Arwen Finished Chemo

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Arwen is done with chemo! DONE. No more going to the vet every week!! We are so excited for her. We feel very lucky because she did not have side effects from the chemo, except possibly the very last treatment (she seemed lethargic that afternoon then threw up twice the next day, but then was back to herself).

Throughout the chemo treatments, we were able to keep Arwen’s life very “normal.” Same routine as before, going up to the mountain to play every weekend, walks on weekday afternoons, lots of cuddles at home. We didn’t really travel much because we were worried about going too far from her vet if there was an emergency.  But now we feel like we can breathe a little more and just got back from a snowboarding trip to Washington with her.

FUTURE VETERINARY TREATMENTS

We have decided not to do further treatments for Arwen. There has been a lot of talk about the vaccine trials for osteosarcoma dogs. The listeria vaccine sounds promising, and there is a vet clinic a few hours from us doing this treatment, but as I mentioned in Arwen’s last post, the chemotherapy visits were stressful for Arwen.  Chemotherapy was only 6 treatments (with blood checks in between), and a few more treatments doesn’t seem like a lot, but we promised Arwen we wouldn’t admit her to a vet office anymore.

Arwen’s vet is recommending that for follow-up monitoring, we do chest xrays for Arwen in 4-6 weeks, then every 3 months after that. This is to check to see if the cancer metastasizes to her lungs, which our vet has practically guaranteed us that eventually, it will. We are still undecided on what we will do regarding this follow-up. She won’t have to be admitted for chest xrays so it won’t be so stressful for her, and we also wouldn’t be getting them done at the office she had chemo and her amputation at, so that’s less stressful, too. But if we won’t be doing any further treatments or chemo if the cancer is found in her lungs, is there a point in knowing? We are in 2 different camps, with my husband more not wanting to know, and me wanting to know.  We may compromise and consider chest xrays every 6 months. We’ll have to see.

But we will continue to focus on keeping Arwen as healthy as possible through diet, exercise, and mental health. She will continue getting her immunotherapy supplements from K9 Medicinals, and her daily Phycox glucosamine and fish oil. We may consult a homeopathic vet, but for now we are letting Arwen have a nice break from vet offices (exception: physical therapy).

PHYSICAL THERAPY

Arwen enjoys her physical therapy visits, where she gets lots of treats and we get to stay with her, and we truly feel that these visits have been beneficial to her. She has about one visit a month, but we do exercises with her every day.  Her muscles and core seem stronger since we started doing exercises. But her therapist still wants us to take it easy on long hikes. So we continue to keep walks under a mile for Arwen.

Because Arwen has bowing in her carpal wrist area, her therapist recommends Arwen wear a brace to prevent further bowing in the future. Note: Not all tripawds will need a brace. And a hard brace could hurt a dog if not fitted properly under the supervision of a vet or therapist. Arwen has a soft orange brace, but she recently got a hard black brace that Arwen’s physical therapist special-ordered for her based on her measurements. Both her braces are from Therapaw.

Arwen’s black hard brace is a lot larger than her soft orange one. It looks like a cast to me! I’m still getting used to seeing it on her.

THE FUTURE

We don’t know how long we have with Arwen. The vet told us 9-12 months from diagnosis if we did amputation and chemo, but we sincerely hope we get more than that. However, we have seen heart-breaking stories where the time was much shorter. And we have seen uplifting stories where the time was much longer, even when chemo was not done. We will just continue to live with Arwen knowing that we need to make every single day count. We love her so much, and seeing her happy is our favorite thing in the world.


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2 thoughts on “Arwen Finished Chemo”

  1. WOOOHOO! BIG congrats to you Arwen, you are ROCKIN THE LIFE! I know you and your people are sooo glad chemo is over. Now it’s time to get back to doing what you love most! It’s a joy to see you hopping around and exploring your beautiful countryside.

    You guys have the best attitude. I know I’ve said it before, but each time you share your thoughts about living with cancer, it shows that you aren’t letting it win.

    Keep your girl healthy, light on her feet, strong and injury-free, and that is the greatest gift for the pack. You’ve made such great progress and are soooo smart for consulting with the experts and making sure she enjoys life while still protecting her from injury. You are the model Tripawds parents!

    As for knowing or not knowing with chest x-rays. That’s a tough one. We opted out of knowing. And even though we didn’t do x-rays for 17 months post amputation (only to find out that yes, he had mets, dammit), it’s not like the very idea of lung mets weren’t lurking there in the back of our minds the whole time. You can’t fool yourself into not thinking about it. At least, I couldn’t.

    However, being in blissful ignorance still had its benefits. Jerry could have had mets those entire 17 months, we never knew because he was doing GREAT! If we had known he had mets, we might have been so focused on “the end” that it could have ruined the joy that we found by following his lead and living each day as it comes. So no regrets there.

    Would we do it again and not do x-rays? Probably, but only up to a point. I do like the idea of a six-month compromise. That’s not a long time in the big picture and if it helps both of you cope with the uncertainty of this cancer, then why not do it?

    Just rambling here, fwiw. Meanwhile, love that girl up and know that we are cheering you on from Tripawds HQ! I’m so hoppy for you guys!

    1. I love your rambling! I especially love the perspective of other pet parents who have been through this before. Nick also appreciates your comment, as he likes that you agreed more with him (heh heh). These choices are so hard, but you’re right, it’s most important to find joy in living each day as it comes. I will let you guys know what we decide, and you and Rene (and sweet Wyatt) keep up the good work. We saw the clip from the PBS show on loving animals the other day, and I loved it! You guys are such a good example to all of us.

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