Monday, December 27, 2010

23 Stones: Murphy's Rain

There's a Japanese expression, 'Mono no aware' and while it's one of many that are untranslatable into English, it basically means the 'pathos of things'.

It's a phrase I learned long ago, that perhaps I used promiscuously in my youth to impress others, but never truly grasped its gravitas til last Monday.

Immediately after dropping Murphy off at Colorado State University for his second round of radiation I was overwrought. Making life and death decisions about a loved one isn't the way you want to kickstart the week, especially the week of Christmas.

Untreated, mortality is most assured within a matter of months for Murphy but there's also a pretty good chance radiation could take him sooner. I was so torn up inside I almost turned around, picked him back up, and drove into the mountains to live out his final days.

But I made a decision... but I damn well wasn't happy about it.

'Dour' doesn't even come close to describing the mood I was in that morning but I had to keep myself moving. So when I pulled into the parking lot of King Sooper, a local grocery chain whose name still makes no sense to me, it came as no surprise when the rain began pouring down.

Wait a sec, it's sunny outside.

And there it was. Mono no aware.

It's as if God took a blade and severed the sky - to my left was sunshine and my right darkness. And a rainbow bridged the two.

Mono no aware is a feeling of both happiness and sorrow, hope and hopelessness at the same time. The Japanese use the expression to describe witnessing the transient beauty of a Cherry Tree blossom. It embraces belief but resigns itself to reality. It's poetry from pain; discovery in darkness.

It's a human tendency to make life too figurative or too literal so that it suit our purposes and there's no one that hates cramming a metaphor into someone else's morning more than me.

But it was a beautiful thing, Murphy's rain.

Merry Christmas From the Family

Happy Holidays & Have a puppy up! Christmas

- Hudson, Murphy, Luke, Toomey, & the Pony

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Murphy's X-Mas Sammich

Throughout our walk I volunteered at dozens of shelters and those experiences deeply impacted me. Seems to me we're all displaced in life at one point or another; whether cast out or wandering about.

We look to our faith, family, and friends and even food for comfort when we're lost. Shelter dogs are in need of all of those especially this time of year.

As much as I'd love to rescue them all, I can't travel with more than two in my pack. But I can make sure they have a holiday meal.

A bit of history - Murphy celebrated his 8th birthday in Memphis where Mommy G threw him a party. Murphy's a passionate eater to say the least; if Maslow triangulated his heirarchy of needs it'd be food, poop, and snuggles. Food, of course, being at the top. We'd been on the road for over a year and I really wanted to do something special for him.

Make a Murphy Sammich came to mind, a tribute to his truly spectacular appetite. Thus history was made. People from all parts have their own version of a sandwich. Some start with the meat, some with the bread, spread, or stuffing. Being a Texas boy and in honor of Murphy's gluttony, my starting point was 'Big'.

The biggest commercially available bread for such a sammich (I'm no baker) is Boboli. Murphy's absolute favorite food in the universe is the Honest Kitchen and Lucy, the founder, has been feeding him since before we left Austin in March 2008.

The first layer of the sammich is of course THK, Murphy loves Embark best so re-hydrate a cup or two and spread it out on the bottom crust. This time I topped it with lean hamburger and turkey bacon (I was thinking of my brothers who go to a restaurant and order meat with a side of meat). Note - I use no oils to cook the meats - pancreatitis can kill.

I love the pic on the left - Murphy knows I'm making a sammich and he's gonna be damn certain it's all his. Uh, hello, what part of Murphy Sammich don't you understand? Trying to teach kids today the spirit of Christmas is never an easy thing.

Once the massively awesome meaty goodness layer goes down, it's time for cheese. Although the processed American cheese slices I used was an economic decision, I don't recommend you do the same. More and more I'm convinced processing food is fundamentally harmful but that's a thread for another time.

Boboli crust #2 on top, bake it at 350 for 15 minutes then decorate. Since this is the very first X-Mas Sammich I sprinkled the Cheez Whiz with red and green sugar granules and there you have it. We delivered it to the Larimer Humane Society yesterday and oh, boy were they excited. Coincidentally, Molly, their communications director lost a dog to cancer and her loss set her on a new path. I know all about that...

None of us thought we'd be here this Christmas. I was already planning our next great adventure when we walked the final mile into Boston. But you make the best of it and share the blessings you've been given.

Please, make a Murphy Sammich for your local shelter this holiday...

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Two Weeks

From our 1pm meeting today...

The team at Colorado State University is confident that Murphy will show signs of tumor regression by the two week mark before they consider pursuing some of my whacky ideas like implanting a stent or shunt to alleviate his breathing difficulties.

I said something like, "Okay, but he sleeps for 30 seconds then awakens with an unforgiving version of apnea. It's even effecting his eating."

"He's just going to have to learn how to adjust", was the counterpoint and a good one at that. I had just posted the question last nite about how I could teach Murphy to breath through his mouth not his snout. But big dogs are inherently stubborn SOBs (sumbitches as we say in TX) so we'll see how that works out.

I agreed to wait to implant a device contingent upon Murphy's comfortability and that his clinical symptoms don't worsen. But honestly it feels like a crapshot like those commercials you see, 'Give me a week and we'll take off the weight.' Bet it didn't work for those guys.

Don't get me wrong I have complete respect for and trust in our oncology team but I'm a contrarian and questioning everything is the responsibility you have when making decisions on behalf of a loved one who can't speak for themselves.

So once again, we wait but we do so with benchmarks. I'll meet with the radiologist Dr. Custis again next week for a clinical evaluation and then the following week to discuss chemotherapy.

There has been a plot twist though - we got back the results from the biopsy for the two new tumors and from way outta left field, they're sarcomas not adenocarcinoma. Why? No one seems to know but they're malignant cells and anything beyond that seems to have no therapeutic value. Rougly translated, it doesn't matter what color they are - red, green, or purple they must die.

"You got two weeks"

Far Away From Here

T.S. Eliot wrote,"And the end of all our exploring. Will be to arrive where we started. And know the place for the first time".

I wish I knew what he was talking about. Five years ago almost to the week Malcolm was stuggling with his last breaths and I find myself back to this same place with Murphy. And I don't know a goddamn thing.

Where ever I thought we'd end up after the walk it wasn't supposed to be here.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Notes on Murphy

Dictating my thoughts for the oncologists at CSU, others who have dogs with nasal adenocarcinoma, and in the interest of science.

Over the weekend Murphy's ability to breath through his snout has diminished significantly. It seems this new tumor is spreading quickly. We hope the radiation will stop this growth almost immediately. In laymans terms here's how it works:

Cancer cells are referred to as 'immortal' because they divide unabatedly. The first one, not sure what scientists call it; perhaps the parental or originator, has a gene that for some reason is turned on telling it to start dividing. That one cell becomes two which becomes four, etc. into you have a tumor mass consisting of millions of cells. Radiation therapy attempts to interfere with the tumor cells' ability to continue mitotic division thereby stopping growth. The cells that can't divide eventually die off.

Back to Murphy. Even if this massive three day dose of radiation halts tumor growth, it'll still be restricting airflow in the interim. We've already discussed a surgical option in Dr. Withrow's words taking a roto-router and cleaning the tumor out but that presents some serious problems.

That got me thinking this morning. How can we improve breathing through his snout without surgery and how do we do something like this in humans? Well we know that when people have clogged arteries we place a stent in them permitting improved blood flow. Plus, stents are now drug delivery systems so this might be a way to administer chemo directly into the tumor site.

Must discuss this with Dr. Withrow...

Monday, December 20, 2010

Become a Sugar Mommy or Daddy to Murphy

Murphy's total vet bills are expected to weigh in around $8,000. Ginger & I have already maxed out our care credit so we'd appreciate any help. I've always had a tough time with charity and those who know me intimately know this. That may seem strange but there will be a chapter on that in the book about it...

I'm a firm believer in trading value for value so this time I'm doing limited edition canvases each autographed by me and bearing Hudson & Murphy's actual pawprint. We have three photos to choose from all depicted nearby.

The photos will be transferred to canvas then stretched over a wooden frame. Two sizes are available 8x10 and 11x14. We're asking$75 for the former; $100 for the later.

