Wednesday, April 30, 2014

The Wednesday One: Week 17 and a Daisy Update

I got the call this morning, shortly after dropping Ethan off at preschool. I knew we were going to hear the news today about Daisy's aspiration results, yet I somehow still felt unprepared for the bomb that was to be dropped on us. It was confirmed. Daisy has lymphoma. Cancer. A vicious, deadly disease has invaded her poor little, never-hurt-a-fly body and it's making her so sick and miserable. Until today, she would still readily gobble up the boiled chicken we prepare for her, but this morning she must've felt too sick even for that, as it still sits there in her bowl, untouched, as my heart breaks more than I imagined possible. We now have to come to terms with the fact that her time here is limited. It's been devastating watching her in so much visible pain. It's even harder knowing that we can't help her understand what is going on.

Our vet recommended that we get her started on a steroid, prednisone. While it can't cure the cancer, obviously, it will shrink the enlarged lymph nodes for now and allow her to feel better. Her appetite and thirst should return quickly and she'll be more like her sweet, happy self again. Unfortunately, the effects of the prednisone are short-lived. When used alone, the average survival time is just 1-2 months. Given the fact that she's been feeling bad for several weeks now, we will need to act quickly. She has a rare form of lymphoma - the gastrointestinal kind. From what I've read, it accounts for only about 5% of lymphomas in dogs. It does appear that we've caught it fairly early, as it's in Stage 2 (the lymph nodes in just one area of the body are affected), but she is in substage b, though, which means that she is experiencing symptoms (vs no visible symptoms).

The next step is to decide which course of treatment to proceed with for her, if that is the route we want to take. Our vet has personal experience with lymphoma, as she also had a dog that suffered from it. She actually doesn't recommend the full-blown, intensive chemotherapy, but instead to use a single drug therapy. This is what she did for her dog. Full chemotherapy would involve an intense 12 weeks of drugs and has a high percentage of remission, for about 6-8 months. Second remissions are possible, but shorter and harder to achieve. Treatment with this route usually results in an average survival time of 9-12 months, but at a very high price tag. The single drug therapy would involve 5 shorter treatments, and would hopefully result in a survival time of anywhere from 3-8 months. At this time, we have decided to go with the latter. With Josh out of the country for most of May, we want to buy some more time (literally, I guess) with her. We want to ease her pain and give her a few more months to enjoy with us, including one last trip to the beach in June. I'm sure there may be more difficult decisions to make in the near future, but for the time being, we hope that this is the right path to take, especially for her. We thank you for your continued thoughts and prayers during this very difficult time.

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