Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Zap Away!

It's day two. I'm writing this as I wait for Vida at California Veterinary Specialists Angel Care Cancer Center.

Yesterday the bleeding finally caught up with her and she was anemic. Did refused to eat food in the morning. I syringed some chamomile and slippery elm tea in to her to quite her gurgling stomach. She felt awful! I moved her appointment up a day. Who knew we would not only have a consult, but would start her treatment the same day! Her inappetance turned out to be fortuitous.

[Oh! J from Jimbo's dropped in to see me and brought a bearclaw muffin from Panera - what a sweetheart!]

So - a whirlwind of veterinary news, and a week of really positive veterinary experiences. Started last week with Holly Mullen DVM, continued Sunday with a vaccine seminar by Drs Schultz and Dodds where I saw lots of supportive folks including Dr. Weingardt. Yesterday we met Dr. Proulx and his staff and are starting down a treatment road that my instincts say is the right decision.

Vida is getting radiation for her tumor. 19 treatments! Yes, it seems like a lot, but that's because they want to ensure that they don't too so much per day that she can't function. They want the dog to have good quality days during treatment. So if you need to find me I'll be at CVS in Carlsbad, Monday through Friday, from 8:ooam to 9:30 or 10:00am for the next month.

It's pretty amazing how things have advanced. They can target it so they don't damage any other organs or tissue. They use light sedation (Propofol, Michael Jackson's favorite, causes amnesia of the procedure) that is easy for them to clear from (I brought her breakfast and tea, they feed her right when she wakes up). The actual radiation itself only takes about two minutes, maybe less. The time consuming part is hooking her up to all the safety monitoring stuff.

They say they expect at least 80-90% shrinkage (it doesn't start to shrink immediately from radiation, but does continue after the treatment stops), and control for at least two years. That's the least they expect, so it could be even better.

Here is a photo: Day 2. You can see how big it is, and how important it is for us to treat it. The photo was taken outside the hospital, so she looks really unhappy for that reason ("we're back here again?"), and because she thinks she looks ugly with this big tumor everyone notices.

Side effects? Well, there are no long term side effects because of the cells that are targeted (vs bone cancer). Short term she will have some skin and oral "sunburn" that I'll be treating topically with herbs. This will start in about 10 days and last about two weeks. I feel confident that I can treat that, and look forward to showing how well herbs can work on that sort of thing (I'll be posting details on that when it comes up, so look for the recipes then).

One surprise was the including of Prednisone in the treatment. Dr. Proulx was funny ("you'll probably hate this but….")but explained that Pred induces apatosis in plasma and lymph cancers, so it can help kill it, making the total treatment more effective. So she'll be on 15mg for six weeks. I can give her herbs for her liver during this, so will be picking up some Animals' Apawthecary Dandelion/Milk Thistle tincture (though then wondered if I should go for Detox Blend….).The pred will hopefully cause some immediate shrinkage so it's less in the way.

The other surprise was that I have to take her off antioxidants during treatment. When you think about it it makes sense, because we are trying to ruin those cells, not save them. So, I have to stop using most of her supplements. The thing is, when is it a supplement and not a food? Because the fresh food is ok (Yes, I can feed her raw during radiation treatments!), but the supplements aren't.

I can keep: enzymes, probiotics, fish oil, and Connectin.

I have to ditch: mushrooms (all of them? Still checking), PetLife, Green Mush, Cell Discovery (obviously).

I'd like to think I've "banked" a lot in her system, but many of these things work on a daily basis.

Radiation works best on oxygenated and hydrated cells, so while she can't eat after midnight, she can drink anything, and they use oxygen during sedation in part to make sure cells are well filled.

You're probably wondering how much this is all costing. Well, a lot (for me, not for a rich person). $5,600. Am I crazy? I don't think so. The only other alternative is amputating half of her jaw. She would be miserable (I had a preview this week as the tumor grew more and she couldn't do anything fun without dinging it). And euthanizing this vital, vibrant dog would be murder. If I didn't do this there would be nothing but regret. Doing this is nothing for me but a change in my morning routine and a credit card bill (so send those clients my way, haha!).

I never thought I'd feel this positive sitting in a vet's waiting room, but I do. And you should check this place out, they are an emergency hospital too, and I have to say, the vibe of the place is terrific!

Oh! Vida's done… we're be off to work at Dexter's.

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