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Another Siwa update on her fight against canine melanoma

Siwas face became asymmetrical from the tumor that grew very quickly within a matter of days.

Siwa's face became asymmetrical from the tumor that grew very quickly within a matter of days.

A couple of weeks after my June post on Siwa’s progress, I noticed a lump in her mouth that grew very quickly ~ within a week, the lump had grown from marble size to a lump so large that it gave her face an asymmetrical look.  I already had a pre-scheduled visit to the vet which I immediately re-scheduled to be sooner than later.

The news was not good.  She was no longer responding to the vaccine that she had been on since January 2008.  My choices were now radiation which would require a visit every 2-3 weeks at a cost that was prohibitive to me, or chemo and antibiotics, which seemed less invasive and less stressful to Siwa, not to mention kinder to my wallet.

I took into consideration Siwa’s age, which at 13 1/2 is not young for a dog her size.  She is a golden retriever/chow mix weighing about 65 lbs. I did not want to put her under any stress nor diminish the quality of the days she had left.

It’s now been 3 months of chemo, taken in pill form once a day.  The drug is Leukaren and although this will not make the tumor disappear, it will slow down the growth of the tumor. I was actually amazed as to how quickly the lump decreased after the first few days on chemo. Her asymmetrical face returned to normal within days of being on Leukaren.

Siwas tumor has grown to the point of bulging out of her mouth when shes breathing.

Siwa's tumor has grown to the point of bulging out of her mouth when she's breathing.

Jump to today.  Siwa and I take life day by day. I watch her closely monitoring her breathing to see if she is having difficulties. I make her homemade dog food consisting of boiled chicken, rice, peas & carrots, and cottage cheese. It’s a mixture that she can slurp and swallow without having to chew too much.  This keeps her from accidentally biting down on her tumor causing her to bleed and get infections.  She is also on antibiotics 2x/day to keep the infections down, and Rimadyl 2x/day for her arthritis.  And of course, chemo once a day.

I have to admit I’ve been lately concerned that her tumor has grown so large that she is no longer comfortable. She is such a happy go lucky dog that even her tail wags at the vet so sometimes this indicator is not the best gauge for quality of life. She did not want to go outside this morning but she happily ate her food.

I know I will have to face a very tough day at some point but it won’t be today. She and I will go for a nice walk, stopping many times to smell the roses (or the bush or the rock or the tree). Her eyes will brighten and her tail will wag and she will want to play with another hiking dog who will be way more active and playful than she.

She will remind me that all the stress, all the noise, all the little things in life that I tend to worry about are not worth the wasted energy. She will say to me with her big beautiful brown eyes that life is too short. Enjoy it. Every minute of it.

Siwa and I on a recent moon-filled walk in the Oakland hills.

Siwa and me on a recent moon-filled walk in the Oakland hills.


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One Response to “Another Siwa update on her fight against canine melanoma”

  1. Andrei says:

    Hello Trish,
    I have a 10 year old dog that recently got diagnosed with canine melanoma. since i’m living in Romania there is little information about treatment options, and i think vets do not really care, they just label your dog as terminally ill and wait for you to ask them to put him to sleep…
    As i understand you used the new melanoma vaccine on Siwa. My question would be – first if you feel that it helped your dog in her battle with this disease, and second if you can explain a little how you got the vaccine. I have several friends in USA who would help me get that vaccine, but i have to explain them exactly how and where – since most do not even have a pet…

    Thanks and my deepest sympathies on your loss .