UPDATE August 17th 2018
Mini's Visit to Phoenix...
What is so sad....what should be learned from all this...is that none of this had to happen.
Yesterday July 16th, we got up at 3:45 AM and after medicating the morning animals and dosing myself with strong coffee, Mini and I left at 6AM for our long drive up to North Scottsdale and Phoenix.
Our first stop at 10 AM was at Dr. Brett Cordes at Arizona Animal Hospital in North Scottsdale. Dr. Brett has done a lot for CCR's animals and we consider him a friend. On this day he came in on his day off to help our little girl.
Dr. Brett did an ultra sound and lung X-rays (at a major discount which made it worth the four hour drive up there.) We discussed the pathology report I brought up for his review and after reading it and performing his examination on Mini, he suggested not doing any surgery.
While Mini's organs - liver, spleen, kidneys and on X-rays the lungs- did not show evidence of tumors, which as great news....all was not good.
In addition to the lymph node removed during Mini's surgery in June which had evidence of metastisis, he had found an enlarged lymph node behind Mini's bladder. The metastisis had spread to abdominal lymph nodes.
Dr. Brett gave me his ideas for giving her quality of life by providing her with an anti-inflamatory drug called Piroxicam, but also thought Dr, Hershey, the oncologist at IVO (our next stop) might have additional ideas.
Yesterday afternoon was the first time we met with Dr. Hershey, and I must state I really liked her and the other folks at her practice, IVO, in central Phoenix.
Dr. Hershey examined Mini including measuring the size of her breast tumors and we had a long discussion of options. She told me about small doses of daily chemo medication which is being found to provide the best outcomes for dogs who present like Mini...Dogs with Stage 4 Mammary cancer. We are hoping to give her a very comfortable year...but it has been known give dogs with similar disease spread like Mini's 2-4 years.
Mini is a spunky little fighter so I can only hope for the best!
Given that this disease is ultimately in all likelihood terminal, and we are most concerned with providing her with the longest possible Quality of Life, this is the protocol we will be following:
Mini will receive the chemo drug Cyclophosphamide with another drug to help her bladder, Furosemide, once daily with breakfast.
She will receive the anti-inflammatory drug Piroxicam once a day with her evening meal.
These drugs usually are well accepted by the animals treated...but a small percentage have problems so we need to watch out for the obvious: anorexia, nausea, vomiting, blood in urine or stools.
We will need to be conscientious about picking up Mini's stools because it would be dangerous for another dog to try to eat the chemo-containing poop (which, unfortunately) we know dogs are prone to do (yeah, ugh!)
We have drugs here for both anorexia (from early on in Mini's recovery when she refused to eat) and for nausea (received from Dr. Monika.) Hopefully these will not need to be used but are on hand if needed.
I immediately ordered the three drugs in her new protocol to be shipped on ice overnight from Diamondback Compounding Pharmacy in Phoenix as neither of the compounding pharmacies in Tucson make the chemo drug. We ordered two months worth as that was most cost effective, and it will give us appropriate time to see if she does well on the drugs. If she does, we can order three months at a time the next time for even better pricing.
We will begin this protocol Wednesday as the drugs will be here mid-day on Tuesday.
Dr. Monika here in Benson will be doing another complete blood work in a month and again in three months, sending results up to Dr. Hershey. If all is going as well as hoped, Mini will go back up to see Dr. Hershey (we have an appointment for November 19th) to have another ultrasound and X-rays to see whether the cancer is spreading, and whether the size of the lymph nodes and tumors is - hopefully! - being reduced by the medications.
Obviously if the side effects are bad we will consider stopping this protocol as it is all about Mini's Quality of Life. However the goal and hope is to "buy" her a year or more of happiness and relative health.
We have become so enamored with this little girl. The knowledge that she has come into our lives for such a relatively short period of time is heartwrenching ... but even knowing the sorrow of eventual loss, we would not change having her here for anything.
YOU are the reason we can give Mini more Quality of Life time.
We are nowhere near done and the costs for her care
will continue to be high....
Let's work together to make sure we can buy her the time she needs
to be stable and happy.
So we started this with "What is so sad....what should be learned from all this...is that none of this had to happen." THAT is the truth.
According to my research, only 40% of all breast tumors in dogs become cancerous. If a lumpy, tumorous breast is removed, usually by a simple lumpectomy, the dog in all likelihood will be saved even if the tumor is shown to be cancerous.
It is all about TIMING.
By the time we took in Mini, by the time she was dumped at the pound to be destroyed, she was already in stage 4 cancer with numerous tumors and lymph node involvement.
This situation was unnecessary.
It could have been avoided.
It should never have gotten this far.
THAT is the heart break.....
August second: Amazing news! Yesterday we took Mini in for her updated bloodwork and received great news.
Several weeks ago when her last blood work was done, Mini's white count (infection) was so high that it was literally off the chart at 57,000 and red cells were so anemic that they too were down at the very cbottom of the chart. If we couldn ot get her towrd the middle no more surgery could ever be done on her.... She had almost died during the first surgery and would be sure to die if we tried to do more.
But great news! Yesterday BOTH her white count and her red cells were within the normal ranges!!! If her ultrasound (to be done in a couple of weeks the same day as we have our consultation with Mini's oncologist in Phoenix in a couple of weeks) does not show that the cancer has metastisized to major organs, we will ale to do surgeries to remove the tumors.
And if there has been metastisis, and she cannot have surgery, Mini is now strong enough to undergo chemo and radiation treatments!
While it is obvious that our little Mini is not yet out of the woods, for the first time since we took her in we are hopeful that she may get well or at least have a reasonable amount of time in comfort.
Will keep you all updated! And thank you for supporting little Mini!!
July 27th - Mini continues to eat well, gain weight and is active, obviously feeling better and stronger. She is making a few friends among the other small dogs here. Mini will have followup blood work and possibly X rays as well next week. There are two really nast tumors left and the other mammaries have smaller ones.
Mini's updated bloodwork, X rays and an unltrasound she will be having in a couple of weeks through another Veterinary associate will be sent to the oncologist for review before Mini's trip up to Phoenix for her first consultation to plan out future surgeries etc. HOLD A GOOD THOUGHT foro ur little one!!!
July 20 2018: Mini had the 26 staples removed from her incision. She is active and feeling much better...although she is still on antibiotics, anti-inflammatory pain medications and now CBD oil (thank you to those who had sent theat to her! It will be another 10 days before she can have further bloodwork done to assess when further surgery can safely be done. She will be seeing her oncologist within the next few weeks and in the interim will be having an ultrasound done to help with the future protocols.
Funds raised to date will cover a lot of these procedures, but we would very much appreciate further funding to insure that everything she needs will be done in a timely fashion!!
Thank You to everyone who has helped Mini to date....and Thank You to all of you considering helping her move into the future!!!
Mini's story:Mini's previous owners dropped her off at Pima Animal Care and Control to be euthanized. Of course, we here at Cochise Canine Rescue couldn't let that happen.