Posted by: Adrianna | July 7, 2010

Tomorrow’s chemo

If Elliott has a good CBC tomorrow, he’ll get doxorubicin (brand name Adriamycin).  Doxo is the “Big, Bad” of the vet oncology world.  It’s an extremely potent chemo agent; the inclusion of doxorubicin in the treatment plan of dogs with lymphoma can double their projected lifespan.  It’s a great cancer killer, but like all of the big guns it causes collateral damage.  In this case, in addition to the gastrointestinal effects that all chemos can cause, doxo hits the heart.  It can only be used a few times in any one dog because it can cause dilated cardiomyopathy. It damages heart cells and in dogs that are particularly sensitive to it, it can lead to heart failure.

So why use it? Because it works against cancer, against lymphoma, like no other drug or drug combo.  Because Elliott’s cardiologist gave him the all clear, because I want Elliott to live and feel good for longer than the weaker protocol can give us. Because I want to crush the cancer that is taking him from me.

Let me say, for the millionth time, that I still can’t believe I’m writing this about Elliott.  My Elliott, my BFF.  I can’t imagine him being eaten up by cancer, though I know it’s true.  I have felt a very strong tug of denial this past week as Elliott’s sailed through his last chemo treatment and is eating well and wanting to exercise.  I’ve started down that road of “Maybe he did have just a stomach upset, maybe he had an infection that caused his lymph nodes to swell, maybe it’s gone now and everything’s ok”.  It is countered, of course, by the fact that he started turning yellow, that the pathology reports were conclusive, that a dog with an infection that pops all the lymph nodes does not get better on immunosuppressants.  But I still feel that tug, that pull towards the comfort of cognitive dissonance, the only sure means of escape from having my stomach plummet several times a day when I think of what we’re going through.

The ludicrous denial route has some side benefits to it, I have to say. I have enjoyed time with him just a bit more when I’m not thinking about him dying.  I prefer ‘not crying’ to ‘crying at the drop of a hat’, of course, and there is also the comfort of our old routine.  Elliott and I are two-peas-in-a-pod in some ways, but in most ways we are like an old married couple.  He wants to walk down one street, I want to go down a different street for once.  He wants to lie horizontally in the middle of the bed, I merely want to fit onto the bed.  I prefer to go to the bathroom without fanfare, he prefers to crap in front of large groups of shrieking schoolchildren, or, if he’s a little under the weather, to have a big messy poo on the sidewalk in front of someone who is sitting on their front steps. He prefers to eat biscuits on the one nice carpet we have, I’d prefer him to eat on any one of his five dog beds, or the kitchen mat, or the kitchen floor, or the hardwood floor.  I prefer to make the bed, he prefers to scramble up the covers and lie down with his butt on at least one pillow.  This week has allowed us to get back to some of our regularly scheduled tugs-of-wills, and it’s been nice.

It’s been extremely hot here all week (temps of 95+) so Elliott hasn’t gotten much in the way of exercise, and as I’d previously noticed, he quickly loses stamina if he’s not exercised a certain amount.  He wanted to walk for a little longer today, so I let him (he won that tug of will), but on the way back he slowed down and even stumbled a few times which is a sign of muscle fatigue in him.  Also, last night he was feeling peppy and tried to hop up the two short steps to the elevator and he slipped and fell 😦   I had him by the harness so he didn’t totally wipe out, but he (and this seems to be a classic old-big-dog manuever) started scrambling and curling his toes (to clutch the ground, but it doesn’t work on marble) and couldn’t get a grip till I lifted him and made him be still.

I’m thinking of starting Adequan since I can’t get him to eat his Dasuquin chewable tabs anymore.  He never really liked them, but would permit me to break them up and throw them in his food bowl but he’s not a reliable enough eater now (and never will be again) for me to swing it.   I never gave Adequan before because I didn’t have help to administer the shots, but since he’s going to work every week for chemo I can do them there.

If you’re reading this tonight (Wednesday), wish us luck for tomorrow. Fingers crossed that the doxo kicks lymphocytic a$$ and bypasses the heart completely.  And it’d be great, too, if we don’t have the blowout diarrhea and the lack of appetite that can follow any chemo treatment …

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Responses

  1. Really interesting update (and as usual, an enjoyable read despite the circumstances).

    We’re sending many, many heart-protecting, lymphoma-a$$-kicking, positive vibes your direction.

    Good luck tomorrow.

  2. Sending LOTS of prayers that tomorrow’s drug will be what kicks that cancers ass! Keeping you both in my thoughts. (((hugs)))

  3. praying for you and elliott

  4. fingers crossed that he has a good cbc and gets his adriamycin today. and for minimal side effects from it. hugs to you both.

  5. Keeping you both in thoughts and prayers. All paws,tails toes and fingers crossed for good lab results and the chemo works and leaves his heart alone. Hugs.

  6. ((((You and Elliott))))

  7. Stay cool and get some rest.Have your blog book marked and check daily to see how you are doing Elliott. My kitties and I send good thoughts and whisker kisses. Give mommy a big wet doggie kiss from Linda ,and Mandy and Snickers.


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