Thursday, July 9, 2015

Devastated

It took me awhile to write this post, because I haven't wanted to put it in writing and make it real. In fact, I haven't even looked at the blog in weeks because I couldn't deal with how sad it made me.

Holly's cancer has returned. It took less than 4 months for it to grow back post radiation treatment. I am beyond devastated.



A little over 2 weeks ago I noticed another hard lump on Holly's leg, just below where the last one was. I had been working to shed out her coat and had been brushing her every other day. The lump was not there when I brushed her 2 days prior. I immediately began discussions with her vets. It's a long story, with many emails and conversations between us, but ultimately we chose not to disturb the tumor again. Myxosarcoma's are already aggressive growers, and every time you disturb them they become even more aggressive in their growth. An aspirate or biopsy is disturbing it, so we chose to leave it alone.  Granted, because of this we cannot be 100% sure that it's a myxosarcoma...but, then again, given the location, history, and that it looks and feels exactly like the last one, what the hell else could it be? Both her oncology vet and regular vet agree there are very, very, very few other possibilities.

Knowing whether it is a myxosarcoma or a benign cyst doesn't change treatment options anyways. The oncology vet gave us 2 treatment options. The first being the metronomic chemotherapy that I chose to not do earlier this year. The second was injecting the tumor with a chemo drug and adding en electrical current...her regular vet can not do this and we would have to make multiple trips back to WSU for treatment. The third option was a more traditional intravenous chemotherapy treatment that had serious potential side effects that I did not want her to go through.

The second and third treatments are far more invasive and intense than I am willing to put her through again, especially since I do not believe this cancer can be cured anymore. The radiation treatment was intense enough. And I chose the radiation treatment when the cancer first showed up because we believed we had a good chance at eliminating it. If this "Gold Standard" treatment didn't work to cure it, then these won't either. They will only buy her a little more time. Time that I would rather spend doing fun happy things with her, and not getting treatment or recovering from treatments.

So this weekend she will begin metronomic chemotherapy that she will take daily, for the rest of her life. No one can give us a time frame on how long that will be. The metronomic chemotherapy could do absolutely nothing and we could only have a few pain free weeks left before the tumor grows so large that it totally debilitates her, or it outgrows it's blood supply and becomes necrotic. And it IS growing fast. It's larger now that it was just 2 weeks ago. That's the nature of myxosarcoma's. Or, the chemo drugs could really slow the tumors growth down so that we have months, possibly even a year, before all that happens. We have no way to predict, or even guess, how this will go.

I am glad that I have been treating this as our last summer together since she healed from the radiation. We had a lot of fun, have done a lot of her favorite things, and I've been doing one special thing a week...just me and her. And I am planning more of the same for as long as she enjoys doing them. We hiked to a few new places, swam in a few new ponds, rented a retired fire lookout and enjoyed a night on top of a mountain. At the end of the month I'm taking her on a road trip to get some professional photographs taken of her and visit the Beartooth mountain range. I'm also looking around for someone to video all of her many tricks and skills and create a nice compilation for me.

I am heartbroken that our journey together will be over too soon. She's been with me less than 6 years. It's not nearly long enough.


7 comments:

Dom said...

Reading with tears in my eyes. What awful news. I am so, so sorry :( Thank you for taking the time to update us. I am sure it was the last thing you wanted to do. *hugs*

KB Bear said...

Thank you for telling us. I have an inkling how hard it was for you to write this post. Love her for every instant that you can. While it's an incredibly hard time, it also can be a time of great insight into Holly's heart and into yours. I will be thinking of you, hoping that you and Holly are living each day to the fullest. Hugs to both of you.

Anonymous said...

I am so sorry to hear about your beautiful Holly. I found your story while researching myxosarcomas and metronomic chemo, as my schnauzer is going through all this as well. He had surgery for the myxosarcoma in mid May, we did not do radiation, and the tumor/s returned within five weeks. We are devastated and now planning to start him on the metronomic chemo protocol tomorrow morning but I have so many reservations about trying this. This disease is brutal. Sending you very best wishes for success with the metronomic chemo and for many many more good days with your beautiful girl.

Kim said...

I'm so sorry to hear about your pup. Finding information about myxosarcoma is difficult, isn't it? If it helps you to know, Holly has been on metronomic chemotherapy for 2 weeks now and the tumor has shrunk so much that its totally invisible to the eye or touch. And she so far hasn't had any side effects from the drug. She's as normal as she ever. She's on chlorambucil. Feel free to email me, I would love to chat with someone else about their experiences with all this.

Anonymous said...

Hi Kim, thanks so much for writing back, that is so fantastic about Hollys tumor having shrunk! Was it fairly large to start with? Rudy has one that is 5 cm and some other ones that popped up after surgery. I would love to email with you, it is so hard finding people to connect with on this topic, I see a lot more discussions for breed specific, etc but haven't found many, which is why I was glad to find your last night! Our metronomic protocol which we planned to start today but I still wanted to think about it uses metacam and cytoxan, interesting Holly is receiving Chlorambucil. Hope to email ASAP with you! Lara

Anonymous said...

Hi Kim, I'm not terribly savvy with blogs, please let me know if there is some way I should know how to email you through here. Started Rudy back on the metacam today, very low dose, plan to start cytoxan tomorrow. Totally nervous. Hope you and Holly are having a good weekend!! Lara 😊

Kim said...

Hi Lara, Sorry for my late reply, I was off the computer all weekend. Because you posted your comments anonymously I can't email you, so I thought I'd just reply here for now. But you can email me at huckhoundsagility@gmail.com as I would love to talk.

I'm not familiar with Cytoxan. Holly's treatment protocol choices for metronomic chemotherapy (as per her oncology vet at WSU) were Chlorambucil, Cyclophosphamide or Lomustine. I chose the Chlorambucil because of the low chance for minor side effects, even though it's the most expensive. Some dogs can't tolerate this one (vomiting and diarrhea) and have to take a different drug instead. The later two had side effects that concerned me, so I hope I don't have to put her on either. We are 2 weeks into the Chlorambucil and she's doing just fine on it so far.

I give her Novox (i.e. Rimadyl) as needed for discomfort in the leg, and it's usually only needed after lots of activity. Her Oncology vet at WSU said we didn't have to give the Novox directly with the Chemo unless it was needed right now. So I'm wondering what your vet said about giving the Metacam with the Chemo drugs...mostly the why.

Looking forward to talking!