I’m not sure how to start writing this, but here goes.
I mentioned the other day that we were waiting for some test results back for Koda. Perhaps it was naivety or my perception of the vet’s lack of concern, but I wasn’t expecting much to come from the biopsy of two swollen areas on Koda’s neck that the vet aspirated on Tuesday afternoon.
All was normal Wednesday until the early afternoon. I noticed Koda moving more slowly. I tried to give her a treat of grilled chicken and she sniffed it, tried to lick it, then went and laid down. Immediately I knew something was wrong. I woke up the girls from nap, packed us all up in the car and drove to the vet.
Poor Koda was shaking from nerves by the time they got us back to the room. As the vet walked in, holding papers in her hand, she said “we just got the labs back and it’s lymphoma.” Cancer.
Frantically calling David.
David fortunately was able to get there within 30 minutes. We asked everything we could think of and ended up with two options- prednisone, a steroid that would make her feel better, or we could go see an oncologist, but we were told not to give prednisone if we were going to the specialist because it could interfere with the staging of the cancer.
We found the oncologist could see us Friday morning, so we opted for that and all headed for home in tears. It was so difficult getting the girls fed, bathed and in bed. We kept staring and holding Koda and she was seeming to go down hill quickly. She wouldn’t eat or drink water. That night we put her in our bed, held her and cried. Honestly, I didn’t think she’d make it through the night and my heart couldn’t wrap around the idea that this all was happening so fast. Neither David nor I slept that night. We stroked her soft fur and I kept thinking every labored breath would be her last. It was pure torture.
Thursday morning she wouldn’t get out of bed, though her eyes darted around in a lively manor. Prednisone. We just wanted her to feel better. David was at the vet before it opened, and we got a pill in her before 8:00am. That morning I was a wreck. I put Hailey in front of the TV and just lay next to Koda. I’ll admit I was in a very dark, hopeless place filled with anger, guilt and sorrow.
My friend Alise showed up unannounced with lunch around 11am and I feel like I basically collapsed into her. But what I noticed was that Koda had gotten up and followed me. She moved slowly, but went over to her food, ate slowly, but ate it all. She drank some water before laying back down. For the first time in 24 hours, I felt a spark of hope.
We called the oncologist to see if there was anyway they’d still see her even though she’d taken a prednisone. To our surprise, after the way our vet described it, they said of course they would at that a few days of prednisone wouldn’t mess up a thing. I was overjoyed.
By Thursday night Koda was feeling much better. She got her second prednisone and took her usual stance under Kaitlyn’s chair, ready to perform clean up duty.
Friday morning, David, Koda, Kaitlyn and I loaded up and headed to Carolina Vet Specialists in Matthews. My dear friend Alison took Hailey for me all day, and I’m so grateful to have friends that are like family nearby.
Our appointment was at 11:00 and by this time, Koda was Koda again. We saw Dr. Parfitt and I can’t say enough wonderful things about her and our nurse.
We combed through every detail of Koda’s story, then went over our options.
Lymphoma is not curable. That we had accepted. However, we found out that it is often treatable, and with certain treatments we could hope to give Koda 6-18 months of high quality, happy-go-lucky life. The doctor seemed hopeful that Koda was a good candidate for treatment.
Without a question in our minds, we decided to move forward.
Koda got her first treatment yesterday. It was relatively quick and not hard on Koda in the least. We were on our way back home by 3:00.
Koda will continue to get treatments once a week for a while, and we will know within a few weeks how she is taking to them.
As I’m filling friends and family in on this, I’m getting a lot of sympathetic looks. That is understandable, as we were in a place of complete devastation only a couple days ago. But now, now we are in a positive place. We see this as a gift, a second chance to enjoy the world’s most amazing, loyal companion for a little longer and have her feeling SO good during it. We would not selfishly put Koda through anything that would cause her pain, and I can attest that Koda is already feeling better than she has in a long time. Her energy is up, her breathing is normal and she’s being goofy, happy Koda.
So instead of dwelling on what’s to come, we are focusing on peanut butter, belly rubs, planning camping trips, beach trips and family pictures. We plan on spoiling the heck out our sweet Koda-bug for as long as we can, which has a real chance of being a while longer.
So, yes, while there is a deep ache of sadness in me, it is outweighed by the joy of this extra time.
Thank you for caring about our sweet pup and please forgive me, as I am incredibly behind on all emails, messages, blog comments, everything right now, but I know you understand.