Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Ups and Downs

I honestly meant to provide an update on Hope a lot sooner, but the last couple of weeks have been so full of ups and downs I didn't know where to start. Just when I thought I had something of interest to report, the next day would be the complete opposite. Hope's symptoms have just been ebbing and flowing like nobody's business.

Let me first just say that I am SO thankful that she's still with us. Three weeks ago today when she got her chemo treatment, I really didn't think there was any way she'd last this long. I don't know why I'm ever surprised by her though--it's like she gets tougher with age and adversity. With that said, this last chemo we tried really took a toll on her. She's dropped tons of weight despite her ridiculously good appetite, and the first week after her treatment her red and white blood counts dropped significantly. She was lethargic and clearly didn't feel well, and her mucus-y nose only mildly improved. Even worse, her cancerous lymph node didn't respond positively at all. Unfortunately it continues to grow, which is why we decided to forgo another chemo treatment today.

Stopping the current regimen wasn't a difficult decision since it doesn't seem to be working and was clearly making Hope less comfortable. However, since there's a third chemo that the oncologists at K-State want to try that they think has some significant potential, the decision to quit treatment is a little more difficult. In fact, I'm still not 100% sure that stopping treatment altogether is the right thing. On days like today, when Hope only wanted to walk about half a block and slept most of the morning, continuing chemo seems like a cruel thing to do to her. However, on days when she has more energy and spends the whole day scouring the kitchen floor for crumbs, it seems like she would do just fine trying another chemo drug that might alleviate her symptoms. It's just so hard to read a dog who eats like there's no tomorrow, even when she's dying of cancer. This video was actually taken on July 17--exactly one week after her last chemo treatment when she was still feeling kind of crappy.

Not only do I think her problem solving skills are quite impressive, I'm also super impressed that she still has the ability to sniff out bits of food while dealing with tumors up her nose! Hope is nothing if not determined! :)  

Friday, July 12, 2013

Hanging In There

A couple of days ago, we made our fourth trip to K-State with our sweet Hope. She's had lots of ups and downs in the last few weeks, but today's been a pretty good day and she's definitely hanging in there. When she was first diagnosed just over three weeks ago, we really weren't sure that she'd make it this far, so we are incredibly thankful.

Three weeks ago Hope started the normal chemo/steroid combination for mast cell tumors, and just like with her first cancer in 2007, her cancer seemed to respond initially. Although we can't see her tumor(s), her snottiness and sneeziness definitely subsided a little, and her lymph node seemed to shrink slightly as well. Unfortunately, as soon as we started weaning her off of the steroid (which the doctors do because of the side effects), Hope's symptoms returned--just like they did in 2007. While I was in California last week visiting my brother with my mom, Hope's nose started bleeding again off and on. By Wednesday, her bloody, mucousy nose had gotten so bad that Chad and I had a serious conversation about having her put down that afternoon. However, when we got to K-State, Dr. Burr was confident that Hope still had some fight left, just based on her appetite, activity level and general attitude. She suggested we start a new chemo drug, and thankfully this one only has to be given once every three weeks instead of every week. It will be such a relief not to have to drive to Manhattan next Wednesday!

The good news is that Hope's icky nose secretions have subsided a little once again, so we are hopeful that this chemo will keep her discomfort at bay a little while longer. It's just so hard to know if we're doing the right thing for our little girl. People keep telling us that we'll know when it's the right time to let her go, but when you own the toughest dog in the world, it's nearly impossible for us to know if she's really in pain! We just keep praying that she will clearly display some signs that she is done fighting when that time comes. Until then, we'll continue with weekly bloodwork, lots of drugs, and potty breaks every couple of hours! Our little Hope is worth it. :)