Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Cancer Chronicles: The Joys of Remission

As those who have followed out story know, back in April Bow was diagnosed with a brain tumor, and stereotactic radio surgery began in May. Before we learned about this option at the UC Davis vet school, most sites that we visited gave a life expectancy of two months after diagnosis.

Although we entered the surgery with glimmers of hope, Bow had so much muscle wasting by the time the treatments began I was not certain if she would go blind in her right eye or lose it. We were warned that this was a strong possibility.

By late April, she could barely hold her right eye open in dim light and could hardly keep it open at all when in bright sun. The photo below was taken around that time, and her muscle wasting is quite evident. It continued to get worse into early June, with a large indention above her eye and similar wasting in her jaw.
As July approached, her wasting stopped, and I was not sure if I was imagining it or she was actually improving. By August, people who had not seen her since the spring all remarked on how much better she looked. She no longer had to squint in the sun, and although her right eye was slight receded in her head, it was back to full size.

At the end of August, we returned to UC Davis for an MRI to see if there was good news "inside" as well.

As Dr. Kent showed us the two MRIs side-by-side, it was hard to believe what had happened this summer was anything short of a miracle. A straight on MRI of her eyes in April showed the muscles of the right eye looking like a collapsed balloon. Then we looked at the one taken in August. There were two perfectly symmetrical eyes. Then Dr. Kent showed the two MRIs of the tumor. In April, there was a large tumor in her brain that continued down to her optical nerves which was causing the muscle wasting. The August image showed the large tumor still had remnants but was not longer a mass. In the optic nerve region, there is no sign at all of a tumor.

The photo below was taken this week and shows the dramatic difference from the photos above three months ago.
We have the option to return again in December to see if there is further remission. I have kept telling myself that the tumor could come back, that our time with our pets is always a wonderful but limited time, and there are no guarantees. But looking back to April when my heart with what I thought would be having to soon say goodbye to Bow, I am grateful to have had such great care and support from the BRAT community.


  1. Gregg, she looks great. And you are a wonderful basenji dad.

  2. Wow, the first picture gave me chills. The second picture is heartening indeed!

    I'll be hoping for the best come December.

  3. I almost didn't post the first picture, and I couldn't look at it for weeks after taking it. Now I am really glad to have it to remind me why all we have done this summer is worth it.

  4. Wow, what an impressive result. So happy Bow is in remission and of course for you ! Thanks for the update.

  5. Wonderful news for you and Bow!

  6. I am so happy for you both! You both did your part in her by getting her the best possible medical help and Bow with her strong, fighting spirit in this epic battle. I wish you many, many happy, healthy years together.