Unearthing creative possibilities: Trish Roque's website, personal blog, & portfolio

Archive for the ‘Heart’ Category

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.


It’s going to be a good day.

Whenever I’m feeling a little off, which seems to be happening more often than I would like lately, I need to just watch this video to get over myself:

I’ve watched this video five times already today. Yes, it’s been one of those days, but you know what, it’s going to be a good day!


Illustration Friday & what happened to my summer?

It’s hard to believe how quickly my summer has flown. It’s been a busy one and needless to say, challenging on several levels ~ for the most part, all the challenges have been growing experiences so I can’t really complain.

On a lighter note, I’ve decided to go on a 30-day drawing marathon per Steve Pavlina style. I keep telling myself that I need to start drawing again and although I’ve started a figure drawing class, I need to just start making marks on paper again.  I’m hoping this marathon will jump-start this habit and that it will stick.

Day 1 is also my very first entry to Illustration Friday’s website.  This week’s theme is Infinite.  And here is my entry:


One of my biggest challenges is my roadblock to drawing from my imagination. I love to draw, but I’ve only drawn from life.  This is the first time that I have made marks on paper, at least since I was 10, without allowing my self-criticism to get the best of me. The criticism is still there but I won’t allow it to stop me from just playing. That’s all this is really. Just playing.


An update on Siwa & her fight against canine melanoma

Siwa was first diagnosed with canine melanoma in early 2008.  I first wrote about her deteriorating health in this blog post, when we took her in to the vet to have her teeth cleaned.  A google search for canine melanoma takes one to several websites that do not leave one with much hope after reading the information. One site states:

Melanoma is the most malignant of all the skin cancers and therefore has the poorest prognosis. If found in the mouth, the prognosis is even more grim. Approximately 25% of dogs diagnosed with oral melanoma will survive for one year; 75% will not survive even this long.

Siwa at 13.5 YO, image taken June 2009

Siwa at 13.5 YO, image taken June 2009

Fortunately, my vet referred me to the Bay Area Veterinary Specialists, where they recommended an experimental (at the time) treatment.  The USDA has apparently given the Canine Melanoma Vaccine a conditional ok.

I’m here to state that for anyone considering this treatmet for their dog with canine melanoma, DO IT!  It is not the cheapest treatment in the world, but neither is radiation and chemo, and those treatments often leave the dog with a not so good quality of life. She was diagnosed in January of 2008. It’s been a year and 6  months and she shows no outward signs of illness from cancer.

Siwa continues to behave like a normal, arthritic, 13.5 year-old dog who continues to love her walks,  her treats,  her naps – life in general.  She continues to hike with me and Sam everyday (though we’ve had to slow down our hikes for her).

Her age is certainly showing – more white in her fur, and her muzzle is practically all silver now. But I would rather she pass away from old age than from cancer.


Holly Jean Philipp, June 4,1972 – May 2, 2008

This video was lovingly put together by Holly’s cousin, Stephen Marsh. It was presented during the Philipp/Marsh/Mixter Family Reunion, where it was received with much love, sadness, and more than a few tears.

Holly is survived by her mother Jacquie & stepfather Ray; brothers Jon, Todd, & Scott; her sister-in-laws Kari and me; her all too-young six-year old son Alex; and the rest of the Philipp/Marsh/Mixter clan who are too many to name but who continue to hold her in their hearts.

In memory of Holly, and in honor of a few female family and friends I know who are cancer survivors, please consider sponsoring me for the 2009 Swim a Mile for Women with Cancer.