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Posts Tagged ‘cancer’

… to strike terror in one’s heart. I’ve had cancer; I have close family relatives who have had cancer and who have died of cancer; my first Irish Water Spaniel, Cooper, died of lymphoma, a type of cancer.

And today I found out that Carlin’s sire died just last month of cancer. Harry was just short of 9 years old. Carlin’s dam died of cancer several years ago.

And on top of that, Tooey is going into the vet tomorrow to have tumor removed from the inside of her mouth. The vet took a sample and looked at it under a microscope. Not diagnostic, not definitive, but the cells in the center of the sample don’t look good. But, you know, maybe all those weird-looking cells aren’t really that bad. Or if they are, maybe they are encapsulated in the tumor and haven’t spread.

I try not to worry.

We did have a cancer scare with Tooey before. But those masses turned out to be benign. And she has several of these fatty tumors on her trunk, and they’re benign. So, let us hope, or pray if you do that. That Tooey is fine this time, like she was last time. And that both she and Carlin live long and happy lives for many years more.

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I still don’t believe it. It’s not that I think our veterinarian and the veterinary radiologist are wrong. It’s just that when I look at Cooper’s beloved face and watch him run to the door with his duck, I can’t believe that what they are telling me can possibly be true.

Cooper_06-12-15

Just last month, we had the vet do a blood panel on Cooper to see how well he was tolerating the Rimadyl. The drug had really been helping his arthritic hips, but it can sometimes do damage to a dog’s liver, so we wanted to make sure all was well. The blood panel was all normal, except for a very slightly elevated number for a particular white blood cell. The vet explained that when the count for that white blood cell reaches the 30,000’s, then that could be a sign of cancer, but while Cooper’s count in the 3,000’s was higher than normal, it didn’t seem immediately concerning.

But then he developed this diarrhea that didn’t go away. The vet, having just seen Cooper, was confident enough to prescribe an antibiotic over the phone. But even after several days, that didn’t seem to be helping. And plus, we noticed three other things: he was eating only about half his regular amount of food, his soft and runny poop was bright orange, and his abdomen seemed hard and somewhat oddly expanded.

So back to the vet Cooper went. When the vet saw him, she sent Russ and Cooper to a veterinary radiologist to have an ultrasound done of his abdomen and see what could be seen.

What they saw are masses on his liver, his spleen, and his lymph nodes. They also suspected a mass in his lungs and their associated lymph nodes.

It’s cancer, they said. Lymphoma.

They offered to do a biopsy to determine which kind of lymphoma. A biopsy would help determine the best kind of chemotherapy that might help Cooper. But Russ declined, and I agree. We didn’t want to put Cooper through an uncomfortable and expensive procedure, just to get information that we wouldn’t actually use.

Of course, the vets offered us the option of chemotherapy. They know that some folks will do anything to keep their dogs alive just a bit longer. But because the cancer is so diffuse in his body, they didn’t offer much hope of improvement with chemo. They also offered prednisone, to temporarily shrink the tumors and ease the inflammation, which would help Coop be more comfortable. With the prednisone, they estimated we’d have a month or two more with Cooper. They also mentioned doing nothing and just letting him go in a couple of weeks.

We decided to go with the prednisone, and it’s like he’s a different dog. Instead of laboring to breathe, he’s able to run to greet us at the door with his duck. He seems happier and more energetic. Of course, his poop is still bright orange, probably the result of a failing spleen, and he can’t eat as much at once as he’d like, probably because a mass is pressing on his guts. And we know the prednisone is a deceiver, making it look like perhaps the vets made a mistake, and that Cooper will come out of this and be with us for many years to come.

But he won’t, except in our hearts. So for right now, we’re cherishing him and doing what we can to give him happy times doing the things he loves: rides in the car, trips to the park, and chances to go out and retrieve one bumper after another and another.

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