Andi (GC, PR Winterfrost Andromeda ("Andi")) was diagnosed with mediastinal lymphosarcoma quickly after the onset of dyspnea (difficulty breathing) at 3 1/2 years old in November 2003. A modified version of the Wisconsin-Madison protocol using Elspar (L-aspiraginase), Oncovin (vincristine), Cytoxan (cyclophosphamide), Adriamycin (doxorubicin), methotrexate, and prednisolone was started about 5 days after her diagnosis at our regular vet. Treatments were weekly for two four-week cycles, then bi-weekly for two five-week cycles, and then tri-weekly for the remainder of the course of treatment.
After the first four treatments, she was in complete remission, though symptoms went away after the first two treatments. She sucessfully completed 18 months of chemo treatments without incident. Side effects were minimal. Minor things we noted were whisker loss, a change in coat texture (softer) and color (darker w/decreased pattern), and slow-growing fur after she was shaved for IVs. The only semi-worrysome side effect was a minor loss of appetite during the 2-4 days following treatments. It seemed to be the most noticeable after she had Elspar and when treatments were weekly. She did lose about 2 pounds in the first 10 weeks of chemo (down to 4lb, 4oz), but she remained bright, active, and healthy even at her lowest weight. She gained the two "lost" pounds back by the end of the first bi-weekly cycle, and now easily maintains her body weight on a normal diet. Within a couple months of completing chemotherapy, her whiskers had regrown and her coat was back to its original texture and color.
Outcome: Andi is a happy, silly 5-year old girl. She is alive and well in August 2005. She's been in remission since December 2003.
Outcome: Updated June 2008 - It is with a completely broken heart that I must let everyone know that my dearest Andi is gone. She passed away Saturday night in my arms. She was just 8 years old. I still cannot believe it. Much to my dismay, the sun still rose the next morning, and the world is going on. To me, though, it seems so much darker. I'm not exactly sure why my heart is still beating... it is empty now.
The best guess as to her demise was a blood clot. She was perfectly fine earlier in the day... we even played with her favorite toy and enjoyed a healthy tummy-rub session. I found her a few hours later unresponsive and barely alive. A trip to the local emergency clinic was to no avail. Bloodwork showed nothing abnormal, except low potassium. She had several seizures and episodes of cardiac arrest, from which she came back. But, when it was obvious that she was going to pass, I had them unhook her from all the machines so I could hold her through it. It was the most painful and terrible thing I have ever done. Feeling her slip away was like having my own life sucked out of me. Though I may have thought differently before, love just isn't enough. Now I know.
For all of you struggling with this... keep fighting the good fight. Andi lived 4 years, 7 months after diagnosis. She never gave up, and every day we had with her was an absolute delight. I wouldn't give anything for the time we had with her. She was our hero. She was mommy's littlest girl. She will be missed more than I ever knew was possible.
[ click photos to enlarge ]