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Old 06-27-2012, 12:25 PM   #1
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Default Gigi - Chemotherapy - Need advice!

Hi guys.

I posted several weeks ago about a lump that was on Gigi's outer lip. Gigi is a year and a half year old morkie. Turns out it was a grade 2 mast cell tumor, and it was removed. Long story short, it took two surgeries but now it is 100% gone with no trace at all. Good news, right? Well...

After getting the amazing results back about the surgery and the mast cell, we also got back an MST panel which shows what's going on internally. She had an ultrasound and x-ray and found no signs of spread of the cancer, however, the MST panel showed some red flag cells that the doctors say "could or could not divide and spread." Given her young age, we decided to be aggressive and do chemotherapy and kill these cells, but I am really hesitant about this too. Has anyone gone through this before?

Gigi's treatment starts this Thursday. She will have 4 weeks (once a week) of vinblastine and be taking Prednisone orally daily during the treatment. The oncologist says that the major side effect of all of this is a lower white blood cell count, which may then require the use of antibiotics. I guess doctors have to tell you everything, good and potentially bad, but I just wish they would tell us that with only four treatments, Gigi will likely be fine.

What would you guys do? I don't know about lifelong side effects that this can cause...i.e., can it shorten her lifespan? I've emailed the oncologist today about that but haven't heard back. We're doing this to kill these cells once and for all, but every time I read online about chemotherapy, I am just reading about dogs that have advanced cancer, which doesn't appear to be the case here. It's just these darn red flag cells that she has that the doctors don't know what will do, if anything.

Any advice you can give would be much appreciated. She has been acting herself; happy, healthy and rambunctious. I don't want to take that away from her.

Thanks all.
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Old 06-28-2012, 04:16 AM   #2
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Though I've not dealt with cancer, I've had to make some big health decisions for my baby. Considering Gigi is so young, she should bounce back quickly from the chemo. Weigh the benefits vs. the risks chemo will bring, and use that as your starting place. Then, gather as much information as you can, so that you can be the very best advocate for your girl. God forbid, but if things don't go well for some reason, you will always know in your heart that you did everything that you could, and that you made the very best decision at that time, with the information that you had. There are no easy answers here, and there is a risk involved, regardless of what path you chose. God bless and keep your girl safe and well. I pray you have a long and happy life together. You are a great mom, and Gigi is blessed to have you. Keep us updated on how things are going.
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Old 06-28-2012, 04:55 AM   #3
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I have no experience with cancer. I do have a friend whose pup was going for chemo for some time and she tolerated it very well. From what I understand the pups do well in terms of side effects.
Making decisions like this is difficult.
I have no advice, but will say a prayer for you and for her.
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Old 06-28-2012, 09:32 AM   #4
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I have no experience with this, but wanted you to know that there is one more Yorkie Mom praying for your baby
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Old 06-29-2012, 07:44 AM   #5
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Vinblastine was tolerated pretty well with Zoey; there was one bout of diarehea Make sure you have plenty of water available at all times. Also you should wear gloves when cleaning up urine. I'm not sure if she is peepad trained or goes outside, but I hosed down the backyard as well' of course we are a household of multiple pets. I think the recommendation is 72 hrs in terms of gloves. Also the urine seems to stain more, so be prepared to act quickly to remove "misses". I would double peepad if you use peepads. Her first night after treatment she had an accident inside, so I didn't find it until morning.

I wish you the best of luck with the chemo.
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Old 06-29-2012, 08:06 AM   #6
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What a difficult decision you have to make. I know what I would do but I really don't think what I would do should enter into it. I have never had a dog with cancer.

Do you have a University Veterinarian School close to you? This type of program may be able give you an honest second opinion.

Good Luck, no matter what your decision is, I can see that you have tried so hard. Just remember there is no right or wrong decision when there are so many unknowns.
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Old 06-30-2012, 06:55 AM   #7
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Thanks for all of your comments and prayers for Gigi. We decided to do the chemo; she's so young...we want to make sure she is around for the next 10+ years. It kills me to do something like this that's nothing more than preventative, but it's obviously better than doing it to try to combat something.

She started Thursday - so far acting normal. Hope it stays that way! And she's bring treated at UC Davis, so I think we're getting the best possible opinion. Theyve been really great with her and us throughout this entire thing.

Thanks again everyone.

Just a side note question - I notice people always recommended going to a tesching hospital (like Davis). Why is that?
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Old 06-30-2012, 07:07 AM   #8
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I love the teaching schools' clinics because they are up to date on the newest treatments and usually have the best in terms of "toys" .. diagnostic testing and all.

They also look at the "whole dog" and have all specialists on hand so that if you have a pup that has cardiac and neuro issues, often both specialists will be consulting when the pup is there.

I do use other specialists, but for many things I go to Texas A&M. They are awesome!
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Old 06-30-2012, 07:16 AM   #9
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I will be keeping GiGi in my prayers! What a hard thing you and her are going through! I think you are making the best decision for her!
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Old 07-01-2012, 09:23 AM   #10
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I am so glad you made your decision and she's doing well. I have been at a friend's for a few days and when I got back, I wondered if you had. I'm sure she will have some off days but you never know how people or animals react. My Mother didn't have a single side effect to chemo.

I think ladyjane gave you a wonderful answer to 'why some of us recommend a teaching hospital' The only thing I could add is the fact they don't seem to be swayed by the amount a procedure might bring in and for you, I think the overall cost will be less there.

Hope that little love bug comes through with flying colors.......
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