A New Definition of Excellent

Beauford 1


Beauford’s (pricey) urinalysis results came in last week, and the oncologist used the word “excellent” to describe the outcome.   For a moment I was confused, what could be excellent about cancer?

His tumor, the beast, did not appear to be the AP kind, but rather the AC kind.  Though there was no guarantee that this test was 100% accurate, it seemed that the worry of the tumor invading the surrounding vessel had been reduced.  It does not appear that this is a blood pressure tumor.   Lessened are the risk of collapse, the risk of sudden blood pressure changes, and the risk of this tumor causing Beauford to have a sudden and painful passing as the beast invades the surrounding vessel.  All good news, excellent in fact.

The news came with a twist, Beauford needed to be tested for Cushings Disease.   This tumor could be a Cushings tumor.  Dr. Safi went on to explain that 50% of Cushings tumors are benign, and 50% are malignant.  I immediately asked whether Beauford’s tumor could in any way NOT be a cancerous mass.  Was it possible my dog didn’t have cancer after all, but rather a different disease altogether?

Though she didn’t leave me with no hope, she reminded me that on the CT scan there did appear to be some swelling of the surrounding lymph nodes, and in all likelihood this tumor is malignant.   I sat back for a second, on the phone, attempting to process the information being relayed.

It was suggested I get Beauford tested for Cushings as soon as I was able.   If this tumor was a Cushings tumor we’d need to address it quickly, and get him on the right course of medications.  Since this journey started I have done my best not to be Dr. Google (though it’s good to inform yourself, it’s dangerous to over-Google, over-think, and convince yourself something is a fact, when it’s probably fiction).   Thus, I don’t know much about Cushings other than it causes excessive thirst and excessive urination.    Cushings is not a fun disease, not for the dog and not for the family.  Dogs often have regular accidents in the home, and it’s stressful for all involved.

Beauford had been panting more, and drinking more recently, sometimes peeing more, but he also has been eating more, and with his dyspepsia that isn’t anything too unusual.  I began to ask myself though, was I under estimating the increase, not paying enough attention to the panting?  The only way to know was to book the test,stop the wonder, and get the answers as quickly as I could.

The test was a three-fold test.   I was told it was key to keep Beauford’s stress to a minimum for the duration of the eight hour day.   After consulting with my vet, and my father, we came up with a creative way to get this test done.  Beauford would arrive at the clinic on Monday at 9:00 a.m.  They would do the first blood draw, give him the steroid injection and we would take him back home.  All of the blood draws and the injection would be done in an exam room, with me there able to comfort him.

After the first blood draw we hopped back in the car and drove home with strict instructions to return in exactly four hours for his second blood draw.  Time was of the essence and it was crucial that the four hour and eight hour draws be done exactly on time or we’d screw up the whole test.   Instead of spending the duration of the day at the clinic Beauford got to spend the entire day at home, and have his own personal chauffeur (my dad) to and from the vet.   This ensured that his stress was kept to an absolute minimum, and that I was there for each and every test.

It was a coordinated effort, and a plan designed to ensure that Beauford was comfortable, and happy for the entire day.  And at the end of it all Beauford went to Pet Valu and chewed his knuckle bone.   He was in excellent spirits.  All of the back and forth was worth it, just to see that smile.

My favourite moment of the day was popping Beauford on the scale and seeing that he has gained 7 of the 13 pounds back that he’d lost.  I also quite thoroughly enjoyed the vet’s suggestion that Beauford, indeed, is going to surprise us all.   He is having much too much fun enjoying treats, extra meals, special visits, and all this love.   She said he looks amazing, his eyes are bright and he seems so happy.   Her comments confirmed what I already know in my heart, Beauford’s got his own timeline, he’s in charge, and he will light up our lives with love for as long as he’s able.

The results came in much faster than I’d thought.   Beauford does not have Cushings Disease.   This is excellent news, since having both Cushings and Cancer would have been crummy. Having cancer is crappy enough, we need not have double the disease.

I have yet to speak to oncology in Guelph about the findings, but my understanding is with the confirmation that he is Cushings free, that tiny glimmer of hope that this tumor isn’t cancerous is all but gone.

So, we soldier on.   We accept all news that isn’t wretched as indeed “Excellent” and forge ahead with our commitment to make each day special.





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