Thursday, October 22, 2009

Rocco's Last Chemo

I took Rocco to his last scheduled Chemo session yesterday. He is supposed to come in monthly for check ups to see when the cancer comes back. At that point will have to decide what to do. The Vet at VMS in Campbell says the lymphoma comes back 10-12 months after diagnosis. This would be mid-January to mid-March (3-5 months). I'm a little depressed about this as I had originally thought it was 6-12 months after treatment was finished. Seeing Rocco so healthy now it's hard to believe he has it and I had gotten used to the idea of the cancer being gone. I pushed the reality aside and it came back to me last night and I was very upset. When it comes back you can do Chemo again but there are problems. The drugs have to be stronger for the second time. This is a problem because Rocco had to delay maybe 5 or 6 of his treatments because of low white blood cell counts. For the other ones he was always at the minimum white blood cell count to receive treatment. I don't know if he could handle a stronger regimen of drugs. Also, even with the stronger regimen of drugs the 2nd round of Chemo usually sees the cancer coming back in half the time (on average) of the 1st round. The Chemo was tough the first two-three weeks for Rocco but it was worth it. He really has been living his life pretty normal since then (aside from constant visits to the vet for treatment). When we first diagnosed Rocco it was with our vet in Atlanta and the North Dekalb Veterinary Clinic. Our vet offered to do treatment on this type of cancer (because it was common and he was following a well regarded protocol). This meant our Chemo treatments were $80-$150 each time. Once we left Atlanta for New Jersey and then California we couldn't find a regular Vet to do this and we had to go to specialists. This meant the Chemo treatments were $270-$540 each time. We could afford it and it was a no brainer really. I'm sure there are people though who have to decide between this and rent or a mortgage and can't afford to do it. It bothers me that my Vet in Atlanta could administer the same drugs as the specialists at 1/3 the price. How many people passed over treating their dogs because of the rates of the specialists? I guess I'm getting off the point but when Rocco was first diagnosed I joined a Yahoo group for people who's dogs had cancer. A lot of them couldn't pay for Chemo and resorted to using prednisone to prolong there dogs for a few weeks. Some tried holistic remedies just because they wanted to help there dogs but couldn't afford the most effective treatment. Anyway, back to Rocco. I'm going to buy a Flip video recorder because I don't have much video of him (especially playing with his sister). Hopefully it will be a while before I post on this blog. The next time will be when Rocco is diagnosed with having the cancer return. Best wishes to all......