If you have ever lost a loved one to cancer you probably understand me saying that you can become a little paranoid and believe everything slightly amiss is potentially that dreaded disease. I lost my beloved dog, Bella, to canine lymphoma almost two years ago, and I still find myself thinking such things. A limp is potentially bone cancer, and a wound without an obvious cause is skin cancer.
Of course, most things have a simple explanation.
Let me go back about 7 years. It was late August, and Bella developed a wound on her foot. It was swollen, there was a small hole between her toes and it was weeping sanguineous substance. It must also have been painful, because she carried her sore foot, refusing, except in extreme circumstances, to put weight on it.
After a few days we realised it wasn’t healing and so took her to the vet. They checked it out, prodding and poking, and prescribed a two weeks supply of antibiotics. There was no improvement, and the vet had no solution, so we had to sort it out ourselves.
Dried garlic came to our aid. We didn’t add it to her food but sprinkled it on her foot. After about 24 hours, healing had commenced and a scab had formed. It seemed like we were beating it … finally.
Wrong! Days later the wound exploded, opening back up and squirting out more sanguineous substance. Only this time it opened in a slightly different position. We were at a loss what to do. The vets were of no help, and poor Bella continued to limp.
One day, 3 months after her problem started, I was examining the hole when something shot out. Once I had cleaned it up, I discovered what it was … a grass seed! Finally, her foot healed, permanently this time.
So don’t forget. After walkies check your dog’s feet. It can save you and your dog a lot of heartache.
Isn’t it amazing how time heals? Just 13 months ago I lost Bella to canine lymphoma. Whilst it was something I had been prepared for, it was also something I had been dreading. As expected, her death hit me hard, and for a few weeks I was inconsolable. She was my best friend, my faithful companion, my love.
She was diagnosed just before Christmas 2011 with T-cell lymphoma, a rare and difficult cancer to treat. We caught it early, but it was so aggressive that had she have not started chemo on the 2nd January I doubt she would have seen the week through. She had many set backs and nearly died again in late January, but thankfully she pulled through and finally reached remission in April. It was a wondrous moment. My heart was singing.
Like all good things, it had to come to an end; unfortunately for everyone involved, it happened within two weeks. Since the chemo had failed so swiftly, the only other option was steroids, designed only to keep her pain-free until the inevitable happened. She was given 2 weeks to live. She stayed with us for 3 months – they were a happy and (surprisingly) healthy 3 months.
My husband and I cherished every moment of that time, as did Bella. We took her on special walks every day, treated her by allowing her into the bedroom in the mornings, and cuddled her as often as she wanted. We were always happy around her, and never gave her a chance to feel her pain. As a result, she probably had the best 3 months of her life.
It’s so sad reminiscing after the loss of a loved one, but I also feel happy and proud, and grateful to have known her. She was cheeky, animated and energetic; she was a brave, a fighter. She was affectionate and loyal.
What more could I ask? She did the best she could, but it was not to be. It wasn’t her fault she developed terminal cancer. I’m sure she would have liked more time, but I remind myself her life could have been far worse. She could have been a street dog, abandoned, hungry and unloved. In addition, had Bella not died, I would not have found Stilton, a beautiful apricot standard poodle. Soon he will be one year old.
Maybe, just maybe, a small peace of her spirit is within him. What a wonderful thought!
Do we pay enough attention to the state of our internal organs? If we could see what was going on, would we do more?
Imagine if our liver and kidneys were as visible as our skin. Would we not try to improve its appearance, even if it was only for vanity’s sake? Our organs are out of sight, but they should not be out of mind.
I have been pondering this for two reasons. Firstly, I am involved in a writing project regarding kidney transplants, and secondly, my delightful dog, Bella, has cancer and is on chemotherapy.
As the regular readers of my blog will know, Bella was diagnosed with a lymphoma just before Christmas. The cancer was very aggressive and took hold very quickly, so we put her on chemotherapy. With dogs, it is usually without complications, but she very nearly died.
She suffered from Tumour Lysis Syndrome, which can happen when the cancerous cells dissolve into the blood stream and are not dissipated quickly enough. It was touch and go for a week, but thankfully she pulled through and is now back on chemotherapy and doing excellently.
Dogs with lymphomas are never truly cured and often die from organ failure. So I have put together an assortment of remedies to keep her in full working order. These are her supplements for two days.
She has turmeric, garlic, kelp, Q10, calcium, omega 3, multi-vitamins, arginine, glutamine, red clover, dandelion, milk thistle, ginger, ginko biloba . . .
No wonder she has the vitality of a pup!
I wonder if my organs are as clean. I very much doubt it.
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.