Cancer

Cancer – A word everyone dreads to hear. Cancer doesn’t wait for anyone. It doesn’t see the gender or age or human or dog. I was one of the unfortunate ones to hear it. Cancer is a very scary word, and on one forlorn morning, I got a call with Junior’s diagnosis. He was deducted with Mastocytoma, a type of Skin Cancer.

Around 2 months ago, Junior had developed skin infection, where his skin had become flaky and his body was covered in tiny boils. The Vet gave some medicines and vitamin E injection. He told me that there was nothing to worry and Junior will be fine. Junior’s skin started improving but there was a small puss boil between his stomach and behind legs. Earlier it was very small in size, but in no time, it grew bigger and started oozing a little blood.

I immediately showed it to the Vet and he recommended me to get it surgically removed on urgent basis. I did exactly the same and Junior underwent a surgery the next day. The vet sent the lump for biopsy and informed me that the results will take about a week to 10 days to come. He also warned me that it could be cancerous, but most likely a local Cancer as his blood reports were normal and the lump was only on the outer layer of his skin.

I was definitely scared. As Junior was recovering from the surgery, I was slipping into Anxiety. But I kept myself sane by repeating two things that my brother and the vet said. 1) My brother told me to forget about the lump and only remember that his blood reports were absolutely normal, and 2) The Vet told me it was most likely Cancer, but at an early stage or local.

I tried keeping a positive attitude throughout till I received the biopsy results. And then, that unlucky day came where I was getting ready to leave for office and my mobile rang. It was the Vet. He confirmed – it was Cancer. I couldn’t believe what I had heard. I was speechless. It took me sometime to register the news, but then, I cried uncontrollably. But there was a twist. The reports didn’t mention the grade of Cancer. It just told the type of Cancer, so the Vet recommended me to an Oncologist.

I got an appointment with the Oncologist after 4 days. Till that time, I had already started having episodes of Panic Attacks and severe Anxiety. But I had to hold myself together for Junior.

The day of the appointment arrived and I reached the Oncologist’s clinic with Junior. She took an entire history of Junior, checked his reports and did a physical examination. She suggested we send the sample for a second histopath (biopsy) and know exactly what grade it was. Since Junior was active and he was eating and pooping well, she too thought and told me that hopefully it was an early stage, but we could only be sure once the second opinion comes which would take another 8-10 days. She explained to me the further plan of action if the Cancer was grade 3 and above.

Another 8-10 days of waiting. Each day was like living in hell. But I kept myself extremely strong and didn’t entertain any negative thoughts. This was the first time in my life that I was going through a bad time but my mind had remained strong. This time, I didn’t let Anxiety win. I took complete control over my thoughts and kept telling myself, “Whatever the results come, I will do whatever it takes.”

8 days had passed. I called the Oncologist in the morning to know if the results were back. She informed me that they had not arrived yet and she would call me once they come. I had kept myself strong till then and was still being optimistic. The same day in the afternoon I received a call from the Oncologist’s clinic. The receptionist told me that the results had come the doctor would like to talk to me. My heartbeats had started racing till the time I was on hold. Finally, the doctor answered the call and her first sentence was, “its good news.” I was extremely ecstatic. Something like, I didn’t want to hear anything further. The results were a Grade II (low grade) Cancer which was gone as soon as the lump was removed surgically.

My happiness knew no bound. I was crying once again, but happy tears. Tears that I was holding on for so many weeks. The Oncologist advised me to get a regular check up done every 3 months with our vet. Though the chances of reoccurrence of such low grade Cancers are unlikely, but now we have to be vigilant. I informed my Vet about the same. He too relived a sigh of relief.

Today, I am extremely grateful that Junior is fit and fine, and lives every day like an active puppy. Such a fighter! In the past 2 years, Junior has been through so much and each time he wins. My baby has beat Cancer and is Cancer-free at the moment and I pray this dreaded disease doesn’t make a comeback ever.

Life has become very fragile and unpredictable, but I would like to share a personal experience of how I coped with Anxiety this time. If there is something you cannot control, just give in your best and leave the rest in the hands of God. Prayers are very powerful.

Do NOT be a Google Doctor

This is such a common issue these days. Everyone thinks they know everything about their body or symptoms they have by just a simple search on Google. If you Google a symptom, or just any symptoms; you will be inevitably told that you have some grave disease or illness like Cancer or most probably you are getting a heart attack. Symptoms tend to reflect the fact that something is wrong. Assuming that you know what’s wrong with you can delay a much-needed trip to the doctor.

