a99kitten's Musings

I blog about a WHOLE LOT of stuff :)

So Stormy’s biopsy finally came back from the University of Colorado. Davis already said the tumors were benign but since they were not acting benign, our doctor had them sent to “THE” doggie liver doctor at the University of Colorado. She came back and said it was a well differentiated carcinoma. That’s cancer. But it’s the “better” kind (ridiculous that cancer can have a better kind but ok I’ll take it.) What that means is the edges of the tumor are well defined and it can be removed – which they were. Not only were they removed but 2 of his liver nodes were removed.

I spent over 1.5 hours with the oncologist who did a good job of explaining a lot about Storm’s liver and this type of cancer. I’d prefer to never have to know anything about it, but that’s not the situation. Turns out Storm has actually had more than half of his liver removed over the past 2 surgeries. The doctor (and his surgeon) said his ability to bounce back and his demeanor are amazing and that he is an amazing little guy (he says “HEY! I’m not little!”)

Apparently, in people and animals, you need 10million cancer cells to show up as a tiny tumor. You or I or Storm can have 9million cancer cells somewhere in our body and there is no test in the world that would indicate that we had cancer. So currently, all tests show Storm is clear. The tumors are removed and his ultrasounds and bloodtests are all good. After his first tumor removal, he was all clear and we thought smooth sailing as it was benign. But then 5 weeks later he had 2 more tumors with a high fever and was super sick. So I will be getting him ultrasounds a lot. He’s had 2 since his surgery 3.5 weeks ago. But helps me sleep.

We discussed the different treatments for cancer. Standard chemo was ruled out as the doctor felt it was not beneficial for Storm and the side effects were potentially worse for Storm. There is a new medication that was approved 1.5 years ago specifically for dogs with cancer. The first one actually. All other meds are actually human drugs that are used off-label for dogs. But again, the side effects are stronger. We have to keep Storm’s Cushings in mind with any other treatment.

We decided on what is called metranomic therapy. This is basically using a couple different medications at a very low dosage daily (versus a chemo therapy where you blast the body with the chemicals for a set amount of time.) Basically, cancer cells gather together to create small tumors. As they do this, they use the blood supply from the organ they are on to survive and grow. Then when they get big enough, they need to start growing their blood supply to continue to grow. What this therapy is supposed to do is to kill the cells ability to grow their own blood supply. So in effect it is almost preventative to keep the tumor from ever growing its own blood supply so it can never get big versus trying to attack the tumor once it’s there. It’s obviously not quite that simple because if it was, we’d have a cure for cancer. But it’s hopeful anyway.

The oncologist said she has had some really great results with this therapy. She was quite honest and wanted to stay hopeful but obviously could not promise anything as Storm’s body reacted in a way that they had literally never seen before. And she said that she was very disappointed that the lab in Davis called it benign. And they were still standing by that she said. But she said with 2 top pathologists giving her differing results, she and I had to look at the whole picture – the dog, his symptoms and how his body was reacting – and not just tissue samples. So she felt the diagnosis of cancer was one that we should work with. But she also said that the U of Colorado doctor thought it was a very “good” thing how the tumor was so well defined. So it was treatable in her opinion as well.

In my various visits to this doctor/vet, I have run across dogs in the waiting room who have been receiving chemo treatments for 2 years and are still doing well. So there are reasons for me to be hopeful besides just me wanting to will Storm to be OK.

Storm started his first medication on Friday. It is part of the NSAID family so it’s actually beneficial for his soreness, recovery, etc from his surgery. And ever since he finished his antibiotics on Monday, he has been doing better and better every day. He’s wanted to go on longer walks, he has initiated playing with Angelus again, wanted to go see our neighbor dog and hang out in the snow and just generally looks brighter. I think the 2 rounds of antibiotics were just knocking him out. So these are all great things. He stays on this medication for 10 days, and then assuming all is fine, we add his 2nd medication to the routine. Then he just stays on those. We will do blood tests and ultrasounds regularly to make sure he is staying fine.

I know Storm won’t be with me forever. And I do not want him unhappy or sick or in pain. My husband was/is worried that I would do anything to keep Storm alive, even if his quality of life is not good. I feel over the past few years of my life I have shown that I can make the hard decisions when I do have to. I’ve signed DNRs, I’ve taken the DNR phone call, I’ve let my brother go. But I do feel that Storm has a lot of life and fight in him and no – I do not give up easily. And frankly, he’s doing pretty darn good right now so I think I’ve made the right decisions. He said that the people he recently talked to about it said that we probably shouldn’t have done that 2nd surgery. Well – those people can kiss my ass. I didn’t ask who said that because I don’t want to know as I would probably just not want to talk to them anymore, although I do have my guesses as to who it is. F them. It’s real easy to say things like that when you have no emotional investment or attachment. Or an empathy chip in your body. Or a soul.

So I view every day I have with him is a gift. And there is no reason in the world for me to give up on him. Since I got the diagnosis from the doctor on Monday, it was still November. Monday night was terribly sad for me. November 2010 has been the worst month of my entire life. Hands down. That month ended Tuesday. I met with the oncologist on Tuesday afternoon and Storm started his treatment on Friday – December. So I am putting November behind us. And we are going to finish 2010 on a better note and stay positive into 2011. Storm’s ah-rooooos and dinner dances show me this is the right mindset. Storm deserves a positive and happy Mom as this helps him too. So I am not going to be sad. I am going to be happy that I have the resources to help him and enjoy every single day with him. And can’t forget Angelus! And if I add a few more treats into their days – oh well :)


  1. you’re a brilliant, amazing husky mum!

    i agree with you – since Storm is responding well to treatment then that means his quality of life is still primo – and all if this is worth it of course.

    does that drug exist for people as well? sounds like a great drug! kills off the blood supply to the cancer cells. works for me!

    reminds me of that Seinfeld ep when Kramer had the same “affliction” – a cough – that Smuckers the dog had. Kramer told Jerry he’d rather go to a vet than a regular doctor because a vet has to know how to cure a monkey, a rabbit, a chicken (or something like that) ;) So Kramer started taking the pills meant for Smuckers.

    i think you’re doing great!

    take care xo

  2. Thanks :)

    All of the drugs but 1 are actually human grade! So I guess it’s the way they fight human cancer too? I can tell you for 100% sure that I notice anything wrong or off with the buds loooooong before I would notice it with me. And I would trust our vet looooong before any human-treating doctor I have met :)

    I need to find that episode!

  3. The big pharmaceutical companies devote billions of dollars into their animal health divisions for research and development of many drugs and treatments – especially in the oncology area. I have a friend that I went to university with that is a vet who told me that animals (especially dogs and cats) often benefit from these newer very promising treatments first as they are made available to them before us lowly humans. :)

    Sounds like you have a really good and caring team looking out for Storm.

  4. i just found a link on youtube with a montage of that episode. it’s one of my faves – love it!



  5. As it should be :) Also, it’s a cash business – no insurance companies to deal with. And people love their fluffies (or even non-fluffy reptiles, birds and fish!)