Last year in November, my people took me to the vet to get my yearly check up and vaccinations and to have my ear looked at for a little infection. Dr. Lee is my vet at Broad Ripple Animal Clinic. He's really nice. My girl happened to mention to him that I had a little lump on my side. Dr. Lee said it was probably nothing to be too worried about but he'd do a biopsy to be sure. What a surprise we were all in for in the next couple of weeks.
When we went back the next week to make sure that my ear infection was cleared up, Dr. Lee also had the biopsy results. My little lump was cancerous. Upon examining me a little more, they also noticed a lump in my neck. My people took me to see Dr. Webb at Stop 11 Animal Hospital who did my surgery to remove the tumor on my side. Dr. Lee was willing to do it however my people needed someone they could afford (and trusted as much as Dr. Lee). Dr. Webb had been Guinness' vet so they knew he'd take good care of me too. Dr. Webb also attempted to remove the lump on my neck and to do a biopsy of it. He thought it might have been just a swollen gland or something. Once he got in there though, he was in for a shock. I had a huge mass (the size of a racquetball!) wrapped around my arteries. I started to hemorrhage so he got enough to test and stitched me back up.
I wasn't in too good of shape for a little while. The incision on my side healed up nicely but I couldn't leave the one on my neck alone. It just bothered me so much. My people wrapped up my feet to keep my claws from scratching it open but lucky for me, they couldn't stick one of those big, cumbersome Elizabethan collars on me. Well, maybe it wasn't so lucky. Since I wouldn't keep my feet wrapped and wouldn't stop scratching at my neck, I got an infection. I wasn't feeling so hot. And on top of that, when we went back to see Dr. Webb, he had the test results. He was a little shocked. It turned out that I have thyroid cancer. Dr. Webb said that in all his years of being a vet, he'd seen it many times in cats but never in a dog.
Dr. Webb had to refer us to see an oncologist. I've been going to see Dr. Lucroy for a few months now. He really knows his stuff! He told my people that thyroid cancer is very rare in dogs. So rare that they aren't really sure how the best way to treat it is. I guess with people and cats, a radioactive iodine (or something like that) treatment works best. For some reason however, it doesn't work on dogs. Our options were to try chemotherapy or radiation. With the radiation treatment, I'd have to go somewhere else like Columbus, OH or Chicago and my people would have to leave me there for maybe a week at a time. We decided to try the chemo since my people would be completely lost without me at home to keep an eye on Stella.
This Friday will be my fourth treatment. Everyone always asks my people questions like if my hair will fall out or does it make me sick? Chemo with dogs is different than with humans. First off, its given at a much lower dosage. I am treated every three weeks, with a blood check every ten days in between. I haven't lost any hair and if I did, that would be a cause for concern. Dr. Lucroy said that it usually takes at least four treatments to see results but I won't receive more than six. After six treatments, it can start affecting my liver and heart. The blood work is to check how I'm responding. After the first treatment, my white blood cell count dropped and I had to be put on a super antibiotic just in case I picked up any bugs. With a lowered immune system, I could get sick easier. They lowered the next chemo dosage and I haven't had any problems since then. One of the side affects that could happen after a treatment is vomiting or diarrhea. My girl takes me to work with her after I've been to see Dr. Lucroy so that she can keep an eye on me to make sure I'm handling it all okay. I never have any problems but I'm glad she lets me go to work with her. I love visiting people and I think they love me too. And I get to go for lots of CAR RIDES!!!!!
So, that's the story on my cancer and its treatment. I have my next visit Friday so I'll update how that went. I still have to write about how I became a therapy dog too.