left rear leg. So these new booties are antiskid and she wears them when she is running around indoors. Thanks to Polly Parker for sending me this photo that Bryce took with her cell phone when they were picking up their new puppy "Mojo".
04/06/08 - Today was a beautiful sunny day and Gracey and I spent several hours outside so that she could play with the other dogs and lay in the sunshine. She had a ball and even had a little too much fun barking at the horses as they ran by in the pasture. She got so dirty that I had to give her another bath before we left for Colorado. We left for Colorado at 9:00 PM and Gracey was so excited to get in the suv. She absolutely loved the trip to Colorado. She was quiet as a mouse and slept all night. When we made potty stops she was in and out in a flash. Luckily I brought the long leash because she was hard to keep up with on a short leash.
04/07/08 - We drove straight thru to Denver and arrived early afternoon. We had dinner with my friend/coworker, Allen Samuels. He worked so hard to get us in contact with the doctor in Colorado and to make sure everything was taken care of. Thank you Allen! Gracey loved the hotel and enjoyed following us around the hotel room as we got settled in. She ate very well tonight and we slept with her bed right next to ours in the hotel. I slept most of the night with my hand on her and she was so happy.
04/08/08 - Today is the day for Gracey's treatment. The clinic is an hour drive north of Denver and our appointment for treatment is at 9:00 (when the clinic opens). Gracey was so happy and anxious to hit the road this morning. She ran straight for the suv when she saw it in the parking lot. She tried to jump in and Dwight lifted her rear so she felt she had gotten in on her own. We arrived at the clinic and met Dr. Freemyer and his technician right away. Dr. Freemyer examined Gracey and reviewed the medical records and x-rays from the Oncologist. He thought that Gracey may have some cancer in her lungs. Our Veterinarian at home thought the same thing from the x-rays but the Oncologists did not believe there was cancer in the lungs. So at this point, 2 doctors thought there was cancer in the lungs and 1 doctor/oncologist did not. He was still confident with Gracey's treatment since lung cancer is common in the dogs he treats with osteo. He just explained that she could have some difficulty breathing for a couple of days as the treatment cleared the cancer in her lungs (if there was cancer). He said to hang in there and she would make it thru if that happened. Either way, the treatment was a quick and easy injection in her leg/bone with slight sedation. We held her and talked to her during the procedure. The sedation was used mainly due to the sting of the drug as it is being injected. The doctor then reversed the sedation and said Gracey was road ready. We insisted that we wanted to hang around town for the day if there was anything she might need. He said no need and said that she would be fine but to expect what we discussed. We remained at the clinic visiting with the doctor for another 30 minutes or so and discussed all the success he had with this product. Just before we left the clinic, Gracey walked over to the doctor, as he was sitting with us, so that he could pet her before we left. That still seems so odd and sweet as we think back on the day. As we were walking out the door, I turned and asked the doctor how confident he was that this drug would cure Gracey. He said, I have not doubt but a prayer never hurts.
Photo of Gracey and Dr. Freemyer before we left the clinic. Sorry for the bright photo, it was a very sunny day in Colorado.
Since the doctor did not think we needed to stay, we wanted to try to attend the Wednesday morning funeral of our friend (Vanessa Whitwell) who had passed away on Sunday night. We went ahead and stayed in town until 1pm and then Dwight, Gracey and I hit the road and headed for Dallas, Texas (12 hour drive). ETA Dallas, Texas 1:00 am. As we were leaving town, Gracey was breathing heavy as he had stated so I called the vet with the update and then we left town. We had been on the road for about 3 hrs and Gracey was slowly getting worse but we kept saying "well this is part of it so I sit with her in her bed as Dwight drove. We stopped at about 4 pm to see if Gracey wanted to go potty and she wouldn't get up. I said well she hasn't had any food and only a little water due to the sedation so she probably doesn't need to go potty. She was breathing hard so we let her rest in her bed. We drove for another hour or so and Gracey progressively got worse. At 5:00 pm, I called the vet and updated him on her condition. He said he hated that she was having this happen this early but she should be fine. I asked if I could do anything to make her comfortable. The vet said to walk her and see if she would cough up anything from the treatment that was working in her lungs. I said she can't walk. She can barely sit up. He said oh dear I am sorry this is happening. I said are you saying she isn't going to get thru this, are you losing hope? He said oh no, I just hoped she wouldn't get bad since I only suspected cancer in her lungs. But there must be some there and she will get thru this tough time. At this point, we had pulled to the shoulder of the road and I was laying in her bed with her and loving on her and trying to comfort her. We were somewhere south of Pueblo, Colorado. I told Dwight I don't think she is going to make it. She is too bad. Dwight got in the back with us and we layed with her and were loving on her and encouraging her. Our sweet Gracey girl fought hard for us. She struggled hard for 30 minutes. Then at 5:45 pm, she passed away right where she loved to be. In her bed, in my suv, and as close to us as she could be. Dwight and I were devastated and in total shock and of course told Gracey we were sorry about 20 times. We questioned if we made the wrong choice. We are hurting and missing Gracey so bad that we almost can't stand it. But we know this was meant to be for several reasons. This was Gracey's only chance at life with quality. If we had known this could have happened we would have still done the same thing. We would have prepared ourselves differently, but we would have done the same thing. Although, if we had thought the risk was death, we would have been a nervous wreck and sad and Gracey would not have been so happy her last 2 days with us. We had prayed that we would not have to make a decision in the end and we were torn apart inside thinking about the choices on amputaion/chemo or nothing at all. Now Gracey is out of pain and she lived her last few days like she loved to live. We had 12 days with her since her diagnosis on March 27 to prepare ourselves for the thought of losing her in the upcoming months. We spent so much time with her during this time and we told her and showed her how much she meant to us constantly. Thank goodness for those 12 days.
