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Cody's Page

* Note: This information should be used as a reference only and not as medical advice.  This outlines the treatment course used for Cody and may not apply to any other case.  Please consult with your trusted veterinary oncologist for medical advice pertaining to your case.  We are not doctors.


This page is for Cody McGrath, the next bone marrow transplant patient of Dr. Suter's.


About Cody

Cody is a Golden Retriever and was born on 4/12/2001.  We got him from Karen Black and a wonderful place called Rebelcreek Reg'd Kennels in Canada where we also got his brother Bailey a year earlier.  We named Bailey after George Bailey from It's a Wonderful Life.  So when Cody came along, we were trying to think of something we could name him from the movie as well.  We thought of Harry, George Bailey's brother but Cody was definitely not a Harry.
So in sticking with the holiday theme, we tried Crosby for Bing Crosby.  Well, Cody was not having it.  My sister Kim said, what about Cody?  Well, Cody perked right up and came right to her and that was it!

Cody is extremely smart (don't all mom's say that?) but it's true.  He loves his stuffed animals and my husband likes to say I have single handedly supported the dog squeaker toy industry.  Joe often says who needs an alarm clock when Cody has a whole trumpet section with which to play.  Cody also loves to play hide and seek.  I will run and hide somewhere in the house and Cody will search until he finds me.

My husband often jokes that he's not sure exactly who is having more fun, me or Cody!  We also discovered that Cody loves to talk.  I used to travel quite a bit for my job so one day when I was calling home, Joe put me on speaker phone.  When Cody heard my voice he came right over to the phone and started wagging his tail.  Joe told me to say hi and when I did, Cody started to howl right back.  Needless to say, when I'm traveling with co-workers it can be quite embarrassing but very fun all the same!   Cody also loves to watch TV.

Animal planet is one of his favorite channels.  And not to forget my better half, Cody also loves to snuggle and hang out with his dad.  I've often found them on a Sunday afternoon laying on the couch and watching football.  It is very cute to see Cody's head draped over his dad's shoulder watching the game with his Dallas Cowboys jersey on!  And not to be forgotten, Cody's big brother Bailey, has been truly amazing throughout our whole experience. Somehow I think he just knows.  Bailey has always been a very wise old soul.  He has been so loving and caring with his brother, sleeping side by side and always making sure Cody's taken care of.  My two boys are just the loves of our lives.

 


Cody's Diagnosis: Lymphoma

We learned of Cody's diagnosis last summer, July 2008.  Cody had developed a mass the size of a golf ball on his neck.  It happened really over night.  We took him to the vets and they did a biopsy to determine what this could be.

Part of what was so difficult for us at the time was our wonderful vet, Dr. Matthew Harres had moved on to another animal hospital so we were dealing with someone who was new to us.  We had just had a pretty big scare with Cody's big brother Bailey a few months earlier and Dr. Harres had done the surgery on Bailey.

Ironically enough, it was a mass on his neck that turned out to be nothing more than a lymphoma.  Unfortunately the lab took far longer than it should have and we were left waiting for over two weeks to learn of Cody's fate.  I had made a vision board and reached out to all my friends and family asking for prayers and well wishes.  I can still remember the phone call, lymphoma...one of the most commonly diagnosed cancers in dogs.  Most commonly diagnosed?  I thought great, then there must be a lot we can do about it.  

In addition, aside from being devastated, I was angry that my vision board hadn't worked.  I am a huge Oprah fans as many of my friends will tell you and I had gotten the idea from a show of hers.  A few months ago, I looked at the vision board again and realized I must have known even back then that this wasn't a board designed so the outcome would be that he didn't have the diagnosis.  Rather, the board has all kinds of sayings that are really about curing Cody.  And it's been faithfully posted in my kitchen ever since.  I'll try to take a picture and see if we can get it posted.  

We got the confirmation of the devastating news while on vacation at our cottage in Palisades Park, Michigan.

Needless to say, time stopped at that moment and I knew life was forever changed.  So, faced with this diagnosis, we began our search for the very best doctors we could find to help us through this.  Thankfully, we found our beloved Dr. Harres at All Pet's Hospital in Lockport, Il.  I tell everyone I know, Dr. Harres is the Tim Russert of Veterinarians.  Just one of those really great, smart guys you adore.  He has such a great way about him!  The minute I heard his voice on the phone I knew we were on the right path.  

