Nikka;s story began on August 30, 2009, when she was rushed to the emergency vet by a friend who was watching her while I was on business in San Francisco. My friend had called me when she got home from work and said Nikka was laying with her head on the water dish not moving. I was horrified to get a phone call directly from the vet telling me that an ultrasound showed not only was there a tumor on her spleen, but there was fluid in her abdomen. They were going to do a splenectomy that night, but blood work in prep for the surgery showed her platelet counts were so low she could spontaneously bleed out, forget surgery. For the next 2 days they worked on stabalizing her, trying to get her red blood cell and platelet counts to a level where they could at least attempt surgery to remove her spleen. On Sept 2, 2009 her spleen was removed. A few days later I received a call from the vet telling me the pathology report said it was hemangiosarcoma which gave her a prognosis of 1-3mo with chemo 6-8 mo without chemo. For the second time in a week I was blind sided. I'd never even heard of this cancer. I suppose the good news in all this was that x-rays of her lungs were clear and a biopsy done of her liver was benign. I'd always sworn I'd never put a dog through chemo, because I've seen what it does to people, but I wasn't ready to give up. I couldn't just look at this active otherwise healthy dog and believe she could die in a month, so I did what most people do and hit the internet. I found a lot of information online, from articles and online groups with people who have gone through this. I, also found there are a lot of different ideas about what works, what doesn't work, etc., but there was one thing that reoccurred and that was the importance of diet and no carbs, so I began switching her food from standard kibble to a higher protein, no carb diet. I also met with an oncologist and holistic vet. I wasn't sure about the chemo, but from the feedback I'd been getting it wasn't nearly as bad as with people, so I made the decision to try it. She'd get a total of 5 doses 2-3 weeks apart. My take on it was if she had a bad reaction that would be it and we'd manage it via holistic methods as long as she was comforatable. She had her first dose of chemo 2 weeks ago, with no adverse reactions, so at this point I've decided to go for dose 2. The holistic vet has her on suppliments to help her digestive system and gives her an acupunture treatment a day or 2 after her chemo. It worked for her first treatment and I'm crossing my fingers it will continue to work.
November 22, 2009 Update - Nikka had her first ultrasound since her initial diagnosis just over 2 months ago, and it came back clean, no sign of the cancer! Lung x-rays were also clean! She had her 4th dose of chemo after that, and while she's had some mild issues with diahrea and nausea, they don't seem to effect her energy levels. One more dose to go, given in about 2 1/2 weeks. I'll be so glad when she's done with chemo, I stress out after each dose. 4/7/2010 - Nikka came thourch chemo with very fe wissues and ultrasounds gave her a completely clean bill of health in November, unfortunately in late January, she went down with what I suspected was a bleed. Ultrasounds confirmed what I suspected a few days later, the cancer was back with 3 lesions on her liver. The oncologist gave us options of additional chemo, etc. which given how fast it came back, I chose not to pursue. I decided to just enjoy whatever time I had left with her, without having her spend half that time at the vets. Nikka did great after that bleed until her final day. She woke me up the morning of 2/14/2010 panting and unwilling to move. I didn't realize at the time how bad it was going to get, but by 10:00 that morning she'd passed out 4 times, so I made the difficult decision to let her go to the bridge. A vet came to the house as did a couple of my friends she was close to, and in the end she went to sleep laying on her favorite dog bed with the people she was closest to around her. I have good days and bad, but I'm getting to the point where I'm finally remembering all the things she did, even after her diagnosis, with a smile rather than tears.
Enjoy each day you have with them.
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Freeze-dried and dehydrated
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