Happy re-birthday, Missy

Two years today post-diagnosis with hemangiosarcoma and still going strong. Hiking, running agility, eating (too much), playing with Squeaky Bird. You are an awesome spleenless survivor, little Missy!

Chica Missy Tip-Top Cabin Horatio Colony Preserve

Chica and Missy at Tip Top Cabin at the Horatio Colony Preserve in Keene, NH

New drug may improve HSA survival rates

“A breakthrough trial at the University of Minnesota testing a new UMN-developed drug resulted in improved survival rates for dogs diagnosed with a cancer called hemangiosarcoma (HSA)…This is likely the most significant advance in the treatment of canine HSA in the last three decades,” said study co-author Jaime Modiano, V.M.D., Ph.D. professor in the University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine and member of the Masonic Cancer Center, University of Minnesota.”

Drug developed at University of Minnesota increases survival in dogs with cancer

Almost two years with hemangio

Missy’s not just still with us — she’s so alive! She competed in an agility trial with me on New Year’s, hikes for an hour or two with us on weekends, and is so playful and happy.

In two months, it’ll be two years since diagnosis. This dog is a life force to be reckoned with!

Now really, is this not the most adorable little face in the world?

missy-carwindow

20 months and counting

We’re celebrating Missy’s 20-month survival this week. Yesterday she hiked a mountain with me. On the weekend she ran agility courses. On Thanksgiving she and Chica hiked all the way around Goose Pond with us.

Missy and Chica at Goose Pond, November 2016

Missy and Chica at Goose Pond, November 2016

People ask us all the time why we think she’s still alive. We don’t know.

Did the pathologist get it wrong and she never had hemangiosarcoma? Possible, I suppose, but the path report reads pretty definitively. Is it the daily doses of I’m-Yunity? The chemo she had right after diagnosis? The post-chemo metronomic therapy? The low fat, high protein homemade cancer diet food I’ve been making since she was diagnosed? Blind luck?

We’ll never know. But we sure are going to keep doing what we’re doing.

Post-chemo treatment plan

2016-05-26-06-20-11Because of this blog, I’ve been contacted regularly by other hemangio dog owners, and often find myself re-typing what we’re doing to support Missy post-chemo. So I thought I’d post it here and keep it updated:

Medications

  • Two daily doses of I’m-Yunity since diagnosis in 2015.
  • One daily dose of meloxidyl, an anti-inflammatory, as a type of post-chemo metronomic therapy.
  • Daily multi-vitamin
  • We keep Yunnan Baiyao, a chinese medicine known for its clotting properties, in the house and in each of our cars at all times. If we think she is having an internal bleed, we would give her a dose to try to buy some time to get her to the emergency vet. We do not give her a daily dose, since she’s getting the I’m-Yunity.

Diet

I make all of Missy’s food, keeping her on a lowfat, high-protein diet, per our vet’s recommendations. I loosely follow the diet outlined in the Dog Cancer Survival Guide, making meatloaf using organic locally sourced ingredients whenever possible (in the summer most of the veggies come from my garden).

In the meatloaf I don’t use veggies that are high-carb because of the sugars, so she only gets broccoli, spinach, etc. I switch out the meat each week to keep it interesting and don’t add any supplemental stuff other than what our vet recommends in a multivitamin to make sure she’s getting all the calcium, trace minerals, etc that she needs.

I do occasionally give her sardines and sardine oil. And she gets lowfat cottage cheese or lowfat yogurt every day with her meal, and an occasional dollop of pumpkin if I think her digestive tract needs some support. I make her dog biscuits, too.

She attacks each meal with such excitement — she loves her food!

Vet checks

For a year we did weekly weigh-ins, since weight loss can be an early sign that something’s amiss. We now do them monthly, since her weight pretty much stays within a few ounces. Our vet suggested we keep an extra pound on her (she should be a 15-lb dog and now she’s 16+ lbs) but she’s done so well for so long, I’m thinking of bringing her down to her normal weight. She’s 9 now and has a little arthritis and I’m concerned the extra weight makes things just a tiny bit harder for her.

We x-ray her every 3-4 months. X-rays won’t tell us everything, but they give our vet a glimpse into the heart (hemangio loves the heart) and gives us a sense of whether any organs look enlarged or pushed aside by a mass, another bad sign. I think we may have the x-rays done less frequently now.

Life

Missy still gets tired more easily than she did before the cancer, but she’s pretty active and vibrant. She runs agility with me several times a week, hikes with us, and gets long daily walks. She loves going on car rides when I run errands and it’s not too hot or cold to have her in the car. She’s been allowed to sleep with us since she was diagnosed and our other dog is quite jealous about that.

We make sure she gets lots of love and fun every single day, since we know that day could be the last.