We took Cody down to University of Illinois, for a full work up, staging and what turned out to be his first chemo treatment.  I say we, but it was actually my sister Kim and my husband Joe.  You know its funny how life can change everything on a dime.  I had a board meeting at the same time as Cody's appointment and not just a month earlier I was getting very anxious about a presentation I had to do on the strategy of Human Resources for my company.

Here I was, doing an incredibly important presentation and all I could think about was Cody.  Knowing my sister Kim was there gave me an immediate sense of calm.  There are not enough words to say the love and gratitude I feel for her and I would have never made it thus far if not for her.  She is truly one of the greatest gifts God ever blessed me with.  

Cody saw Dr. Virginia Coyle, who was so thorough and just great with Cody.  He was diagnosed with Lymphoma stage 4, substage a, B Cell.   From there we began to look for a local Oncologist that could help us with Cody's treatment.
Again, Dr. Harres came through and suggested we see Dr. Amy Wiedemann at Arboretum View Animal Hospital in Downers Grove, Il.  Dr. Wiedemann is just fantastic.  We have been so lucky to have her and she and her team have given Cody the very best treatment.  We owe her such a debt of gratitude!   She has such a great way about her and Cody just loves her to death, which is pretty amazing considering he knows what going to see her means.   Cody began the Madison Wisconsin protocol which is a series of drugs:  Vincristine, Cyclophosphamide and Doxorubicin.

I think one of the hardest moments for me was being told that there is a 0-2% cure rate.  In other words, lymphoma is a death sentence. You buy time that's it.  Twelve months average, eighteen if you're lucky and this all includes chemo time, which for Cody was six months.

This was unimaginable to me.  I thought again, one of the most commonly diagnosed...but no cure?  No hope?  I refused to accept no hope.  There had to be something.  So thus began my google quest.  I must have googled canine lymphoma a thousand times.  I was obsessed.  I read every story, blog, news bit out there.  I read about Clondike, a Great Pyreness 5/98 - 2/01, Diane Power's Laurs Lady Grace 2/1/2005, Odie Longfellow 12/1998 and Nicholas Pressnall 12/87-5/98.  These stories and so many more, touched my heart and I was so grateful to these wonderful owners for sharing their beloved stories as comfort, education and in loving memory.

I'll never forget this day, October 17, 2008.  I was doing my usual googling on canine lymphoma.  Still searching for something, anything...I came upon an article from the News&Observer that North Carolina State University was going to begin to offer bone marrow transplants for dogs within about four weeks.  WHAT?  WHAOO!...I found myself running around my house, jumping up and down just whaooing my head off.  I knew this was it.  I was scared, unsure, didn't know if we'd be accepted, didn't know what this all meant but I KNEW this was what I had been searching for.
I immediately emailed Dr. Wiedemann who replied with a resounding, I'm all for it and I'll email Dr. Suter today. When we saw her for our next chemo appointment with Cody, she had spoken with Dr. Suter, faxed our information and we were on our way!

Fast forward to December.  While they say that most dogs don't experience many side effects from chemo, our Cody had lost a lot of hair and developed what they call a "chemo coat".  He also seemed like he had lost muscle mass and was a bit more fragile.  None the less, we were grateful to ring in Christmas and the New Year with him and our family.  We got the information from Dr. Suter on the bone marrow transplant details and handbook.  Our biggest concern was how Cody would do through the procedure and his quality of life.  Dr. Suter was great and answered all of our questions and at the end of the day, we realized for the most part with the exception of some potential nausea, etc. the procedure was safe.  This was the answer to our prayers and would be the greatest chance for curing Cody.

People have asked me about the cost for the procedure ($15,000) and while I do not take it lightly, there was never really a question for us.  I looked at it as if someone said, if you do this procedure you have a 30% chance (hopefully more) of living versus if you don't, zero.  Cody is a member of our family and there isn't anything we wouldn't do for him.  WIth all the love and joy he has given Joe and I, giving him the very best chance at life is the very least we could do.  


Final Week to go

Joe took Cody for his treatment of cytoxan in preparation for his upcoming BMT.  I spent the weekend putting together all the details for our trip and making arrangements.  We will leave on Saturday, Valentines Day and are scheduled to meet with Dr. Suter on Monday 2/16 at 9.  I find myself as the days draw closer getting nervous, fidgety and yet very excited.  The hardest part for me will be leaving Cody there for the two weeks and not being able to be with him to comfort him when he doesn't feel well.   I had seen a story on Maverick, Howie and Marna Altman's beloved Weimaraner, who was just going to have the procedure done.  I was anxious to hear how things had gone.   Much to my surprise and delight, they had created a website for Maverick to report his progress and create awareness. 

