Progress in defeating cancer

So, on Wednesday(yes, this blog post is a little late), the veterinarian came back for a round three of Baldur’s chemo treatment. And I have to start off with saying that it is looking very good at this point!

After drugging him and letting him drop, his penis was washed. There is nothing infected or any puss, just dry and flaky skin. The veterinarian could actually just scrape off some of the cancerous Papillomas and they would just leave scar tissue. Very good! Not everything is gone yet though, the “elephant” skin further up is looking better, but it is still there. The skin is drying and flaking off, so the “elephant” skin will most likely be gone soon!

As for more treatments, Baldur got a stronger dose this day, just so that we are sure everything is being killed off. We have scheduled another appointment in two weeks time, and from then on we will see if he needs more treatment, or if the Papillomas are gone!

It may be too soon to tell, but my veterinarian assured me it is looking like it may be a cancer-free Christmas for us. And that is literally my only wish, for Baldur to come back to 100% health and cancer free.

Other than that, I am very busy trying to finish my exams, and it is taking a toll! My brain is probably working on over-load at this point. I do however have some exciting news to announce on this blog soon! I have already announced it on my Instagram, but not very much in depth. I feel and hope that 2018 will be with a fresh, healthy and happy start!

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Photo above: Baldur getting droopy. I love how gentle he is. Not tying him up for the vet is so practical.

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Photo above: Here you can see the very dry skin that is left after the last treatment. There have grown some new darker spots on the very tip of his penis(you can just see them under the veterinarians right hand).

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Photo above: The “elephant” skin is definitely looking better!

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Photo above: One spot that had a bit much cream from last treatment, that actually created a wound – but this is also good, now we know that Papilloma is 100% gone.

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Photo above: Baldur’s manhood after putting on the chemo cream. The veterinarian was very generous with the amount of cream this time, making the dose stronger.

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Photo above: Finally a photo when Baldur got his dose of Metacam(pain-relief). It’s always so fascinating to watch.

Throwback Tuesday #1

I thought I’d do a little series of throwbacks to show all of you our journey so far. I started writing this blog two years after my first meet with Baldur, so not many of you have seen us from day one. That’s why I think this will be something fun. Also for me, looking back at these old videos really do bring out good old memories.

As for the the first throwback Tuesday, why not start at the beginning? In fact, let’s start with the very first video I posted of Baldur. My best friend Isabelle was so kind to film one of our early trick training sessions. We were very fresh on each other, trying to learn communication. Baldur was so positive and willing to learn, he was(and still is) a joy to work with!

Also, do you notice his stunning, long mane and forelock? Absolutely gorgeous. NOT. This is how he looked when I started leasing him. No mane, small forelock and an eaten-up tail. As well as a thick coat of yellow fur. Such an eye-pleaser, am I right? He almost looks like an over-grown yearling, but he was actually 10 years old here.

Looking back at this, I start to miss the times when I actually worked him at liberty consistently. Since we didn’t understand each other, it was necessary for us to work like this from the ground.

This video is dated to January 28th of 2015, 16 days into leasing Baldur. It’s actually really weird how almost 3 years have past now! It almost feels like it was yesterday when I first laid my eyes on him. I am of course hoping that we will get many more years together.

 

Second round of treatments

The day has finally come for the second round of the chemo treatments. I was a bit nervous as to finding out how the treatment is working so far, and the veterinarian is still optimistic! The chemicals in the cream has burned little by little on the papillomas. Some of them have become smaller, and are not “sticking out” as much as before. It’s not much, but it is definitely progress!

As if it wasn’t stressful enough to have a cancerous horse, at least the bills are not one of my stress factors anymore. I am almost looking forward to getting the bills and being able to pay them instantly. The fund to pay for Baldur’s treatment bills has risen to $2,450 USD, it’s really insane! After paying the final bill and clearing Baldur of cancer, any remaining amount will go to Prince Fluffy Kareem and Kreftforeningen(Norway’s Cancer Society). So I am really excited about that too!

Our next treatment session will be in two weeks, and since Baldur handled the treatment so well, today’s treatment was with even more of the cream. So I am curious to how Baldur’s manhood will look like for the next treatment.

I can gladly say that Baldur has been acting like himself. But due to lack in motivation when it comes to training, he has become very stiff. But that is something we will have to work on!

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Photo above: Baldur getting more and more droopy from the drugs. Since he has been regularly drugged these past months, he is starting to handle them less and less. So today he was really sleepy.

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Photo above: Cleaning out! It’s starting to get easier and easier to clean him out, as the infection is leaving. So just that is a very good sign!

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Photo above: I couldn’t help myself to take this photo. Baldur never drops his lips, but today was the day he went all out. He dropped his top lip as well!

