Pogo's body has ceased responding to the current chemo protocol. Her lips have swollen up a bit again, and there are new lumps appearing on her body. The two ulcerated skin tumours are now the size of hockey pucks. It isn't pretty, altho she is still, and always will be, my Beauty Grrrl.
Our vet consulted with several oncologists, and we are starting a new protocol tomorrow at 3pm. We now suspect that the lymphoma is of the T-cell variety, which is resistant to the Wisconsin-Madison protocol. The new treatment involves the administration of Lomustine CCNU tablets (which we can administer ourselves) along with L-spar injections. It is a 5-cycle regimen with 3 weeks between each treatment, and the studies indicated that it has an 83% success rate with T-cell lymphoma. I think this new protocol will bring us all a bit of relief - not only time-wise, but emotionally, and financially as well. The L-spar is pretty expensive, but it is only administered the first 2 cycles, after that is it optional (no studies support it being needed more frequently than the first two sessions) and the CCNU is only $20 per tablet. Pogo's best response to the chemo treatment came with the L-spar, so we are hopeful that the lymphoma will respond just as well again. As always, there could be complications and/or reactions, but she weathered the L-spar easily the last time she had it, and hopefully the CCNU won't be too taxing on her system, either. We could have run more diagnostics which would have positively identified the cell structure of the skin tumours, but at this point, both Tyler and I felt that it doesn't really matter, and that the funds are better alotted towards treatment. These have been tough decisions, and tears have been shed over them, but with the guidance of our veterinary team, we feel we have made an informed and proper choice.
When I got into bed at dawn the first night at Mountain Jam, I was overwhelmed with emotion for Pogo's situation. Much of the weekend - what with it's songs, music, and themes on the joys of life and nature - brought about emotions regarding Pogo to the surface for both Tyler and I on numerous occasions. It was hard, but a little bit cleansing, too. I decided I needed to consciously start drinking in all the goodness that she is still here sharing space with us, rather than getting so upset about the inevitable. The inevitable is inevitable, with or without the cancer. I need to remain present, and enjoy the time that we still have.
So on this morning's walk, with Pogo bouncing along so happily, still loving life to the fullest, happy, energetic, and engaged, smiling in her fashion, and so thrilled to be out walking with me, I broke into the biggest smile. Whether or not she is aware of what is going on, (she's aware that she has lumps and bumps - she licks at them) she hasn't stopped getting enjoyment out of every moment she has, whether it's lounging in the sun, barking at the hikers crossing our property, chasing chippies, going out for our morning and evening constitutionals, or snuggling up for a cuddle. She loves it, is thankful for it, and fully in the moment of it all, so I am going to take my lead from her courage and bliss, and try my best to turn my back on the sorrow that will come regardless of how it all falls down. None of us lasts forever, but all of us have the opportunity to make the most of every minute that we are so blessed to share and experience.
It brings to mind the often-quoted saying "everything important in life I learned from my dog"
- this may very well be the biggest and most important of all those lessons.