Encounter With Terminal Canine Lymphoma (What A
On August 26,
2008, Josh went to MSU for his regular
every-six-months follow-up check. The doctors found
a growth on a small lesion under his belly.
Further tests confirmed it was Stage IVa Lymphoma,
a late-stage cancer already present in his liver and spleen.
following, Josh began the University of Madison-Wisconsin
protocol for treatment of Lymphoma. With hardly any
noticeable side-effects (except heavier breathing,
getting tired faster, daily swings in taste
preferences/diet, and different elimination habits), Josh
lived a pretty much normal "beagle" life. In the
eleventh week of the 24-week protocol, Josh went out
Getting Josh back into remission would be difficult,
Josh began CCNU (Lomustine) treatment. Several weeks
later, we found it hadn't worked at all.
resort option tried was the MOPP (Mustargen-based)
protocol. One week after treatment, it was found to
be totally ineffective. After trying a second
treatment (hoping for results), it was clear that
Josh's time was short. The miracle we had prayed for
was not going to happen again.
five months went sooo quickly. Josh went everywhere
his owners did. We knew he felt well when he perked
up his eyes and ears when he heard, "Do you want to go for a ride in
the car?" and "Do you want to go for a walk in the
woods?" Josh enthusiastically came along with
Mom & Dad
everywhere we went (even walking to nearby church!). Josh's
favorite thing (up to two days before he died) was
walking in the woods...sun, snow (record amounts),
freezing cold, or shine.
brisk wandering around and sniffing and "marking"
everything, Josh would enjoy going to the drive-thru
afterwards for an ice cream cone. Tom (a.k.a. "Dad") would eat the
top ice cream and then pack the ice cream tightly
into the cone with his tongue. Josh would enjoy
licking the cone completely clean while Dad held it
for him. Then Josh would eat the top half of the cone. Finally, he would
take the bottom half of the cone from Dad's hand and put it entirely
in his mouth.
(Note: Be careful!
Too much ice cream can
cause diarrhea in dogs [Opposite of humans!] But its not as bad as eating
dry cat food. Thank God Josh had a STRONG stomach
and colon. Like any spoiled dog, Josh easily adapted
to people food and
snacks, and overcome his "normal" instincts for
dog food. His favorite things (beside ice cream)? Anything humans ate (except McDonald's Chicken
Nuggets and French Fries).
Would we have
done the Lymphoma treatments again?
Absolutely. In a heart-beat.
Josh's reaction to the chemotherapy was
hardly noticeable. Since they don't need the
extensive cure required in humans, dogs do not lose
their hair, etc. As for remission, be aware that once a dog is out
of remission, getting back into remission is
hard...and won't last nearly as long as the first remission.
As in any
hospice protocol, pain management with
steroids can be remarkably effective. Don't be
afraid in the final week or two to kick up the
dosages (as necessary) to maintain comfort. At the
same time, recognize that when your pet's quality of
life greatly declines (no more appetite, obvious
pain, inability to gather strength to walk, etc.), it's time to say goodbye.
In our case, we also wanted to be sure that Josh's
cancer wouldn't turn into something traumatic for
all of us. Just take it "one day at a time," cry the tears you
need, and cherish and thank God for the remaining time you have...and
the blessing He has given.
We offer a special
thanks to the Doctors and staff (including Sally,
the always-friendly and helpful receptionist) at Michigan State University's
Small Animal Clinic's Oncology Center. Thanks especially Drs. Erfourth
and Dr. Kim. A very special salute to
Clinic's doctors--including Josh's
physicians Dr. Monica (who administered the
UW-Madison chemo and final medical care) and Dr. Duncan (whose
kindness, expertise and phone calls to us were certainly beyond the call of duty), and
to so many other caring staff people at Oakland
Animal Clinic who also
assisted Josh's regular "celebrity" visits. (According to
Bob, Josh was a "chick magnet").
A very special
thanks to Dr. Wm. Ebinger,
Veterinary Vision of Rochester, whose compassionate
support and professional intervention in Josh's
final weeks. WOW!!! What a remarkable veterinarian. He provided
expert diagnosis and
treatment for the swelling of Josh's third eye lid
which, because of the lymphoma, had totally covered
Josh's eyes and obscured his vision. Dr. Ebinger's intervention enabled Josh to
maintain the best quality of life possible--walking,
eating, and seeing Mom and Dad--in his final two
weeks of life. It meant so much to be able to look
at Josh and know he could look at us, too, and see
how we cared and were watching for him. (BTW, lymphoma often presents itself as
swelling of the eyes).
God Bless You,
We Love You And
Will NEVER Forget You!
(Nor Will We Forget All Who Helped Josh's Hospice
Dad & Mom
(a.k.a. Pr. Tom & Cheryl),
Michelle & Bob (Sister and Step-Brother by Marriage),
Grandma & Grandpa (a.k.a. Dick & Carolyn) , Sally
(The Dog), The Guinea Pigs, and Miranda (the stupid
cat whose food Josh always ate).
Thanks To All Who Supported And Prayed For Us And
Josh: tor Pastor Tom's Friends at Gethsemane
Lutheran, Rochester Hills, Michigan;
Supervisors and Workers at the Oakland County
Department of Human Services, Pontiac, Michigan; and
Last Christmas 12/25/08
With The Santa Claus At PetSmart