04/09/08 - We arrived in Dallas, TX at 3:45 am. Thanks to the help of my friend/manager, Kari Allen and my friend/coworker, Gabe Grote, we were set up with an emergency 24 hour clinic in Southlake, Texas. We took Gracey to the clinic and we arranged for her to be cremated. We left her in her bed and asked that she be cremated while she lay in her bed. That was one of the hardest things that we have done. Leaving Gracey early that dark and rainy morning was almost as difficult as losing her at 5:45 the night before. But there was also something ironic about leaving Gracey in Texas and in that clinic. First of all, the D&L logo is a Texas star and Gracey started it all years ago. We thought that was ironic that we left her in Texas. Secondly, we found out something later, the clinic that we left Gracey with is the same clinic that our friend Vanessa Whitwell used for her puppy "Cash". "Cash" is Gracey's grandson and Vanessa is our friend that passed away on Sunday night and the reason we were traveling to Dallas with Gracey was to attend Vanessa's funeral. As I walked in the front door of the clinic that morning, I actually said to Dwight, "I wonder if this could be the clinic that Vanessa used?" We found out later that it was. It is amazing how small this world is that we live in. This entire experience has changed us forever. We attended our friend, Vanessa Whitwell's funeral this morning at 11 am. Vanessa was an absolutely amazing person and it helped Dwight and I in many ways to attend the service that was held to honor her life. Then we drove home and arrived around 10:00 pm. We were so happy to see the puppies and to see Redford, Josie and Star. We needed a dobie to hug and they got lots of hugs when we got home. Gracey had a little reminder waiting on us. There was a box waiting on us that had been delivered while we were gone. I opened the box and discovered that it was the new bed that we had ordered for Gracey. :)
04/10/08 - Just an update about the drug that was used on Gracey. We are not giving up on the potential of this product. We do not blame the drug for Gracey's death. We feel that Gracey may have had some type of reaction on top of having some cancer in her lungs that caused her death. I am traveling to a National Sales meeting next week and will present this opportunity to my company so this drug might possibly have a chance at further research and also to market. This drug may need some type of time release properties so that the dog's system is not overwhelmed or maybe be offered in a series of some sort. We also feel that the patients treated with the product should be kept in the clinic for a couple of days so this type of experience does not happen to another family. Gracey's death will not be for nothing. Her death will offer information to improve the properties of this drug. Hopefully, one day this product can be used by all veterinarians to cure dogs with this terrible disease.
04/10/08 - Bare with us as we try to deal with everything and return calls and emails. Your love, support, thoughts, prayers, calls and emails mean so much to us and have helped us more than you could ever know. You all are wonderful people and friends.
04/15/08 - I was able to discuss the cancer drug with the Director of my employer and also with a Veterinarian in R&D this week. We can hope that something good will come from this and that this drug will be improved through R&D and be able to receive approval for market sometime in the future. I will be very interested to see what develops.
05/30/08 - Today was a great day and a hard day at the same time. Our friend, Andy Whitwell from Dallas, TX brought Gracey's ashes home to us. Today was also the first day we saw Andy since Vanessa's funeral the day after we lost Gracey. Andy also brought "Cash" (12/15/07 litter) for a visit for the weekend and it was quite the sight to see Cash playing with Gressa (named after Gracey and Vanessa) and Daisy (02/04/08 litter). Gracey is now at home and a special thank you goes out to Lisa Young for picking her ashes up from the clinic and to Andy Whitwell for bringing her home. It is ironic that 2 families worked together to bring Gracey home and these 2 families also have 3 of Gracey's grandpuppies in their lives. We miss Gracey every minute of every day but feel she is still with us in many ways.
Thank you for all your emails, calls, thoughts and prayers. Dwight and Lesa
D & L's Amazing Gracey
February 14, 2001 - April 8, 2008
I lost a special friend today, the kind you can't replace,
And looking at her empty bed, I still can see her face.
I know she's in a special place, our Lord has for such friends,
Where meadows, fields & flowers, help make them whole again.
I know she's watching over me, She will be here when I cry,
So with just one more kiss, I told my friend goodbye.
Rest in Peace Gracey girl, we will never forget.....