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Photo above: Putting on a more generous amount of cream this time. As he didn’t react bad to it at all. She is only putting cream on the papillomas, hence why she is only putting on dots.

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Ending this post with Baldur’s droopy and sleepy face. He is such a hero to me. 

A thank you

Gathering thoughts is something that I am normally not very good at. As usual, my thoughts and feelings are chaotic on the loose inside my brain, and getting a hold of them is almost impossible. 

Being thankful isn’t even a fraction of how I feel. I feel so loved, supported, encouraged, comforted, grateful. I mean, the list goes on. I don’t think any word in the dictionary can be enough to describe the feelings I have had the last couple of days. From being devastated about the insurance company not covering the fees, being shocked by the bill from the veterinary(so far over 8.000 NOK, $1000 USD) and then the amazing, indescribable feeling when some of my friends made a surprise fund page for us.

I have cried my eyes out too many times over a short period of times. After we were worried about cancer, after getting the diagnosis, after the first treatment and when receiving tons of support from around the world.

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The response has been mind-blowing. Absolutely so incredible. I could never in my wildest imagination know that the response would be this huge. Its literally insane how many people who are and have supported me and Baldur through this process. I am lost for words.

It’s incredible how well over 400 people have contributed already, and it’s barely been 48 hours since it was published. The page has incredibly reached over 19.000 NOK($2.400 US!)! And this fund page is only available for Norwegians, and still there are so many. It’s almost overwhelming. The feeling of having so many people supporting Baldur’s battle with cancer is amazing.

I don’t really know where I am going with this blog post, but I just want to let everyone know that I am so incredibly thankful for every single one supporting us though this battle. It gives me so much hope and perseverance. We will get through this, I am sure of it. Baldur is such a strong-willed horse, and just the fact that he is the one comforting me says a lot.

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Baldur’s next round of chemo treatments will be in one week, on November 1st. Then we will also find out if the treatment is working as good as we are hoping. If it doesn’t work, we have to try something else, and the last option is to amputate. It may sound terrible, but it isn’t as bad as it may sound. Veterinaries and general science is on our side, and I am determined to beat the crap out of this cancer.

Again, I want to give huge thanks to everyone who is supporting us. From sending me messages, giving me hugs and just showing that you are here for me when I need it the most. I am forever grateful to have such an amazing community of people around me. 

 

Challenging my fate

Another Norwegian term I like to use when I am doing something reckless! Okay, it may not seem like an incredible stunt or something dangerous at all, but keep in mind that my little painted goof-ball has had some issues with holding his energy at bay. So I do feel pretty bad ass for letting go of the reins – bareback, in canter, on the fields.

But here we are! I have to admit that Baldur has become much calmer and relaxed over the years, much thanks to Witanor Horse(feed supplement) for helping on that department. But he has also come to a point in his age where he starts to grow up. At least I hope this is it. I mean, he is 12 years old. How much longer is he going to act like a baby?

Back to riding bareback with no reins – this isn’t new to us at all, but everything becomes riskier once you leave the gate and go out in the open. I’m not going to lie, I have been on plenty of hacks bareback in just a neck rope, but it has been a while since that time. But as it looks now, we might be heading back to that. At least I might try to ride him on the fields with a neck rope and the bridle as an emergency brake. You can never be too safe, right?

Now back to these photos, this was actually the day after I received the call from the veterinarian confirming Baldur has a benign cancer. So having a photo shoot to get my mind elsewhere was much needed! We had a lot of fun, and it was so freeing to ride across the fields like this.

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Photo above: I absolutely love the colors in this! I am not really a fan of orange, but the colors of autumn never let me down!

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Photo above: I gave him loose reins in the canter to see where is mindset was at. He was relaxed and available. I always test my limits before I cross them!

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Photo above: Slowly letting go of the reins, one hand at a time. Still testing our limits here!

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Photo above: Finally letting go and getting the extra feeling of freedom.

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Photo above: And of course, a photo shoot is never complete without some action shots(we don’t really rear often, it is mostly for play or photos).

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Photo above: Did you know I taught Baldur to rear on voice command? This way he knows the rear both riding and on ground, by simply having the same noise cue. He is very clever! And it also releases me from having to put contact on the bit.

The first round of chemo treatments

Starting off with a warning that the photos in this blog may come as a little graphic and nasty. On Monday, we finally had our first session with the chemo treatments to try and take out the cancer. 

The veterinarian showed up at about 1 pm, and we were ready to roll. She started off cleaning him again. There was a lot of dirt and still some infected areas, but it’s looking much better than before already. The whole day was a bit of a process, so let me take this step by step.

