When Rigby’s regular vet told us that Rigby had Type-B Leukemia and that her “numbers were high,” my heart sank. I was terrified that the whole thing would play out in one of two ways: One, we hadn’t caught the cancer in time and it was too late to treat; or two, Rigby’s age made the vet think treating the cancer wasn’t worth it. Luckily, neither scenario is true.
On Friday, we met with a veterinary oncologist. When he came into the exam room, he started talking about the different kinds of canine cancer, and how they are treated. The whole time he spoke, I thought to myself, “JUST TELL ME IF RIGBY’S IS TREATABLE!” I wasn’t hearing anything the doctor said without that information. After asking me some questions and examining Rigby, the oncologist said, “Well, based on her tests and how happy she seems to be, I definitely think we should treat this.”
Rigby’s leukemia appears to be slow-moving, meaning it should respond well to treatment. When the oncologist said that, I felt a huge weight lift. I’d spent so much time preparing myself for bad news that I’d stopped hoping for good.
To start, Rigby is taking a steroid and a chemo pill. The steroid is a full dose now, but slowly tapers off until it’s gone. The chemo is pretty hardcore. The prescription has to be refrigerated at all times, and the people giving Rigby the pill have to wear gloves…because getting a dog to swallow a pill is already so easy, now we get to do it with latex on our hands! She’ll be on the chemo pill for the rest of her life.
She still has to have a chest x-ray and abdominal ultrasound to make sure the cancer hasn’t spread to any internal organs, but based on her test results the oncologist thinks that is very unlikely.
I know Rigby is old now – Friday also happened to be her 11th birthday – so I have accepted that my days with her are limited. But I am just so relieved to know that those days might not be as limited as we’d feared. This pup is so important to us, and we aren’t ready to say goodbye to her yet.
Hopefully, it will be a long time before we have to.