Thursday, February 17, 2011

The State Of The Blueberry

I have to admit, Blueberry has taken us on quite a wild ride the past few months.  She had a cancerous lump removed from her head in November and we have been at a crossroads as to what to do after the surgery.  It seemed that everywhere we turned, there was another option for her treatment.  We had trouble getting the vets together to discuss her treatment and we wanted to do a lot of research on the options presented to us.  Adding to the complications was the fact that she broke her toe in early January.  Leave it to Blueberry to go to so much trouble to get our attention.

I e-mailed Dr. Cuoto at Ohio State University because he is known as the expert on how to treat Greyhounds and he sees many hounds with cancer.  He recommended intralesional chemotherapy, which is basically where they inject chemo into a tumor.  It can be rather rough on the patient, however and no one in our vet's office felt comfortable performing the procedure.  Plus, she had the tumor removed and we aren't sure if there's any of it left in her head or not. 

Our vet called the University of Illinois and asked what their suggestion would be.  The oncologist there recommended nineteen radiation treatments, one a day, and Blueberry would have to stay there for about a month. I have a lot of reasons that I won't post here about why I won't leave any of my dogs there, but that's a long tangent to another place.  The truth is, I just can't see putting her through that.  A month away from home and that much radiation in her body can't be good for her and she wouldn't handle it well at all.  It is also unbelievably expensive. 

We spoke to five people who had also experienced the same kind of cancer in their dogs.  Four were Greyhound owners and the other was Miss Sunshade the Superdale's mom.  Three of the Greyhounds had the lump removed and lived for several years before dying of separate old age related problems that had nothing to do with the cancer.  Another had the surgery a year ago and has had no recurrance since then.   The research that I have read about the disease says that it is slow growing and rarely moves to another part of the body.  If it recurs, it happens again in the same spot.

So, we have come to a decision after a lengthy talk with our vet.  We're not going to do anything else right now.  The vet doesn't feel comfortable doing another surgery right now because there's not much between Blue's skin and her skull and the more they cut it open, the less they have left to sew back closed.  We're going to watch the spot on her head and if a lump reappears, then there will be surgery and possible cause for more aggressive treatment.  For now, we're going to concentrate on healing her toe so she can get out there and enjoy life after cancer. 

We have used the money that was raised for her to pay for her first surgery and we did have to use some of it for her toe, too.  The broken toe has turned out to be more expensive than the original surgery.  Our plan is to put money aside and hold onto it in case she does need more surgery in the future.  I can't begin to tell all of you what a relief it was to not have to worry about what we would do about the money to take care of her.  To everyone who donated money and bid in the auction, we thank you from the bottom of our hearts.  Knowing that we will have our girl here with us for hopefully as long as we've had her mother is the best gift that we could ever have asked for. 

I know this post isn't particularly humorous, but I know that many people have wondered what is happening with Blue and I wanted to explain it and let people know where we were.  It has been a long few months for us full of sleepless nights, worry, research, frustration and finally enlightenment.  I think the possibility of it coming back will always be in the back of my mind, but it isn't the looming spectre that it was before.  I feel at peace with our decision and I honestly believe that we've come up with the best plan for Blueberry.  It's good to go back to worrying about trivial things like how to best capture her good side and not whether I'm making a life or death decision. 

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  1. What a relief to have come to a decision. We totally support your thought process. Enjoy your girls!!

    -Gizmo, Bart and Ruby

  2. We are happy to see Blue's photos today. We also support your thoughts for we are sure that you have the best intentions for Blue.

    We will always have our paws crossed for Blue.

    Piappies Fudgie, Princess, Frappie, Mocha, Sugar, Wai-Pai, Wai-Max & Forgie

  3. I'm so glad you've come to your decision and I'm sure Blue is happy with your plans. It's lovely to have Blue with you and let's enjoy being with her. Be positive and capture every beautiful moment with her and others.
    We will always keep her in our thoughts!

  4. So glad she is doing well and you can have some peace of mind with your decision. Personally I agree with your decision for all of you. Take care.

  5. I think you've done the right thing. Love, companionship & 'home' are the best treatment for little Blue', much better than a month away. We'll be keeping Blue in our thoughts.

    Cheers Spiffo, Cami and Jakka

  6. I am so sorry that I've been absent from your blog for so long and have only just discovered your plight. What a tremendous worry you have had (and are having). I know what this feels like when clouds of uncertainty loom on the horison. Thank you for sharing this with us all. Always know that your decision (whatever it may be and whenever it may be needed) is always the right one! Wishing you strength on your journey.
    With much love

  7. We think your decision is the right one for the situation -

    Khyra is waving her FT and I'm smiling at the great pics of Blueberry -

    I know the decision has been made after lots and lots of thought and research -

    Hugz&Khysses From The Khorner!

  8. Live it to the fullest Blueberry :D

    Every day is a wonderful gift for you and all those who love you (((HUGS)))

    Sendin you lots of happy and feelin good wishes!