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Photo taking while doing the wash and cleanup. The photo above shows the discoloration that we were troubled with. It’s starting to dry out and flake off, so it’s a good sign already. But there is still a long way to go.

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Still not done with the washing, but here you can see some of the residue.

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In the photo above, you can see our main problem, the benine cancerous papillomas. The occur as white spots, almost looking like blemishes, all over his penis. They have yet again grown in size and number, so it’s good we are able to start the treatment so soon.

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There is also being formed some kind of tallow around his urethra.

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The Efudix is being applied. This is the cream that acts like chemo. It will slowly burn away the skin and the papillomas. A painful process, but hopefully they will be gone in three treatments!

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Finally, Baldur getting a good dose of pain killers. I also received some pain killers to give him the two following days through a tube in the mouth.

 

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Above and under are the two new additions to my health supply. The Efudix cream and Metacam(pain killers).

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Ending this little blog post with a picture of the patient recovering from the drugs. He doesn’t look very pleased, does he?

Snuggling up with Aztec Diamond Equestrian

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As an update for you all, I talked with the vet again on Monday. She had talked with a specialist in equine reproductive organs, and they decided the best way to go was with chemo therapy. We will hopefully start the treatments this upcoming Monday, that is if they can get a hold of the drugs. The drugs have to be accepted in to Norway(some strong stuff), and we hope to have it in by tomorrow. Baldur will have treatments every two weeks until the papillomas are gone, and no one knows how many treatments it will take. But I am starting to feel optimistic.

However, Aztec Diamond Equestrian doesn’t stop to impress me with their base layers. I am wearing the white base layer in these photos. I also had this one under my show jacket when we competed in gaited!

And of course, I can’t have a post where I don’t show a tad of motherly love towards Baldur. These photos are from a few days ago, when we decided to take a little photo shoot up in the fields. As you can see in some of these photos, you get a taste of Baldur’s personality. He is curious and goofy, but he is still so gentle and warm. These are some of my favorite traits about Baldur.

I’d also like to point out that when I first got to know Baldur, he was extremely head shy and was not interested in being “friendly” with people. If I tried to pet him on the face, he would turn away in a blink, and if you wanted to brush his face, you’d have to hold him by the halter. Right now, we are at a point where he seeks the contact, and doesn’t say no to being massaged in the face with his favorite brush.

It took us a lot of time, and a lot of building trust, but we are finally getting somewhere! It’s kind of weird to look back at how he used to be when we first met versus how lively he has become. He has come a long way, and I can’t wait to see what else will change!

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Photo above: After getting a good taste of my face, Baldur was interested in getting to know what my riding helmet tasted like as well! This is one of my favorite photos. It shows Baldur’s curious personality and me just having to cope with it(I was having a blast)!

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Autumn vibes

So, a few days before we got the dreaded diagnosis, me and Maja took advantage of the autumn colors that have appeared in Norway recently. It had been a while since we teamed up to photograph the boys, and the weather was too perfect for photographing to turn down this opportunity!

The autumn view in Hamar is just so beautiful right now. Almost all the trees have turned bright red, orange and yellow. Very soothing for a tiny-bit stressed soul. Of course, the horses are enjoying the dry, colder weather! I am looking forward to snow, but at the same time, I am not! I am not very excited about walking to the stables when it’s icy and cold outside. But nothing beats a nice canter in half a metre of snow!

The snow has already come to several parts of Norway already, so I am at high alert and I won’t be surprised if I wake up one day and notice that the autumn colors are gone and all I can see is white. But we will take it as it comes! Looking forward to getting winter pitcures again!

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Photo above: Starting off with a little squaring to be able to look back at how well his body looks at the moment! He is fit and has a fair amount of muscles!

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Photo above: Of course, no photoshoot is complete without a smile!

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Photo above: This one can never turn down a treat, so he gladly performs to be rewarded afterwards!

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Photo above: And here, ladies and gentlemen, a typical Baldur. Calm and zen in one minute, and in another, something is dangerous! I think it was a cow that spooked him this time, as they have a large pen behind the stables. Baldur never really appreciates his family.

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Photo above: And of course I wanted to get a semi-closeup of his new show halter. I even got him a nameplate!

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Photo above: Another typical Baldur moment. Having only three legs must take a toll.

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Photo above: Baldur sure knows how to act like a model!

Cancer; the reality

I am not going to lie and say that I am fine. I am not going to say that not crying while I am writing this either. Today has been a literal roller coaster. I woke up before my alarm due to stress. I knew today was the day I might get the results back from the biopsy. I couldn’t sleep, so I woke up early and got ready for school.

