Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Very Hoppy News - "Apparent Complete Remission"

The first thing I want to say today is... YAYYYYYYY!!!! Today Nova went to the Animal Cancer Center for her 3rd round of Carboplatin. The 3rd round is particularly scary because that is when they do another round of chest x-rays to see if the chemo is working. Last night I was a mess. I had a lot of trouble sleeping and kept trying to think pawsitive, but also try to prepare myself mentally for bad news, because it can happen to anyone. Lately as I have been reading stories on there have been some pawrents who have received bad news about their dogs, like the chemo was not working, cancer had spread to the lungs, etc. It all just ripped my heart out and I ache for those people who are going through that. I pray for these people and their pups each and every day. I know the time will come when I am in their place, and will have to face that with Nova. I just keep thinking, ooooohhhhhh Lord, please not now!

Ok, on to the good news. This morning the roads were extra slippery so we were about 15 minutes late for our appointment. The office was packed with several canine cancer patients, Nova being the only amputee. They took her in first for the x-rays. I tore through about 10 Entertainment and Dog Fancy magazines agonizing over the results. If lung metastases were seen, that meant that they would not do the chemo, and we would enter a different phase of the battle, a phase I am SOOOOOOO not ready for. (I know, I don't think ANYONE is ever ready for it.) The Tech came out and told me her bloodwork and x-rays were AWESOME, but they wanted to do two more to get the lower part of her lungs and abdomen, just to be thorough. Being such a big girl, it was impossible to get the whole area in 1 x-ray. I breathed a huge sigh of relief, but still was a little nervous as they took Nova back for 2 more x-rays.

Awhile later I overheard the Tech tell another pawrent that there were two chemo patients ahead of him, and that one was "that big girl". So that was a promising sign. I spent so much time agonizing, it feels so silly now. One guy was there with his cat and they came out and said they needed to "put him in a room" to talk. That means bad news. So I sat there praying that they wouldn't come out and invite me into a room. Shortly, the Tech came out without Nova and gave me the thumbs up. All was clear! I was beaming from ear to ear. I've never been so happy to sit another 45 minutes in a Doctor's office.

There were some other things I asked about when I was there that were on my laundry list of questions. First, about the reverse sneezing that Nova had done a few times. Nothing to worry about, according to Dr. O. I had been tracking the time and circumstances in which she had been doing it, and it each time it had been after she gobbled up a meal that was particularly tastier than usual (like that nasty Working Dog Stew with stinky tripe in it). Another thing I asked about was that her femur on her back right leg had been jutting out. Of course anytime I see any type of visible lump these days I panic. Turns out it appears to be due to shifting her weight than any concern about metastisis.

I found another small lump that resembled the other benign cysts (aka ZITS) she had on her body. A couple more had popped up. They aspirated them and they ended up just being more zits. Nova sure has sensitive skin! She is the zit queen. Has anyone ever heard of chemo causing zits?

Her cut on her front paw pad appears to healing well, and is not a pressure sore of any sort. Who knows where she nicked it. The bruising and splotches that had me all panicky a few days ago had disappeared so they weren't as big of a deal as I thought. Her body weight was up to 108 lbs (same as it was at the CBC last week), so it was great to see that Nova was adding a little meat to her Kate Moss frame. Her appetite has been amazing, it is so shocking to see someone go through chemo and still be hungry all the time.

After I got home I read through the status letter that they were sending to Nova's regular vet (they gave me a copy). Under "Diagnosis and Current Status" they wrote "Osteosarcoma, left distal radius, apparent complete remission." Aw geeze, it was just so wonderful to read that. I know remission doesn't mean a cure, but it means that we have beaten that awful beast for now, and that is the best thing I could ask for. There will be one more round of Carbo in 3 weeks and then another chest x-ray in the Spring. I am so hopeful that Nova will still be hoppy and healthy in the fall when my son's Cross Country season starts.

One thing I wanted to comment on is how far canine cancer treatment has come just in the last 5-10 years. It is so amazing. Several years ago (must have been 2002 or so) we had a Tripawd dalmatian with osteosarcoma in his rear leg. He lived 4 months after his amputation. Looking back, I don't recall ever being offered chemo, or having the vet suggest that chest x-rays be done. No one had ever offered us the option, nor were we told that it had already spread. We just did the amputation and let him live out his life. A football-sized tumor grew in his abdomen, and we just expected that it would ultimately spread. I just don't recall being offered the type of options that are available now.

Right now I have been reading a great book that I got for Christmas, called "Merle's Door: Lessons from a Freethinking Dog" by Ted Kerasote. In the past few days I have been getting to the point where Merle is aging and getting sick, and of course he ultimately dies (I skipped ahead to read the end, and it was so heartwrenching that the pages are all wet). I set it aside last night and read a marathon training book instead. I just couldn't take all the dog drama with all the worrying I had been doing about today's appointment.

So for now, all is well in the world of Nova the Tripawd. And I am giving thanks big time tonight.


Vicki Tankersley said...

Hey Suzy, This is such great news to hear that Nova is in apparent remission. I have added Merle's Door to my shopping cart; I will be ordering it soon. Thanks for sharing your experiences with us in such detail. I know I really appreciate hearing everything very much. Love, Vicki, Blazer & Kitty Kimber

Jerry G Dawg said...

OMG Nova that is wonderful news! Yeaaaaay!!!!!! Congratulations, we are thrilled for you. What a major milestone you've reached. Keep it up big girl!

Zit queen. That is too funny! You're just too purty to be a zit queen.