Thursday, May 30, 2013

Good News & Bad News

I will start with the slightly bad news first. I had a small sore on my toe which Mummy and Daddy thought was just my knuckles rubbing and me being run down. After about 3 weeks it seemed to heal. Then last weekend, Daddy found a very big sore breaking out on my leg, this was followed by both ears having sores, both eyes.....and then it even spread to Lily. It was crusty so Mummy thought it might be ringworm and started using an antifungal cream.

On Tues I went in to have my chemo as normal and at first the vet thought my sores looked like they were cancerous and that the cancer was at a much later stage than we hoped. But, that did not explain why Lily had two. Even Mummy had one sore on her mouth, others on her face and a rash on her arms. The inside of her mouth was sore and has now started bleeding.

When we went into the vets Tues morning, Lily had one and a half sores and I had about 4, and then by the end of the evening Lily had 5 sores and I had 10 even though we were both on antibiotics and antifungal creams. We are wating for results of skin scrape tests, and its a bit worrying and obviously contagious.

Here are some amusing diagrams Mummy has been drawing. It is the only way she can remember where the sores are and keep a count of whether the patches are getting better or worse.

Now for the Good News....there was less fluid on my chest and on x-ray the vets could see much more clearly in the chest. I still have a mass and still have displacement of my trachea, lungs etc but it looks like that mass has not metastasised (that just means spread out like little satellites) anywhere else.  So whatever is happening with the chemo, my fluidy chest has got better rather than worse. I still have coughing, honking and breathing difficulties and I don't feel like eating. That is partly the chemo though so its not surprising.

So we are waiting for the skin test results to come back....and in the meantime it is scary and hard work for Mummy and Daddy who are bathing, adding lots of cream to us, and then having to supervise us so we do not lick it off again.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

My Treatment

I have had a couple of episodes of being very unwell. A couple of weeks ago I was doing what Mummy and Daddy call 'Cuddle Tennis' where I was a bit too miserable and uncomfortable to lie down and just kept walking from one person to another and cuddling while standing and laying my head in their lap. I did try to have a cuddle with Mummy on the sofa but as soon as I lay down I started honking and straining with a really noisy and horrible distressed type breathing. 

They took me to see my Uncle Lyndon (my only and favourite vet in the World) at Animal Ark, which is the base for my biggest fan club and entourage.  Apparently that veterinary practice was set up for the sole purpose of worshipping me with biccies and attention. It can be a bit tiring keeping up all that ''roo rooing'' and cuddling with my many fans, but I try to share out the attention amongst them all as best I can. I am obviously doing a good job as they have nicknamed me ''Noisy''. I went into the doggie ward immediately to drain fluid and have more x-rays. It was still not easy to see what was going on in x-ray but at least I could breathe again. I had more biopsies and the fluid analysed and it is still is looking like a lymphoma in the chest.

So my carers decided to presume this is a lymphoma type cancer as all the tests indicate that (with a small percentage that it is something else giving those results) and they started my chemotherapy. Nobody wants to open me up at the moment, which is what would probably happen if I was referred to an oncologist, so I went onto a drug called Vincristine. When I came home I was really tired and floppy for a day or two, then a bit sick for a day or two and off my food again, but then back to normal and quite perky. I did have a couple of nosebleeds, which was a bit scary. It seemed to happen if I got excited...especially about going out for a walk.

I have had two treatments now. The second dose was 20% more than the first one, and I did feel more nauseous and grumpy for a day or two but I have perked up a bit now. Whatever happens, I have to keep this lovely food they keep giving me, so I will have to keep looking a bit miserable if I am offered anything less. Lily is driven wild with jealousy when I have my breakfast. She knows I am getting things in my food that she isn't, even though she is shut in another room to have her brekkie. Afterwards she comes and sniffs me all over and then licks my ear vigorously to tell me she is still in charge but we all know that isn't the case any more and I get first pickings from the best of the food going.

This is what I have been eating mainly....Mummy has spent a fortune on this, but I love it.

I will let you know how my next treatment goes, but don't tell Mummy and Daddy about the plan I have for keeping my yummy food.


Friday, May 3, 2013

I Need Sympathy Too.....

All this time Lily has been ill with her claws and immune disorder, I have been growing a mass around the thymus area. Well I had never heard of the Thymus either, but it is a gland that is part of the immune system. I have been very run down for a couple of months, hacking intermittent cough, blood in my wee and gasping for breath and loping along very slowly.I couldn't swallow my food or hard biscuits and started losing weight and looking a bit cancerous. Mummy and Daddy thought I was off my food due to antibiotics, so they changed it, about 4 or 5 times at least, and then thought I was being fussy and demanding human food. I also had gooey stuff in the back of my throat, I was in pain and a couple of times I actually forgot myself and snapped at Mummy as I thought it was whoever happened to be sitting next to me causing the pain. I kept lying there, staring into space and panting hard even when resting and could not get that comfortable a lot of the time.

