From Buddha, via Colleen:

“Those who unhesitatingly embrace and tenderly serve
All suffering creatures during this degenerate age,
Just as a loving mother painstakingly cares
For even the most wayward of her children
They alone are the teachers of the holy life.”

Mina had her IV treatment with Vincristine today. This drug is commonly used in non-Hodgkins and canine lymphoma and is administered intravenously. Here’s how it works, according to Wikipedia: “Tubulin is a structural protein which polymerises to form microtubules. The cell cytoskeleton and mitotic spindle, amongst other things, are made of microtubules. Vincristine binds to tubulin dimers, inhibiting assembly of microtubule structures. Disruption of the microtubules arrests mitosis in metaphase. The vinca alkaloids therefore affect all rapidly dividing cell types including cancer cells, but also intestinal epithelium and bone marrow.”

If Mina is going to experience side effects, they’ll probably occur in the third or fourth days after treatment. That’s when the drug reaches its peak.

Overall, her cancer docs are pleased with how she’s doing. They measured her peripheral lymph nodes and found they had shrunk a little. They’re nowhere near normal, but they’re smaller. They palpated her spleen and it didn’t seem smaller, but they didn’t perform an ultrasound to check.

She stays on the prednisone at the same dose she’s been on the past week. It’s possible they’ll reduce the dose after this week, though, but she’ll have to be weaned off it slowly.

She lost a pound. That was depressing news. I asked why, when I’m feeding her several times a day, is she losing weight? The vet tech said it could be that she’s shedding her cancer. She has lost a lot of muscle mass.

But the news got even more depressing … Mina’s CBC results indicated anemia of 32.5 percent along with an elevated white cell count of 17,000. This could mean that the lymphoma is in her bone marrow. If that proves true, then the chemo won’t extend her life. We won’t know until next week when they take blood again for another CBC. I’m not dwelling on this now because I just want to enjoy being with her and not be all depressed and sad.

The VIMP budgies were puffed up and snuggling today.

The VIMP budgies were puffed up and snuggling today.

I took Mina home and gave her the prednisone in a beef-flavored Pill Pocket, and left to visit Dr. Cliver and run some food errands.

At Dr. Cliver’s I got a prescription of Metoclopramide, in case she does have nausea and vomiting – I’ll need to pick up some Imodium in case she has diarrhea.

I mentioned the anemia and white cell counts to Dr. Cliver and she asked what I’m feeding Mina. Right now she’s still eating boiled chicken and cooked Chow Now along with a few treats. Dr. Cliver had read the label on the Chow Now and said “There are no carbohydrates in Mina’s diet!” She thinks it’s possible the lack of carbs in her diet could account for the anemia and recommended … potatoes. Apparently, dogs love potatoes. I hope she’s right because I don’t want this to be the way Mina’s life ends. Not without a few months of feeling good and doing all the things she loves, y’know?

So, off to Marshall to Bloom for their brand of chicken that’s most like the stuff at Whole Foods and a five-pound sack of Yukon gold potatoes, then to the Marshall IGA for a few more cartons of Chow Now, then home to the Mina Bean. She ate more chicken and chicken Chow Now, and is resting in front of the open window.

Next week, we have to take a urine sample for analysis because cyto-toxic drugs can cause cystitis. They’ll recheck her CBC, as well. At a later date, they plan to do another ultrasound of her adbomen and chest for evaluation of her internal organs/structures to judge further response to chemotherapy treatment.

And if one more person asks me how old Mina is and says, “Well, she’s lived a good, long life” I swear I will cut off their head.

s.

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Back in February, during the worst winter we’ve had in years, Mina injured her right carpus. It could’ve been a patch of ice or a trip up the stairs, we’re not sure. She began limping and a visit to her vets and a few X-rays revealed degenerative arthritis in the right carpus, fairly advanced. She was already taking a Non-steroidal Anti-inflammatory Drug for a previous injury to that leg, so her dose was increased and I ordered a support from Dogleggs to help her get around.

Not long after the injury Mina’s eating habits changed. She stopped eating in the morning, sometimes finishing breakfast after her noon walk with Miss Sherrie. This lack of appetite continued and got worse during late March when she stopped eating more than a few bites a day. During this time I tried all sorts of canned dog food, different treats, begging, cajoling, and her vet prescribed Famotidine (sold as Pepcid AC) and we took her off the NSAID and put her on Tramadol.

In April Mina had her yearly exam including a full blood profile. At that time her vets noticed some enlarged lymph glands on her body but the nodes weren’t large enough to perform a fine needle aspiration. A week later Mina suffered a nose bleed from her right nostril after -finally- eating an entire serving of her kibble. I took her to the emergency vet, but she’d stopped bleeding. During an exam, the vet found several enlarged lymph glands, took her blood pressure, and sent us home with suggestions for treatment for our regular vets.

Mina in January, at my birthday party

Mina in January, at my birthday party

The next day Mina’s vet performed the fine needle aspirate of lymph nodes that had grown since her exam the previous week. She also took blood for a tick serology and Complete Blood Count. In the meantime, Mina’s appetite decreased further, she seemed weak and lethargic and I grew more anxious.

The test results came back on Monday, April 20. Her CBC was fine, no tick-borne disease, but she got a definitive diagnosis of lymphoma. I stood in the exam room of her vet’s office trying to maintain my composure but soon was crying and trying to listen and comprehend what was happening to my beloved Mina.

Things are moving fast. On Tuesday, April 21, Mina met Dr. Birnbaum at VIMP and had an exam and an ultrasound and I learned about her options for treatment and saw ultrasound photos of her greatly enlarged, Swiss cheese-like spleen. She is a good candidate for chemotherapy so I set about finding the money to pay for her chemo treatments. By Wednesday, all was in place and her first chemo appointment was set.