Monthly Archives: January 2012

Where there’s hope . . .

I naturally have a positive attitude and like to believe there is always hope.  Maybe I am foolish, but even if I am proved wrong, which I often am, it helps me get through the rough times.  Some call it an inner strength.  I think it is an inability to accept I have been backed into a corner.

Bella, my 8 year old dog has cancer.  She responded brilliantly to the first treatment and her tumour dissolved entirely, but after the second treatment, she succumbed to the harshness of chemotherapy.  She couldn’t eat or drink and was unresponsive to my voice.  It was agony watching her, but I wasn’t going to give up.

For almost a week, I had to syringe small quantities of liquidised food into her mouth.  I felt wretched with guilt.  Should I have ended her pain and misery?  Was I cruel in persisting with the chemo?  I had to follow my gut, and it told me she would pull through.

She did.  Now, two weeks after her last chemo treatment, she is eating huge amounts and is energised and happy, constantly wagging.  It is such a transformation, it is difficult to believe it’s the same dog.  Even the vet seemed surprised and asked, a second time, if she was eating for herself.  Yes, yes, I cried.

And, to top it all, neither her tumour nor her swollen lymph nodes have returned.  Finally, we are getting somewhere, and the oncologist is happy to continue treatment next week.

I’m sure it’s not always going to be smooth sailing, but I like to believe she has got over the worst.  It certainly is a roller-coaster journey.

Isn’t that what makes life interesting?

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Difficult decision – A dog with lymphoma

There are times when we all agonise over making the right decision, and it drives you to self-destruction.  If you are like me, your mind never stops whirring, and within minutes, you can change from being entirely certain you have done the right thing, to being certain it was wrong in every respect.  I have been having many of those moments over the last week, as I watched Bella, my 8 year old dog suffer from both cancer and chemotherapy.

 Bella was fine during the first week of treatment, and as well as all of her lymph nodes normalising, she had a healthy appetite, eating cooked minced chicken, potatoes, egg, and liquidised vegetables.  But as soon as I administered the second drug, Cyclophosphamide, she stopped eating and looked decidedly ill.

 The following day, she moved continuously, obviously suffering major discomfort, and by evening couldn’t keep down food or water.  She had to be hospitalised.  My guilt rocketed.

 Why was I doing this?  A couple of weeks ago I looked deep into her eyes and saw a passion for living.  By nature, she is a happy dog – always wagging, always exuberant – and she wanted more time.  I also justified trying the chemo by reading that dogs don’t suffer the way people do.  I am starting to wonder how true this is.

 Bella has an inflamed pancreas, a condition that is normally treated with a diet change consisting of low fat and high fibre.  Did the Cyclophosphamide cause it?  I am assuming it did, as she has never been overweight, nor had fatty meals.

It has been a difficult week, and I have found great comfort by reading about other people’s experiences.  Rarely do we suffer unique experiences, and with the aid of the Internet, it is easy to find someone who has been there before.

Please pray for Bella’s good health.  I will keep you updated.

My worst Christmas – Dog Lymphoma

I’ve just had the worst Christmas and New Year.  Why? I hear you ask.  A week before the big day my gorgeous little dog, Bella, was diagnosed with cancer.  She has a lymphoma, and the tumour was growing by the day.  Panic set in.

Without treatment, dogs have 6-8 weeks to live, and with treatment 1-2 years.  But even though we had the diagnosis, we couldn’t start chemotherapy until more tests had been completed.  A test that normally would take 1 day took a week, due to the holidays, so whilst everyone else was enjoying the festivities, I was watching poor little Bella grow weaker and weaker, and praying that her cancer didn’t reach the point of no return.

It’s an absolutely horrid disease, and my deepest sympathy goes out to anyone who has had cancer, or experienced it through a family member.  What I found the mot difficult was not being able to see what was going on, as the symptoms are not always that obvious.  In Bella’s case, she had a fever and a tumour, but that was all.  How fast was it spreading?  Had it spread to her other organs?  Had it reached the bone marrow?  There is no way of knowing except via tests, and if you let it, it will destroy you mentally.

My advice is focus on something else, anything.  Unless worrying leads you to asking someone a relevant question, or helps solve a problem, it serves no purpose.

I’m lucky, I am a member of a tennis club, and play, on average, three times a week.  I have many wonderful friends, and whilst I choose not to use them as a sounding board, I do use them as a distraction.  I think this is essential for anyone suffering similarly.

Get out and distract yourself.

So, back to Bella.  By the first week of January we had an appointment with an oncologist, and despite her cancer being one of the most aggressive, the prognosis seemed reasonable.  Finally, I could start to relax.  She had her first treatment, Vincristine, and she responded very well.  After five days, the tumour had gone and all of her lymph nodes were back to normal size.  I was elated.

Could it possibly run smoothly?  Week 2 proved to be a nightmare.

More later.