I'm limiting this run to 50 per photo which should completely cover his medical costs. That way some of you may consider buying one as an investment that'll one day sell for $1 million when Murphy beats his cancer then runs for President.

Some of you wanted my current profile pic on Facebook (which is one of my absolute favorites of Murphy) but that was taken with an i-phone and is only 600kb far too small for photo quality. I might have it converted to a painting in the future.

A couple of considerations. These prices cover the cost of shipping which will take anywhere from 2 weeks to a month. The mom & pop shop we're using does each individually. Ginger has also included our final Memorial shirt and our cause bracelets on the Click and Pledge page for some reason or other.

To purchase a limited edition canvas, click here

If you have any questions, shoot me an email at

Sunday, December 19, 2010

24 Stones

Murphy's life expectancy got downgraded last week. That pisses me off but like I recently posted on facebook, I don't know whether I have more fight or faith in me but his metastatic cancer is not going to keep us down...

Here's what's in store for us this week:

Monday December 20th

- Drop Murphy off at CSU for first radiation treatment
- Afterwards pick up our good friend John Stalls ( ) and his dog Kanoa and head to Eldorado Springs State Park for a nite of camping and knuckleheadedness

Tuesday December 21st

- Sober up by 6am - say see ya to John. He's a good kid...
- Murphy's second treatment
- Gotta grab some gifts for my nieces b/f I go back to TX. Didn't make it to Archie McPhee's when we were in Seattle so I'm sort of at a loss. Educational or irreverance are the only gifts I buy people. There's a family pack of wrestling masks at McPhee's that's out of stock I wish I could get my hands on for me & the boys - Los Perros Loco Lucha Libre...

Wednesday December 22nd

- Third and final dose of radiation
- Denver. My friends here in Fort Collins got tickets to see Trans-Siberian Orchestra. Don't know if it's YMCA meets Slovenia yet but Murphy's coming with us and we all know how good he looks in a tool belt.
- Afterwards we'll take him to the Buckhorn Exhchange for a beefy treat he's never had before

Thursday December 23rd

- Make Murphy Xmas Sammiches for CSU patients. While Murphy's the greatest lover of ( ) even he likes to share during the holiday season. We'll be making a coupla pies for cancer patients today.

Friday December 24th

- Take Murphy on a tour of Xmas lights.
- Leave cookies, coke & cigarettes out hoping Tony Bourdain (, my new hero, shows up and doesn't confuse Hudson & Murphy for albino possums and tries to make them into a stew.

Saturday December 25th

- Open House at Claire's. It's a sushi Christmas and our last real day in Colorado. Grab a pair of chopsticks, stop by for the Ginger Grinch, the Murphy Maki, & whatever the hell else I come up with

Sunda... never mind not going to happen. Snuggle Snuggle with Murphy...

Monday December 27th

- Leave 3am for TX. God I need my family now...

Friday, December 17, 2010

Murphy's Treatment Plan

If you're offended easily, please read no further. Don't know what sort of graphic language will be expressed in this post and I have no intention of editing it.

A lot of you know me from our walk from Austin to Boston ( ) some of our new friends don't. Then I was walking in memory of Malcolm whom I lost to cancer. Now I'm just a father who's desperately trying to save his other boy's life from this dreadful disease. I've made the decision to make a documentary of this latest chapter of our lives and I'll post more about this as it develops.

It's already a hard time of year from me since it was this time in 2005 when Malcolm was struggling and the metastatic tumor in his lungs was overtaking him. But this isn't about me so let me bring you up to speed about Murphy.

I posted about his prognosis. We don't understand why the first round of radiation failed... I have a theory but for now it's academic and we can't afford time for talk. The tumor has reached critical mass and if allowed to grow any further, it'll shut off his ability to breath through his snout. If that happens he'll have no quality of life.

The recommendation of the oncology team at CSU is that we have to act immediately and hit it hard with everything they've got. Their radiation plan is 30 grays administered over three days, the maximum tolerable dose.

After that we'll look into chemo as an adjunct therapy. Thanks to everyone who posted to our wall about human cancer drug trials - Erich is compiling a list from your links so I can send emails out to the principal investigators.

The potentially catastrophic downside to this plan is there's a 5% chance Murphy will succumb to massive radiation alone in a few weeks or months.

"What's your decision?" Dr. Withrow asked me Friday.

Having sat through 30 minutes of if, ands, & buts - all I could think about was Star Trek. Strange since I'm not a Trekkie but when he said the first round of radiation merely stunned the tumor, I thought of the phaser and it's two settings: Stun and Vaporize. At least that's how I remembered it since the last time I saw an episode was probably in the 80s. Perhaps we didn't hit it hard enough the first time and the Variant Trilogy machine was on the wrong setting.

I don't know how much time passed after he asked the question - all the options and the probabilities of their outcomes cycled through my head like a centrifuge.

"What are we going to do?" he asked again.

"Let's kill this mother f***er"


Just met with the team at CSU and based on the PET-CT scan and the scoping this morning they say Murphy has 3 months to live without re-radiation, 6 maybe 8 months with...


Murphy's a tough ole boy and it's just like him to have a tumor with serious resolve. In Dr. Withrow's words despite 18 doses of radiation we've only stunned it. He thinks the original mass is 'stable' but I'm not convinced. From the PET scan you can see how it is lysing the bone tissue of the left orbit.

But that's not the bad news. There are two new growths and while we're having them biopsied today there's really no doubt they're malignant. The one that's causing grave concern is growing in his pharynx the slender space that takes oxygen from the snout to the lungs. If you look at the picture nearby the pharynx is the narrow corridor cut between the eyes. That's problematic. Like bottlenecked traffic at some point it'll stop the flow of air through his nasal passages entirely.

We're not at the point yet of discussing euthanasia so don't go there. Dogs don't have quit in them and I'm not about to quit on Murphy. People are the only species on this planet who give up on life.

Aside from bloody discharges and 'pharyngeal gagging' which is like a reverse sneeze, Murphy's doing quite well. It's his strength I'm convinced that'll be our greatest asset in this fight. However, hard decisions are on the horizon.

There's no good model I can look at this in humans as nasal cancer is surprisingly rare. They say re-radiating is the only alternative left but I'll spend the weekend researching every options. I'll exhaust all possibilities and mortgage my soul if I have to.

For those of you who want to help, here's what we need: a comprehensive list of human adenocarcinoma drug trials. They'll probably be gastric or colorectal studies but if there's any therapy that this cancer is responding to in people, we need to know. Rather than email me the results please post everything to my wall on facebook. I want everyone to have access to this research.

Next, I need a near film quality camera. I don't know how much time Murphy has left but I want to document every minute of it. My camera doesn't have the quality so we need a loaner.
Thank you...

Thursday, December 16, 2010

PET Scan

These videos are from my consult with the radiation oncology team at CSU this morning. The news was devastating even though I felt something was wrong a few weeks back. I haven't watched them and don't know if the dialogue is audible. I'll try to post later tonite to let everyone know where we're at but I just don't have the strength for explanation and elaboration right now. All I want is to be with my boy

Preliminary Analysis of PET scan

It's almost certain Murphy has new tumor growth in two areas one of which is causing breathing problems. Dr. Withrow is still consulting with the radiation team and we're meeting back at CSU at 9am. As of yesterday afternoon we discussed putting a scope up there and biopsying the new tissue just to be sure but the PET scan really wiped Murphy out and I'm unsure about performing the procedure today.

If there is new growth this is where it becomes problematic. From my understanding when we finished up the first round of radiation in September the game plan was let's take a look at it in four months and if the tumor's still there let's hit it again until we shrink it completely or it can be removed surgically.

But re-radiating the tumor can have some potentialy deleterious side effects. Hopefully we'll know more in a few hours...

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Murphy Update

Murphy hasn't had a CT scan yet. Dr Withrow wanted to do a thorough physical first and during the exam he palpated a nodule in his lymph node which they aspirated. It's unlikely this type of cancer spreads to the lymph system but we want to be sure.

