Dear friends, clients and neighbours,
Many of you have been asking how our big fur baby Tully has been doing. Both Dr. Jason and I (Arnica) thank you so much for your concern. We've been overwhelmed with gratitude for your support and care.
To cut to the chase, Tully was diagnosed with bone cancer on Friday. As our 11 year old girls explain, it's the same disease and leg as Terry Fox had.
When he first lifted his leg and cried out three weeks ago, Jason first thought it was a spinal stroke. But when Tully started to visibly show pain a week after that, we started to get worried. Pain meant it wasn't a neurological problem after all, and we immediately X-rayed his hind leg. We sent the X-rays to a radiologist, to a colleague (thanks to our friend Dr. Marco Veenis,) and ... it was inconclusive. If he had bone cancer, it was so very early that it was impossible for any of us to label.
As a preventative measure, we started Tully on a cancer-staving diet and anti-cancer herbs. We had to wait two difficult weeks before the next X-ray; we needed a diagnosis before we could do any more. We waited, researched our options, and didn't sleep much, meanwhile controlling his increasing pain.
Finally last Friday, we repeated the X-rays. It was very subtle, but it was there... some bubbles on the bone. The radiologist confirmed - super early, but very rapidly growing bone cancer. Even though we knew we were heading down that road, we were devastated.
Bone cancer like Tully's has a terminal diagnosis... and it's fast. Most of the time, untreated patients have only a month or two to live, before the pain gets unbearable. Once you see the bones change, it's also almost always metastasized to the lungs. Speed is of the essence in treating bone cancer and we made some fast decisions. Please understand our decisions are not necessary the best fit for every dog, situation or family. Each situation is different. For Tully, we've chosen an aggressive, optimistic route including curative-intent radiation, chemo, Chinese herbs and acupuncture. We hope this will buy us more, pain-free and joyful time with our darling hairy monster.
Yesterday I hopped in the car and drove 9 hours to Calgary. Tully and I are now at Western Veterinary Specialist and Emergency Centre, where he's getting a CT scan as I write this. We'll go home tomorrow, while the oncologist sets up the computer program. Then next week we'll return to Western so Tully can have curative-intent RapidArc radiation therapy on his leg. After three treatments, we'll head home again and start chemo in Kelowna. Tully is already on Chinese herbal medicine for his bones and immune system, and he'll soon also start a drug for osteoporosis.
We are hopeful for our sweet boy. He has shared his lovely demeanour, calming presence and hip-checking hugs with so many people in his short life so far. With luck and care, we will enjoy many more days of wolfhound bliss together.
Thanks for all your thoughts, prayers and good intentions.
Arnica, Dr. Jason and Tully