Starting chemo

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Today is Friday, three weeks and three days since Rio’s surgery, and yesterday we started chemo for the second time.  I must say, when I saw my “little waif in the cage” nearly 11 years ago, it never would have crossed my mind that we’d end up on this road. Not that knowing would have made me walk away without her….  Could you???  Look at this face!!!

The day we met!

This go-round the chemo protocol will be a little different.  We’d been waiting for the results from the c-KIT test to determine which medications would be used this time, and we got that on Tuesday.  Although I admit I was expecting the worst, the results were negative —  no mutations in the cell proteins!  Yay, Woo!  And, because there were no mutations, we are going with a dual Vinblastine/CCNU (lomustine) protocol, rather than Palladia.

The protocol delivery is going to be a bit confusing, but Rio starts with a single oral dose of the CCNU this week.  Next week, we will do a CBC to find out where her white cell count is, and then the following week we will get the first dose of Vinblastine.  Then we have another dose of CCNU, another CBC, another dose of Vinblastine, etc. for the next 23 weeks (assuming that her white cell count doesn’t drop too low).  Throughout the chemo, we will also be on a scheduled dosing of Prednisone.  Additionally, the oncologist has prescribed a prophyllactic dosing of amoxicillin to proactively fight off any infections that may arise due to the low white cell counts.

Last time Rio had chemo, she did pretty well until the last month or so.  Then she started having some tummy troubles, so the doctor put her on some additional meds to help with that.  Towards the end, she also was pretty tired and seemed a bit punky for several days after her chemo delivery, but overall, she handled it really well.  She didn’t have any infections, and we didn’t have to stop chemo because of low white cell counts.  So, we’re hoping that this time around it doesn’t get much worse than before.  She is, however, two years older than she was last time and she’s going to be getting a double whammy of chemo this time around.  Her oncologist is also considering giving her a higher dose of Vinblastine than she did before, as well.  Needless to say, I’ll be watching her like a hawk for any sign of, well, ….ANYTHING!!!!

But her oncologist has high hopes for the success of this protocol.  She says the mean survival rate is about 3 years!  I forgot to ask if that was a first time administration of the protocol or if that was with recurrent, metastatic disease like Rio.  Either way, I’m trying to focus on here and now and getting through the next few weeks, rather than thinking too much about what the future holds.  After all, there’s not much point in wasting time worrying.  What’s gonna happen is gonna happen regardless of how I spend the time between now and then, so I might as well enjoy the time as much as possible.  Right?!

To supplement the protocol, and potentially keep Rio healthier during her treatments, we’ve started her on a modified version of Dr. Dressler’s Cancer Diet. (I decided not to add any of the grains that he includes in his version.  I’ve fed my dogs a grain-free diet for many years, and feel that this is actually better for their health — after all, if they were in the wild, where would they get oatmeal or brown rice?)  We’ve also added the K9 Immunity; K9 FullFlex to help with sore joints; digestive enzymes to aid the tummy troubles, Bladder Strength to help occasional incontinence due to the excessive thirst that prednisone generates, barley grass powder to help aid digestion and improve bad breath; parsley oil, also for bad breath (tummy troubles makes our breath really awful and then nobody wants to give us kisses!); and we even had a friend who is a Naturopathic MD create a homeopathic for Rio out of some of her tumor cells.  If all this doesn’t help, well at least it can’t hurt!!!

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3 thoughts on “Starting chemo

  1. Good luck to Rio. This is the same protocol that Maggie was on. She handled it pretty well- only once or twice was her WBC to low to get treatment and we had to wait an extra week. Mag lived more than 3 years after she was done with chemo- and I lost her to melanoma, not mast cell cancer. She did have recurring cutaneous MCTs during those 3 years- but they were not signs of metastasis- just new tumors.

    Karen and the pugapalooza

  2. Aww Sweet Rio, we love that puppy pic.

    What a lucky girl to have such pawesome pawrents that are doing their research. We really like Dr. D’s diet recommendations too, and it goes without saying that we really feel that K9 Immunity helped me beat the odds. I know it will for you too!

    Living in the now is what it’s all about. Good job teaching your humans!

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