He also wanted to biopsy the tissue that Murphy sneezed up Sunday morning which can only be described as fleshy gray matter, pictured nearby (vy sorry for the graphic nature of the photo but welcome to my world). Is this the byproduct from radiation, debris from the destruction the cancer has caused in his nasal passage, or evidence of new tumor growth? We don't know yet.

On the upside, Murphy's blood work came back normal although he's slightly anemic, probably due to his nose bleeds, and his chest films were clear.

A CT scan is scheduled for Wednesday morning while we're awaiting the results of the lymph aspirate and the biopsy.

That's all I got right now...

Sunday, December 12, 2010

The Homeless Chef

Oy everyone. Order is more alluring than chaos to some but it's often illusory. Still I'm trying to better structure the telling of our story. Rather than use this blog as a dump site for all things 'Luke' I've started a separate one specifically for the culinary aspects of our adventures

I'm undecided if I'll continue with my 61 Stones blog since I want everyone here updated about Murphy's condition, too, and I'd just copy my posts over anyway. Besides I don't want to end up too subdivided since the sum of me is better than the parts or the parts add up to more than the whole. Err... moving on...

One of my favorite quotes is from Dylan Thomas taken from a forward to a book of his poems, "These (blogs), with all their crudities, doubts, and confusions, are written for the love of man and in praise of (dog). And I'd be a damn fool if they weren't."

Okay, I changed it up a bit but you get the point.

Maybe I should just start a new blog and call it: Eat, Pray, Play, Pet Doggie, and Kick the Crap Outta Cancer. I think that just about covers it...

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

One Time

"One time" is a phrase often used by poker players looking to luck out after a series of bad beats.

Meet Buddy and while his aliases read like a veritable list of Vegas wise guys - The Bud Man; Biscuit Head; Frankenbuddy; Buddy Fifteen Toes (Nah, I just made that one up), he's no poker player at all. He's a dog and perhaps the unluckiest dog of all.

There's not a lot known about Buddy before he arrived at the Humane Society of Memphis and Shelby County other than he was a Katrina rescue from New Orleans with buckshot in his butt and a gnarled and withered hind leg. Speculation was it must've gotten caught in barbed wire and he chewed his paw off.

And even though he endeared himself to the staff at the shelter with his big, big heart and the Bud Man dance he does when he gets excited, they couldn't find an adoptive family for him. Nope, life wasn't much kinder in his new town. Time and time again he was adopted out only to be inexplicably and incredulously returned.

Ultimately Ginger, then the head of the Humane Society, took him home. But poor ole Buddy has never caught a break. In December 2008 he was diagnosed with multilobular osteochondrosarcoma when they discovered a tumor in his head. Vets at the University of Missouri excised the mass with clean margins but in the process removed his right eye and a portion of his jaw.

Buddy recovered fine but this Monday 6:30am Seattle time I got a call from Ginger. His lungs are riddled with tumors. After contacting several oncologists there's a ghost of a chance he's a candidate for an experimental drug but we won't know until next week.

And while we hold out hope, Buddy hasn't always been unlucky. He met Mommy G.

So here's for one more time... God, one more time

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

43 Stones

Murphy finished his course of antibiotics but he continues to bleed from his left nostril periodically. I've consulted with DVMs & MDs but at the end of the day my instinct tells me something is wrong.

While fish oil is an anticoagulant I began administering 2 grams daily in Louisville back in September but it wasn't until San Francisco two months later that his nosebleeds began. It may be a contributing factor but it isn't the cause.

So what does the nosebleed mean? It could be a positive indication that the tumor cells are lysing or a symptom of tumor growth or even the side effects of radiation.

I talked at length with an ICU doc last night and after running through a scenario analysis, we agreed that it was, in her words, structural. She also pointed out that my insticts have always been spot on with Murphy. True enough as it was nineteen stones ago I awoke Saturday morning and knew something was wrong with Murphy. The following Monday my fears were confirmed that he had nasal cancer.

According to Dr. LaRue his radiation oncolgist that after four months it's more likely than not that some tumor tissue will remain so we're already anticipating surgery or hopefully not more radiation.

We're a week and a half away from his CT scan and while I have many meetings and appearances between now and then I can cancel those and move up our appointment at CSU. The question is, if the tumor is growing again, does a week and a half make a difference?

Back before Malcolm was diagnosed with bone cancer I swore I detected a slight limp and I observed him every day on our walks on the Charles River. But I let his vet convince me I was seeing things. A few weeks later after I finally took him in for an X-ray and got the diagnosis I was racked with guilt for not going with my gut but his oncologist assured me it wouldn't have mattered.

I feel like I have six-shooter pointed at my head with three bullets in it. I'm just so busted up inside.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

44 Stones

There's a difference in life between a path and a way.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010


Half an hour before arriving at Fossil Creek Park in Fort Collins to lead the first of the 2 Million Dog March puppy up walks, gale force winds descended down from the Rocky Mountains at times gusting up to 50mph by my guestimate.

As Hudson, Murphy & I walked up to the pavillion I had already decided to scrap the speech I had prepared opting instead to literally go where the winds took us. The violent gusts drowned out the amplifiers making it hard to even hear myself speak but I'll try as best I can to sum up its essence.

To me, the winds were a sign. Now I know that's partly my romantic interpretation of things but what an appropriate metaphor on an awfully important day.

Growing up in farming country you learn there are only two types of wind - helpin & a'hurtin. It's easy in life to curse the head & crosswinds, but say a prayer of thanks for the tailwind. I myself did that upon occasion on our cross country walk. But the surest timber stands tall and true in the greatest of adversities and those are the people of 2 Million Dogs.

You launched 12 walks in 9 states with only two months of tarmac to plan and prepare these events and the response was nothing short of spectacular. Ginger will post the results here soon but the flags we planted Sunday November 7th 2010 send a strong message about our resolve and the strength of our community of cancer families and supporters & sponsors.

For me personally, what made me most proud was the news coverage and stories - listening and watching the people that hosted us on our travels being on the radio or TV for the first time in their lives... that was so cool. Signe & Patty who held fast the Purple People Bridge in OH; Brock Ketterman a handsome young fell'r and friend of the fuzzybutts in Pittsburgh who now has a day named after him for being the Marshall of the event there; Robin & Kerry who walked twice Sunday - in Poughkeepsie and in New Milford CT alongside one of our best friends, Chief; Our friends at Fetch a Cure in Richmond, and our new friends in Washington State and Colorado who you'll hear more about in the coming months.

I wanna thank Ginger Morgan, the Chief Puppy Officer of 2 Million Dogs, and our Board of Directors for continuing the vision I set forth March 2008 and their commitment to eradicating cancer in both pets and people. And thanks to all of the city leaders, their volunteers and participants, & everyone else involved.

What a great thing we started together and while we're no oak trees yet we're definitely a bunch of nuts blown all over this land standing our ground.

puppy up! y'all

Monday, November 1, 2010

Happy Birthday Malcolm

Malcolm would've been 13 Sunday. I didn't realize it until now that his birthday comes on the eve of Pet Cancer Awareness Month.

A year or two ago I might have said that was curiously coincidental but I've witnessed way too much in my travels and I know otherwise now.

Last night I was fortunate enough to listen to Dr. Steve Withrow's talk about his lifelong work in comparative oncology. The title of his presentation tells all, "Some Science. Some Stories. Some True." It was both enlightening and invigorating, and I hope everyone of you has the opportunity to hear him speak some day.

One of the most interesting points he made was that despite breakthroughs in understanding and technological developments, "The dumbest cancer cell is smarter than all of us." My father, a nephrologist, used to talk to me at length when I was young about the amazing complexity of the human body and the intricacies of its individual yet interconnected systems. A few months back in a blog about Murphy I described cancer as nature's perfect enemy. It uses that complexity against its victims.

Dr. Withrow also talked about his efforts in convincing the National Institute of Health of the importance of studying cancer in companion pets. In his words, "NIH never questioned the science but the relevance and the ability to extrapolate it into humans." As a consequence, comparative oncology or translational studies are not even a rounding error in the billions of dollars spent on cancer research in the U.S. every year.

