Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Lots of good, and one really bad thing

I've been knitting and spinning. The garden is growing, and I've had an abundance of cherry tomatoes. I've seen lots of family this summer. Trent and I got scooters, and we love zipping around town on them. I've read lots of books. All good.

Here's the hard thing: my beloved Chloe, my dearest darling of the pointy ears and the big doe eyes, has bone cancer (osteosarcoma). She was diagnosed earlier this summer, after she started growing a big lump on her shoulder.

I think I cried for a month. We've agonized about what to do. Osteosarcoma is hellishly aggressive and painful, and even with the state of the art treatment, only 50% of dogs are alive a year after diagnosis.

We started with two chemotherapy treatments, and two bone strengthening treatments (the cancer weakens the affected bone, which is both painful and can lead to fractures). It brought us a little time to see if the cancer was already spreading to her lungs (the usual COD for osteosarcoma), and how painful the leg was going to be. I canceled my plans to go to the Netherlands with Trent, and we agonized some more.

It became pretty clear that the tumor was incredibly painful, and we had to decide whether to have the leg amputated or have Chloe euthanized sooner rather than later. When we had the right balance between the pain and the sedative effects of the painkillers, Chloe was still her happy sweet self. She rolled in the grass in the sun, and made lots of new friends on all her walks. I didn't think she was ready to go yet, and I sure wasn't ready to let her go, so we opted for amputation.

That was last Wednesday. Because nothing is ever easy, Trent left for the Netherlands for his study abroad program on the same day. It's been kind of a stressful week. I visited her in the hospital a couple of times, and then brought her home on Sunday night. The vet staff spoiled her rotten while she was there. They fed and watered her by hand, not because it was necessary but because she liked it.

She's recovering incredibly well. I'm supposed to keep her very quiet and help her walk. That worked for about the first 24 hours, but by now she's self-propelled. I went out to get groceries, and she met me at the door when I came home. I left her resting on the ground floor while I did dishes, and when I went down to check on her, she had moved up the stairs onto the landing. She's a super hero (and I think her yellow bandage makes her look like one, too).

I wish this would fix the cancer, but it won't. It eliminates pain, which is important, but we're going to have to do more chemo if we want to to increase her chances. Happily, chemo has very mild side effects for Chloe. Unhappily, it is MAD expensive, and the vet already has a big chunk of our money from the amputation. (Honestly, for what it costs, you'd think she'd come home with an extra leg, not minus one.) So the decisions aren't really getting any easier.


Anonymous Rebecca said...

This makes me cry so I can imagine how much you must be. It's such a wrenching decision ~ I wish we all had unlimited funds for our little buddies in their times of trouble. It's good to know she's getting around like a champ and is in far less pain ~ good doggie! Thanks for writing about it ~ I know how hard that is. Knit on, Girlfriend, knit on. Hugs, Rebecca

11:53 AM  
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