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Toby's Tale

Just another Tripawds weblog

Archive for October, 2009

Trip to the Vet Today

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We went for a blood test today… His white count is pretty low but not quite low enough to put him on antibiotics.  Because we live out in the country with no exposure to other dogs or possible infections, they feel that he will get better each day.  We’ll go for another test next Friday.  He seems to be feeling great.  My sissy Robin came by for a visit – he loves her!

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Life is Good – so far..

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Things are getting back to “normal” around our house.  There have been no visible side effects from the chemo and his mobility is very good.  He gets tired easy so we don’t do the same rigorous activities but he still wants to play with the ball.  I’ve been throwing it to him and he catches it in his mouth without moving.  I did throw it a pretty far distance in our yard and he ran after it.  Because he was running with his head down, he tumbled forward/flipped in the soft grass but rebounded very well.    I felt sorry for him – he just got up and brought me the ball with the look of  “Let’s do it again”!  I bought a Frisbee and hope he can get use to catching something that’s airborne instead of on the ground….  He didn’t act interested at all so this may be a waste of time.

We go Friday for the first blood test.  I have a list of things/concerns to discuss with Dr. Portie but all in all, Life is Good!

Round 1 of the Fight Begins

Today is our first round of chemo.  I had a hard time giving him the medication.  My thoughts of chemo bring up images of pain and suffering so I feel like I’m poisoning him.  I went ahead and gave him the four pills with some food so there’s no turning back now.  I keep reminding myself that the doctor said this drug will be on a “seek and destroy mission” to help rid him of any peculiar or rogue cells that may turn cancerous.

They called with the results from the bone marrow test – ALL CLEAR!! Yeah!

What’s Next

After little sleep last night, we awoke around 6 am to prepare for our trip to A&M….    Let me just get it on the table that I’m a huge Texas Longhorn fan and being from Austin, I felt as though I was going into enemy territory but I have to say – those Aggies ROCK! Now we’re a house divided.  It was tempting to purchase an A&M tee shirt on the way home.  WOW, I have such respect for that wonderful program and the people who are there to help us during these trying times.

Dr. Heather Wilson is a veterinary oncologist who has such a great attitude and personality.  From the moment I met her, I felt that my vet – Glen Portie from Dripping Springs Veterinary Clinic made the right decision in encouraging me to make the 2.5 hr drive to College Station just to meet with her.

We know that Toby has histiocytic sarcoma and that it’s a cancer that they don’t know a whole lot about.  It’s aggressive and has a good chance of appearing in some other part of his body.  There is a doctor who is the pioneer in this field of cancer named Peter Moore and I’ll be reading more about his findings tomorrow.

Today was about getting the cancer staged – and from what they discovered, we have caught it very early.  Removing the limb was the correct place to start and the ultra sound and chest ex-rays all came back clear.  By the way, the knot I was concerned about on his right foot is arthritis..  Never thought I’d be so happy to hear that!  His bone marrow test results will be back tomorrow morning but from what she could tell, there wasn’t any indication of irregular cells.

She didn’t sugar coat the prognosis…  While so much of the information is good and encouraging,  the bad news is the average life expectancy is only 9 months. There have been many cases where the dog has lived much longer – and I have a feeling Toby will surpass that “average”.

Our next step is to FIGHT!  We start our first of 5  rounds of chemo tomorrow.  The drug is called Lomustine aka CCNU.  He will take these treatments every three weeks for a total of 15 weeks.  She said that most dogs tolerate the drug very well and show few side effects.  On day three after the drug is administered, I may notice that his appetite isn’t as good and maybe he’ll sleep a little more but beyond that, we shouldn’t notice much difference in him. Before I administer it (she sent it home with me), I will do more research.  I’m not sure it will make a difference because without it, there is a greater chance the cancer will appear faster.

Because I’m feeding him homemade dog food, she recommended that I consult with a veterinary nutritionist and is against antioxidants or raw meat (due to salmonella) while he’s undergoing these treatments.

At the end of next week, I’ll bring him in to our regular local vet for a blood test to check his white blood cell count.  If it’s good, we’ll keep on truckin’ if not, she’ll prescribe something to get him back on track.

He got his stitches out today while we were there.  They shaved even more belly hair to do the ultra sound so he looks like he’s had a very bad haircut.  He ate a good dinner and crashed in his favorite spot – next to his daddy’s side of the bed.  Sometime during the night, he’ll make his way over to my side…   Ahhh, I’m so glad we get to sleep in our own bed tonight..  There’s no place like home!

The Diagnosis

We finally found out that Toby has histiocytic sarcoma.  I don’t know much about this form of cancer but from what I’ve read, it’s not good.   The process to figure this out was quite lengthy – as you may remember, the initial test showed “probable sarcoma” so I asked for a biopsy to make sure.  As you know, amputation is pretty radical when the word “probable” is involved.  The biopsy came back “sarcoma” – frustrated but convinced the amputation would eliminate the pain, we made the decision to move forward.

Once the limb was sent in for more testing, the test came back with indications it was either synovial or histiocytic sarcoma.  I’ve spend more time than I care to admit researching osteo and fibro sarcoma so this is very new and I feel totally ignorant.  The testing is being done at A&M and the oncologist that is diagnosing his type of cancer has done extensive staining of the cells and confirmed that he has histiocytic sarcoma.

Our vet has recommended that we go to College Station to meet with her and have the “staging” procedures done so we know how far along it is and what our strategy will be.  That includes a bone marrow aspiration and an ultrasound.  Because it’s a teaching hospital, we can only hope we can have these test done tomorrow and come home – otherwise, we’ll be spending the night there and returning home on Friday.

Any way I look at it, it doesn’t change the fact that our dog has cancer.  We knew that going in.  The type of cancer is what concerns me most.  I’m almost afraid to do too much research for fear I won’t sleep.  I’m going to continue to fight this with dietary changes (I’m now making homemade dogfood) and maybe some supplements.   Boosting his immune system is the best thing I can do right now.

We’re now two weeks removed from that procedure.  He’s doing pretty well.  Some days are better than others but for the most part, he’s adapting to his tripawd life.   I can’t even imagine what life will be like when he’s not here anymore.  I’m trying to stay strong but I’m struggling.  If anyone knows anything about this type of cancer, please share your experiences with me.  Hopefully, the vet will be patient in trying to explain it.

Thank you all for your love and support.  I’ll keep you posted.

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