11/10/2006   11/24/2006   12/1/2006 In Memoriam

I know, it's been a very long time since I've sent any email out to this distribution list. Most of you have been "in the loop" anyway, and of course no news is good news. We just haven't had much to relay in the way of news.

However, last week that all changed. Harvey's appetite has been gradually diminishing, to the point where we now have to hand-feed him in order to get him to eat most of the time. Blood tests revealed last week that his hypercalcemia is back, and so over the past week we've been doing additional tests. We are still waiting to hear back on a blood test send out last week that is specific to a cancer-caused protein that mimics the hormone that controls calcium levels in the blood, but we already have the results from a fine-needle aspirate taken yesterday.

That FNA was drawn from a slightly enlarged lymph node on the left side of Harvey's neck, and it came back positive for malignant cells. It appears that Harvey's lymphoma is back.

The bad news: this is only treatable with chemotherapy.

The good news:

As you can see, there's only a little bit of bad news, and plenty of good news. :) Obviously, we would prefer that Harvey was just fine. We also have the complication that he's older now, and there are other things that might interfere with a good life over the next couple of years (arthritis being the big issue). But we are optimistic, and it seems that for a dog with lymphoma, Harvey's case is about as good as one could hope for. :)

So, what's next? We have an appointment at the oncologist today for Harvey's first chemo treatment. At this point, it appears we will be using the same protocols we used previously (COPA and a modified VOPP, if I recall correctly). Usually, there is a concern about drug resistance, which generally suggests slightly different drugs should be used. However, since the remission was so very long (reducing the chances of drug resistance) and since the remission was so very long (suggesting the protocols used before were very effective), it's likely we'll be sticking closely to the original protocol.

One exception to this may be the adriamycin (aka doxorubicin). That drug has a potential negative effect on the heart, and there is a general concept of a "lifetime maximum cumulative dose". Harvey has not reached that maximum (and because of the reduced dosages used during the first chemo series, isn't even close), but even so Harvey will be having his heart checked out before we use that drug. If there appears to be any sort of problem at all, obviously that drug will be eliminated from the protocol. I don't know at this time whether a substitute will be used or not in that case.

While we are optimistic and feel we're doing what's best for Harvey, your thoughts and prayers are always appreciated. Harvey's always had lots of friends, and it's nice to know during times like these that those friends are rooting for him. :) Thank you for your interest, and I hope to be able to provide reasonably regular updates on his condition, always with the best of news. :)


p.s. This email is being sent to the same distribution list I put together during Harvey's previous experience with chemotherapy. I've added a handful of addresses, people we've met since then who I think may have an interest in these email messages. I doubt that I've offended anyone by sending the email, but I do recognize that it's not necessarily true that every single person feels the need to be kept "in the loop". If you'd prefer that I remove your email address from my distribution list, please feel free to ask me and I will do so, no questions asked and no hard feelings.