I read through every detail and then some and contacted them right away.  Marna emailed me right back and I was so excited to hear they were going to pick up Maverick that day!  I felt an instant connect with her and as my sister said, we share a very unique experience.  I knew that there would be a news update on Maverick that night so I kept watching and was so thrilled when Julie Henry, NBC17 reported that Maverick had been pronounced CURED!  YEAH!   

I also had an interview last night with Laura Hawbaker from the Naperville Sun.  They are hoping to run an article on Cody this weekend.

Anything we can do to raise awareness and offer hope, we are more than happy to do so.  My goal and hope is to one day be able to have this for any animal in need and change those survival rates! 


Today 2/11/2009

After much preparation, we are two days away from making the trip down to North Carolina.  How lucky am I, my best friend Kari lives in Cary, North Carolina.  She has offered to let us stay with them and anything we need.  Hearing her voice on the phone the other day, just really made me smile and cry all at the same time.  You know how those special people in your life, who know you so well can do that?  It will be so wonderful to see her and spend some much needed Kari and Suzi time.  Of course I am also thrilled because I get to see my beautiful nephews and nieces, Jimmy, Stephen and Hope!  I think it is a wonderful sign that Cody's BMT will be on Friday the 20th, which is also Kari's birthday.  And my sister Kim is flying in tonight to be here to take care of Bailey when we leave!  My rock is on it's way!  We are truly so very blessed.  

Tomorrow morning we take Cody to see Dr. Wiedemann one last time for a CBC and to get his neupogen shots.  I also heard from Marna today and she and Howie have so graciously offered to give Cody a page on their website.  How incredibly kind and generous is that?  I am so excited!  I am a firm believer of positive thoughts and prayers and am hoping with the creation of this page, it will reach many people.

So if I could ask a huge favor to all of those who might read this, if you could please say a prayer for Cody, I would be forever grateful.  

We'll keep you posted on his progress.


February 13, 2009

The night before our drive down to NSCU, Foxnews Chicago aired a story on Cody.  We were so excited as they had come out that day and spent over two hours at our house, filming, asking all kinds of questions, etc.  I had spent a lot of time explaining the facts of a BMT to the reporter, talking about Dr. Suter and NSCU and even pointed out the website and how to find them.  I also talked a lot about the Altmans, how grateful we were to them and of course, pulled up Maverick’s website so they could show where people could get more information about this and details on Maverick’s story since he had just gone through this procedure.  I was hoping to try and create awareness and our efforts for further advancement options for cancer treatment.  I mention this because the story was not even close to what I had hoped.  In fact, even as I write this days later, it still really bothers me.  They made the whole piece about money and even did a poll on the news as to whether or not it was right or wrong to spend $25,000 on your dog.  I think the person who said, “wrong question” said it best.  There are no words to really express how I felt about what Fox did, suffice it to say, I don’t want to give them any more attention.

On to more important topics…Our drive down to NCSU was just great and Cody couldn’t have been any better.  He was so good in the car, almost as if he knew what was ahead and this was where he needed to go.  Terrance from the Naperville Sun had come over in the morning to take some pictures of us departing.  I had hardly slept the night before and was anxious to get on the road.  Or course Cody’s Aunt Kim woke up with us to make sure we had everything we needed.  Seeing her whisper special words in his ear as his tail wagged brought tears to my eyes – and we hadn’t even left yet!  The first day’s drive seemed as if it had gone by in the blink of an eye.  Although it had snowed a bit the night before, the weather was just great with dry roads and no snow or rain, despite predictions to the contrary.  I had gotten a really sweet text from Jenny, my MP (stands for my person) and it was just that great boost to start us off on a good foot.  Joe and I kept saying we were so grateful with all the well wishes and prayers that it seemed luck was on our side.   A few hours into our trip we came across the hometown of one of our dear friend’s Pam, and we decided to call her.  Hearing her voice was great as she made us laugh and the nervous tension we had about the drive just lifted.  There are too many people to count for all the thank you’s and gratitude we feel, but please know that we do.  We could never thank you all enough and are truly, truly grateful.

