So I’m making this a series, so we can connect all the cancer-related posts for anyone interested and in case it helps anyone later on. I really, really wanted to call this series “Kicking Cancer in the Teeth,” but I thought that might be tempting fate a little too viciously. But it’s the attitude I’m bringing, just the same.
First, thank you for all the prayers, good wishes, and support. I really appreciate it!
Cutting carbs was really simple, with the dogs already on a raw diet. I kept the commercial liver paste for Laev’s clinic visit and some Greek yogurt for morning pills; those are fairly low-carb and I want a high value item for the ongoing vet visits. But I’m keeping my eyes open for lower-carb options.
Laev had her second round of chemo today. She was a very good girl, again. We settled in the waiting room with a stuffed toy, and while there were no loose dogs this time, she did bark when an Akita came around a corner and startled her, and then she got snarky at an overexcited patient on a flexi-lead. The owner stopped the extending lead before he quite reached Laev, but it left her agitated for a bit and she made ugly face at a doodle looking at her under a chair. She turned around when I asked, though, and she was happy to ignore other passing dogs for targets and liver paste.
She was a super-trooper for her temperature and pulse, holding her chin target, but she didn’t want to have her blood drawn. I’m sure that has less to do with the stick and more to do with the vet tech straddling her and holding her muzzle firmly; I may have to do some straddles at home to counter-condition that. Her resistance, though, was mostly a reluctance to sit, so not bad at all. And she went back nicely with the tech for her chemo. And the tech not only took the can of liver paste I handed her, but asked me what Laev’s “bridge word” was. Oh, that warms my little heart.
Laev came out all agitated, though, so we need something more to take back to chemo. I wonder if she could do her matwork for someone else? I’ll have to think about it.
But, good news — Laev’s bloodwork was “perfect,” which is good because at diagnosis and last week her platelet count was dangerously low (she was borderline to even be able to receive the chemo). And her lymph nodes are much, much smaller — rather than visibly and obviously distorting her silhouette, they’re now pretty much invisible, except beneath her jaw (and honestly I doubt anyone but me would notice). So that’s great.
She was very lethargic last Wednesday, which didn’t surprise me as the staff warned me she might go down 36-48 hours after treatment. And she did, hard, not budging from her dog bed for hours. By Wednesday night, however, she was back to her normal self and even treeing critters, and she has kept up a solid appetite the entire time.
She doesn’t look like a cancer patient; both the diagnosing vet and the oncologist last week said so. She looks like a shiny wet seal, and her energy is pretty typical. Even the receptionist today guessed she was younger than her actual 8 years. So it’s weird to watch her go for a swim in the new pond and think that she has terminal cancer. Dr. Rechner said last week that a patient in substage A (feeling good) has better chances than one in substage B (lower energy, poor condition) even in an earlier stage.
So far, so good.
There’s not a lot of treatment for Shakespeare; he’s getting Rimadyl twice a day to stave off inflammation and pain, and damn the potential-liver-damage torpedoes because I’ll be thrilled if he lives long enough to enjoy the risk. We have higher-voltage pain meds ready in case he needs them, but so far he seems quite comfortable.
Our vet guessed about 3 weeks for him at his diagnosis last Tuesday, and then she suggested it might be longer, but definitely no more than 2 months. I suspected she was trying hard to be optimistic since she’d just asked after Laev before examining Shakespeare. For most of the past week I’ve been mentally holding to the 3-weeks number, but now I’m cautiously, cautiously thinking we might beat it.
The lump is growing, and it’s changing the shape of his face, which I hate. I don’t want to see him all distorted. But his appetite is unchanged and he’s eating eagerly, which is what we’re watching; as the cancer spreads in his jaw, it will affect his ability and desire to eat. So the fact that he’s bouncing and barking obnoxiously at me to make dinner is kind of just fine.
In the meantime, I need to budget more evenings of fatuous leisure. One of Shakespeare’s favorite things is curling up on the couch upstairs with me to watch a movie, so I’m taking film suggestions! We’d love to hear your favorites. (Please refrain from Old Yeller, Where the Red Fern Grows, or anything else which fails this site, thank you!)