Hildy's Updates

  Thank you for stopping by to check on Hildy! If you’ve ventured over to this page after having read my recommendations for what to do when your dog has cancer, you might wonder why this page is separate. I set it up this way so that you’d already start making your own decision about treatment before reading about what we did. Below is a description of what was right for Hildy and our family. It’s important that you make a decision that’s right for your baby and your family. I’m beginning this update log one week after her diagnosis. I decided to do this because after the logical part of my brain took in as much education as possible, the emotional part of my brain wanted to know what life would be like. It helped to read about other people’s experiences, so I thought I would share ours. I’ll pop in here every few days to give you an update.   Monday, October 23, 2017 Hildy had lost a couple of pounds over the previous year and in the prior months had lost a little more weight after becoming less active as her hip and leg stiffness increased. But after one week of noticeable weight loss, a major decrease in appetite, and increased lethargy, we brought her to our vet. She was diagnosed with Stage 3 Canine Lymphoma. Our vet told us that we had two choices for treatment: “the gold standard” of chemo with a canine oncologist, or our vet could give us medications to make Hildy comfortable. I told her that I’d take Hildy to the oncologist, so she sent us home with Prednisone to hold Hildy over until the oncologist visit and Omeprazole (a stomach acid reducer) to hopefully make her tummy feel better so she’d start eating again. The vet also told me to feed her puppy food so that she’d get maximum protein. She gave me the information for two different oncologists. Hildy and I got home at 4:30, and I immediately began researching the canine oncologists in San Antonio. I chose the oncologist and made an appointment. The first opening was on October 30th. I researched some more to find out what I could do for Hildy until then. This is when I discovered that Prednisone can counteract chemo if taken for more than a week. This is also when I learned that lymphoma in dogs is not curable and that a six month regimen of chemo would extend an otherwise healthy dog’s life for an average of only two to ten months. Well, hell. When my husband got home, I showed him all of the research. If we were going to put Hildy on chemo, we really shouldn’t give her Prednisone – at least not every single day before her oncology appointment. But based on all of the research about chemo for lymphoma in dogs, should we even put her through that? She was one week short of her 13th birthday. She did not walk into the vet as an otherwise healthy dog. She was a very sick little girl. We opted to not put Hildy through chemo – and that felt like we just issued her death sentence. What a horrid feeling! I know that dogs can sense when something is wrong with their parents, so we did our best to be as “normal” as possible when we cuddled with her that evening.   October 24th I woke up with my eyes so swollen from crying that I didn’t know if I’d be able to drive to my morning meeting – not to mention that I didn’t feel like leaving the house. But I’m glad that I went because the other two ladies involved are dog parents, so they totally understood and let me lean on them for support. I was also able to pick up Frankincense oil from one of them, and the other gave me directions to the nearby pet store where I could pick up pill pockets for Hildy’s meds. That afternoon, I was encouraged by Hildy barking at birds – something she hadn’t done in the previous week. I was also more encouraged by the fact that she regained her appetite and chowed down at dinner.   October 25th She ate a hearty breakfast! She trotted after our other dog! Suddenly, she didn’t seem so sick anymore! Was it a “false positive” because of the drugs? We still weren’t going to put her through chemo, but maybe there was a different way to fight her cancer – and not just “make her comfortable”? I started researching for more options.   October 26th I discovered holistic canine cancer treatments and holistic veterinarians! Why didn’t I think of this before?! I also learned that the food we’d been giving Hildy was most likely feeding her cancer and not helping her. Great. I was able to secure a “drop off” appointment with a holistic vet for the next day. In between clients, I called to cancel the oncologist appointment and call our vet to ask that Hildy’s records be emailed to me. That’s right; I waited until today (which happened to be my self-imposed deadline to cancel) to call and cancel the oncologist appointment for the 30th because I was still feeling guilty for deciding not to go with chemo and thought that I might change my mind, even though it made total sense to not put Hildy through a treatment that offered no cure. My guilt was assuaged when I found the holistic vet, so I went ahead and canceled.   October 27th Today was the big day! Our drop-off window was between 7:30 and 9:00 AM. We left the house at 7:00 to get there at 8:00. Traffic was a mess, so we didn’t get there until 8:20, and the drop-off line of humans and dogs was nearly out the door. I was told that the vet would call me for a brief update when he was done examining Hildy, then I could pick her up. I was a little concerned that this would be completely impersonal, but what choice did we have? Mondays through Thursdays are usually my client days and Fridays are usually my office day. This Friday, however, I rearranged my plans and made it an errand day to pick up healthier dog food (Orijen, Regional Red – the first 12 ingredients are meat and not “meal” or fillers, plus there are no grains), then camped out at my favorite “mobile office” spot while waiting for the vet to call. At 2:30, I still hadn’t heard from the vet, so I decided to drive over there and do my work in their waiting room. Maybe this way I could get the consult in person instead of over the phone. The