As I said yesterday I am a research machine right now.  I found this website late last night and it is a wealth of information regarding the specific chemo drugs used in all cancer treatments, their side effects and most impressively… how they work.

Chemo Care

I looked up every drug Cody has ever taken, they are all on there… and was amazed at the severity of them, and most of all the side effects in humans. These are things that I would never see in him being a dog who can not tell me his bones hurt, or his injection site is sore. Each and every drug in the Wisconsin Protocol cycle attacks something different whether it is rapid cell division or cell dormancy or an imperative portion of the cell needed for division. Basically chemo kills ALL cells:

“Cancerous tumors are characterized by cell division, which is no longer controlled as it is in normal tissue.   “Normal” cells stop dividing when they come into contact with like cells, a mechanism known as contact inhibition.  Cancerous cells lose this ability.  Cancer cells no longer have the normal checks and balances in place that control and limit cell division.  The process of cell division, whether normal or cancerous cells, is through the cell cycle.  The cell cycle goes from the resting phase, through active growing phases, and then to mitosis (division).

The ability of chemotherapy to kill cancer cells depends on its ability to halt cell division.  Usually, the drugs work by damaging the RNA or DNA that tells the cell how to copy itself in division.  If the cells are unable to divide, they die.  The faster the cells are dividing, the more likely it is that chemotherapy will kill the cells, causing the tumor to shrink.  They also induce cell suicide (self-death or apoptosis).

Chemotherapy drugs that affect cells only when they are dividing are called cell-cycle specific.  Chemotherapy drugs that affect cells when they are at rest are called cell-cycle non-specific.  The scheduling of chemotherapy is set based on the type of cells, rate at which they divide, and the time at which a given drug is likely to be effective.  This is why chemotherapy is typically given in cycles.

Chemotherapy is most effective at killing cells that are rapidly dividing.  Unfortunately, chemotherapy does not know the difference between the cancerous cells and the normal cells. The “normal” cells will grow back and be healthy but in the meantime, side effects occur.  The “normal” cells most commonly affected by chemotherapy are the blood cells, the cells in the mouth, stomach and bowel, and the hair follicles; resulting in low blood counts, mouth sores, nausea, diarrhea, and/or hair loss.  Different drugs may affect different parts of the body.”

Of course I knew this… but this is the first website that explained it it layman’s terms where it was clear how they come up with a chemo cycle treatment plan. Most amazing beside finding out that the evil Vincristine actually does cause temporary brain damage which sheds a different light on his incident in the pool (even though I suspected as much), was Leukeran.

Leukeran is a  MUSTARD GAS derivative. Holy shit! I am giving my dog Mustard Gas on a regular basis. No wonder I am not supposed to touch it. In a human regimen the dose for Leukeran is ONCE and the same side effects like time frame when he is most low and susceptible to infection stand just like any other drug he has taken ONCE. But he was on it regularly- every other day for months! Again another reason it will never be given to him again. I wish I had found this sooner. No wonder he looks like Hell… directly by my hand and lack of research….

What’s done is done and I can only move forward. Rather than beat myself up over it we are making strides towards healing. No more Leukeran, no running right now… just rest and good healthy food and lots of love. Dr Butzer is a VERY busy guy and very much in demand. I can not get an actual appointment but I have the day off on Monday and will walk in with Cody then and wait for him. In the meantime I left a message for him to research alternatives to the Doxyrubicin as I think that it way too strong for Cody at this point. Based especially on the last round that clearly knocked him down. That is why I was researching drugs last night as well, so that Butzer and I can speak knowledgeably together regarding this.

And last night I also researched something that has been plaguing me for months… cremation.

As I sat there looking at him yesterday afternoon laying next to me with his head on my lap, I thought about the horror stories I have read about animals being destroyed and then piled up in cold storage to be cremated en masse. This will never happen to my boy. I considered burying him in my back yard here since this has been the only home he has ever known. As I have said prior if it comes down to him passing by my hand (I am hoping he saves me from this and goes in his sleep one night) then I want it to happen at home. I need to ask Butzer if he will do that for me… come to the house so he goes here with all of us together in this comfortable place with no fear. But the biggest terror I have had is what happens afterwards. I can not bury him in the yard… I doubt I will stay here forever and I can not bear the thought of him somewhere without me. So I want to do cremation but I want a GUARANTEE that I get HIM back and that even postmortem he is treated with dignity and respect.

And then I found this: Paws and Cherish

They will pick him up if needed, and will also let me watch if I want to, which I do not… but they have same day service and I can rest assured that he will be given back to me. None of this two week turnaround bullshit where he is kept somewhere in a pile of other animals, and they send me some nondescript box of ashes that they “say” is him. I want a guarantee… and this place gives it. I spoke to William and he and Linda run the place, it is a family owned business. He told me that Linda is adamant about individual cremation and I am welcome to come and look at their facilities any time. And although this was one of the hardest phone calls I have ever made and it was so incredibly difficult to keep my voice from breaking as I spoke to him, it gives me amazing peace of mind. I am happy that this is settled.

This has been a really tough post… but it is totally cathartic to write this stuff out and get my thoughts together clearly. It can be overwhelming to be in my head sometimes…. Thank you for indulging me.

~ by Michelle Sammartino-Zeto on April 19, 2012.

2 Responses to “Alternatives…”

  1. I’m so glad to have read this. Cremation is definitely something I have been thinking about also- for whenever that time comes.

    It’s easy to feel crazy when dealing with all this so it’s reassuring to know I’m not the only one. And I certainly am hoping you don’t feel alone in this.

  2. My sweet little 12 year old Jack Russell was diagnosed with cancer and given 2-3 months to live. I opted for surgery to reduce the baseball size tumor in her belly to extend her life – the surgeon came out and said it was inoperable and she had only weeks to live.

    I was ripped apart, just devastated. I went to sleep crying and woke up crying. That was 3 years ago and my Jack Russell is still alive, but that heart-wrenching experience was just awful. I am so sorry for what you and your puppy are going through.

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