Friday, November 30, 2012

Ahnung: Cancer update

Ahnung getting ready to head to hospice to visit her friend 'R'
We met with Ahnung's oncologist yesterday at the Blaine Bluepearl Veterinary. I am so grateful for the incredible care Ahnung is getting from her health care team both at Lake Harriet Veterinary and Bluepearl Veterinary. Her x-rays and records were sent over to Bluepearl and Dr. Husbands had reviewed her records before we even arrived. He spent an hour with us going over all of our options and giving Ahnung a thorough check :)

Without a biopsy or surgery and actually getting to the nodules in her lungs there is no way to know 100% if it is cancer. With her history, however, he said he is 90% certain that it is cancer. I opted not to go down the path of any additional invasive procedures for my sweet girl. My gut tells me it is cancer and I don't need to have her go through any additional procedures to confirm that ... after going through all the various options, and after consulting with my vet and just sitting with what feels right to give Ahnung the best chances while honoring her quality of life I decided to take a combo approach, combining eastern and western. Ahnung has started on 2 supplements: CurcuVet and a Green Tea extract. She will be starting I'm-Yunity early next week (this is a compound derived from a mushroom and has been shown to lengthen survival time in dogs with cancer: She will also be starting a low-dose chemotherapy treatment early next week where I have been told most dogs do not have any side effects from the treatment. It is a low dose continuous oral at home chemotherapy treatment geared towards blocking blood vessel growth of cancer cells.
Waiting to get on the elevator at hospice

Dr. Husbands was honest and upfront that there is no cure. Our goal is to shrink the tumors, or at minimum to slow the progression/growth. He indicated that a reasonable expectation for how much time a dog may have who comes in with metastasis to their lungs is 2-3 months. He went on to say, however, that there are exceptions. I know that if there is going to be an exception it will be my precious Ahnung. Unfortunately she lost another pound and now weighs 56 lbs. She has been getting even more treats and I am hoping we can stop the weight loss. Fortunately her appetite is as voracious as ever. And tonight after dinner I took my juicer out and she was ready for her dose of raw cabbage juice -- tonight I decided to add celery and a sprinkle of apple :)

Today Ahnung was her usual happy, tail-wagging, spunky self. She ran around the back yard like a crazy dog with Legacy and rolled around in the dirt :) And then we decided to visit our friend in hospice. We had a wonderful visit with our friend who was excited to see Ahnung. When he arrived he was napping so we had to knock on his door. I apologized for waking him up and he said 'I can nap anytime, but it's not every day I get a cute dog coming to visit me!" :) We sat and chatted for almost an hour while Ahnung helped lick the crumbs off of his floor and then walking over to his bedside to rest her head on his leg. I asked how he was feeling and he said he has good days and not so good days. His wife is also at the same facility and is also in hospice. He tells me, "I feel better when my wife feels better; when she doesn't feel good then I don't feel good." He goes on to tell how they met in highschool  .. how they've been married for 68 years and how she has been his only girl :) He smiles when he tells me how she would write him letters every day when he was in the military serving in Asia and then goes on to say, "My country has been good to me. They have taken good care of me." He knows I just returned from the Philippines and asks me lots of questions. And then he shares more about what he did after he left the army, his kids and how he will soon be turning 91!! ;-) As I sit and listen to him with Ahnung laying quietly by our side I feel blessed to be sharing time with him. His gratitude and positive attitude for the life he has lived and for those who are helping him today reminds me of our dear friend 'M' who told me many times, "I've had a good life."
Waiting for her friend 'R' to let her in!! :)

Today, as I spent time with our friend in hospice it touched me on an even deeper level. The time we share is not just about walking the final stage of our friend's life ... my volunteer work in hospice is now as much about walking the final stage of Ahnung's life and all of us sharing, collectively, i  learning to embrace what is to come and most importantly to live life to the fullest in the present moment ... because the present moment is all we have.

I would be lying if I said my heart doesn't hurt and feel like it's being ripped to shreds when I fast forward and think about when Ahnung won't be here with me. The truth is, I can't imagine my life without her. I am constantly telling myself to focus on the moment and to be here, to simply be here in the moment with Ahnung. She is happy today. She is full of life today. She is full of love.

I believe in the power of prayer and positive/healing energy, so please continue to keep Ahnung in your thoughts and prayers.

With heartfelt gratitude,
Marilou & Ahnung
... and her siblings Legacy, Missy and Mister too :)

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