Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Leroy's Battle with Cancer

by  Krista Magnifico, DVM

There are few dogs and few people who will mark my heart with more memories and sense of devotion than Leroy.

Leroy was a Bassett Hound whose spirit was evident in every piece of his being. 

The long droopy apathetic ears, the sagging soft eyes, the sway-backed sorry Eeyored back, and the low-slung cowboy tail, with just enough sway to notify you that “Yes, I am a very nice boy.”

Leroy’s tale spans many years at our clinic. There were many years of routine visits of varying importance where he was always a willing patient and a friendly face. Leroy could always be found at the feet of his parents, attached to them by a leash but seeking security at the safety of the tops of their shoes. He was ever faithful, ever calm, and ever present. Although he was a shy and timid boy when you knelt to see him and gave him a soft “Hello” he would always respond with a slow, low wag. He, like so many other Bassett’s, always portrayed the peaceful charm of a man secure in his own down-trodden excessive skin.

When his parents arrived to notify us that fateful day that his demeanor had dampened a bit, we quickly discovered that he had cancer. 

It was a painfully difficult realization for his parents, but they persistently and faithfully brought him to every appointment with every specialist and followed every path with any promise of recovery and return to wellness. They were a steadfast two person army charging forward regardless of any roadblock set before them. Through every visit, every blood check, every i.v. fluid therapy, and every step and stumble along the way they remained determined to make Leroy better.

I have seen enough cancer to know a few things;

First, it is a crap shoot. There are statistics, and options and twists and turns in a minefield of uncertainty. The more people you invite into your disease discovery and treatment process the more opinions you get and the more confusing it is to know which way to go.

Second, your chance of success in beating the odds and surviving to see a remission is better if you go to a specialist. I know it is more expensive and incredibly time-consuming, but I have seen successes with their help in pets that far exceeded even my optimistic spirit.

Leroy was one such dog. His diagnosis of cancer led to weekly trips to the veterinary oncologist for months on end. The repeated i.v. Infusions, chemotherapy drugs, anti-nausea medications, endless blood checks, and many days of rescheduled treatments were an ever constant fight to beat the disease that raged inside of him.

Even when his body didn’t appear to be strong enough for another chemotherapy knock-down, he would waddle into the front door, give a little wag, and settle on the floor by the door.

There were many days that his blood count was too low to withstand another dose of chemo, or days when he wouldn't eat, or stubbornly protested the placement on yet another i.v. catheter. But there were periods of his smile and joy that let us all believe that the treatments were worth the efforts of everyone involved.

The treatments gave him months that he would have otherwise likely not had. And in the end, his spirit was diminished by the anemia and exhaustion brought his parents to us for that final visit.

I have had my own long, sad, frustrating, and emotionally draining voyage down the road of cancer. 

I meet with clients facing the same road I had been down with a different perspective because of this. I remind them that every disease has its own path, its own enemies, and its own destiny.

Be aggressive if you can, fight for every day you can give them, be hopeful, and in the end, for however long it may be from today, love them enough to let them go peacefully.

Remember they are not afraid. 

I think they understand what our human higher consciousness has lost, that we are all a part of a life with many shapes, and forms and our spirit is always with those we leave behind.


If you have a pet in need, you can find a community of helpful people at Pawbly.com. Pawbly is free to use and open to anyone who loves their pet and wants to help them.

I am also available for personal consults at Jarrettsville Veterinary Center in Jarrettsville Maryland. Or find me on YouTube or Twitter @FreePetAdvice.

Articles by Dr. Magnifico:
Don't Make This Mistake: Ruby's Death To Heat Stroke 
Parvo: Cora's Story 
Jake's Laryngeal Paralysis
The Tip Of The Iceberg: The Unexpected Dental Dilemma
The Ear Ache That Wasn't Going Away: Tootsie's Story
Cody's Eyelid Tumor
Ruger's Mysterious Illness
The Day The Heart Stood Still: Timber's Story 
Different Definition Of Comfort Food: Levi's Story 
Savannah's Pancreatitis  
Histiocytoma: Rio's Mysterious Bump
Von Willebrand's Disease: Greta's Story 
Alice's Heart Murmur  
Jekyll Loses His Tail Mo-Jo 
Pale Gums Are An Emergency: Bailey's Story 
To Amputate Or Not To Amputate: Heidi's Story
Lessons From A Real-Life Veterinarian 
Charlie's Life-Saving Lipoma Surgery  
Understanding and Diagnosing The Limping Dog, Why To Probe The Paw 
Angus' Dog Fight And The Consequences
When To Induce Vomiting And When It's Not A Good Idea  
Abby's Survived Being Run Over By Car But Succumbed To A Mammary Tumor 
Palmer's Hemoabdomen: Nearly An Unnecessary Death Sentence
A Puppy That Doesn't Want To Eat Or Play Is An Emergency: Aurora's Story
Does Your Dog Like Chewing Sticks? Hank's Story  
Lexi's Bump 
Pyometra: Happy Ending for Pheonix 
Never Give Up: Bella's New Legs 
How Losing His Spleen Saved Buddy's Life 
Pyometra Emergency: Saving Chloe  
Limping Dog Checklist (part I): Did You Check the Toenails?
Limping Dog Checklist (part II): Did You Check between the Toes?
Limping Dog Checklist (part III): Foot Pads
Limping Dog Checklist (part IV): Broken Bones  
Limping Dog Checklist (part V): Joint Injuries
IVDD: Recovery, Post-Op Problems And How To Conquer Them All
Has Your Vet Given Up On Your Pet? Or You? Would You Even Recognize It If They Had?
Cervical Disc Disease: Hank's Story of Hope
Retained Testicles: Diesel's Story
Ear Tip Bleeds: Domino's Story

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