Skye is an almost 9 year old border collie that I took home from the Ottawa Humane Society when she was just 7 weeks old. She had been relinquished by a family when she was 6 weeks old after one of the kids had brought her home from a ‘farm.’ She had been kept in their kitchen for a week and then they decided they didn’t want a puppy after all. Her relinquisher said on the form, “She’s a good dog.” And boy, were they right about that! Their loss.
Skye is always wondering what we’re doing next, not unusual for a border collie. However (and strangely), she is also a couch potato. She is incredibly polite. We have to tell her about three times that it’s okay to eat before she will dig in. I have, on many occasions, left a piece of toast for her on my plate – on the floor – when I leave in the morning and she won’t eat it until I get back. She is also afraid of plastic bags, ceiling fans and when I turn on our oven.
When we returned from a brief vacation this winter, I scruffled Skye’s neck and chin and was profoundly alarmed to find large lumps. These, our vet, told me a day later were enlarged lymph glands – almost a guarantee of the dreaded diagnosis, cancer.
When we went to visit the oncology vet, Dr. Bravo, at the Alta Vista Animal Hospital later that day, it was clear to her that Skye indeed had lymphoma, even without waiting for the results of the tests. So that day we embarked on our cancer journey.
We heard words like ‘staging’, ‘protocol’ ‘doxorubicin’ and many others we had never heard before. We were also warned about things like diarrhea, nausea, loss of appetite, increased thirst and resulting urination, muscle weakness, changes in personality, depression, etc. These are all the possible side-effects of the drugs used in chemotherapy.
We learned that chemotherapy is the accepted treatment ‘protocol’ for dogs with lymphoma. In fact, some say that this is the kind of cancer that is not an immediate death sentence if treated. Without treatment, a dog can expect to live for 4-6 weeks. With the most aggressive chemotherapy protocol, the kind we opted for, the remission rate for dogs is between 89 and 92%. Remissions can last from 1 to 1 ½ years from the day of diagnosis, and on rare occasions, much longer. Many say it is the luck of the draw. Continue reading →