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How it started

February 14, 2012

This is our story. Since finding out about Lulu’s cancer, I have found great comfort in reading other people’s stories and knowing that other people have experienced the same feelings of despair and heartbreak.  I hope my story will do the same for others, and I hope the more informative parts of my blog will prevent people from having to experience it.

I am a paranoid pet owner.  I’m not proud of being a hypochondriac, but I am proud of being a pet owner who is very in tune with her dogs emotions (and my dog is very emotional). Unfortunately her main emotion is worry, which I’m sure she learned from my hypochondria, which in turn makes me feel guilty, but on January 4th 2012, it was all worth it.  The first sign was that she went to the bathroom in my room. She has separation anxiety and sometimes she goes to the bathroom in the living room downstairs, but she has never gone anywhere else in the house, also it looked like she had been going as she was walking, like she couldn’t hold it.  Mom and I were worried.  I suggested we take her out for a walk, I went to get my shoes and yelled ‘Wanna go for a walk?!’, she came down the stairs but paused for a moment about half way down, now I know that she was weak and probably light headed, at the time I still had no guesses. When we got outside, she made an effort but finally lay down at the end of the driveway.  By now we were really worried, my mother suggested that it might just a bug or something she ate, she thought we should wait and I, knowing that I tend to overreact when it comes to Lulu, decide to tell myself to calm down. Like many people, knowledge makes me feel less helpless, so I decided to do a little research while I waited to see if she got better and argued with myself about whether I should take her to the vet.  I was looking up her symptoms on petmd.com and a few other sites, I found some great symptom checking apps which I will try to remember the name of and share with you later.  I took her temperature, but what I should have done was check her gums, and the retraction of her skin. You should ask your vet, or just a vet tech about some of these tricks for checking your dogs vitals, maybe I’ll do a post about that later.  I brought her some water and put it up close to her face, she stretched out her neck and drank a lot of it. What finally made me take her in thought was how distended her stomach was. At the time I thought it was ‘bloated’ and stupidly typed that in as a symptom. The internet told me gas, digestion… I was thinking food poisoning again, but then I stumbled in something that said that stomach bloating is the #2 killer of dogs (which probably isn’t accurate-but more on statistics later*) and that it was pretty much the biggest emergency a dog can have. So then I freaked out. I woke my mom just enough to tell her I was leaving, and carried Lulu to the car. At this point it’s about 2:30 am.

Lulu had massive internal bleeding, her condition was ‘critical’ and the vet needed to do emergency surgery.  She was preparing me for the worst, I didn’t hear a lot of what she was saying, I just remember hearing ‘if blah blah blah, we may have to euthanize her on the table’.  I’m sure I didn’t make it easy for her when I said ‘please don’t kill my dog’… I was just trying to find a way to express to her that Lulu wasn’t just some pet, that I wasn’t OK with her dying, that she had to do everything she could. My mom met me at the hospital, it was 4 in the morning, the vet told us we should say our goodbyes just in case.  I think this will always be one of the worst nights of my life.  I begged Lulu to pull through, I told her I needed her and I wasn’t ready to say goodbye. I told her how much I love her and what a good girl she is, the vet stressed the urgency of the situation, walking away was the hardest thing I’ve ever done.  I wish I could have at least stayed under anesthesia.  I kept thinking of how scared she must be.  I cried all night, I could only think terrible thoughts, I tried to picture my life without her, I realized that I didn’t know life without her; I am 24 years old and Lulu was a present for me when I was 13.  She was my best friend all through high school, I came home from college almost every weekend to see her, and I had moved home after school, partly to ‘share custody’ of her with my mom, whom Lulu is equally, if not more attached to. These were the thoughts going through my head as I watched the clock, waiting to hear from the vet.

If this was the worst night of my life, the relief I felt that Lulu had made it through the surgery was one of the best feelings I’ve ever had. I was so happy, I laughed and cried at the same time. The vet told me that cancer had metastasized in her spleen until it had ruptured, but the good news was that there were no visual tumors on her liver (she had told me that if it had spread to her liver, lulu would probably only liver another week, a very painful one which is why she had mentioned euthanasia earlier- I can talk more about this later, for those it may pertain to*). Overall, Lulu did very well, and thanks to her constant whining at the vet’s office, they even sent her home early after 2 nights. This was wednesday morning, and I had to wait until sunday to get the biopsy results back to see if the cancer was malignant.

They didn’t tell me at this time how unlikely it was that the cancer was benign, when we finally got to talk to a vet about the results of the surgery, she took the opposite approach from the one on night call.  Instead of preparing me for the worst, she was letting me be hopeful, which was nice for a few days. I let myself be undevastated, but then when I got the call on Sunday the hit was that much harder. Again I hear ‘Unfortunately….blah blah blah, I wish I had better news, blah blah blah’. She didn’t give me an estimation, I had to ask…even when i asked she danced around it so I had to ask again, 2-4 months is the average time that dogs with Hemangiosarcoma survive after their splenectomy(the splenectomy is usually the first symptom of Hemangiosarcoma, therefore this is usually when dogs are diagnosed, if they have survived the splenectomy). That is the terrible thing about this disease, the #1 symptom is sudden death. Your dog collapses while playing, or maybe it ruptures in their sleep and you never get a chance to take them to the vet. Lulu was so close to dying from the internal bleeding that night. I almost didn’t take her in, I seriously considered going to sleep and seeing how she felt in the morning. Hemangiosarcoma does not occur in humans, so there is little information about it, little research done. If you are interested, it is similar to Angiosarcoma, which occurs in humans but very rarely. They are both cancers of the blood usually metastasize in the spleen, and often result in Liver failure.

After the phone call I was definitely in shock. I pet Lulu for a while, I googled Hemangiosarcoma (like before, desperate for some fail safe), my mom was out of town and I couldn’t decide if I should call her and tell her, or let her have one more day to feel safe and hopeful (also wanting to give myself more time to be in denial).  When I called her I still hadn’t cried, but saying the words aloud, and hearing her instantaneous tears, I started to wrap my head around it. When I finally cried I didn’t stop for three days, I didn’t know how to count our time left as a blessing. I couldn’t stop feeling like she was already gone, the death sentence signed and sealed. I couldn’t enjoy her company without thinking dead dog walking.

I guess I still feel that way, but mostly I just take the opportunity to spoil her to death, going to places she loves, going to new places, lot of walks and love. Best of all, she gets to eat lots of hamburger meat, fish, chicken and turkey! This is the what this blog is suppose to be about, Lulu’s cancer fighting diet. She doesn’t get to eat Marshmallows anymore, but I figure if things start to take a turn for the worse I will let her have as many marshmallows as she wants before going to dog heaven, which is probably on a cloud of marshmallows anyway.

FOLLOW this blog and follow me as I research and explore different dietary options for canine cancer. I will do my best to be informative, reliable, and always include my resources. I will try to be subjective and open to any alternative treatments. Please feel free to comment, or contact me if you have questions. I would love to spread the idea that a healthy diet so there are more healthy dogs in the world and much much less sick ones!

until next time,

madeline

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