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Lydia update: Good news at a crossroads

by Therese on December 4, 2008

in Dogs, Lydia's cancer, Pet Health

20081204lydia.jpg

Lydia’s doing great! She had a pretty busy day today and is lying on the couch next to me as I type. I thought about going into the office to get some work done but I don’t have the heart. She looks so comfortable and I know if I get up she will too. Thank goodness for laptops!

Lydia saw her oncologist today, who says she’s doing fabulous. He looked her over good and gave her round number six of her chemo, which puts us at a crossroads of sorts. Since the minimum number of rounds called for with this particular drug is six, I have to make a decision. Do we keep doing chemo for a while or do we stop?

On first thought it may seem that since her ultrasounds look so good and she’s doing so well that we should stop. The vets can’t find any more cancer, and she is in remission so it makes sense, right? Maybe…maybe not. It’s possible the vet who did surgery in July got all the cancer. It’s also possible that the chemo is doing its job and killing the nasty little cancer cells as they grow. So, do I stop the chemo and hope she stays cancer free, or do I opt for more chemo in an attempt to keep her in remission?

Right now, as I write this I’m thinking we’ll probably do a few more rounds of chemo, but that may change. We have an appointment in four weeks, when she’ll have another ultrasound and based partly on that, I’ll decide about the chemo. Before then though, I’ll do more research so I can make an informed decision. I know from experience that it’s not one to make lightly. Both my parents died of cancer and both had severe reactions to chemo. So far Lydia’s had very mild reactions (a little nausea) but my experience with what Mom & Dad went through definitely plays a part in the decisions I make for Lydia. I’ll make the best decisions I can for her and whatever they are, I’ll know that I’ve done my absolute best, for all the right reasons.

I wish medicine was truly a hard and fast science. It’s not. If I could hear something like “six rounds of chemo will eradicate Lydia’s cancer completely and forever with no side effects whatsoever,” it sure would make life a heck of a lot easier. Instead, there are medications and protocols that have been proven to kill cancer cells, but there’s never a guarantee they’ll do exactly what we want them to do. And, rather than using the drug in the exact same way for each dog, there may be underlying issues that require it to be customized for a particular pet. For example, the usual protocol for the drug Lydia’s on is for a treatment every 3 weeks, but since it caused her immune system to become compromised a week later than expected, she gets it every 4 weeks instead. So, instead of dealing with absolute science, I have to do my best to make decisions based on a combination of science, probabilities, how Lydia’s doing, and past experience.

All in all, things are going great! Lydia’s a happy, beautiful dog, and you wouldn’t know was sick if you met her. We have every reason to be hopeful, and that I am!! And, although I know I have more decisions to make the only decision I’m making tonight is to enjoy the rest of the evening snuggling with her here on the couch. She is an absolute joy!

On another note, we’re waiting for results from her primary vet on a urinalysis and culture & sensitivity. Because of her frequent urinary tract infections (I blogged about the possible cause here), she has the tests done every three months. I’m hoping to hear from the vet tomorrow that she’s all clear.

As always, thank you to everyone who remembers Lydia and writes to ask how she’s doing. I know all your good thoughts and prayers are helping her beat this!

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{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

lisa k December 5, 2008 at 12:58 am

So glad to hear this good news! Glad you are hopeful and also that you are trusting that your diligence and love are working together to do the very best thing you can do! Lydia picked you- she trusts you! 🙂
Our love & hugs & abounding prayers for continued hope & healing,
lisa, Clementine, Banjo & the Forever FORD

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JanC December 5, 2008 at 8:54 am

I couldn’t be happier to hear this wonderful news.

I know you’ll make the right decision for Lydia & she knows you will too!

Fingers & paws crossed that things continue to go as well for both of you.

Hannah sends hugs & kisses to Lydia…….

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jan December 5, 2008 at 2:58 pm

what great news. I think of the dogs I know on the internet as being part of my extended dog family and Lydia has become important to us.

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Bonkers December 6, 2008 at 10:29 am

What great news for your family! Lydia is a beautiful animal. What is normal protocol for one is not always the normal for another. You are doing a great job and I am sure Lydia loves you all the more for it. Continued best wishes for her remission/cure. Please let us know the results of her urinalysis.

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Perseus December 7, 2008 at 12:16 pm

Excellent news and hoping the test results came out good! What a special present for the holidays! I’m sure you’ll make the right decision and waiting until the next round is due is probably the best way to determine the next steps. Sending prayers to you and Lydia.

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AuthorMomWithDogs December 7, 2008 at 4:40 pm

Go Lydia!

Wonderful post on explaining some of the complexities of choice to be made on cancer treatment. The whole cancer thing is so much to wrap one’s brain around — in people and in animals. I recently took Kiera to the vet for a couple of lumps. One on her and one BIG one in my throat. She was lucky. Just a fatty tumor.

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Debbie December 8, 2008 at 6:40 pm

I’m glad that Lydia is doing well.

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Therese December 12, 2008 at 12:15 am

Thanks all 🙂 I’ve been a bit of a slug at the blog the past few days (computer stuff) but wanted to say thank you to each of you for taking time to read about my girl!

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Therese December 12, 2008 at 12:16 am

AuthorMom…I’m SO glad the lumps (both of them 😉 ) turned out to be nothing!!!

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gee December 13, 2008 at 1:28 am

Congrats on the good news! (Was it the Phoof dust that did it?)

You know where I am if you want my truly geeky opinion. 🙂 Anything I can do to help you or the critters who own your house, just say the word.

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