Camping and Chemo…

The weekend in the Keys camping with Cody was absolutely awesome. We had a blast! He loved it all… the sleeping outdoors, the beach, swimming in the ocean, the campfires, eating under the stars, rain on the tent and having all the attention to himself. Four days and three nights of total Cody bliss!

Unfortunately the day before we were leaving I noticed his glands were swollen again and it just crushed me. This not only means that the Leukeran is not working and seemingly has no effect whatsoever…. but it also means that we are running out of options for treating his cancer. I called Dr Butzer Thursday morning first thing to see if we should even go camping at all with his glands swollen. We talked about it….

Me: “What do you think about him being out camping for four days with his nodes like this? I mean… I know we are running out of options for treating him since the Leukeran is not working. I would really like to take him and create these memories with him while i can. I don’t want to isolate him constantly, I want him to enjoy his time.”

Butzer: “Take him. It will make him happy. He needs that. I think you should take him.”

Me: “So we will do the chemo Tuesday morning when we get back then.”

Butzer : ” Yes he will be fine. Last time his glands came back we had to wait a week to do any treatment anyway didn’t we? His whites were too low.”

Me: “yes… exactly… ok let’s makes the Tuesday appointment and we will have a great weekend regardless.”

Butzer : “Sounds good”

And so we went camping and had a blast… I kept him on the Leukeran all weekend anyway… can’t hurt. And he did fine. He smiled all weekend.

So we left Friday morning before 7am… car packed to the ceiling and a nice big space in the back seat for the boy.

We made a couple stops… one at Robert Is Here which is a fruit and vegetable stand in Florida City right at the entrance to Everglades National Park. It is such a great story about Robert.

Robert Is Here Fruit Stand was established by Robert in the late fall of 1959.
At that time, six-year-old Robert was set on this very corner with some of his father’s cucumber crop and told to “Sell ‘em!” Robert sat all day that Saturday and no one even stopped. That evening, Robert’s father decided that “there can’t be that many people who don’t like cucumbers; they must not see this little boy standing here on the corner. ” The next day, Robert’s father placed a sign on each side of the table proclaiming in big red letters “Robert Is Here.” By noon Robert had sold all of the cucumbers and walked home.

We bought some fresh papaya, tomatoes, apple-bananas, onions, garlic, broccoli and a few other things and headed into the Keys. We made another stop in Marathon for some fresh Florida Yellowtail Snapper and shrimp. Then over the Seven Mile Bridge into Bahia Honda.

We got to Bahia Honda which is about 30 miles north of Key West and the only natural beach in the entire Keys, around noon. We set up camp in the blazing sun, it was about 83 degrees and the site was mostly in the sun at the time we arrived. The boy was what I like to call a Hot Dog.


We took Cody to the beach, swimming, and we relaxed by the camp for the whole weekend. It was awesome… We went to a dog beach up the road from the camp and it was perfect. I have a life preserver for Cody ever since the incident in the pool last year. Just to preface this, Cody is a swimmer. He has been swimming since he was a puppy and never tired of the water at all. He is of course a Labrador. If you have not read that post it was spring time and he had been on chemo for a while, and basically was swimming around the pool, froze, and sank. I saw his face change and thought he was having a seizure. And like a Mom who can lift a truck to save a trapped child, I jumped at him and yanked him out of the pool in one swift move. He is never allowed in the water again without the life jacket. Anyway, we went to this beach and I took him out in the water. He was loving it. At one point I knelt down and he swam up to me, put his front paws around my neck, back legs on my thighs and head on my shoulder… and hugged me in the water. He just stopped moving completely and chilled out in my arms. It was absolutely amazing… the high point of my weekend with him. He just trusts me that much. How awesome to have this large animal’s total love and trust like this. My boy….


He was a worn out boy all weekend… and when he could find a nice shady spot like under the picnic table he would pass out…

We had a raccoon adventure a few nights where they would come boldly into the campsite with a fire and a dog! Cody did not know what to do, but I did. Into the tent he went. We also got rained on two nights which was so fun! I love the smell of rain and the sound on the tent was awesome.

The weekend went by way too fast and then it was time to pack it in and head home again. We stopped for a quick goodbye on the way out and look at the water… and then stopped in Key Largo for some more snapper, some fresh Florida Grouper and STONE CRAB CLAWS!!!!

We got home around 5pm and unpacked, showered and chilled out with the crab claws which were DELICIOUS!!!!!! Cody passed out snoring almost immediately.

This morning I took him to see Dr Butzer at 9am. We did a CBC which I was prepared to be very low. Not the case! Surprisingly this CBC was the best one he has had since he started chemo… his whites are 9.14!!!! I was shocked and so was Butzer. I attribute it to his fun weekend… it was in fact good for him! His reds are 6.35 and platelets are 272.  He had his regular run down of Doxyrubicin, Dexamethasone, Benedryl, Pepcid, Vitamins, Regulan, and fluid. I also got him his new license and the total came out to $402.10.


But not as ouch as this…


He powers through it all though. Still smiling.

And so on we go… we are going to give the Leukeran another shot starting it back up in a week and see if it can prolong the time in between treatments. Might as well. This last round did nothing. It was again two months on the nose. Maybe we will have better luck this time.

Wish us luck!

~ by Michelle Sammartino-Zeto on February 28, 2012.

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