Thursday, February 16, 2012

Gracie Comes Home for a While

Yesterday afternoon we learned that Gracie most likely has malignant histiocytic sarcoma, a form of bone cancer with a prognosis of six to nine months at most even with chemotherapy. Without chemo, it would be a matter of days or weeks. We're awaiting results of a different bone marrow test that will probably confirm the diagnosis. But even if that test shows something else, it will still be something almost as bad and equally incurable. We visited her last night and she got tired pretty quickly. She wasn't anything like her usual self. We decided to leave her there until the results came back from the other test, at which time we would probably say goodbye and put her to sleep.

Gracie responded very well to steroids, however, and today we got a call around lunchtime saying that we could take her home. Today she is almost normal, particularly her appetite, although she is still moving slowly and sleeping a lot. Considering that her hematocrit is still in the 12-15 range, that isn't surprising. The vet recommended trying one dose of chemo just to see how she responds. After asking many questions and debating a bit, we decided there wasn't much to lose. The chemo treatment is a $90 oral dose, and they give it every three weeks. If she responds well, she might be with us for a while without too much discomfort. As long as she still eats and walks around she's okay; otherwise it will be time to say goodbye. If she's still with us in three weeks, then we can decide whether to give her another treatment.

It's hard to straddle that line between giving up on her and doing too much to keep her alive, but for now we are comfortable with our decision. Today she was too much like the spritely dog she used to be for us to put her to sleep. On the other hand, we know it's terminal and we don't want to hang on too long and become those people everybody else talks about, saying "Why don't they just put that dog out of her misery?" We're just going to take it day by day and be grateful for whatever time she has left.

By the way, if anyone in my family doubts how much I love Gracie, let me say this: I turned up the thermostat five degrees so that she will be more comfortable! (I am notorious -- and frequently ridiculed -- for keeping our thermostat at 65 degrees during the day and 60 degrees at night.) We ran the A/C for Teddy in August 2005, and we'll fire up the boiler for Gracie for as long as she has left.

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