How many times have you been sick and decided to Google your symptoms? I guess – all the time! We all are guilty of this. It’s cheaper than going to the doctor, and obviously, home remedies are always there to our rescue. Let me get this straight. In today’s times, not all home remedies are effective, and trying to study your symptoms on Google is not a clever idea.

Looking for answers about your symptoms on Google is practically a nightmare. A simple headache will be classified as a brain tumor out there. You are basically inviting more trouble. And this is not applicable for only humans; but dogs too (or any pet). Let me share my personal experience for the same.

Whenever Casper fell ill, I was quick to turn up to Google for all my doubts. Instead of giving me relief, my anxiety increased each time. Google results are not reliable. And the Vets have studied and practiced for many years not to be faced by a Google doctor. Every time I would go to the Vet and bombard him with questions which I had searched on Google. Eventually he got tired and told me to not come to him if I felt Google was a better doctor than him. And you know what, I was always wrong, or let me say – Google results were always over exaggerated than the actual problem.

For Junior, I made it a point to never open Google. Sometimes, I do get tempted, but then I immediately keep my phone away. Trust me when I say this, we misdiagnosis ourselves, we freak ourselves out, we delay in getting actual help, some home remedies turn out to be harmful and dangerous, and in turn, our pets suffer.

Doctors spend years in college for a reason. Google is only good when it comes to searching for a good doctor, checking spellings of a medication and reading about general medication which has already been prescribed. Health misinformation is the biggest symptom of our increased anxiety. This can lead to weaken immune system leaving you more vulnerable.

Your habit of Googling your symptom is bad for your health. Getting a professional help at an early stage will prevent grave diseases and also save on a lot of bucks, which you would have spent by misinformation from Google and ended up in an emergency situation.

This will not only save your life, but also your pet’s life. Diagnosing your pet’s symptoms online will give you the same results as of yours. It’s a slippery slope. And our pet’s health will go downhill in no time. Online symptom checkers are almost always wrong, and most of times; even home remedies. There are many harmless and without side effects medical options available, please opt for that as prescribed instead of becoming a doctor at home as well. Times have changed, weather has changed, and our living style has changed. Therefore, many age old home remedies are not effective anymore. However, no one even knows about our pet’s health better than the vets. So NEVER try any home remedies on your dogs. Do not risk their lives just because you think you are an expert after doing some searches on Google.

Becoming a responsible person means being able to consciously make decisions which is for our betterment, as well as for our pets. By taking professional advice from a doctor or a vet will save us a lot of trouble. All the doubts in our heads also gets cleared, we do not increase our anxiety and we give our pets also accurate diagnosis and treatment, which in turns leads to a healthy and long life for all of us. Make yourself and your pets happy, and DO NOT Google your symptoms. Google a good doctor and approach them.

My dog had a surgery

You are sitting on the couch, all cuddled up with your dog, giving him belly rubs, running your hand on his body, and all of a sudden you feel a lump. Within micro-seconds your mind starts running and is fogged with questions. You try to remember if this is new or whether the lump has been there for some time now. You are on your feet by now and start examining his body in search of other lumps.

Your first thought right now is – is it Cancer? You open Google and start looking for answers. Unfortunately, anything and everything on the internet leads to a life threatening disease. We know this very well, but human nature, we still look for answers on the internet. By now, you have reached the highest level of panic. Next morning, the first thing you do is visit the Vet. The Vet runs some tests and asks you to wait for the results. You are on complete panic mode now and desperately waiting for the results.

The results have arrived. All his blood work, CT scan and Fine Needle Test are normal. They are just fat lumps and NOT CANCER. However, they are still called Tumours. All of the above has happened with me twice. Yes, I just narrated my story to you’ll.

Two years ago, I had discovered 5 lumps on Junior’s body. I was in a state of despair and completely paranoid. I had turned into an over thinking mental woman till the results of his tests came. Fortunately, they were only fat lumps. But, there was this one particular lump which was on Junior’s face and had to be surgically removed. The other 4 lumps are still there and don’t need surgery. The one on the face was big and had spread uptil his inner jaw for which we had to even get some of Junior’s teeth removed. The surgery went very well and Junior was absolutely fine after that.

