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

Posts Tagged ‘canine melanoma’

Some facts on canine melanoma

Siwa sleeping again!Needless to say that I’ve been scouring the web for information on canine melanoma. Here’s the important stuff:

  • it is an aggressive form of cancer that typically appears in the mouth
  • dogs that are beyond the initial stages will not survive beyond five months with conventional therapies
  • treatment often includes radiation and surgery
  • the cancer spreads rapidly and is often unresponsive to chemotherapy
  • it can be incredibly painful
  • most common in dogs with dark pigmentation
  • there is a vaccine that has shown promise in clinical studies; published reports have included individuals whose cancer completely disappeared!!

Here are some facts about Siwa, based on the lab results from the vet:

  • though she is 12 and has cancer, her blood work apparently had a healthy dose of all the good things (sorry I’m a little fuzzy on the details)
  • she has a healthy appetite (loss of appetite is a bad sign)
  • she still has control of all her bodily functions (thank goodness!)
  • she can still see, hear, and smell
  • though she has slowed down on the trail, she still exhibits a playful enthusiasm when she hears the word W-A-L-K
  • in short, if it weren’t for the cancer, she would be perfectly healthy

Back to the vaccine. The vet said she is a good candidate for the vaccine, which is administered four times in two-week intervals.

It’s expensive (~$700/shot) but not as expensive as the less successful surgery and radiation (~$5K-$8K), nor is it as uncomfortable. If the tumors grow back after the first two shots, then we know the vaccine is not working and we discontinue with the treatment and just give her painkillers. My biggest concern has always been Siwa’s quality of life. This was the least intrusive, least painful, and least expensive option.

Siwa was with me at the beginning of my journey into adulthood – she put up with a lot from me, including every significant relationship I’ve ever had, five moves (one of which involved crossing several state lines), two cats, and Sammy. It’s the least I can do for her.

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Spoiling my dog…

And enjoying every minute of it!!

Though Siwa has slowed down, she still enjoys being outside – not around the block outside, but in the hills, among the flowers and cow poop outside. See:

Siwa in the flowers

Her front legs were shaved so the vets could run the IV fluids through her after the surgery to remove her tumors, hence the funny looking legs.

Sam & Siwa

It is a challenge walking two dogs who have incompatible needs and energy. That’s why I started the separate walks. However, I don’t always have that kind of time (it’s pretty rare actually!). Fortunately, we live in the Bay Area, where even I can find a secluded field where Sammy can run amok and chase sticks that I throw at him which he doesn’t bring back and instead chews and eats, and little furry animals that are fortunately quicker than him. Siwa just enjoys the scenery.

Here are recent drawings of her. I have to admit, Siwa foreshortened is a tad difficult, especially with her short, bear-like muzzle:

Siwa sleeping

siwa dreaming

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