Churchill had his appointment with the veterinary oncologist today. He is not doing well, as it seems the steroids' effects, which had been keeping the tumors a little controlled and had improved the texture and appearance of the skin, have been overcome by the rapaciousness of this very fast-growing cancer. The oncologist repeated what has come to make us feel a little crazy--that if it had been caught in time, the cancer might have been put in remission. However, we are dealing with a different outcome, and we are going to do our best to handle it with wisdom and compassion. One of our Texas volunteers took Churchill in for the foster family, who had to work today. Here is the note she sent us:
"I took Churchill to the oncologist this morning. The overall prognosis is not good, but there is some hope. The doc cited a couple of recent studies on oral chemotherapy that have a 78-83% chance of having at least some improvement. The bad news is that the average time that the positive results continue is about 3 months.
I am going to drop him off tomorrow morning for his first round of chemo, and we'll see what happens. They will run bloodwork tomorrow and then in 7 and 14 days follow-up bloodwork will be done at his regular vet to measure his white cell count, etc. This will allow them to adjust any future doses of chemo, if they are advisable. If there is no improvement, his white cell count tanks, or he gets worse, then we are not left with many options. If the chemo is successful, he could have
several months of reasonably happy life without undue suffering." [Note: Side effects could include nausea, diarrhea, lethargy. If it worked, the chemo would slow the tumors' growth, allow the tumors to heal over and the skin's appearance to improve, much as the steroid treatment worked.--FP]
"[When Churchill's foster mom met] me yesterday, a lady stopped her car almost immediately and jumped out--Churchill's mom and I looked at each other and thought we were about to get yelled at by this lady...at the very least. Instead, she told us that she had 2 frenchies at home herself and when told Church's story was very sweet. After she got back in her car, her young daughter ran over to us and said "This is from my mom!" and handed us a $5 bill and thanked us for helping him. This little guy touches people where ever he goes. :)
Church is a sweet dog. He was a champ for his exam and was very affectionate with the doctor and nurse.
Poor baby. We're going to give him a chance for as long as it is fair to him to do so."
FBRN's Board of Directors will be getting a more detailed and clinical report from the oncologist and a status report from Churchill's foster mom. We know his tumors are growing, that his skin is continuing to crack and ooze where the tumors are growing, and that it is too late to try any kind of surgery or radiation therapy for Churchill. On the other hand, his pain is under good control, he is cheerful and affectionate, and he is having fun getting out and about to the vet's and riding in the car and playing with the dogs and the children in his foster home. We trust the Board will discuss at length what is best for Churchill and how to make his remaining time as comfortable and happy as it can possibly be. Thanks to our donors and supporters, lack of money will not play any role in the decision, and we thank you sincerely for that freedom.
We'll continue to post updates as we get them. Thank you for keeping Churchill in your thoughts.
The Frog Princess