Last year when Junior got Pancreatitis, we noticed a small growth on his eyelid. The Vet prescribed an ointment and hot compression for that area. The growth went away. But in the past few months, the growth was back and bigger. The Vet prescribed the same procedure and asked me to observe. He suggested that if the lump reduces in size by external treatment, then we will not have to opt for surgery. Unfortunately, nothing like that happened and we decided to get it surgically removed. Before that, we again ran some tests to make sure it was not Cancerous. Again, I was in a state of panic till the results came in. The Vet also recommended taking a second opinion before surgery. I did that. Now, we all were waiting for the test results.

Whoola! Cancer Negative. It’s a stye, but with a tumour growth underneath. The surgery is scheduled and now I am anxiously waiting for the day to arrive and Junior to be pain free. This lump on the eyelid was painful. Junior’s eyes were always watering and scratchy. He would even have puss filled discharge sometimes.

The morning of the surgery, my brother and I arrive at the clinic with Junior and they take him in. After 5 minutes, they bring Junior outside and inform me that they have injected Junior and he might throw up. I have to wait till he falls asleep. In 15 minutes, Junior threw up once and then fell asleep. The doctor comes and asks his helpers to take Junior in the operation theatre. I am informed that it is a 10 minutes procedure and I will be called once it is done. Those 10 minutes turned into an hour and I was losing patience. Finally the doctor came out and told me that the surgery went well and Junior was doing fine. I asked her the reason for the delay. She said that first they thought it was a small tumour and they could easily drain it out. But when they opened it up, it had spread all over his eyelid. Had we not got the surgery done, Junior would have lost his eye.

I was so happy that the surgery went well and Junior was gaining consciousness. We were allowed to take Junior home but with precaution. The doctor explained to me the protocol to follow for some days for faster recovery.

As soon as we reached home, Junior started throwing up. Not once, not twice, but Junior threw up 10 times. I immediately called the Vet and she said it is normal as he is still under the influence of aesthesia. However, if he doesn’t stop vomiting after the effects of anaesthesia have gone, then I should take him to my family Vet for saline. But Junior stopped vomiting. Thank God! Once he gained complete consciousness, he drank water and I fed him semi solid food. He slept the whole day and next day he was very weak. His eye had started oozing and stomach growling. I was informed about this by the vet. These were the after effects of the surgery.

It’s been 5 days today since the surgery. Junior is back to his routine, jumping around, going for walks, playing, etc. He is a little slow and I don’t even push him and his eyelid is sore and recovering. All’s well that ends well. There is one advice I would like to give to all the pet parents. DO NOT BE A GOOGLE DOCTOR. Always take advice from the experts and take Google results with a pinch of salt. Get yours dogs checked immediately if you notice an abnormal growth.

I am exhausted at this moment, but it’s all worth it as far as Junior is fit and fine. After all, we pet parents can cross oceans for them to see them healthy and safe.

 

My heart cried, ugly cried 😞

It is so heartbreaking to see the state of strays and specially, when you feel completely helpless.

The NGOs are just name sake. And the very few who genuinely work, cannot reach you on time. Though I have looked after a lot of strays, and sometimes circumstances are inevitable, it is still heartbreaking to see them like this.

I did whatever I could. And will continue looking after them and in my capacity. Rest, I leave it upto God to protect them always.

This was a case of hit and run.

How Casper got Liver Cirrhosis

It is the most heartbreaking thing to see your dog take his last breath on your lap. An arena that can never be forgotten all your life. Even after 5 years of Casper’s death, that field of vision is as fresh as if it was just yesterday.

Casper had liver cirrhosis. But he died due to stroke which was caused on account of all the complications from his primary illness. How Casper got Liver Cirrhosis is something I honestly don’t know. But I am going to narrate the stages of his life that made him cross the rainbow bridge at the age of 5 years 8 months. My purpose for this post is, to save any dog going through this or to begin with, no dog should go through this. And to make the pet parents aware of any hidden illness in their dogs before it is too late.

I distinctly remember, it was the summer of 2011 when we had gone to a farmhouse in Lonavala to get a dog for our farmhouse. We named him Scooby and he was already 9 months old. All his brothers and sisters were adopted when they were puppies, but he was left behind; and we wanted a little bigger dog as it is. The owner of the farmhouse told us that he was going to conduct a summer camp for dogs in some days and invited us to drop Scooby and Casper and enjoy swimming, playing games, running around, etc. for a few days.

Living in a city like Mumbai, the invitation was tempting as Casper would get to run free and have fun for a few days and even socialize with other dogs. We left Casper and Scooby in Lonavala and came back to Mumbai. I had my Law final exams going on, so I thought it was a good idea as I would get time to study and Casper would be enjoying himself. Before my last 2 papers, I had a break of 8 days. So my ex-husband and I thought of visiting Casper.

