Wednesday, November 30, 2016

A Dog's Life

In October we found another lump on Kirby's belly, very near the site of the original tumor. We kept a close eye on it, and it began to change so on November 14th I took him back in to the vet. He performed a needle biopsy on the lump, and to no one's surprise it tested positive for mast cell cancer. This is very dismaying as it has only been three months since the last tumors were removed. The vet said that he can remove it, and in fact it would be a little easier than the last one as it is over a bit from his private parts. But he said we have to face the reality that it can and will come back. How many surgeries do we want to put him through? How many surgeries do we want to put ourselves through, not to mention the expense? This type of cancer is incurable, and I honestly don't think the chemotherapy would have made a difference so I am glad we didn't put him through that.

After some discussion, we decided to try putting him on prednisone in addition to the Benadryl and Pepcid AC that he currently takes. The hope is that the prednisone will keep the cancer cells from irritating Kirby to the point that he licks the tumor and forces it into ulcerating like it did last time. This drug can make dogs very hungry and thirsty, and some dogs urinate in the house because they can't control their bladders. We started with a dosage of three pills at a time once a day, which would be modified if he ended up peeing all over the place.

Fortunately, he has tolerated the medicine well. He is drinking and eating more, and also pants a lot. That, too, is a known side effect. Unfortunately, the tumor continued to grow a bit. His prescription was going to run out on the 23rd, the day we were leaving for Washington, DC to be with our kids for Thanksgiving. So I called the vet again to see about refilling the prednisone. He said that drug should have caused the tumor to shrink some, and that it is a bad sign that it grew even while he was on the medication. But I feel it is great that the tumor didn't go crazy in a 48 hour time period like the last one did, so he agreed to renew the prescription to get us through the seven days we would be gone.

The dog sitter called us the night of the 23rd, and she felt the tumor had grown more and was very red. She wanted to let me know that she had called the vet, and he had her adjust the timing of the pills, giving him one in the morning and two at dinner, along with an additional Benadryl mid-afternoon. She felt we would want to know. None of us slept well that night. Jim was even looking into flights to head back home on Thanksgiving Day in case Kirby needed to be hospitalized - or worse. But when I called the sitter the next morning, she was pleased with the change as the tumor didn't look nearly as red as before. She kept him on the new regimen while we were gone, and fortunately that worked out okay.

I honestly did not know if I would get to see Kirby again. I thought for sure based on how the last tumor went that it would ulcerate while we were away, and we would be faced with tough decisions from far away. It was a horrible feeling, and cast a damper on our visit with the kids. The five of us had not been together since last Christmas, so it is a shame that we had this hanging over all of us. But in the end it all worked out and we will just take each day as it comes. For now he is eating and sleeping well, and still wants to go on his daily walks. I don't know how much more time he has to be with us, but I intend to enjoy each and every day we get.


Mrs. Wryly said...

I'm sorry to hear that Kirby's cancer has progressed. It is difficult to make decisions for a creature that cannot tell you if or how much it is suffering. It will be hard to let go of him, but I know you will know when it is time.... Remember that we fear their death, but they do not. Cyberhug!

Kim Wolterman said...

Yes, I think the hardest part is that your pet has no say in all of this. I'm hoping he can hang on until after the holidays as the kids really want to see him one last time. That's my Christmas wish this year.