My Daisy…cancer free after one year!
A little over a year ago I discovered a lump on my then 5 year old adorable little dog Daisy, which was a dreadful for me as it is for any other pet owner. From its outer appearance, I was already suspect it wasn’t going to be good news which was confirmed when I took a needle sample to discover it was a mast cell tumor which is a type of skin tumor that has the potential to be very bad. I checked out her chest, liver, spleen and bloodwork and thankfully, could find no evidence of spread of the cancer and so off to surgery to remove her mass. Unfortunately, it was in an area where I could not get the wide margins that are ideal to get with a mast cell tumor and thus, post-operatively, I was faced with the very difficult decision of putting her through radiation therapy to ensure that any microscopic cancer cells were destroyed especially given that her tumor was considered a high-intermediate grade meaning there was a moderately good chance that it could recur or spread elsewhere. I ultimately opted to go through with radiation treatment, not just because I love my little Daisy so very much, but she was only 5 years old at that time and I want her to be around a lot longer than that!
Off we went to the Veterinary Cancer Group at City of Angels Veterinary Specialty Center in Culver City…5 days a week for a total of 19 treatments. I already knew, being the social butterfly that Daisy is, that she would do great hanging out at another clinic besides her Harbor Animal Hospital home! As scary as the words radiation therapy are for us, she just pranced in every day as one of new friends warmly greeted her and off she went to hang out in the treatment area with all her new dog friends also undergoing the same ordeal. As the treatments progressed, she lost her hair and had some mild redness. Then a terrible complication…after completing all of her treatments, she unfortunately, developed very severe radiation burn effects. It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to go through with any of my pets…especially as it briefly eroded our very tight bond as I had to do my best to keep the area clean and medicated despite her pain which was managed as best as possible with medication. It broke my heart to see what she was going through and to know that it was because of my decision. But, like many other tough periods in life, we made it through! Her skin healed and except for the fact that her hair that grew back in is now white, you would never know that anything had been wrong with her! Her spirit never waned throughout the whole ordeal…she still loved going out for miles long walks pulling me the whole time despite the fact that she dreaded me when it was time to take care of her radiation burns.
After getting through all of that, especially emotionally on my part, she was to receive a standard chemotherapy protocol to ensure that any microscopic cancer cells were destroyed inside of her body. Now usually, the drug used for her kind of cancer has very mild side effects, if any, but apparently my Miss Daisy had to go to the extremes and, as with her severe radiation side effects, she had very severe side effects after her initial dose of chemotherapy. Once again, I was devastated…I had to go through the terrible guilt that I had done this to her but once again, we made it through! At that point, enough was enough, and no further chemotherapy was given and our life together went back to normal as if none of this had ever happened.
It’s now a little over a year after going through all of this and so far she’s cancer-free!!! Kudos to Dr. Lyons and all the other amazing doctors and staff at the Veterinary Cancer Group for their wonderful care and a big shout out to my fellow veterinarians Dr. Kaufman and Dr. Wetzel and staff at Harbor Animal Hospital for all of their support and immeasurable help in caring for Daisy through everything! Words cannot express how much you are all appreciated! As I am writing this, Daisy is snuggled up next to me on the couch taking her morning nap along with her cat buddies George and Aki…they are my family and each and every day I am thankful that I still have Daisy beside me…