 


Valentine's Day

The first half of our trip was over as we pulled in for the night.  I snuggled with Cody in the hotel room as Joe caught up on a few winks.  Which was a good thing too, since Sweet Home Alabama was on (I’ve only watched it a zillion times!) and I knew there’d be some grumblings from Joe had he been awake.  I was tired but still couldn’t sleep.  I didn’t want to miss any time with Cody and figured there would be plenty of time to sleep during the almost 16 days that we’d be away from him.  I will say for anyone traveling with pets, we stayed at the Marriott Residence Inn at both locations, and they were just great. 

 

Needless to say the second day’s drive, while shorter, was much more intense through the hilly roads of West Virginia and Virginia.  I was so thrilled at another day of beautiful weather and anxious to get to Raleigh so we could settle in gearing up for our big day.  I can’t honestly remember ever having emotions that were so juxtaposed in my life.  On one hand, I couldn’t wait to get there, meet Dr. Suter in person, talk about all the details and start what I was sure would be Cody’s cure.  Yet, on the other hand, I was so dreading the thought of leaving my baby, knowing I couldn’t be there to hold him through it, and scared of what he was about to go through.  Joe and I took a moment to talk with him and say a prayer.  I know some may read this and go, what?  But we whispered in his ear, told him that when he got really lonely just remember to hang on, that his mom and dad would come back for him, we promise and that he was the magic of our family.  We also told him that when he was really miserable and wondered where we were, just to close his eyes and we’d meet him in his dreams.  I know that may sound silly to some people who might read this but that thought, that I could some how meet him in his dreams, was what gave me comfort in a very dark moment.

 


Monday, February 16th

The big day, our first meeting with Dr. Suter.  I woke up at 5 am and scoped Cody up close to me for the remaining 90 minutes we had until the alarm went off.  I’m so glad I had that time as I’ve often thought about it these past 36 hours.  Dr. Suter – what can I say, AMAZING!  We loved him instantly.  So warm and caring, easy going and just a great guy.  Cody warmed right up to him and I knew he was in the very best care.  He explained everything to us, went over all the details and answered our zillion questions.  Joe and I left knowing not only were we doing the right thing but with the right doctor.  We also met some of the team that would be looking after him.  Everyone was so warm and friendly – and they all called out Cody’s name to him as if they were waiting to see an old friend.  We were so blessed as total strangers came up to us and told us they heard about Cody and had asked for a prayer for him at church.  How amazing!  We especially loved the woman who said she was sure her pastor would have a fit if he knew, so she left out the small tiny detail that her prayer request was for a dog.  We left Cody and said we’d be back later to say good night.  We placed a call to my sister Kim, who had been spoiling our big baby, Bailey with walks and lots of love.  Just knowing she was with him, allowed me to completely focus all my energy on Cody and I was so grateful. 

 

We also brought Cody’s vision board which is included in Cody’s pictures below.  I told Dr. Suter the only last minute addition to the board was the cut out, “medical miracle” that we placed right under Cody’s picture.  Without skipping a beat, Dr. Suter replied, “no pressure!”   His humor and good nature was just what we needed as we had to prepare to leave Cody for his first night without us.

 

As I mentioned previously, part of the blessing in all of this was that my best friend Kari lives just a few miles away in the next town.  We made our way over to her house and were welcomed with big hugs and warm smiles.  I was stunned to see how big all my nephews and nieces had grown.  We had a lovely evening and got to catch up on all of life’s details.  She looked amazing and was so happy it was inspiring. 

 

The time flew by and after a few visits with Cody; we were down to the last goodbye.  Ugh.  I told Dr. Suter that Joe suggested I should try and look at this time away from Cody as he was on vacation with Dr. Suter.  Dr. Suter laughed as he proclaimed it would be a very boring one (the harvesting takes about six hours where they just sit there all day.)  Even now just recalling it can make me well up with tears.  We took him for a walk and snuggled in the car for a few quiet moments.  He knew, the look on his face said it all.  Cody has this amazing ability to let you know exactly what his thinking and how he’s feeling.  He put his head over my shoulder and I just hugged him tightly.  I refused to cry in front of him or be sad as I didn’t want to make the situation any worse.  As we handed him over to Dr. Suter, Cody paused and turned back to come with us.  I called out to him to remember that we would meet him in his dreams and quickly turned to get in the car.  The moment was everything I knew it would be but somehow one you are never quite prepared for when it comes. 

