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Rusty\'s Cancer Chronicles

Rusty\'s Battle with Fibrosarcoma

Rusty\'s Cancer Chronicles

Rusty’s Big Night & Update!

November 13th, 2010 · 3 Comments · Uncategorized

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This past month has been a very quiet period for Rusty; the most significant event, other than his big night, was his nine month Ampuversary on October 25th!  He went in for his monthly checkup with Dr. Macy on November 5th; the best news was that his blood platelets have not dropped any further since the previous visit.  The liver readings showed some degradation, but were still within acceptable limits.  His reaction to the oral Lomustine chemo treatments has been very positive; a little nausea the first morning and then back to normal.  He gained another pound this past month, which is six pounds since surgery, and Dr. Macy said that we had to hold his weight at this level.   Any further weight gain will begin to put stress on his remaining leg and joints.

With the days getting shorter we are going for our walks much later in the morning and earlier in the evening.  The cool nights (in the 40’s) are dropping the water temperature below the level that the solar heating can recover from during the day and the water does not warm up enough for us to swim.  I plan on installing a floating blanket tomorrow which should reduce the night time heat loss and we can get back to swimming, although Rusty does not seem to miss the swimming.  With the cooler temps Rusty is much more active but still runs out of energy fairly quickly; Dr. Macy says that this is pretty normal for the amount of Chemo he is on.

Last Saturday night, November 6th, was Rusty’s big night with our presentation to the Sun City Pet Club.  Rusty’s Doctors and two of the techs joined us for dinner before the presentation; Rusty was so happy to see his Dr.’s in his home rather than in their offices.  After dinner we all went to the clubhouse for the presentation and Rusty worked the room greeting everyone and gave a kiss to all 58 pet lovers who had come to hear his story.  I opened with a PowerPoint presentation of Rusty from the time we first saw him at four weeks to current photos, showing that he has remained the same happy dog throughout his fight with cancer.

Dr. Huber, his Oncologist Orthopedic Surgeon (one of only 36 in the country) walked everyone through the diagnosis, tests & scans that were needed before he performed the amputation, complete with a slide show (leaving out the very bloody photos).  He explained the challenges that he faced in removing Rusty’s leg & a portion of his pelvis, while avoiding vital areas (the tumor was pressing against his penis & anus) and keeping the tumor intact to obtain safe margins around the tumor.  The actual surgery time was 4 hours and 57 minutes, excluding prep time.

Dr. Macy his Oncologist (one of only a handful in the world that are both MD’s & DVM’s and Board certified Oncologists) followed with his analysis of Rusty’s lab results and the Chemotherapy treatment program that he prepared for him.  He shared with us for the first time that Rusty’s Fibrosarcoma tumor was one of the highest levels and most aggressive tumors that he had ever seen.  He told us after the presentation, in private, that when he first saw the lab reports that he had doubted if Rusty would survive beyond 30 days.  This was a bit of a shock to us and makes us even more appreciative of the extra time that we have had with Rusty.

After his presentation of Rusty’s treatment, Dr. Macy discussed the early warning signs of various types of cancer and the advances that are being made in canine & feline cancer treatments.  He also explained that researchers are now using canine cancer studies in the treatment of humans as a dogs shorter life span mimics how cancer will behave in humans over a longer time period.

All of the presentations were well received, no one fell asleep or left early, and very much appreciated by those in attendance.   We have received many thank yous for sharing Rusty’s story and arranging for his Doctors to address the club.  All of us were exhausted after the meeting, especially Rusty; he slept almost all day on Sunday.  I have included a few photos from the presentation.

Rusty’s next appointment with Dr. Macy is December 3rd.  Dr. Macy is keeping his fingers crossed that Rusty will make it to his one year Ampuversary on January 25th.  He is optimistic that if Rusty crosses that threshold, it will greatly improve his odds for another one or two years before the cancer returns.  He is planning on keeping Rusty on the Lomustine through January unless his blood work shows further declines in the platelets or liver functions.  Rusty is due for his Bordetella booster shot this month and Dr. Macy has not reached a decision if he should have it; there is some risk to Rusty with the Chemo treatment and since we don’t take Rusty to the dog parks he feels the exposure to it is fairly low.  With the return of our perfect fall weather and our friends who go away for the summer, our social activities are picking up which means more visitors for Rusty, which he really enjoys.

October 1st was the beginning of a new plan year for our PetPlan insurance policy which was good timing as we had maxed out the annual limit in September; PetPlan also reduced our co-payment to 20% from the previous 30%, which was good news.


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3 Comments so far ↓

  • admin

    What an honor to present Rusty’s heroic and inspirational story! Thanks for sharing, and congratulations on Rusty’s continued good health. Ice Cream is definitely in order. 🙂

  • maximutt

    Rusty is quite the celebrity in Palm Desert! So happy to hear his treatment is going well. We’ll keep our fingers crossed for the very important date of January 25!

  • etgayle

    wonderful update!! sounds like rusty is in the best hands with his doctors, so nice they were willing to help you guys spread the knowledge at your meeting. way to ‘pay it forward’!!!

    charon & gayle

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