It's been a tough week. After a battery of tests on Thursday, we learned our Queen Bee, blind Widget, has lymphoma. We had taken her in to see specialists for a full work-up because she needs a dental, but we were worried about her heart condition and the resulting anesthesia risks. Our previous internist, Dr. Tanya Donovan, recently left for another position in Oregon, so I took Widget to see the excellent team of specialists at Peak Veterinary Referral Center in Burlington. This is the same clinic where our ophthalmologist, Dr. Sarah Hoy, has her practice.
The cardiologist at Peak, Dr. Don Brown, did another echocardiogram and found that Widget's heart condition had deteriorated quite a bit since Tanya last saw her in the spring. Dr. Brown added new heart meds and adjusted her currrent dosages, but said Widget was definitely not a candidate for a dental. It was during Widget's intake exam that one of our new internists, Dr. Marielle Goossens, noted enlarged lymph nodes and sent aspirates in for analysis.
After the shock wore off and the tears dried up, we pulled ourselves together and started researching lymphoma over the weekend. It's been many years since we had a lymphoma case (one of our last episodes was actually an equine duo, our blind horse Chance and our elderly mule Lonesome George), so we wanted to refresh our knowledge of treatment protocols and find out if there were any new advances.Fortunately, Peak has a board-certified veterinary oncologist on staff, Dr. Kendra Knapik, so Marielle scheduled us to see her first thing Tuesday morning. Early yesterday I bundled Widget into the van and headed to Burlington. In the photo above, Dr. Knapik is feeling Widget's lymph nodes (lymph nodes are in many different areas of the body), while her vet tech Bethany holds Widget.
After reviewing all the options with Dr. Knapik, we decided to pursue chemotherapy for Widget. This will be a 20-week regimen using an alternating roster of different chemo drugs that work in tandem over the course of the treatment period. We've had many cancer cases over the years, and in our experience, we've found that dogs tend to tolerate chemotherapy much better than humans do; indeed, we've been surprised over and over again how well dogs do with chemo.
With Widget, if you watched her bounding across the yard or scampering down the hallway to the dog room in the morning to search for hidden treats (someone must have left some dinner in their crate overnight!), you'd have no idea she has a heart condition, let alone cancer. She acts like she feels great, she looks great, and we think trying to knock her lymphoma into remission is worth doing. We are determined to give her as much quality time as possible.
Of course, Widget's heart condition makes this more challenging, and Dr. Knapik may have to change some of the drugs as a result. But with a cardiologist, internist and oncologist all on her team, we think Widget is in the best possible hands.
Widget had her first chemo early yesterday afternoon, and we got back to the farm in time for dinner. She ate well, had a long, comfortable sleep overnight, and today is her usual self. We'll keep you posted on her progress, but in the meantime, please keep her in your thoughts.
New Shelter Challenge Begins
The latest round of the Shelter Challenge is underway and runs until October 13. You can vote every day here. To search for us, type in our name, Rolling Dog Farm, and Lancaster, NH 03584.
They have redesigned the contest site and made other changes. Please note that I cannot help with technical or voting problems. I also do not have an "inside track" to anyone at the Shelter Challenge, and I don't know any more about the contest than anyone else does. So if you find yourself having issues, please consult their FAQ page here and their Rules page, which is a pop-up you can find linked on this page.
Thanks for your votes!