Houston - We Have A Problem

The curious cancer that our little dog Myra has developed continues to misbehave. Originally diagnosed as the more slow-growing, small cell cancer more commonly seen in the intestines of cats, we thought we would be able to avoid using heavy hitting chemotherapy drugs for quite a while. When her lymph nodes under her jaw blew up 5 days ago and she vomited a couple of times, I decided to bite the bullet and start her on chemotherapy. We had agreed to start with Leukeran (chlorambucil), which is a fairly "mild" chemo drug. I cringed when I gave her the first capsule, wondering what this new poison would do to her little body. But I really had no choice.

Here's the thing: holistic therapy only works if you can get it into the animal. Myra was refusing all food. She was refusing all supplements, oils, and powders, and the beautiful road map that I had planned out for her was heading nowhere. I am an expert at getting pills into animals, and no manner of prying, pushing, or begging was going to allow me to get medications into this dog. After any struggle she would hide from me for at least an hour and run if I went near. I refuse to make her life (and mine) miserable and I refuse to destroy the trust that she has built over the past year and a half with us. She would acquiesce to take one pill each morning, so I opted for the Leukeran as her one pill. I rotated butter, cream cheese, and sour cream to hide the pill so she wouldn't turn away.

Meal times were becoming a problem. Hue made another gorgeous stew (I'll post it sometime). She ate one meal; she refused it a second time. Tuesday morning I offered 4 different meals and she turned away. I finally won the battle by offering freeze dried raw pork cat food. She loved it. For lunch, she agreed to a little rabbit stew. Dinner was cooked Allprovide turkey. I thought the medication might be helping, but made an appointment to see the wonderful Dr. Vickery first thing Wednesday morning. I'm so glad I did.

Myra woke us from our sleep at 3:30 Wednesday morning. Vomiting large puddles of frothy brownish fluid; at least the food had been digested and stayed down. The vomiting continued every 15 to 20 minutes and the volume kept growing. Myra never drinks water, so I knew she was dehydrating with all the vomiting. Our appointment with Dr. Vickery couldn't come fast enough.

At 8:00 a.m. we met with Dr. Vickery and she was just as concerned as we were. She admitted Myra for IV fluids, an abdominal ultrasound, and an injection of Cerenia. Cerenia treats nausea, but the injection really stings. Myra was NOT a happy camper and refused to talk to anyone after that. Hue and I waited patiently for the results of the ultrasound. When Dr. Vickery came in, I thought she was going to cry. They found bad news.

Myra has developed another tumor in her small intestine close to where the first one was removed. It goes all the way through the intestinal wall and is assymetrical. As I was imagining another surgery for our poor girl, Dr. Vickery went on to say they also found a large, ulcerated mass in Myra's stomach. Not removable. And then we cried.

We discussed therapy and decided that since Myra is still being Myra, we have to give her a chance. She wants to play and interact; she loves her dinosaurs. So we started her new chemotherapy regime. Wednesday was another dose of L-spar. Next week will be IV vincristine, then cytoxan, then CCNU. This is all very foreign to me, so I have to rely on Dr. Vickery here. We need to give Myra some support medications, but she is impossible to give pills, so we worked out a plan for injectable therapy which I can give at home. Myra would actually rather have injections than pills (except for Cerenia, which we are giving IV so it won't sting). Sigh...

A big problem will be keeping enough nutrition on board and this is something many of my clients deal with in their own pets with cancer. Calories are important. Sometimes you can't get them to eat exactly what you'd like them to eat, but you get something, anything on board. I discussed a ketogenic diet with a wonderful gentleman (more about that in another blog), but getting that into Myra is going to be a challenge.

For now, she is tired from her hard day. She came home with us last night where the family gathered around with a pile of dinosaurs. Make. Every. Day. Count.