 

We flew home last night and when I walked in the door was greeted by my other baby, Bailey.  I was grateful for the overwhelming joyous greeting he gave us and my heart sank when he cried looking for his brother.  I stopped short when I looked over to Cody’s bowls and saw the empty places where they once were (we brought them in the car down to NCSU.)   The house is definitely not the same without him and I am starting to count down the days until we can go pick him up again.  What I learned from Howie, Marna and reinforced by Dr. Suter is that this whole process is a series of milestones along the way.  I have to remember to celebrate each one as they come.   

 

Cody’s story had run in the Chicago Suntimes and Naperville Sun papers and I laughed as I started to read the story.  As if there was anything knew I was going to learn about my own life!  Tomorrow is a big day as we wait to hear about the results of Cody’s PARR (a molecular test) and see if he is good to go for the harvesting.

 


Wednesday, February 18, 2009

YEAH!  We just heard from Dr. Suter (a.k.a. now known as Dr. Steve to us) and Cody’s CBC looks good.  His white blood cells (WBC) are 23,000/ul today (up from 16,000 yesterday).  Dr. Suter is going to give him a double dose of Neupogen tonight and then another double dose tomorrow morning before the harvest. This should get him over 30k/ul with no problem which is what we need for the harvesting process. 

 

And he told us, the best news – Cody’s molecular test, called PARR, for lymphoma was negative in both his blood and bone marrow!!  So that means Cody is "clean" and ready to go! YEAH!  Okay celebrating this moment…little dance…little shimmy.  I emailed Dr. Steve that I was picturing tomorrow as a fishing trip for him and Cody.  One that starts early in the morning, where they don’t catch any fish, but just swap stories.  I told him Cody likes singing and to make sure he put Cody’s bug spray on and brought a hat to block the sun!  Okay a little delirium one could speculate but whatever gets you through the day, right? 

 

We’ll keep you updated as we learn more.  Thank you everyone for all the well wishes and prayers!  

 

With love and gratitude,

Suzi (Cody’s proud mom)


Thursday, February 19th…Harvesting Day!

I just got off the phone with Dr. Suter.  Good news - all went well today.  It’s a very long process, six/seven hours but he said that Cody did great and they harvested plenty of cells, 2.6KLM  (they like at least 2MM.)  They are going to go ahead with the BMT tomorrow and he'll call again. While my nerves are rising, it’s far more important that I keep positive thoughts flowing and continue to practice the secret!  Dr. Suter told us that we wouldn’t know if this has worked until sometime between next Thurs or Sunday.  While it will seem like a lifetime, I’ve learned we have to just get through each hurdle before focusing on the next.  I also say that while still being incredibly impatient!  I’ll feel much better knowing that he’s grafted and on the mend.  Dr. Suter also told me that Cody was really sad and mopey without us, which of course just breaks my heart. 


 

Friday, February 20th…Bone Marrow Transplant Day!


We just learned that all went well – like clockwork.  So another hurdle down.  Dr. Suter said Cody was quite tired and sleeping soundly, not surprising given his two long days.  They've started the big gun antibiotics and first of his GI meds for the nausea.  He said he did great and no problems with anything "right now" (you can appreciate I hung on to the "right now" but I understand.)  Now begins the fun wait until the "magic" cells find their way to Cody’s bone marrow and start multiplying.  He's in intermediate care and will be there until his neurtophils hit the skids, then isolation.  He's figuring probably Tuesday...Dr. Suter was so sweet and had Cody's vision board traveling with him.  For anyone that might be following this, you will hear me say this a thousand times.  There are no words to describe how truly phenomenal Dr. Suter and his team are.  They are simply amazing!  While this is so incredibly difficult, I couldn’t imagine Cody being in any better hands.  Dr. Suter has a gift.  He is like the Dr. Doolittle for anyone that remembers that of the modern age!    

February 21 …Its 6 am Saturday morning…why can’t I be up that early no problem Monday through Friday?  But I know why…Cody.  I just want Cody.  I whisper into the air, I love you…I love you Cody…can you hear mommy….just hold on.  I promise I coming for you.  Sounds strange I’m sure, but it’s exactly how I’m feeling.   I’m wondering how in the heck am I going to make it through these next few weeks without him?  The house already seems so strange. 

