(In his story below I have tried to keep things simple, yet clear, understanding there are many variables and nuances with cancer and medicine - but I don't want to bog down this narrative with all the what "ifs and possibilities" - however if you have any questions at all just email me.)
Starting in June 2018, we did numerous tests to determine why Doyle had elevated liver enzymes. After being on a waiting list for quite sometime, we finally saw an internal medicine specialist in January. During this visit we learned that Doyle has a mass in his liver and in his bladder. The mass in his bladder is thought to be transitional cell carcinoma, or TCC, and the mass in his liver is undetermined. We then saw an oncologist who performed more tests. We were given three options:
1. Surgery and chemo to remove the masses, but that would risk spreading the cancer to other parts of the body, or 2. Chemotherapy to try to stop the growth of the cancers, or 3. Do nothing
I went through a wide range of emotions upon receiving this news. At first I thought I would do nothing, as I did not want to put him through surgery or to have him sick from chemotherapy. However, after speaking with the oncologist and my own veterinarian and getting a lot of questions answered, I have decided to proceed with option 2 - chemotherapy to slow or stop the growth of the tumors.
The oncologist told me his liver is functioning well and can handle the chemo drugs, and that it is most likely that he will not live long enough to reach a point where his liver could not handle the chemo. She also told me that the chemo would not be detrimental to his fistula, and that it could actually help it. She also told me that dogs do not get as sick as humans from chemo and it is possible he can feel pretty good during treatment.
The surgery is risky because cutting into the tumor could seed it and it could spread to other parts of the body. It would also remove a large portion of his liver. And it very expensive ($5,000 - $7,000) and would have to be followed by chemotherapy, basically doubling the cost. I did not want to put him through a major surgery with these risks and with cost is so high.
The oncologist said that if we are able to stop the growth of the tumor with chemotherapy he could live another year!
I have never denied my dog what he needs due to cost. However, I am facing the reality that I have reached my limit and I am struggling with many conflicting emotions about this. I do not like to or want to ask for help, but I simply cannot afford this treatment - but don't feel right doing nothing.
It currently costs $264 a month for Doyle's medications, his liver supplements and his special diet. The cost for all his tests and specialists to get to the cancer diagnosis and treatment plan was $3,179.29. (I can provide copies of all the bills.)
The chemotherapy treatment is $600 every 3 weeks - and he has to have it "for the rest of his life" which could be a year. He also needs periodic blood tests and ultrasounds to check his progress, which is about $700 - $800. (I can provide copies of all the bills.)
I set up this "More Days For Doyle" Fundraiser to try to raise money to help pay for his chemo in the hopes that he can be with us as long as he possibly can with a good quality of life. We will be concurrently seeing our holistic veterinarian, Dr. Gundersen, to do whatever we can naturally to support his immune system and fight the cancer.
His first treatment was Friday February 22, 2019 and we will continue as long as he we can afford to and as long as he can tolerate it and that we have evidence that it is working. So far he is doing extremely well. The first several months he got chemo every three weeks, then we did an ultrasound and the great news was that his tumors did not grow at all, they were exactly the same size. We then went to chemo every four weeks for a few months, did another ultrasound and great news again, the tumors are still the same size as they were in February! He is now going to start getting it every six weeks. We each have a "More Days for Doyle" Tshirt that we wear to every chemo appointment, and people always get a kick out of it. They are for sale as fundraiser t-shirts, so you can get one too!
We are taking things one day at a time and we are so amazed and inspired at how well he is doing and how despite all he has going on he still manages to be a happy, playful little stinker.
Right now Doyle does not act sick. He is still the same old "Doyle!" He is happy, he is playful, he has a good appetite, he goes for walks, he chews his bones, he plays with his brother, he gives kisses and cuddles and snuggles. He is a rock to Bruno, he is my little baby Doyle, and he means so much to our family.
When I first started volunteering with Out of the Pits, Doyle was taken from a home where he was kept in a basement, tied to a boiler. He was only 6 months old. There were no available foster homes so he was boarded at a kennel. I used to visit him weekly to walk him and take him to adoption clinics. I instantly fell in love. The poor puppy was getting no training in the kennel and absolutely HATED being there. He would literally scream when I brought him back. So, I started taking him home on weekends. Weekends turned into long weekends, which eventually turned into full time fostering, which ended in the best kind of failure - ADOPTION. He was a perfect fit with our other dogs and he needed someone to be patient with him and give him the boundaries and discipline he needed. My favorite memory of him as a puppy is that to get attention he would pull books off the shelf and run around the house with them so I would chase him. All of my books have teeth marks in the corners. Most of my tupperware lids do too, as he is a terrible counter surfer.
Eventually he learned the rules and matured. Although he will never, ever lose his mischievous side, he is a very good dog. Everyone who meets him instantly falls in love. You cannot NOT love Doyle!
If there is anything you can do to help us I would be deeply and forever grateful. Please keep him in your prayers. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you!