010Today was my dog Leo’s last chemo treatment. His oncologist (yes, my dog has an oncologist) is very happy with where we are. Six months ago, I wasn’t so sure this day would come and that Leo would be doing so well.

Overall, chemo was an non-event. For the first month, he had weekly injectable Vinblastine treatments. Then he switched to five months of twice monthly treatments, which were a mixture of the injectable Vinblastine and oral Lomustine. There were one or two days over the course of his treatment where he exhibited some side effects–mainly vomiting and decreased appetite. But for the most part, these episodes resolved themselves within a day. For the last six months, his appetite and energy level were just as they were before he was diagnosed with a Grade 3 Mast Cell Tumor (the worst kind) last November. No new masses appeared during the course of his chemo; and more importantly no mass reappeared at the site of the original mass that was surgically removed last November confirming the cancer diagnosis. His regular vet & the oncologist had warned us back when this all started that there was a strong likelihood that that mass would regrow within a couple months. Six months later, there is nothing & that is absolutely wonderful.

Leo did suffer some liver damage from the oral chemotherapy portion of his protocol. The Lomustine caused his “ALT” or liver enzyme levels to be high throughout the course of his treatment. While there was initial concern that they were too high, they did drop throughout the course of the treatment. While they remained above the normal range, the fact that they dropped significantly over the course of the treatment, allowed us to finish out the treatment. No, liver damage is not good, but the thinking was that his liver could sustain the Lomustine; and that looks to be the case. If we had opted to discontinue the Lomustine we would have had to switch to a less aggressive chemo protocol. We decided that if we were going to do this, we were going to be as aggressive as possible without causing Leo any pain or discomfort. Judging by the fact that he has remained himself & been otherwise healthy (considering), it was the right decision.

So, I don’t know if we really call this remission. While the oncologist is very happy with how he did with chemo & the fact that there have been no new masses since diagnosis, she still believes we’re looking at a survival rate of about a year from diagnosis. The chemo just bought us more time. I’m not so pessimistic (not that she was being pessimistic–a year is a long time for his type of cancer). I know that he is doing great. He’s made it this far with no new masses. No mass regrew at the site of the original mass. He handled chemo incredibly well. I’m remaining positive. I know he has more than a year.

I know when this all started I said I would be happy to at least have a year. I still will be happy with that; but I see nothing wrong with expecting more .

So, in 2 months, Leo will go back for a recheck. He’ll have x-rays (& possibly another ultrasound) to see if there are any new masses & to see where we stand. Otherwise, I just have to keep an eye on him & keep an eye out for any new masses. I can we can handle that.

So, today was a good day & I’m thankful for that. I’m also thankful for more time.