As I go downstairs, I see snow…how lucky were we?  This same time last week we were leaving for NCSU.  I mention this because I can’t tell you enough how grateful we are for everyone’s well wishes and prayers.  We truly feel they helped us on our journey. 

Cody update:  they switched him over to a super hypoallergenic diet to help him with the GI toxicity when he starts to feel ill.  Dr. Suter said for now he was just being his happy, lovable self.  Dr. Suter also told us that Cody hadn’t bothered with his jugular catheter yet but I told him, “just be prepared, you should just put the e-collar on him and save yourself the trouble as Cody will do exactly what Maverick did.”  They also started Cody on some antibiotics and were waiting for his CBC results to come back.  I’ve learned to live and breathe by CBC results! 

 

So back to the snowstorm…I was out shoveling the back deck, steps down and the little area in front of it for Bailey so it isn't slippery (always a mom right?) and when I shoveled the little area in front of the steps, I uncovered one of Cody's little stuffed animals, a seal - one of the last I gave him before we left.  Well, needless to say that was all it took.  I could only imagine what my neighbors must have thought seeing me holding a stuffed seal in my hand and crying!  My husband of course tried to tell me it was my way of trying to get out of shoveling the back deck (he does all the rest.)  But I tell you, the waiting period coupled with your emotions and brutal!  Here is where support systems are really so important. 

 

A surprise gift - flowers from my dear old best friends…Rima, Roma & Lola!  The special girlfriends that you read about and wish you could have…I’m lucky enough to have them!  The anytime, no matter how long its been or crazy life gets, you can hear their voice or see their handwriting and it instantly takes you to that special place in your heart that only few people get to be on a permanent basis.  I’m truly blessed and the beautiful arrangement couldn’t have come at a more perfect moment. 

I have to also say that Marna Altman has been such a lifeline for me!  For anyone who contemplates this, please make sure you reach out to us.  There is something to be said for someone knowing exactly what you are going through.  And of course Marna emailed me with just the right words I needed to hear at that moment.  She is truly a blessing! 



Week of February 23...

Cody updates:  I feel like I should start to call this “As the stomach churns” or “the longest days of my life”…My family will tell you I was always the dramatic one.  But it’s true – each day I wake to wonder, what will it be, good day or do I brace for a bad one.  We heard from Dr. Suter for our daily update.  Cody is his usual self today - still eating well.  His neutrophils dropped below 1,000/ul today to 800, so they moved him into isolation.  His platelets today were 50K/ul, which is much higher than yesterday, which Dr. Suter said makes him happy.  He said to prepare that Cody's neutrophils will decrease by about 1/2 every day now, so he thinks Thursday or so will be his bottom.  He added another antibiotic yesterday but didn't change any other meds.  Dr. Suter also emailed us some pictures on Sunday that we’ll see if we can get posted.  Cody still looks so cute, even with a zillion tubes coming out of him. 

 

Midweek Cody updates:  Cody still looks excellent. His appetite is down a bit-will only eat canned Z/D, but otherwise he is happy and healthy. Wagging away whenever the team goes in to see him.  Cody is now 4 days post-TBI, so everything is all expected.  His WBC (white blood count) today is down to 240, with neutrophils at 180 and his platelets and red blood cells are holding steady.

 

We are planning that he will probably bottom out tomorrow or Thursday.  Then comes the praying and good thoughts marathon.  And of course, as Dr. Suter so sweetly put it, they will rub his vision board, put out the good vibes and wait for the rebound to begin! Which usually takes 24-48 hrs...so here is where the most critical time begins, the end of this week and beginning of next.  One hurdle at a time.  We also learned poor thing peed all over his pillow last night, so the team is so kind to give it a good washing for him.  Good thing it was Joe’s pillow I left!

 

We also learned that not only is Dr. Suter on clinics the next two weeks and has a ton of other patients to deal with, but he has another new patient arriving, Molly Goodwin.  Doesn’t that sound like a movie stars name?  I love it!  She is a Chesapeake Bay Retriever with b-cell LSA.  They are planning on transplanting her this Friday 2/27.   I can’t imagine how exhausting this must be for Dr. Suter.  And here’s what he won’t say because he’s far too modest, but he’s worried about the backlog of dogs waiting for this potentially life saving procedure, so he’s pushing it up to try and help get more through.  Can you imagine?  He’s amazing!  So now we call him Dr. Miracle!  I also want to wish Molly and her family the very best as they begin this journey!