plan worked. Dr. Kirby was so patient and kind. He gave a thorough tutorial of cancer and holistic treatment, then allowed me to go through my entire list of questions with him. He was hopeful, yet straightforward. There was no way to know Hildy’s prognosis without doing a battery of lab work. He said he figured I’d rather spend the money on supplements and medicine than a more exact termination date, so he opted not to do the staging and scanning. I agreed. We’d take each day as a bonus instead of looking at it as a countdown. I’ll share with you what he prescribed for Hildy. This does not mean it’s right for your dog, so please consult with your veterinarian. But by knowing what Hildy is taking, this might springboard into questions you can ask your vet or new search terms for your research. Morning: *Prednisolone 5 mg – Dr. Kirby explained that Prednisone is converted by the liver into Prednisolone. In theory, the body won’t have to work as hard to do the conversion if Prednisolone is given. Most vets prescribe a higher dosage of Prednisone to make the pet feel better immediately. He prefers to give a lower dosage because according to his theory, the cancer figures out that the drug is there in order to fight it, so the cancer rears up and grows stronger. With the lower dosage, it still helps to control the inflammation, but the cancer takes longer to realize what’s happening. *Amoxicillin – Since the immune system is weakened by the cancer, an antibiotic was prescribed to kill off any infection that may have begun. *Immune Support Supplement *B-17   Evening: *Carafate – Dr. Kirby replaced Omeprazole with this. *Amoxicillin *Immune Support Supplement *B-17   (Can you see why a medication chart is helpful?) He also recommended a Dimethylglycine supplement for inflammation, but his preferred one was on back-order. I asked about my choice of dog food – Orijen Regional Red – and he approved. I asked about a raw meat diet, which had been recommended by some folks, but he was not a proponent of that. His belief is that if humans don’t eat raw meat or poultry for fear of getting sick, we should feel the same way about raw food for our domesticated pets. He also supported the topical use of Frankincense oil.   October 29th Today was Hildy’s 13th birthday, and it was her most active and happiest day yet!   October 31st Hildy had a down day. She was mopey and not nearly as active. She did perk up when I put a jacket on her. She’d never worn one before, but I decided to get her one because a cold front had moved in, she didn’t have as much meat on her bones to keep her warm, and her immune system was susceptible. She refused to eat the Orijen (even though she’d been wolfing it down since Friday). She also refused to eat some canned lamb dog food I’d bought. The only thing she’d touch was Hill Country Farms Sliced Turkey (the one for human consumption that’s sold in the deli section at the grocery store). While it’s about as natural as you can get for deli meat, I’m not ecstatic about the sodium content. Oh, and yesterday I think that I put too many drops of Frankincense on her because she got ticked off at me. She tried to rub it off, so I tried to rub it off her. Note to self: Stick to only three or four drops.   November 1st Hildy didn’t eat breakfast and looked sad. I was worried that today might be The Day, so I had to force that thought from my head. Think positive! I’d read in Ted Schneck’s book that there were good days and bad. It was going to be a roller coaster, and I needed to remember that. It also reminded me of why it was so important to use the tracking chart – so I could monitor her condition and look for patterns. I stopped at the grocery store on the way home from work and bought chicken and broccoli to cook for her. Yes, I was going to become that dog owner who cooked food for her pet! I boiled three chicken thighs and four sliced up broccoli florets. No oil, salt, pepper or spices were added to the water. After it cooled, I shredded one thigh and dropped in the equivalent of one floret of broccoli. I first tried the Orijen. No go. Then I tried the canned lamb. Nothing. Next, I brought out the boiled chicken and broccoli. Hildy loved it! Her energy level was still a little low, but she did trot a bit when her sister (our younger dog) barked up ahead of her on our walk.   Saturday, November 4, 2017 We woke up at 7 A.M. We’d agreed that if Hildy didn’t eat this morning, we’d call our vet to make final arrangements when they opened at 7:30 A.M. She didn’t eat the day before. She ate hardly anything on Thursday. All of the weight she’d regained was gone. Back on the day she was diagnosed, my husband and I had agreed that if we waited until she couldn’t stand up as “the sign” to put her to sleep, that would mean she might be suffering, and we didn’t want that. We decided to use her loss of appetite and weight as “the sign.” We tried the five different types of dog food that we had on hand, plus the home cooked food. Nothing. Four years ago, our previous two dogs, Georgie and Deus, died unexpectedly within a few days of each other. There was not a decision to be made about euthanasia; it had to be done right then and there. But with Hildy, we had to agonize over making the right decision. I don’t know what’s worse: being sucker-punched by a surprise death or watching your baby fade away. Either way, it stinks. I made the call at 7:30. Me: Susan, it’s time for Hildy to go. Susan: I’m so sorry. OK, you’ll have to come in the back way. All of the roads are blocked because of the parade. I’ll call the sherriff right now to let you through. (You’ve gotta love small towns!) The back way takes a bit longer, but that gave me extra time to have Hildy curled up with me in the backseat while my husband drove us. The sheriff let us through the road block without a problem. Hildy went to sleep peacefully this morning, held by her mama and papa.   If you’d like to learn a little more about what Hildy was like, please read here.    ]]>

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