Public perception is still another problem and one I can speak about personally. While on our cross country walk I was invited to a number of human cancer rallies and at every one, I was introduced as the 'Dog Cancer Guy' or on a few occasions the 'Dog Cancer Boy' which made me sound a little like a circus act. Don't get me wrong I was grateful for every opportunity we had on the road to share our story but most of my time at those events was spent on, "Yes, dogs get breast cancer, too, and by working together we may find a common link or a key."

It's important this month, Pet Cancer Awareness Month, to keep in mind exactly what we're up against; the greatest epidemic facing companion pets, limited government funding for research, and even public perception.

That's why participating in the 2 Million Dog March this November 7th is so imperative. We've got to send a message to the media that this isn't just an "Aww, puppies" story and to the general public that the only way to eradicate cancer in both pets and people is through partnership.

We're not going to get 2 million dogs to walk in the 12 cities this year or any where close to that but it's the start. You know when Malcolm's cancer spread to his lungs he had hard days and when he struggled, I whispered to him, "We don't give up, we don't give in until the end, my friend." That's where 'puppy up' came from...

I miss you Malcolm. Happy birthday & puppy up!

To participate in a puppy up walk near you, go to

Thursday, October 21, 2010

No Pants

"Where in the hell are my pants?" I asked. She smiled sweetly and shrugged. She couldn't find them either amidst my pile of clothes. Figures... when you need pants the most, you got none.

Now I've had awkward moments on the road but.... wait a tick, lemme back up just a bit.

We've been in the throes of chaos since we walked the final mile in Boston late June - Within weeks, Murphy's diagnosis came followed by four weeks of radiation therapy and a brief trip to Texas to visit my family.

While there I stopped by my storage unit in San Antonio that has most of my worldly possessions. Not knowing precisely when I'd return, I grabbed everything I might need for the coming months and, more importantly, that'd fit in Mommy G's Miata which I was driving at the time.

Among the things I stuffed into her Mazda; my golf bag which oh, God I missed (I tried ernestly to carry my seven iron cross country but it never made it outta Walter E. Long Park), my kilt ('Ello, 'Ello, 'Ello, luv), as many CDs I could cram into small spaces, my Conan the Barbarian coat (oh, yeah - wait til you see pics), and my suit bag since I planned on attending the APDT awards ceremony.

From TX I picked up the boys in Memphis and went on a goodwill tour that took us from Bowling Green KY, Louisville, Cincinnati, Columbus, Pittsburgh, Buffalo and Vermont then back down to Boston, Jersey City, and then onto Richmond. We were cutting it close and I only had one day in Virginia to get my suits cleaned and move on to Atlanta to receive our APDT award.

Our travels have never been without strife but to the best of my knowledge, they've never been pantless. Er, intentionally anyway. Apparently, I neglected to check my suit bag back in San Antonio and had I did, I would've discovered that it was jackets 4; slacks 0.

"What kinda guy separates the two?" Standing at the cleaner's counter I half chastised myself and half wondered what I did with them. It'd been over two years since I stowed everything in SA and we set out on our adventure so I came up well short on both questions.

"Where does one buy pants in Richmond anyway?", I asked the lady at the counter.

To be continued...

Monday, October 11, 2010

The Dog Chapel

Making our way up Highway 59 towards Arkansas two months into the walk, we came across something called a Cowboy Church. Even though I grew up in Texas, it was the first I'd ever heard of this. But it wouldn't be the last. I soon discovered they're all over the South and suspected they were part of a franchise, too. Worked for chicken & biscuits, why not churches?

Turned out it's not a chain at all... just people in different places and of differing denominations who live the cowboy lifestyle and worship together. Seemed like a cool concept to me and over many subsequent miles on the road I wondered about building a Dog Church myself.

I don't remember how or when but I later found out about an artist named Stephen Huneck in Vermont who built such a sanctuary. My gut said, 'Gotta go there' so I called Ginger to make it happen. Wasn't on my walking plan she said and went on to spell out a whole host of reasons why it was impossible which I do not recall. I tend to drown out disagreement. Dreamers do that.

While on the Rails-to-Trails to DC I met a Marine who said, "'Impossible' only describes a degree of difficulty". That's true, but it also necessitates the element of time.

Do what you believe long enough and you'll turn the hearts of even your most ardent critics. I felt Mr. Huneck, a fellow romantic, understood a lot of what our travels entailed and hoped our paths would one day cross.

They did yesterday when Hudson Murphy & I visited the Dog Chapel for the first time. It was the annual fall festival at Dog Mountain and wow - what a place!

And while the beauty is indescribable I traveled to the Dog Chapel to pray for mercy for Murphy and everyone touched by cancer and to thank God for blessing my life with this mission and making me a weapon in this war

And to thank you, Stephen, for giving all of us a place to come and worship together.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Recipe: Brussel Sprouts with With Apples and Toasted Pecans

Nowadays I spend just as much time in the kitchen as I do on the trail, whether cooking for host families or working on Murphy's diet. I'm no Rachel Ray but occasionally I concoct something good enough to share especially when I'm way outta my comfort zone.

The other night while at Mommy H's house (Murphy's first mommy), all she had in the fridge was rabbit food - some brussel sprouts and such. It's apple harvest time in the North & she'd just bought a busshel of Ginger Golden (oh, the irony). Rarely do I mix sweet and savory but I didn't have much to work with. Here's what I came up with and surprisingly it's one of the tastiest dishes I've ever made and perfectly fitting for fall season.

Saute some brushel sprouts in butter and salt & pepper until al dente, probably 15-20 minutes. Add chopped white or yellow onions and some minced garlic and continue to pan fry until the onions are translucent. Add a 1/4 - 1/2 cup of white whine, turn up the heat, and add apple slices. I used Pinot Grigio as these wines are typically fruitier than Chards.

This is the tricky part or at least it was for me. How long do you cook the apples? You want them soft enough to sop up the butter and wine but not too mushy. One maybe two minutes may be all you need to reduce it down without turning it into apple sauce.

Add some toasted pecans or whatever nut you prefer though I'd stay away from almonds because of their bitterness. The piece de resistance is a dash of nutmeg to tie all the flavors together.

To be honest, I lacked confidence in it from the get go so after sauteing the brussel sprouts, onions & garlic I set aside one-half before adding the wine and apples. I love the simplicity of brussel sprouts bathed in butter but after sampling the finished product, the other half went right back in the pan.

As someone once said about me, "For a homeless guy, this guy can cook!"

Friday, October 1, 2010

Turning 2 Dogs Into 2 Million!

The Legacy Continues

November 7th 2010 in 12 cities across the nation.... Find out more about the 2 Million Dog March at

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Murphy update

My apologies for not blogging sooner but after Murphy's treatments, getting the book proposal out and fleshing out the concept for a TV show have been my biggest priorities.

There's another reason, too. My mother's Alzheimers has overtaken her and she's gone. I wasn't prepared for it and though there's nothing I can do it's been breaking my heart. But I must focus on my pack and my mission now.

We're starting to see the effects of the radiation therapy on Murphy now. He's been losing fur around his eyes but just today he lost a big patch on his snout. This was expected but that doesn't make it any easier to witness.

The good news is Murphy's energy level is up & he's playful again. As soon as I arrived in Memphis, last Tuesday whatever 'issues' Hudson had with Murphy were resolved. He hasn't growled at him nor shown the slightest signs of aggresion. Papi put his house in order and I'm pleased our pack is back to normal.

We'll be traveling the next 2 months & have lots of things in store...

puppy up!
Luke & the Notorious Fuzzybutts

Monday, September 13, 2010

2011 Calendar Contest Winners!!

Congratulations! The following dogs have made it into the 2011 “Cancer Can’t Keep a Good Dog Down” calendar!

Pete Morgan (Ginger Morgan) $2,240.00
Ruger Sowers (Cindy Sowers) $1,500.00
Bill Mann (Janice Mann) $1,460.00
North (Robert Cain) $1,380.00
Roxy (Heather Loflin-Miller) $1,300.00
Cassie Rose (Linda Rose) $1,270.00
Mr. Maxx (Marcia Siemsen) $1,207.00
Meatball and Shilo (Shari Lewis) $1,202.00
Salty (Lonna Coleman) $1,200.00
Maggie Riley (Karen Riley) $1,170.00
Sully Vachon-Lyda (Jennifer Vachon-Lyda) $1,130.00
Pepper Payne (Jonathan Payne) $1,125.00
Boudreaux (Jolie Banks) $1,115.00

We will begin taking pre-orders for the calendar in October and are hoping the calendars will be printed by mid-November. We need to verify pricing with the printer and will let everyone know what pricing will be this year. As in the past, we will be offering a discount on bulk orders.