New Cody updates: There isn’t much really new to report besides some small things. His GI issues are about the same as yesterday and he’s still not too interested in food.  Cody has some minor diarrhea, but nothing major, all part of the GI toxicity. Dr. S said he was happy as can be, looking longingly at the door, wagging away when anyone is in with him.  Okay if that doesn’t just pull at my heartstrings!

 

He’s added another GI med, called Cerenia, and another antibiotic, called

Flagyl. So Cody is now on the full spectrum of drugs these BMT dogs all

go on.  His neutrophil count today is only 22/ul and his platelets are 35k and his

Hct is 28. I’m guessing today is his neutrophil nadir, of course this being in all my medical years of training!  Or he may hit zero tomorrow, there is no way to know for sure until we get the tests back.  I’ve been warned not to start counting days to rebound yet!  I think Dr. Suter is starting to know me a little too well…



February 27

Cody had 18 neutrophils today and with yesterdays at 22; they are about the same so this is probably his nadir day.  Tomorrow will prove the magic number. Dr. Suter said he looked great when he went in to see him this evening.  Another day down…now I start to look at the clock and try not to watch the time as I wait to see when will be his rebound. 



February 28th

Okay fast forward to the good stuff….the email you wait this whole time to get.  70 neutrophils today---yyeeeeeaaaahhhhhh!!!  Up from 28 yesterday.  Which means Cody is officially engrafting, how wonderful! Dr. Suter said he feels great and looks great- eating well, just acting like his normal, affectionate self.  WHAOOO!!!!  We actually screamed a whole lot more “colorful” phrases but you get the picture…Happy dance…happy day…I also want to thank everyone again for all of their prayers and well wishes!  WE ARE TRULY GRATEFUL!

 

The only other item to note, is Cody’s platelets are very low, at 3.  Ah yes, the next hurdle quickly comes.   They will watch him very closely for any evidence of minor bleeds...gums, abdomen, around his eyes, etc.  Imagine my eyes when I read that!  However, NCSU has a donor dog in the hospital all weekend – how cool is that!  We are hoping given how fast he’s dropped that this too will rebound very quickly.  As a side note, Dr. Suter told me Molly’s BMT went great.  Yeah Molly! 



March 2nd, Monday…

Our daily update from Dr. Suter was again that roller coaster.   Great news, his neutrophils are up to 423 today!  Yeah!  The expectation is that they will be close to 1,000 tomorrow so Cody should be able to come out of isolation tomorrow.  One more hurdle down.

 

However, his platelets are still very low.  While they take a while to really kick in they are still lower than he likes. Usually Dr. Suter worries about anything below 17 and Cody is at 16.6.  So they’ll do another CBC at 3 today and depending upon where he’s at they may do a whole blood transfusion, which would also help him with his platelets.  As Dr. S assured me, while it may sound scary and alarming, transfusions are a normal part of the process and even though Cody’s neutrophils are recovering nicely, sometimes these guys just need that extra support.  It also gives me comfort to know that Maverick went through the same thing.

 

Cody also managed to just about pull out his catheter last night, so they had to

re-suture it back in place.  Same thing as Maverick did – I’m telling you these guys are two peas in a pod!  So it’s time for the soft e-collar, just as I expected!  Cody also managed to incessantly lick his backside so this should also help with that as well. 

 

So that’s the latest!  I’m sorry this took so long to post some updates.  I kept thinking, well after this is over, when we have the news on that, etc.  Suffice it to say it’s one hurdle at a time but I’m so thrilled with how well Cody’s doing.  He’s been truly amazing through this and I can’t wait to get to scoop him in my arms again! 

 

I also wanted to take a moment and thank the kindness of strangers.  After our story ran in Foxnews, we received a lovely letter from Chuck Grachan who was so kind and thoughtful to send us some wonderful words of encouragement and share his own story with us about his beloved dog, McDougal.  You can check out his great story at www.greatestdogintheworld.com.  Thank you so much Chuck, your note was truly wonderful.   We also received some phone calls as well – thank you to all of you who’ve been so moved and interested in Cody’s story.  We are grateful for your thoughts and well wishes.

 

I’ll continue to keep you posted!

 

With love and gratitude,

Suzi (Cody’s proud mom)