Casper was a very active dog, and whenever he would see us, he would come running to us all excited. When we reached the farmhouse and got out of the car, Casper was just sitting afar and didn’t move an inch. That very moment we realized something was wrong. The other strange thing was, we didn’t see Scooby anywhere and neither was the farmhouse owner in sight. We picked Casper up and immediately left for Mumbai and took him to the vet. In the meantime, we called the owner and gave him a piece of our mind and enquired about Scooby. That’s when he told us that Scooby had tick fever and he was in the hospital for treatment and he didn’t know why Casper was dull.

On reaching the vet, we narrated the whole story. Since we have friendly relations with the vet, he scolded us for being so reckless and leaving our dogs in a place infested with ticks and fleas (which we didn’t know at that time). The vet ran through some tests and confirmed that even Casper had high grade tick fever and was critical. He told us that he will do everything in his power to treat him, but it was upto the dog to fight from within. Since Casper was a young 1-year-old dog that time, the vet also told us that chances are bright for him to fight this out.

Little did we know, imagining a summer camp to be a fun filled few days would turn into a life and death situation. Day and night we were at the vet with Casper for his treatment, at the same time, we were also constantly in touch with the other vet where Scooby was admitted. In some days Scooby recovered and my ex-husband took him to our farmhouse in Karjat and settled him where he was taken good care of. But even after 4 days of treatment, Casper showed no signs of improvement. Then one day, a miracle happened out of nowhere.  I was home with Casper and he got up on his own and started eating his food which was kept next to him. I shed tears of joy. All these days I had to forcefully feed Casper with a syringe. But that day, he ate on his own. And his recovery began. At last, Casper’s health improved completely.

My vet had told me to continue some tonics and supplements for some months. After about a year of this incident, Casper looked completely normal and we stopped his medicines. This was the biggest mistake of my life. I should have never stopped giving Casper his supplements. Labradors are very active and playful dogs. Most of the time, they don’t show symptoms till the last moment. Casper was always playing and eating like he was never ill. He would throw up once every month, but we assumed each time, that the weather is not good or he over ate or he over played, etc.

Then Casper started developing rashes between all his legs. We ran through some tests and all were normal. So we treated him for allergy or skin infection. Basically, we never got any hint that these were the symptoms of an underlying disease. When I would take Casper and Junior for a walk, after sometime Casper would refuse to walk. But I would still make him finish his exercise quota thinking he has become lazy.

Plainly, Casper did show signs of an underlying disease, but since his blood records were always normal, we always looked at the outer picture and never imagined anything else. One fine day, Casper kept throwing up and we had to put him on drip. That’s when the vet noticed his stomach had water retention. My vet immediately sent him for a Sonography and did advanced blood check. Once again, Casper’s blood reports were normal but his liver walls a little thickened. He took a second opinion and the other vet told him that it was not too serious. This was on the 8th February 2016. Casper’s health started deteriorating quick. He wouldn’t stop vomiting and started shedding a lot. His nose had become dry and cracked. His skin had become dry and stomach had swollen to a size of a ball. But he was still active, playing and eating. Then he started pooping, peeing and vomiting blood. I took him to a third vet on the 12th and fourth vet on 16th February 2016. By then, all the vets finally told me that he relapsed from tick fever and had last stage liver cirrhosis. All told me to put Casper down.

It was only my old and original vet who told me that he will try till Casper’s last breath. Unfortunately, on the treatment table, Casper got a stroke and passed away on the 18th February 2016. It took Casper only 10 days from his initial throwing up to dying. Active all the time. Till date, I do not know how he relapsed so bad. Was it home food that I fed him for some time when I was broke? Was it a result of over breeding from where we bought him when he was a puppy? Was it really a relapse of his tick fever from 4 years ago? Was it because I discontinued his supplements? I still don’t know.

The loss is too huge for me to ever recover from. But I would like to tell all the pet parents, do your dog’s blood tests every year even if he/she are healthy and fine. Do not keep changing their food. If they are suddenly reluctant to walk, get them checked. If they have ever got tick fever and recovered, give them liver supplements always. Do not assume anything. In short, if you feel something is off, then take your dog to the vet immediately. Dogs do not show symptoms often. We as pet parents, play a big role in understanding them. I hope this helps you’ll. I wish good health and love to all and never ever any pet parent should go through the guilt of not being able to save their dog and the dog shouldn’t go through the ordeal that Casper went through where later even the syringes couldn’t go into his body. Take care!