Below is a list of ALL the dogs and Smokey, the cat, and the total number of votes (in dollars) they received. Please note -- we received a few votes after voting closed and the numbers do not reflect those votes because they did not count. However, the votes received after midnight did not effect the outcome of the contest.

Pete Morgan (Ginger Morgan) $2,240.00
Ruger Sowers (Cindy Sowers) $1,500.00
Bill Mann (Janice Mann) $1,460.00
North (Robert Cain) $1,380.00
Roxy (Heather Loflin-Miller) $1,300.00
Cassie Rose (Linda Rose) $1,270.00
Mr. Maxx (Marcia Siemsen) $1,207.00
Meatball and Shilo (Shari Lewis) $1,202.00
Salty (Lonna Coleman) $1,200.00
Maggie Riley (Karen Riley) $1,170.00
Sully Vachon-Lyda (Jennifer Vachon-Lyda) $1,130.00
Pepper Payne (Jonathan Payne) $1,125.00
Boudreaux (Jolie Banks) $1,115.00
Rudy Scott (Joanne Scott) $1,105.00
Ben Jamin Blues (Oscar Janssen) $1,025.00
Phoenix (Elissa O'Sullivan) $950.00
Max Large (Jodi Large) $860.00
Abigail (Judy Abare) $780.00
Wesley (Roseann Burrets-Baars) $678.00
Karly & Brandy (Deidre Tomkins) $635.00
Sergei (Deb Dolak) $615.00
Mac Duff (Chuck Christy) $610.00
Jagr (Michele Handte) $520.00
Gunner Nelson (Lesa & Dan Nelson) $510.00
Milo (Patty Hartman) $465.00
Murphy (Luke Robinson) $385.00
Luc Narro (Adrianna Narro) $375.00
Daisy & Lily (Hope Lisle) $340.00
Po (Lorraine Garaguso) $335.00
Gradie Mercer (Julie Mercer) $305.00
Sebastian (Angie & Josh Morris) $305.00
Ofi Guttenberg (Marilyn Guttenberg) $295.00
Tara Ling Tzu (Terri Greer) $290.00
Taz (Robin Brinkley) $280.00
Cemil James (Mary James) $275.00
Sunny Osborne (Dawn Osborne) $275.00
Tucker (Dan Bozik) $255.00
Bear McGarvey (Darlene McGarvey) $195.00
Bonham Scarborough (Linda Scarborough) $195.00
Kobe Arthur (Tom Arthur) $190.00
Fortis (Brett Hessenius) $185.00
Shelby Torrente (Melissa Torrente) $185.00
Rudy Birhanzl (Christine Birhanzl) $180.00
Thunder Bucklad (Mark Bucklad) $150.00
Riley (Doreen Buchler) $135.00
Gita (Heidi Oliveri) $130.00
Tyler Blue (Michelle Plourde) $130.00
Windsor Mitchell (Trish Mitchell) $125.00
Storm (Sylvia Griggs) $120.00
Tyson Conner (Megan Conner) $120.00
Buddy Ormsby (Michelle Ormsby) $110.00
Buddy Kelmelis (Shannon Kelmelis) $105.00
Brave (Sheila Rinks) $100.00
Cody Worthy (Tammy Worthy) $100.00
Hudson P. Wupperstein (Amanda Guth) $100.00
Maliboo (Issy Souto) $100.00
Smokey Wood (Bruce Wood) $100.00
Joy (Karen Robison) $90.00
Chance Reeder (Donna Reeder) $75.00
Sassy (Bekye Eckert) $75.00
Tigger (Kathy DeRay) $75.00
Cody Winebrenner (Jane Winebrenner) $70.00
Genie Derf (Neena Derf) $60.00
Grady Bowman (Aviva Bowman) $60.00
Womble Reynolds (Helen Reynolds) $60.00
Kirby (Bobbie Klimkowski Klimkowski) $50.00
Maggie Liles (Beth Liles) $50.00
Mason Eggleston (Kathy Eggleston) $50.00
Solar (Michele Handte) $50.00
Amber Gedek (Terry Gedek) $40.00
Shelby Ryan (Robert Ryan) $35.00
Colby McGinley (Keri McGinley) $30.00
Spanky (Lea Ann Goettsch) $30.00
Rigby (Elizabeth Marino) $25.00
Speedy & Scooter Lynett (Ramzey Rambles) $25.00
Trouper Menard (Gretchen Menard) $25.00
Zoe (Laura Williams) $25.00
Alex (San Mehta) $20.00
Brownie Schmidt (Donna Schmidt) $20.00
Callisto (Catherine Pfent Marrical) $20.00
Rori O'Connell (Jennifer O'Connell) $20.00
Sam Eilenberger (Cindy Eilenberger) $20.00
Skyler Blue & Kiara Jordan Pike (Eileen Pike) $20.00
Stella Feingold (Fonda Feingold) $20.00
Sandy Smith (kevin Smith) $15.00
Camden Rose (Cindy Corell) $10.00
DeePak (Terry Gedek) $10.00
Engorgs Aznar (Maria Aznar) $10.00
Luke Marino (Molly Marino) $10.00
Maggie Hobson (Deann Hobson) $10.00
Maxine Stout (Maureen Stout) $10.00
Missy Lynett (Ramz Rambles) $10.00
Monty Raab (Barbara Raab) $10.00
Riley Forristal (Keli Forristal) $10.00
Yoshi (Connie McCabe) $10.00
Angel Madeja (Lori Madeja) $0.00
Beauty (Nancy Crovetti) $0.00
Bo Fisher (Elaine Fisher) $0.00
Bridgit D'Angelo (Aileen D' Angelo) $0.00
Bucc (Nancy Crovetti) $0.00
Buttons Ottilo (Angela Ottilo) $0.00
Coltrane Cartier (C. C. Cartier) $0.00
Dena Oliver (Debbie Oliver) $0.00
Fabrizio (Rozan Ambrosino) $0.00
Heidi (Heidi Christensen) $0.00
Hendrix Doyi (Sarah Doyi) $0.00
Jada Van Dommelan (Amy Van Dommelan) $0.00
Jake Rae (Rachel Rae) $0.00
Kahlua Crovetti (Nancy Crovetti) $0.00
Kringle (Michael Reed) $0.00
Lady (Nancy Crovetti) $0.00
Loki Ruesch (Emily Ruesch) $0.00
Maggie Jones (Tracy Jones) $0.00
Misty Alba (Beverly Alba) $0.00
Mona Brand (Holly Brand) $0.00
Popeye (K. Tate) $0.00
Raven Rosenberg (Barry Rosenberg) $0.00
Sasha Laing (Sheila Laing) $0.00
Sparky O'Neill (Courtney O'Neill) $0.00
Stella Alba (Beverly Alba) $0.00
Stella Culp (DR Culp) $0.00
Tonka Drawdy (Shandra Drawdy) $0.00
Zachary (Sheila Laing) $0.00

Thank you for helping 2 Million Dogs in our fight against cancer.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Voting Ends SOON!

Voting for the calendar contest has been phenomenal!

This is just a quick reminder that voting ends for this year’s 2011 “Cancer Can’t Keep a Good Dog Down” calendar contest at 12 midnight Central Daylight Time today, Sunday September 12th. For those of you who have trouble translating Central Time into your time zone, here’s some help:

voting ends in the Eastern time zone (e.g.: New York) at 1:00 AM Monday September 13

voting ends in the Mountain time zone (e.g.: Denver) at 11:00 PM Sunday September 12

voting ends in the Pacific time zone (e.g.: Seattle) at 10:00 PM Sunday September 12

Voting for many contestants is extremely close. Others have had absolutely no votes at all. Not even their own people! Can you imagine? What’s that about?

