day one hundred & thirty-five

Introducing the newly minted, double chemo-caped, cancer-fighting tripawd superdog, Bristow!IMG_5791Last chemo treatment today for Miss B!! No more cancer-fighting chemicals being pumped into her little body (at least for a while: If cancer returns, we’ll consider follow-up options.). Her chemo-every-3-weeks schedule has not been keepable because she tends to take a while to rebuild enough white blood cells to make receiving chemo again safe (well, as safe as strategic poison intake can be), so Dad stayed home while Mom ventured to New Mexico for Thanksgiving (cue epic sister roadtrip and massive parental surprise). Thankfully, Dad sent photos of her graduation…and a little video he made where he interviews the grad. Hated missing that milestone, but grateful for a co-dog-parent who could celebrate with her and care for her well. And grateful to have a chemo-graduation to celebrate!

In reflection, let me share some personal thoughts on treating your dogs with chemotherapy:

  1. It’s not a choice everyone will make or should make. For our family, it made sense; it might not for yours, and that’s just fine. We could afford it, she was our first “child”, and her prognosis was good. We understand that is not the case for every dog-loving family facing canine cancer. And we don’t judge others for choosing differently than we did.
  2. Most dogs have ZERO side-effects with chemo (75%, in fact), so the argument that it’s torture for the dog doesn’t stand. Bristow had some related GI distress with her first couple treatments, but we addressed that with meds, and when needed, Dr Cessario cut back the strength and frequency of her treatments. Veterinary oncologists proport that it’s not just about length of life but quality of life. We totally agree. We’d never make Bristow miserable for our own selfish reasons. We pray each night for wisdom to choose what’s best for her and not just think of ourselves. Yes, we want to keep her around (“for many more days, weeks, months, and years”–our nightly prayer closing refrain), but never at her own expense.
  3. Although some of her activity had to be limited (e.g., time with dog-friends during her neutropenic phases due to susceptibility to illness and infection), she enjoyed a full life during treatments, complete with daily walks (unless she was tired) and yard adventures with her brother Jed Bartlet and frisbee-chasing and couch-time cuddles with family and extra servings of food (Her appetite definitely increased once we addressed nausea.)…. She has been well-loved and loved life well, even while being a cancer-fighting superdog.
  4. Consider an integrative approach that combines veterinary oncology with veterinary homeopathy and alternative medicine. We are grateful we did, and we are grateful for the Sage Center vets that approached Bristow’s care in a collaborative, interdisciplinary manner. She continues to take her prescribed Wei Qi and Stasis Breaker supplements, and she gets tumeric and glucosamine capsules twice a day. We also throw a scoop of Dr. Harvey’s Multi-Vitamin and Mineral Herbal Supplement for Dogs into each meal, and we use pumpkin ongoingly to give her the pills, both to calm her stomach and because she loves it!

I am sure as I continue to reflect on the past 4.5 months, I will add to that list. But in short, if you find your family facing this journey–and I pray you never do, with a fur-kid or otherwise–may you not be distracted by any unwelcomed outside voices and opinions but stay focused on finding what’s best for your individual family via consultation with experts, prayers for wisdom, and, perhaps, financial analysis. And may we all take our God-given responsibility as caretakers of the earth and it’s inhabitants seriously, thoughtfully, and lovingly.

PSALM 8 (NLT)

1O LORD, our Lord, your majestic name fills the earth!

Your glory is higher than the heavens.

2You have taught children and infants

to tell of your strength,b

silencing your enemies

and all who oppose you.

3When I look at the night sky and see the work of your fingers—

the moon and the stars you set in place—

4what are mere mortals that you should think about them,

human beings that you should care for them?c

5Yet you made them only a little lower than Godd

and crowned theme with glory and honor.

6You gave them charge of everything you made,

putting all things under their authority—

7the flocks and the herds

and all the wild animals,

8the birds in the sky, the fish in the sea,

and everything that swims the ocean currents.

9O LORD, our Lord, your majestic name fills the earth!

As Ellen DeGeneres implores at the end of each show, “Be kind to one another.” Dogs included. #doglivesmatter


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