Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Every Day Is A Gift!

My husband had planned to adopt a bloodhound and give it the name “Nosey” for obvious reasons. As luck would have it, before we had a chance to even look for a bloodhound, after our old dog died, we met a litter of Labrador Retriever mix puppies that had just turned 8 weeks old and were available for adoption from the Morgan County Humane Society. Knowing that if these puppies didn’t find a home they could potentially be euthanized, we adopted not only the yellow lab (whom we named Elvis) that I had my eye on but we also adopted his sister, a black lab mix (whom we named Nosey).

From day one, Nosey lived up to her name. As we put them in a shopping cart, Elvis promptly laid down and took a nap but Nosey placed her paws on the edge of the cart and made sure that she was aware of everything as we passed by. Thru the years she has lived up to her name of Nosey. We often times remark that she is more nosey than any cat ever thought about being. We took both pups thru obedience school and Nosey graduated second in her class-having only received “marks off” her score because instead of focusing on my husband, she was being “nosey”. The one good thing that came out of those classes wasn’t the obedience training but the advice our obedience trainer gave us. She instilled in us the habit of checking our dogs weekly for any changes in the dog’s body. Little did we know that following that advice would actually make a significant impact on Nosey’s life.

On Christmas Eve 2006, we notice a pea-sized lump on Nosey’s neck. Knowing that the lump was new, we watched it closely over the next couple of days until the vet’s office would open again from the holidays. We were preparing for the worst because the lump seemed to grow every day. We were able to get her in fairly quickly and our worst fears were confirmed – lymphosarcoma. She began chemo with the Madison-Wisconsin protocol on December 2006. After 16 treatments over a span of about 27 weeks, she was declared in remission. Throughout that treatment regimen she never did complain, in fact she soon became the vet clinic’s star patient. Each week she would have blood drawn from her neck and then the next day have her chemo. Through it all we learned to treat every day as a gift. This was especially true when other dogs we knew passed away (who had been diagnosed after Nosey) and yet Nosey seemed to exhibit amazing results from the treatments. The vet referred to her as the poster child for chemo.

Then in March of 2008, at her 6 month post-treatment followup visit, the vet noticed a swelling in the glands. Blood tests revealed that the cancer was back and in April she started a 2nd Madison-Wisconsin protocol regimen. Early 2008 the oncology clinic had purchased new equipment to do the blood testing in their own lab and so Nosey was able to get her blood tested and the chemo done on the same day with just a brief wait. After a few visits, she had the routine down pat and would actually walk right over to the scales to be weighed. After she was weighed she’d jump up on the treatment table and just sit by and wait for the technician to come over and draw blood. Almost as if to say – “here I am – let’s get started”. By the middle of summer, she had an ever growing fan club not only with the folks at our regular vet but also with the oncology clinic. She was such a good patient that the new technicians would occasionally trim her toenails while they administered the chemo. Unfortunately towards the end of the treatment, the vet noticed that some of her internal organs were starting to show the effects of chemo and they had to switch some of the “tried and true” medicines to other medicines.

She finished the 2nd regimen treatment at the end of November 2008. Went back at the end of December and received a clean bill of health. Dr Lucroy said that the following month would be the critical period. If she could make it until the end of January without the cancer coming back then he’d consider her in remission and she would not have to come back for 3 months. Unfortunately on January 3, 2009 we noticed the lymph glands were swollen. This came as such a shock so soon after her last oncologist visit. Because she has received her lifetime recommended dosages for the medicines used in the Madison-Wisconsin protocol, she has started taking chemo treatments again and the vet says if these medicines don’t work, they have other families of medicines they can try.

In true lab fashion, she loves everyone and has a way of making everyone around her feel special. She will even smile at her “friends”. The vet technicians vie for her attention and brag that Nosey smiled for them. Throughout her whole ordeal she still seems to be the sweet loving girl we’ve known and loved. Every day with her is a gift. Because her cancer was diagnosed early (thanks to our weekly doggie “self” exams) and her age (5 years) at diagnosis, she has responded very well to chemo.

We take her every where we go to make the most of the limited time we have together with her and as such she has developed a “Diva” personality this summer. It’s almost as if she tells our other 2 dogs – “I’m the adult” – “I’m supposed to go with Mom & Dad”. The other 2 will stand idly by when we are leaving and wait patiently for their treat. Nosey on the other hand, will refuse to take the treat until she knows for sure that she is going with us. Nosey has been my husband’s constant companion for the last 2 years and we cannot begin to imagine the void in our life when the cancer finally wins. But for now, we encourage all our friends, family and acquaintances to remember – every day is a gift. How you use that gift is up to you. Use it wisely!


Anonymous said...

Nosey is such a beautiful girl. I hope for you all a miracle and that the cancer doesn't win. What a brave girl! Best wishes and give her a hug from me, a new fan!

Anonymous said...

We'll definitely keep Nosey in our thoughts to beat cancer! What a brave girl, with such wonderful parents.

Kristin & Angel Maggie dx HSA 9/27/2007, crossed the bridge 1/26/2008

Andrea said...

Consider me a fan of Nosey too! What a wonderful dog! Sending good thoughts your way!
Andrea (Cinnamon & Ephram's mom)

Jack the Schnauzer's Canine Cancer Journey said...

My dog Jack also has Lymphoma and is at the stage of 3 more chemo treatments. He has remained in remission so far and I am hoping for a long long remission. I hope the same for your beautiful Nosey and it sounds like you are making them most of your time with her.