We had over 120 photos submitted this year for the calendar. In the past, we've devoted 2 pages in the calendar to showcase all the entries. This year we will try our best to do the same. However, we were pretty much at our limit last year with 100 entries. We may have to leave some of the photos out of the gallery if they will not all fit. If it comes down to that, we will base our decision on which photos to leave out based on how many votes the photos have at the end of the contest. The last time I checked there were over 34 photos without votes.

Voting is in real time, so when the voting ends at midnight (Central Time) you will be able to see the top 13 winners by following this link

All donations are date and time stamped by Greater Giving (the company processing the payments). Greater Giving is on Pacific Time.

Ginger has been verifying off-line donations as she’s received them. Once the contest is over she will re-verify all off-line donations. Once those donations have been verified she will send out an email with the official winners listed early Monday morning. And I will post the winners on the Daily and to Facebook and our 2 blogs.

Good Luck to everyone! Thank you for your enthusiastic participation!

Sunday, September 5, 2010


When I drove up into my parent's semicircular driveway in Temple, TX Friday evening my mom and dad were there to greet me. After all, their son had recently completed a journey of a lifetime.

I hugged my mom and the first thing I said to her was, "I told you I'd be here in a couple of days". It was the fulfillment of a promise I'd been making to her practically every week since we began our walk.

As most of you know mom was diagnosed with Alzheimer's before we launched from Austin in 2008 making the decision to leave one of the most difficult I've ever made. Every week I phoned mom and every week she always asked, "When are you coming home?"

"I'll be home in a couple of days", was always my answer which seemed to settle her anxieties and sadness. That same exchange continued for 118 weeks.

More than walking into Boston Common with blocks and blocks of people behind me that final mile to Boston, seeing my mom Friday marked the end of my journey.

"I told you I'd be here in a couple of days."

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Voting Has Begun!

Voting for this year’s “2011 Cancer Can’t Keep a Good Dog Down” calendar has begun. We have another cast of beautiful animals and stories to share with you this year, so please follow this link to get started.

Voting for the Calendar Dogs (and Cat!) works as follows: each U.S. dollar donated equals one vote — if you donate $20.00 for Fluffy then twenty votes will go towards Fluffy. You can vote as often as you like, for as many dogs as you like, in whole dollars please. (For example, if you donate $21.74 only 21 votes will be applied.) Voting starts with a minimum of $5.00.

Voting continues until the deadline, Sunday, Sept. 12, 2010 at midnight EDT.

To keep track of voting check out the Directory Page

The thirteen dogs with the highest number of votes will be the dogs featured in the 2011 Calendar. However – and this is what makes our calendar so special – all of the dogs (and the cat) will appear in the calendar in the gallery! So everyone wins and all the contestants have a place in the calendar.

About the Cancer Can’t Keep a Good Dog Down Calendar:

Our calendar is in honor of and a memorial to our beloved companions touched by cancer, and a tribute to their spirit, undaunted courage, and the unshakable loyalty they have given us.

2 Million Dogs was formed with the singular aim of eradicating cancer in pets and people and it will work towards that end by educating people about and investing in comparative oncology studies. To learn more about us, please visit

2 Million Dogs is a 501 C (3) organization that relies on the generosity of individuals and corporations to help us in our mission to eradicate cancer through education and investing in comparative oncology studies.

Thank you for your votes and participating in a great cause!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

61 Stones: Postscripts

"You who pursue righteousness and who seek the Lord: Look to the rock from which you were cut; and to the quarry from which you were dug." Isaiah 51:1-2

We gathered our 61 stones today. As each week passes, I'll remove one of them.

Some of you haven't understood why I'm doing this but when I had Malcolm I worked nonstop usually pulling 14 hrs a day and sleeping in my office most nights. God only knows how much I missed of his life.

I won't make that mistake... not this time and not with Murphy and since he was diagnosed I've thought alot about how. Then I remembered reading about a workaholic years ago who one day counted up the number of weekends he had left in his life and put a marble in a bowl for each one...

I think it's important to have a daily reminder of the transience of life and this is mine. Every stone I remove I hope to counterbalance by a week filled with love and adventures. And when no stone is left, well, we're on borrowed time and I'll cherish every moment I have with Murphy.

The stones hold a much greater significance as well which someday you'll better understand.

Monday, August 23, 2010

61 stones

Sitting in the waiting room at Colorado State University after I got the news Murphy had nasal cancer, I kept playing and replaying his prognosis in my head like an endless video loop... 15 months to live. 15 months...

That's when you realize immortality becomes mortal... that the life of the one you love is now on a clock. It's an inflection point - the difference between the waxing and waning moon and that the sun that rose with you also sets.

But it's also the realization heaven and earth aren't that far apart. For Murphy and me it's 15 months. Tomorrow I am travelling to Platte River to collect rocks, one for each week they say Murphy has to live.

61 stones.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Murphy's Radiation Treatments Finished

And CSU gave him a green bandana that says something about hugging him because he just finished radiation there. That's sweet but I thought rather it should say: "I got zapped by lasers & all I got was this lousy bandana."

It's still a little too early to tell how he's doing. Last week was tough on him as the cumulative effects of daily doses and general anesthesia took its toll. He's still a little lethargic but after a week of GI distress, Murphy seems to be improving. I've been regulating his diet with drill sergeant discipline.

So what now? The full impact of radiation therapy isn't fully evident for four months his radiation oncologist says and so now we wait. At that point Murphy will get another CT scan and if the tumor hasn't been completely irradicated we have two choices. Hopefully it'll be small enough and located in an area that the residual tissue can be surgically removed. Otherwise, more radiation. Either way, looks like we'll be spending Christmas in Colorado.

Between now and then, the biggest side effect Murphy faces is damage to the inside of his mouth, more specifically a hole forming on his hard palate. As of Friday, the redness and irritation rated a 1-2 out of a scale of 4 and we'll have to keep a constant watch for more extensive tissue damage.

This is the place to get a thorough update but you can get the abridged version on either Facebook or Twitter.

The cost of Murphy's care at CSU amounted to $5,400 and we raised $4,700 in donations. The bill's been paid in total but if you'd still like to help out just click on the Donations Button nearby.

Thank you to everyone who made contributions and afforded Murphy the best care available.

Thursday, August 19, 2010


Thanks for all your advice on the mockup - it was well received and here's the revised shirt. This is the back view. The front has the text 'CANCER CAN'T KEEP A GOOD DOG DOWN'.

Cost is $28 and the proceeds will go towards Murphy's cancer care and veterinary bills. Click on the shirt to order. Thank you for supporting Mr. Murphy in his time of need.

puppy up!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Cancer and Nutrition

Once you get the Big 'C' diagnosis like Murphy recently did, care becomes the number one concern and traditionally that means Chemotherapy, Radiation, Surgical, or Palliative or some combination thereof.

What's not part of the treatment plan is Nutrition. Surprisingly if not incredulously, there aren't a lot of studies out there about diet and cancer care. I asked my oncology team at CSU to get me all avalaible research and the results were pretty dismal.

But as most of you have encountered there's a whole host of theories, opinions, and more than a few snake oil salesmen selling 'holistic' remedies to the unfortunate desparate souls willing to try anything.

I don't have answers nor do I profess to. But what I want to do is start a serious thread on the prophylactic and therapeutic importance of nutrition for cancer dogs. That's a fancy way of asking that once your dog is diagnosed with cancer, what's the best diet for her?

I don't want this discussion to spiral into a disagreement about particular brands of dog food or kibble versus raw diet.

What it needs to be about is what vitamins, proteins, nutrients, etc. your dog needs given their type of cancer and what therapy they're undergoing.

What began this blog was a burning question I had about Murphy. What effect does the constant exposure to radiation and anesthesia have on his body & how can I offset that with his diet?

For cancer dogs, I cannot think of a more important and immediate question...

Saturday, August 14, 2010

where's god now?

After I lost Malcolm to cancer I wrote a simple poem

"I left this place and head asea
Into the swells, ne'er alee.
No land I seek no shore no more
For me there is no galilee."