The only thing I could do at school was to keep looking at my phone and when the screen lighted up, my hear would skip a beat. I was finished at school at around 1-2 pm, went home and made something to eat. No call yet, and at 3, I went to the stables. Baldur greeted me as he always does. Stalked me around in the paddock while I was mucking. At times he would bump into my back with his muzzle for attention. I cuddled him, stroked him and I was just so happy in that moment.

After the stable chores, I took Baldur out for a bareback ride in the huge fields, and it was such a relief. To be able to breathe normally and enjoy the moment without worrying that I would get a call. Baldur was a total sweetheart. We cantered some, walked some, and stopped to enjoy the view. Baldur got some treats as well, he was such a good boy.

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Skipping to about an hour ago, I was sitting in bed watching a TV show. The clock was at 5:30 pm and I was at ease because I thought I would have to wait till Monday for the call. Out of the blue, my phone rang and it was the veterinarian. My heart stopped and I almost couldn’t bring myself to pick up.

The veterinarian could unfortunately confirm that Baldur has cancer. As it looks now, it is thankfully a benign cancer(papilloma). Of course, there is a risk that it can develop into a malignant cancer. On Monday, our veterinarian will talk to a specialist in equine reproductive organs and come to a conclusion on what treatments to go for. I will make sure that Baldur gets the best treatment possible, even if that means I have to live on the streets for the rest of my life. I can’t express enough how much this horse means to me.

I know this is a good case scenario for having cancer, but in my mind, cancer is cancer. And I am scared to death. I am so worried I am about to explode and I have no idea how to act and what to do. But I know one thing, at that is that I am going to do anything in my power to beat this cancer and get Baldur back in 100% health.

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*TRIGGER WARNING* Symptoms and biopsies

I have to start off by yet again warning for triggering photos. I decided to share the whole experience from the veterinary visit yesterday. I will say straight out that the symptoms have gotten worse, and it’s not looking good. His swelling is almost gone and there wasn’t as much infection, but the white spots have grown larger, and the discoloration has gotten worse.  

The first thing that happened yesterday what that Baldur got his shoes trimmed. And to prepare for winter, he got studded shoes! His toe has come a little too far forward for my liking, so I asked the farrier to work on shortening his toe to give him more balance in the hoof. So it’s a process!

Instead of writing a long post and showing the pictures later, I thought I’d show pictures and then write the story behind the photos. Here we go.

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New shoes are on, and his hooves are looking pretty okay.

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The veterinary giving him a dose to relax and let him drop his manhood. I am so glad our vet is female! Baldur doesn’t easily trust men, so it’s good to have Hege(the veterinary).

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Wrapping his tail to keep it out of the way for Hege and when taking the biopsies.

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Baldur getting sleepier and sleepier by the minute!

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She starts off by doing a thorough clean. He wasn’t as dirty and infected as last time, but sadly, the symptoms are worsening.

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Going over with alcohol to clean up as much as possible for the biopsies.

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Baldur got some local anesthesia so that the whole experience would be as pain free as possible. I can’t imagine how much it would hurt without it! And of course, I got the pleasure of holding his manhood down to make the job easier for Hege.

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She used pointed tweezers to grab one of the white spots and clipped it off using scissors, delicate!

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The hole that remained after she removed one of the white spots. It wasn’t necessary to get stitches as the whole wasn’t too big.

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More local anesthesia! This time on the discolored and almost elephant-skin-like part of his foreskin. Also one of the concerns. You can’t see it so good in the photo, but the color was very yellow and his skin was very rough!

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In comes the tweezers and scissors again! And yes, I am sitting on the other side holding him again!

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The whole that was left after taking another biopsy. This one had to get stitches as it was bigger and further up inside.

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Baldur got two stitches to keep it in place!

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And here is a lovely photo of where the first biopsy was taken. If you look closely underneath the folded pink skin, you can see two white spots. These were smaller before, and have grown since last time. And these spots are all over his penis.

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Baldur became soooo sleepy! He even started snoring. I released him from the ties when he became this droopy, so that he could relax his neck.

So I am feeling okay, but I am not very optimistic at this point. I am however getting more and more used to the fact that it may be cancer. I have talked to a couple of people now who know or have gone through the same, and they have ensured me that the horses are fine with treatments. Only time will show what the results are, and we are hoping to have the results by friday. Until then, I will not take the sorrows in advance, but I feel it in my gut that the answer is cancer.

However, Baldur is feeling great, and is acting like his loving self. He is so strong and even though it must be painful, he still pricks his ears at me and begs for treats like he always does. I am giving him pain killers in his feed, and tomorrow is the last day of the pain killers. But this one is a fighter, and so am I.