May 3, 2016

Chemo Update

Yesterday, we all took a drive over to the Hope Center, where Piri is currently being treated for his cancer, to pick up some more Palladia, the chemo drug that he is currently on {he takes 20mg every Monday, Wednesday and Friday). 

While Yangkyu, Piri and Shone, our guest dog, were waiting in the car, I quickly went inside and met a lady with her {very big} dog by the elevator. 

She said, "My dog can't go up the stairs so we have to take the elevator together." 

I didn't mind as Piri too can't make it up the stairs. And plus, it's a doggy hospital! Dogs get the right of way so of course they would ride the elevator.

Wondering if her dog was older I asked if he/she was a senior.

"10, so not that old. But he has cancer in the lungs so he doesn't have a lot of energy." 

"Oh. I'm so sorry. My dog has cancer too. Oral melanoma. We found it two months ago and has been getting treated for about a month now."

"That's what Boris has. Oral malignant melanoma. But now it has spread to his lungs."

I remembered what the oral surgeon told me when Piri's biopsy results came back about two months ago. That when Piri's cancer spreads, it'll likely spread to his lymph nodes and lungs. 

We talked all the way to the waiting room on the third floor of the Hope Center where the oncology department is located. 

I learned that Boris not only has the same type of cancer but has been getting the same kind of treatment - melanoma vaccine and chemo in the form of Palladia. She said she was devastated when the doctors told her that the treatment wasn't working for him. She then asked if the treatment was working for Piri. I told her that we didn't know yet and he'll be tested a bit later as we give Palladia a chance to do its thing more. 

After I picked up Piri's chemo, I turned around to say bye and at the same exact time we smiled and said to each other, "Good luck." 

It was very difficult to walk back to the car. The Hope Center is a place that is much like its name - full of hope, but at the same time it is such a depressing place.

Whenever I meet someone whose dog has cancer, their story embeds itself in a deep spot in my heart and it's very difficult to shake off. I don't know their pain and sorrow but I sit and wonder how much their heart must be breaking.

Saying, "I'm so sorry" or "I hope he feels better" is sometimes difficult to say because it's not as simple as that. I know that once they go home it'll be countless hours of worrying, crying, perhaps cleaning up accidents, sleepless nights and seeing their once invincible dog just slowly wither away. There will be moments when they'll come back and flash a smile, wag their tail and jump and prance, but the cancer will still be there. 

I haven't had a full night's sleep for a few months now. Every night, Piri is constantly getting up in the middle of the night to be let out. Sometimes I sleep downstairs with him so that Piri doesn't have to go up and down the stairs, which can be hard on his joints. Even though Yangkyu has work the next day, he'll sleep on the sofa too. 

And the constant worrying doesn't end. 

I wonder whether Piri's treatment is working or not, but I have so much hope because he has been doing exceptionally well.

Along with his chemo, he takes supporting medicine to help firm up his stool and battle nausea. We have found that he doesn't need an appetite stimulant. I make a home cooked meal for him twice a day and have added new supplements like goat's milk, bone broth with turmeric and spirulina. He gobbles up his food and continues to lick his dish clean. I also give him fruit as a mid-day snack and have also bought different commercial brand treats to give throughout the day, for taste mostly. 

Everything we have avoided before when he had just kidney disease, we are giving now, at low to moderate amounts.

And sub-q fluids? We have been giving them at home, three times a week, and he sits through them well. I have to coax him with ham or chicken when he gets poked but afterwards he just lies there until all 300 ml of the fluids are administered. He is playful, still runs and jumps and does his wiggle butt dance. So how can I not think that his treatment isn't working?

It has to be.

Next Monday Piri is due to get his fourth vaccine shot. We will have a sit down with our oncologist to go over next steps and he will also get some blood work done.

Day by day... we're taking it day by day.

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