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Press Release

Dog Who Walked Cross Country for Cancer Diagnosed with Cancer

August 12 2010 / For Immediate Release

Contact: Luke Robinson
Phone: 901.674.9621. E-mail:

FORT COLLINS, CO ― After completing a two-year, 2,300-mile, cross-country cancer walk from Austin to Boston in June with his two dogs, Luke Robinson recently learned one of them, Murphy, has cancer and is now undergoing treatment at Colorado State University’s (CSU’s) Animal Cancer Center.

The walk, known as 2 Dogs 2,000 Miles ( was inspired by Robinson’s loss of his dog, Malcolm, to metastatic bone cancer in 2006. Sharing Malcolm’s story and educating people about the link between cancer in dogs and humans was the primary purpose of the walk and now that it’s over, their mission isn’t.

“It’s kind of a cruel irony,” Robinson says. “Murphy, who’s nine, walked across the country so he’s in excellent shape for his age and he’s been on the best diet available to dogs. It just goes to show, cancer doesn’t always discriminate and that’s why it’s the greatest epidemic facing dogs ever. What started as a walk for me is now a war.”

This war started with a sniffle and took them to CSU. “At first I thought it was just congestion but when I noticed a trace amount of blood in his nasal discharge that concerned me,” says Robinson. A CT scan and biopsy were performed there and the diagnosis came back as adenocarcinoma, a type of cancer found in the glands of both pets and people. “It was trail magic that the cancer was discovered in Colorado. I came here after the walk to work on the book with my editor and CSU has one of the most advanced veterinary oncology programs in the world.”

Dr. Stephen Withrow, professor at CSU and founder of their Clinical Oncology Program agrees, “We have been proudly watching Luke’s journey with his two dogs, Murphy and Hudson, from afar for almost two years. Little did we know that Murphy would become a patient.”

Murphy’s prognosis is promising according to Dr. Susan LaRue, radiation oncologist at CSU. “We hope with Murphy’s treatment we can exceed the median survival for this tumor which is currently 12 to 15 months.”

Luke Robinson has higher hopes. “Murphy’s a fighter and as Winston Churchill once said, ‘In a fight always bet on the one who’s smiling.’”

And Murphy smiles.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Halfway Through Murphy's Radiation Treatments

We're more than halfway through the 18 radiation doses now. It's been hard for me to evaluate his condition without reference points. Murphy's continual congestion has been the source of some sleepless nights - I just don't want him to be uncomfortable

But today I met a Collie that received three massive doses of radiation for nasal cancer last November and not only had she lost the hair on her snout, she now has a sizable hole in her palate. By fractioning Murphy's doses over 18, the radiation oncology, Dr. LaRue, feels confident the long-term effects will be less drastic.

Only a few years ago, before IMRT (Intensity Modulated Radiation Therapy) that uses 3D imaging to make precise adjustments to the location and intensity of radiation, in the words of one of the technicians, 'dogs looked like they had a perpetual sunburn'. I filmed Dr. LaRue going over Murphy's radiation plan with my Sony Digicam and had hoped to post it here but I'm having conversion issues. If you want to learn more about the cutting edge technology at CSU called the Varian Trilogy, here's the link.

It's because of advancements to veterinary medicine and generous donors that have made it possible for Murphy to undergo a less intensive treatment plan. Total donations raised through Paypal: $3,700 Checks: $900. Plus one pony & a couple of spare pairs of big girl panties for Mommy G.

Thank you everyone for your generosity and more importantly the emotional and spiritual support.

Postscript - healing prayers for the Collie

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Don't know how to entitle this blog

Recently I received some comments to my blog 'Donations for Murphy' that someone tried to post 'Anonymously'. I rejected them at first but when I got this yesterday, well, it just needed to be dealt with. Here's their comment and my response:

"At this point, our organization is going to have to drop support of your cause - all we asked for was transparency and in return our comments are not being published and it makes the whole thing look shady."

So what is it you want me to be transparent about?

About Murphy's cancer? Well as much as I wish I'm faking his diagnosis you're more than welcome to contact CSU & find out if he's a patient. Not sure if they'll disclose much more than that but I did post a 3D rendering of the tumor in his head and also a photo of blood seeping out of his nose after a radiation treatment. Or maybe you think I photoshoped those?

Reporting of donations? I made a decision to setup a Paypal account only and not use ChipIn or Click and Pledge because I thought that would be sufficient and save time and money. Whether that was the right decision is irrelevant because the transparency you seem so intent on, they cannot provide.

While ChipIn can report the exact amount of donations, What it won't tell you is how I use that money. For all you know I could be spending it on hookers and heroin... or the pony I always wanted as a child. Season tickets to the Patriots wouldn't be bad either.

Or the money could be going towards the care of Murphy.

You need a history lesson - it took me a week to ask for donations in part because I really didn't want to ask all of the wonderful ppl who supported the walk to give more of themselves. It still bothers me but that's my own limitation as a person.

The only thing 'shady' here is people like you who feel they can make accusations and try to impugn one's character without repercussions because you do so behind the veil of anonymity. You could've posted these criticisms on my Facebook page where I have thousands of supporters but that'd mean you'd have to reveal yourself and your organization. What you would've found there is lots of folks who asked and wanted to donate.

You didn't because you're a coward and you lack the courage of your convictions. If'n when you ever have the stones to accuse me to my face - my cell is 901.674.9621. Or we're at CSU every weekday at 7:50AM for the next three weeks.

Or you can contact Ginger Morgan. Though if I was you, I'd give it a week because when I shared your comments with her, her words were, "You broke the last bit of elastic in her big girl panties and now you're going to see some ass". Her words not mine & I'm not sure I really understand what that means but it scares me... It should scare you, too.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Pete: Requiescat in Pace et in Amore

Pete just passed away. For those of you who never knew him, he was Mommy G's heart dog.

Pete personified simple happiness and my life is richer and fuller having met him.

He had this penchant for pink toys, I mean I watched in amazement as he nosed open his toy box & pulled everything out until he found a pink one. So great was his spirit and I will miss him dearly.

From everyone in the 2 Dogs family - our heart goes out to Ginger today.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Donations for Murphy

The outpouring of love and support has been heartfelt and helped us get through a few dark nights last week. Lots of you have sent requests to make donations and we're going to need it over the coming weeks. I've held off until we had a better handle on what we're dealing with and now that we got the biopsy results back last Thursday.

The estimated total cost of care for his adenocarcinoma is going to be around $6,000: $1,400 of which was for the initial CT scan and the balance for 18-20 doses of radiation. Any amount you could pitch in would be a tremendous help as this couldn't have come at a worst time (doesn't it always?). Boston was barely more than a month ago and I've been working on things in the background to provide an income for myself but just didn't have enough tarmac to launch them before this all happened.

I've opened a Paypal account which seems to be the most common way to do this but you can also send a check in c/o Ginger Morgan at 1902 Evelyn Ave Memphis 38114

In lieu of using ChipIn (which requires a Paypal account) I'll try to post donations daily so that everyone knows where we're at.

Donations received as of August 3rd: $1,400
Total Donations as of August 4th from 65 people: $2,250

Please Click on the 'Donate' button nearby

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Murphy's tumor

This is an actual scan of Murphy's big ole noggin & the tumor is in red. Thank you Lynn for getting this to us so quickly...

Official Diagnosis: Adenocarcinoma

Two things of significance happened today: (1) we got the biopsy results back and the news is good in that it could've been worse. Had the cancer been either osteosarcoma or squamous cell the prognosis would be less promising; (2) we had our first consult with the radiology oncologist, Dr. LaRue. She walked me through the radiation plan using their Varian imaging software.

I had previously seen the CT scan but it's difficult to fully appreciate the size of the tumor unless it's rendered in 3-D. I hope to get a pic of it up here soon but I assure you it is massive, occupying the entire left sinus cavity. No one can know for sure how long its been growing in my boy but the damage it has wrought is extensive.

Parts of the septum, the wall between the two spaces, has been eaten away by the cancer and it's spilling into the other side now. All of the bones used for filtering in the left passage have been consumed completely. Thankfully it was detected before it breached the brain barrier and invaded the occipital space.

This monster means business.