  9. It sounds like you made the right decision for Blueberry and your family.

    Your pal, Pip

  10. I think you made the right decision Houndy, I really do. Thanks for letting us know what`s happening with Blue. =)

  11. It must feel good to have done your research, made your decision, and be ready to move forward. The hardest part for me is always the limbo stage, when I can't decide what is the best course of action. I'm glad that part is behind you for now.

    Here's to healing Blue's toe so that she can have lots of fun once it's healed. How many more weeks in that cast?

  12. Rider, Lilly, and JackFebruary 17, 2011 at 7:46 AM

    Lilly LOVES your pink bandage - much better than the green camo!

  13. Glad to hear Berry is doing well (other than that pesky toe) and that you made a decision you and your Dr. Vet are comfortable with. You're her mom, you know what's best for her more than anyone else. Oh, and no more FrankenBerry! Hee hee..

    I'm also glad that so many awesome peoples helped you with green papers!! Money is the last thing you want to worry about in times like said from now on she'll always get puppy insurance on her dogs. My claims for my eye have already repaid our yearly premiums!

    Hugs Berry!!

  14. Wonderful to hear your decision on Bluebery! We think it's the right one :-) We always have our paws and fingers crossed for Miss. Blue!

  15. Mom and me agrees wif you 100%! :) Thanks fur da update on Blueberry!

    Woofs and Licks,
    Maggie Mae

  16. Lovely to hear how Blueberry is doing. I'm sure you have made the right decision xxx

  17. And you sure do capture her good side! Blueberry looks very pretty in her precious pink cast. I hope her toe heals quickly and she remains healthy for a long, long time.

    (and Clifford and Claire and Mum!)

  18. Thanks for the update of beautiful Blueberry. I think you've made a great decision. No since subjecting her to upset and discomfort if it can be avoided. My peeps had a dog before me and it had cancer at a very young age (6 mos). They did one surgery and no others. He lived to be a ripe old 14 years. My peeps enjoyed every minute with him and it was extra special for them all. So, enjoy every minute with her and I was very happy to participate in the auction. Everyone take care of each other!
    Grr and Woof,
    Sarge, COP

  19. We were very new to Blogland when we first heard of Blueberry's illness, so did not the whole story. So glad to hear that it is unlikely to recur or to metastasize, unlike some other malignancies. I think in your situation I would have made exactly the same decision. Quality of life is at least as important as quantity. We hope Blueberry has many more years of health and happiness ahead of her. (Also, don't sweat it - I don't think she HAS a bad side!) :)

  20. Oh, thank you so very much for updating us on Blueberry. I've been thinking abouts her lots and wondering what was gonna happen next. It sounds to me like you made the very best decision you could pawsibly make for Blueberry. She's very, very lucky to be so luved.

    Wiggles & Wags,

  21. I wouldn't put my dogs through an extended time away from me, either. The treatment would be stressful enough without the separation anxiety, too. She looks happy with your decision.

  22. Blue looks as happy as ever, in my opinion. You've got a good gut instinct!

  23. I think you made a furry good decishun. We feel quality of life be better than quantity of life and wot kind of quality would Blueberry has staying at the V-E-T fur a whole month? I would just die from that alone. Honestly! Mom always say a lot of V-E-Ts look at the physical problem without taking into considerashusn how it affects us emoshonally and that do be equally impawtant.

  24. Good gravy, I am saddled with a leaking hooman at the moment. I swear her eyes gets leaky just from a good toilet paper commercial! Dat said, I am very happy to be seeing pictures of Miss Blueberry decked out in her winter finery and I'm glad to hear you have decided leave things be for the time being. Dat is a very wise and compassionate choice. But you know, if yous ever needs the green papers again, me and mom will be right here ready to give all over again. I am willing to bet everyone else in bloggyland feels the same way :)

    Big Blueberry colored huggies! - HoneyBuzz

  25. we are very pleased about your decision too and we are sooooo looking forward to more wonderful photos of beautiful Blue!

  26. Now that there are so many options, I can imagine it must be difficult to decide. It's good to hear an update. I didn't realize she had a cast, but if she has to have one, pink is quite becoming.

  27. Oh that bandage looks so familar!! Did I miss what kind of tumor was removed? I agree about the radiation, I think it would be hard on an older grey. Wouldn't do it myself.

  28. Sounds like you guys have been through a lot, dog and humans! It couldn't be easy, and I'm glad it's coming together from the looks of it. You guys are very very brave. The mommas and I are praying that the recovery goes well and the cancer sickie will know to keep well away!


  29. I've no doubt you will be happy with your decision. We can't explain to a dog why things are happening.

    Hawk aka BrownDog

  30. For what it's worth, I agree with your decision too. I have a profound respect for Dr. Couto and have been to see him speak a couple of times. His knowlege and passion on the subject of greyhounds and cancer is amazing. He also often makes chemo (and even amputation of a leg) sound like a breeze for greyhounds, but I don't believe it's ever quite that easy.

    I'm so glad the cancer scare is behind you and hope you're never faced with that terrifying decision again!

    By the way, the second picture of Blue is gorgeous!!!


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