Lily’s Cancer Journey | A Year in Review & FAQs

August 19, 2020

australian shepher poses with a sign that says one year post lymphoma diagnosis jessica shaw photography

On Sunday August 23rd 2020, it will be one year since Lily was diagnosed with Lymphoma. A lot has happened in the last year. For a full detailed account of Lily’s treatment you can check out: Lily’s Last Day of Chemotherapy Treatments. In this blog, I am going to share some things that have changed over the last year including after treatment, and some FAQs I get asked. If you have any other questions that aren’t covered here feel free to leave a comment or email me and I will do my best to answer.

australian shepher poses with a sign that says one year post lymphoma diagnosis jessica shaw photography

It has been quite a whirlwind in the past year with Lily’s health and with all of the things everyone is dealing with in 2020. Everything started in August 2019 for Lily and I when she was diagnosed with Lymphoma. We had no idea what we had in our future but she is a strong pup and has made it this far. I couldn’t be prouder of her resilience or more inspired.

This past year has really enforced what I already knew which is, dogs are just amazing creatures. Lily is so naturally happy, loving, and full of life. Even cancer couldn’t bring her spirits down. Lily LOVES going to the vet. She gets a ton of attention, and usually can get quite a bit of treats out of the deal. I think it is the eyebrows and her big brown eyes. So going to the doggy oncologist multiple times a month wasn’t a big deal to her. I am so thankful for that.

Before cancer when I left my house, I would play the tv for Lily. It would usually be on TNT or something that had shows I somewhat regularly watched. During cancer, I decided to try something new and played her piano music on her Alexa. Yes, I call it her Alexa because she uses it more than I do. I have read research in the past that suggested that classical music is good for helping dogs relax. I still do this now as it does seem to help her with any separation anxiety as well. It also masks the sounds from outside so she doesn’t bark at the neighbors.

So in the last year a lot has changed but a lot hasn’t as well. I have tried to keep her routine relatively the same and I’ve added a few enriching activities including the music change, a daily longer walk, and much more kisses(which I didn’t think was possible.) As of right now, a year post diagnosis, I feel hopeful. I know the odds are against her for keeping this lymphoma away long term but she is strong, healthy otherwise, and just has the spirit of a fighter.

FAQs

australian shepherd sits and looks at the camera jessica shaw photography

What were the symptoms that led to Lily’s Diagnosis

I go more in depth about this in my Lily’s Last Day of Chemotherapy Treatments blog but, basically she was drinking and peeing excessively to the point where she had an accident on the couch next to me in her sleep. Lymphoma can cause high calcium levels and because of this the bodies natural way of getting rid of the excess calcium is to flush it out. Lily’s body signaled her to drink more which in turn had her peeing about every hour. This was my first clue something was wrong as she didn’t present with a tumor you could feel or see from the outside.

Any tips for owners going through this with their loved ones?

My biggest tip is breathe. Take a breath, it can get very overwhelming. Remember to ask every question you want, don’t hold back. The doctors are there to help you make the best decisions for your pet. Do research and inform yourself but don’t get too bogged down in everyone’s experiences. Your pet’s situation is unique, every single pet has a different experience. There are statistics but there are exceptions. I would also recommend looking into holistic options to do alongside of other treatments. If you’re worried about how it will effect treatment, ask your vet.

Was chemotherapy treatment rough for you and/or Lily?

Of course it was rough for me. One of the hardest things to do is to watch someone you care about go through something so scary. For her, she was sick a handful of times but other than that she didn’t even seem to notice anything was different. It was remarkable to watch and so inspiring. I know dogs can hide pain well but I swear you wouldn’t have known she was sick except for the shaven part of her leg.

How has her energy been affected?

As I said above, every dog is different but for Lily, her energy wasn’t affected at all. Well, The day after each treatment I noticed she took a few more naps and was slightly lethargic but if you mentioned a walk or a snack she had the energy of a 1 year old puppy. Other than the cancer she was in tip top shape when she started chemo. She was just under 4 when she started and in her prime so she didn’t have other ailments on top of poison being put into her body every week. So overall I would say her energy stayed fairly consistent throughout treatment and now after, if it’s possible, I think she has more.

Is Lily in remission?

Lily is in remission. Remission varies between each dog. There is no way of knowing when the Lymphoma will come back but we were told that it isn’t a matter of if, it is a matter of when. So we are soaking up all the good times and getting regular check ups every 7 weeks to check for recurrence.

How is Lily doing overall now?

Lily is doing amazing. We just had her last check up last Wednesday August 12th and got the all clear. They check her every 7 weeks for external signs of lymph node tumors and also x-ray her chest to check in the spot where the tumor was first formed. It is likely that the chest is where it will reoccur so we check that every time. Other than that, Lily is a normal happy, hyper, Australian Shepherd with more energy than she or I know what to do with.

 

Live, love, and pet all the dogs!

Love,

Jess & Lily

Girl standing in a field holding up an Australian shepherd in her arms

 

 

 

 

 

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