Our Journey with Alfie fighting Canine Lymphoma

*this post, though published, is not finished and will continue to receive updates+edits as Alfie continues to battle Lymphoma. In addition to serving as a personal timeline, documentation and sort-of diary for our journey with Alfie as he fights lymphoma, this post also serves as a resource for those of you whom may be facing this difficult situation. My hopes in documenting and being as transparent as possible in our approach against canine lymphoma is ultimately for hope. Hope and encouragement for you and for your family. You are not alone and though I am no expert nor am I qualified to give any medical advice, my email and inbox is open to you. I’m more than happy to answer any thoughts or questions you may have *

/ last updated 14th October, 2020 at 3:00 p.m.

“How did you know something was wrong? How did you know to take Alfie to see the vet?

I didn’t. That’s the detail I seem to repeatedly gloss over, again and again. I didn’t realize anything was different until one moment when everything went from “absolutely normal and fine” to “nothing is the same.”

Ironic, isn’t it? As the phrase “a new normal” seems to be a repeat description for life in year 2020. Using the phrase “nothing is the same” to describe our experience thus far may seem dramatic but a journey walking alongside Canine Lymphoma means walking a path not dictated nor paved by the usual pulls of life’s excitement but instead more like tip-toeing carefully along a narrow, poorly kept, crumbling walkway.

I didn’t realize anything was “wrong” until one day, during a puppy play date, a friend pointed out Alfie’s appearance.

  • them: “Alfie looks like he dropped some weight?”
  • HC: “You think so?”
  • them: “I think so. Maybe not – I feel like he’s skinnier than what I remember from last time I saw him.”
  • HC: “Hm. I mean, you know him, Alfie’s always been slender and extremely picky. I’ve never had any issues with Ollie when it comes to food but you know Alfie, he has always been picky.”
  • them: “Yeah, you’re right.”
  • HC: “I mean, maybe he seems a little thinner than usual? I don’t know. Maybe not. I’ll keep an eye out.”

A few days later, I was playing with Alfie and as I was petting him, where my hand would usually run over his smooth, soft fur, my hand instead ran over a bump.

The bump.

It was a bump I had never felt before. I ran my hand over the same spot and again, my fingers felt a hard, circular bump. After a quick rub down, we soon discovered a second lump. I stood back and observed my always happy, barely four-year old, big-smiling shadow of a puppy. The previous conversation with my friend noting Alfie’s change in weight + appearance instantly came rushing back to me and for what felt like the first time, noticed his more-slender than usual appearance.

[one evening, mid-way through June 2020] One “after-hours” phone call and a little over 16 hours later, Alfie was having blood work done while Chi and I waited outside in the Veterinary clinic parking lot.

It’s hard to remember the exact words that followed the vet tech’s greeting of “Hi, how are you…” as he began to relay us the results of Alfie’s blood work:

“his lymph nodes are lit up like a christmas tree”

“send the blood work to test for –

cancer.”

concluding with “here are some meds to help with the discomfort until we get his results back and can take further action.”

Four days later, I received a call from the vet tech confirming the presence of cancer found in Alfie’s blood work and that’s where our journey with Canine Lymphoma begins.

You know your puppy best.

I say this because YOU and only you know your puppy best. Whichever treatment route you choose to take for your puppy is your call, your decision. You know your puppy best and I trust that any owner taking initiative to do the research for best options truly has their canine’s best interest at heart. After I broke the news of Alfie’s diagnosis to family and close friends, I then shared the update on social media and also shared our plan for treatment.

This is where I feel the need to publicly thank (waiting for permission to share) for her help in listening to my thoughts, answering my questions, sending resources for education and then also sending resources regarding diet changes. Without your help and encouragement, I wouldn’t have felt so empowered and confident in moving forward with our treatment decision.

We are incredibly fortunate and lucky to have the community we do – we were showered with love, encouragement, sympathy, and kindness from you and the support from the beginning is what makes all the difference.

Did you change his diet? What does he eat?

How did you decide to go with chemotherapy treatments? Have you noticed any side effects?

Extra advice and resources I’ve found helpful:

The Dog Cancer Survival Guide

Love always,

HC

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