I finally was well enough after weeks of antibiotics to have a small sedative and x-ray with a needle biopsy on Monday. The news was not that good, it was very cloudy and the heart and lungs were pushed right back in the chest cavity, and the trachea pushed up and wonder I could not breathe properly. That trachea is right up by the spine and displaced. 

Anyway, the cells in the needle biopsy did not give a 100% definitive answer. There were cells dividing, rapidly into 2 and 3 and that indicates a fast developing malignancy, but still cannot be 100% certain without a full tissue biopsy and as I am a little bit more perky on antibiotics, the feeling is to continue antibiotics to see if perhaps all of that mass was just a huge enlargement of the thymus, or could be swollen due to abscess or infection.  Look at how the position of my windpipe drops in the neck ever so slightly on my 2nd x-ray...nearer normal than before...but the end of it is still pushed up with lungs and heart pushed back and out the way...

So for the next 18 days I am on antibiotics and painkillers, then will have another x-ray to see if that is making a difference. If it is not, then I can start chemo to try and shrink the chemo, or if critical open up the chest and take a decent sample for analysis. But I am a senior boy now, so all surgery is risky and its not a nice job. I am too well and bright today to consider that option.

We are going forward as if this is 100% malignancy,but carry a tiny hope that this could be swelling due to infection. All the tell-tale signs of a serious illness are there, but we have to be positive and work towards the tiny window of chance.

Symptoms of Thymus Gland Problems

I had a persistant cough. Hacking and bronchial sounding, with a sort of intermittent sneeze as if trying to move an obstruction or huffing up mucus, but no mucus present.
I had some sticky substance in the throat, either that was fluid from the tumour/mass draining off, or I was producing lots of saliva to make it easier to swallow. It was white (not green), odourless, and stringy and gel like but fairly wet. I was very run down, reluctant to run, gasping for breath with a sort of grimace and lips pulled back at the sides (think of Popeye's mouth) as I was gasping for more oxygen. When I walked, trotted or tried to run, my head was leaning to one side as if stiff. I had blood in my wee, high bilirubin and proteins and on one test high sugar. I was very thirsty all the time but would often choke. I could not eat solid food but could manage soft food.

My Diagnosis

Please note I am not a vet, I am just a greyhound with thymoma related problems and this is what happened to me. Always get advice from your own doctor and get your owner to find out as much as possible about all the possible diseases and causes that give those symptoms.

Thymoma cancer is very rare in dogs, and problems with the gland are not that common. Initially an x-ray will show abnormal placement of lungs and heart and can show a mass in front of the heart and around trachea and neck and there may be a lot of cloudiness in the chest obscuring a clear view. If this is shown then a vet will take a needle biopsy while the dog is sedated and might try to draw off as much fluid as possible. About 3 days later, it is possible in the lab to see which cells are dividing and mutating, and are abnormal and the rate at which they are doing this. A needle biopsy is quite often not enough of a sample to give a 100% definitive answer, but gives an indication of whether it is likely or not to be malignant and may advise on the probability of that type of malignancy. The vet may proceed with a presumptive diagnosis, which is to assume it is the most severe of the possible outcomes and proceed with the treatment as if it is. if the dog is extremely unwell and in distress at the time of the results, then he may go ahead and open up the chest anyway and malignant tissue can be diagnosed and removed. However opening up the chest to do this is quite a serious thing to do, so if the dog appears to be well and responding to antibiotic treatment and painkillers, he may proceed with that to see if the mass reduces when not infected.

My Treatment

Initial treatment is antibiotic and anti-inflammatory drugs until the mass is clearly seen and diagnosed. If a presumptive diagnosis of lymphoma or thymoma is given, some chemotherapy can be given via weekly or fortnightly injections to try and shrink the mass. Even if it is benign, or low malignancy, the mass can obstruct airways and make it difficult to eat and cause pressure and pain as it takes up the chest and neck cavity. As the Thymus gland is necessary for the immune system, anything wrong there can cause a break down in immunity and give illnesses and a run down condition like me. For example, I have had chronic bladder infection and flu like symptoms. It was as if I had suddenly aged overnight and lost all my zest. has been all drama lately in our household, two people unemployed, one off sick, one redundancy recently, one person with two broken metacarpals/broken hand. One person with numbness down left side and completely numb, one dog losing all her claws, one dog with an immune disorder and bleeding paws.