No Stephen King or Wes Craven could ever imagine a beast as absolutely sinster as cancer. It takes your own cells and turns them against you. And since the cells still look normal your entire defense system is rendered helpless. It's nature's perfect enemy.

Hell it even fooled me. I was so preoccupied with the tumor in Murphy's neck that turned out benign, the nasal congestion never seemed anything more than a URI. I was looking the other way. While on the walk, I came up with the 5 'L's for early signs of cancer: lumps, lesions, lameness, loss of appetite, and lethargy. There should be a sixth: the opposite of what Luke thinks.

Forgive me for the self-indulgent guilt but unfortunately, it's part of the process of coping. I should have been paying better attention but we are very, very lucky.

Tonight Murphy & I are camping at Horsetooth Reservoir, a basin at the foothills of the Rockies. We're out in god's country where Murphy loves to be with his papi. An evening out here with my boy is all I need.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Radiation Therapy Starts Today

In a few hours I'll be taking Murphy back up to CSU for his first dose of radiation. While I'm still learning everything I can about it all, the 'Gold Standard' of Care seems to be 18-20 doses of radiation over three to four weeks.

Dr. La Rue will be the radiation oncologist caring for him. The tumor sits atop his hard palate so the biggest concerns from radiation are mouth ulcerations and the outside chance that it'll burn a hole in his sinus.

Things happen so fast in life and my head is swimming in scientific data, informed opinions, and my own hyperemotional state. I think back to one of the lessons we learned on the road.... crude... crass perhaps, but one that not only served us well on our travels but may have saved our lives.

Just outside Buffalo TX there are a series of three bridges which I affectionately referred to as the 'bridges of death' - there's a blog & photo in the archives here. It was the first time I was truly terrified on the walk. Narrow shoulders, supersized semis coming from both directions on a two lane highway, surrounded by mudflat marshes filled with water moccasins preventing any flanking strategies.

After thirty minutes of analzying traffic patterns, running calculations in my head on how to safely cross these bridges, I realized I was petrified. But I knew I had to act so I turned to Hudson & Murphy and said, "Well, boys, we can't stand around all day holding our peckers in our hands"...

Life demands decisions and even though Buffalo TX seems light years away, I find myself back on that bridge again.

After reading extensively and consulting with thought leaders this seems the best course of action. Thank you to everyone who sent us alternative ideas and treatments.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Murphy Has Cancer

Looking at murphy's blood stained snout from the biopsy that was performed some hours ago, I could ask why. Why give him cancer, my boy who walked across the country for all others who suffer from this horrible disease. It may seem a cruel irony that just over a month after its completion he was diagnosed.

I choose not to ask because the answer is as unknowing as it is extraneous. What I felt when I awakened this morning was truly blessed. God's love for us is so great that he held the cancer at bay until after our mission was completed . He got us from Austin to Boston safely fulfilling his promise.

From what the vets said yesterday, nasal cancer can come in several varieties so we're awaiting the results of the biopsy. While I am still digesting all of the information and articles that were provided to me it seems the 'gold standard' of care is radiation therapy over a three week period. The prognosis of nasal cancer especially caught this early is promising even though the tumor has invaded part of Murphy's bone.

I want to thank the staff at Colorado State University Vet School for taking good care of Mr. Murphy yesterday, especially Drs. Woorley and Venable and Jennifer who's a fourth year student.

I'll post regular updates here... puppy up!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

'Way Leads Unto Way'

Yesterday it became perfectly clear to me what the first cancer study we'll work on is and it's not going to be an easy one.

A little historical context first. After reading an article that pathogenic infections are more and more likely suspects in causing some cancers in humans I talked with several physicians about it. HPV is thought to cause the majority of cervical tumors and it seems now that lung cancer is not caused by the tar and nicotine from smoking but the repeated respiratory infections from diminished lung capacity.

I took this notion to several veterinarians I met on my journey and their response was that dogs are not susceptible to all of the same pathogens humans are. They don't get sick like we do. True but we know dogs have a different threshold of pain and they don't tell us when they have a slight case of the sniffles like the other snowflakes in our lives. Diagnostics in dogs is different than humans.

I think there's something there. Since Boston I've been meditating on what's next - now that the walk is over the work begins - and the correlation between pathogens and cancer has always been one of the possibilities.

Touring Lily's Haven outside of Colorado Springs yesterday convinced me completely. Lily was a gorgeous Italian Greyhound whose unfortunate fate landed her in a puppy mill. Lack of dental care amongst other atrocities later, Lily was rescued but by then she was completely toothless and had suffered countless oral infections.

As I listened to her story it astonished me that Lily was diagnosed with oral cancer which metastisized throughout her jaw bones and surrounding soft tissue. While I don't know all of the facts about her circumstances, it re-awakened my curiosity and confirmed what I had previously suspected.

The road from Austin to Boston to Colorado is more than about the book now. As Robert Frost said in his poem, 'Way leads unto way'. I was lead to Lily's Haven for a reason.

What we're going to study first is the causal relationship between infections, immune response, and cancer. It'll take us a little time to put this together but in the interim, we welcome your feedback, input, and involvement.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

repost - Midnight with Malcolm

*This is something I wrote whilst in the basement of a host family in Bowling Green KY on the 3rd anniversary of Malcolm's passing. I hadn't read it since I originally posted it over a year ago*>

January 11th 2006. I still remember every moment of that day with absolute clarity. The cancer that began in his bones had spread to his lungs and besieged his beautiful body. At the time, he was on both Rimadyl and Tramadol which I had stopped the day before so that I could better assess his quality of life. I'm glad I did because I discovered his mobility in his hind legs was markedly diminished something the meds were concealing.

The tumor had grown so large in his lungs putting him into congestive heart failure which caused a secondary condition known as hypertrophic osteopathy. His body was succumbing and he was tired from the long struggle. But I wasn't ready to let go of my boy.

When his cancer first metastisized I wondered daily how I could possibly establish the criteria to know when it was time to let him go. It's not purely a scientific question unfortunately. How could I let him go? We had this saying that helped get us through the tough days when he wasn't feeling well. "We don't give up, we don't give in until the end, my friend."

I can't recall where or how I came up with that and I'm sure I said it mostly for me... to keep me from breaking down. Not once did I cry in front of him... not when his leg was amputated nor when the cancer spread. To do so, I believed, would've been tantamount to telling him that it had beaten me and I wasn't going to go the distance with him.

You see, Malcolm just didn't have quit in him... it was amazing to see the rugged determination in his eyes and the unwillingness to give up. He was that way about everything and that was apparent from the first day we met.

When he first came into my life, a present from an ex-girlfriend which should've automatically sent off alarm bells in my head, he was a wee lad. I sat him down for the 'father-son' talk. "If you respect my rules in this house and behave yourself then I'll treat you with respect. Oh, and, I don't do baby talk. That's for girls." That's what I told him.

He broke me in less than a fortnight. I started singing him good morning songs, planning my day around him, and looking for excuses to stop by the pet store and buy him yet another toy and more treats. I recently saw a shirt that said, "You had me at Woof". Indeed he did and in retrospect, I'm quite sure that was part of his master plan.

My family had animals all throughout my childhood. Jenny, a beautiful black lab, and a supremely cool cat my brother Jon named Wally are two of the ones I remember most vividly. I've always considered myself a dog lover but up until Malcolm, I had never experienced a deep and profound bond with one. Such a thing just wasn't possible from my upbringing. "Dawgs is dawgs". That's what a nice and well intentioned fellow from Arkansas told me when I was traveling through there. He just couldn't believe I was walking across the country for canine cancer.

Dogs are dogs sure enough but Malcolm was my boy, too. My day rose and set with him and it was three years ago today I knew it was time to let him go and that the sun that had filled my life with so much joy and simple happiness was going down forever. I held him in my arms as he was given rest and he left this world as he lived it with a strong, quiet dignity.

It's because of his strength and courage that I began this walk and some 900 miles and nine months later, there have been times when I've faltered, doubted, and even despaired but I won't give up, I won't give in, until the end my friend. And today, I give thanks to Malcolm for that and toast that spirit which was his. I miss you, mate.