Little Summer came to see Veterinary Surgeon, Chad Northcott, in July 2019. She was already on medication for Myoclonus (this is a neurological condition, often seen in older Cavaliers, where they have intermittent jerking of the head and forelimbs and can get severe enough to make them stumble or fall over).
Summer had been experiencing some eye problems in the weeks leading up to this, with redness, soreness, discharges and overproduction of tears. She had been dispensed various treatments, some of which had been helpful, but she was having recurring or ongoing problems.
During the clinical examination we noticed that all of Summers peripheral lymph nodes were enlarged – under her throat, in front of her shoulders, in her armpits and groin and behind her knees. Her spleen also felt bigger than normal inside her abdomen. The superficial blood vessels on her eyes were engorged and the iris in both her eyes were inflammed, making them painful and making her shy of light. She also had a heart murmur (but no symptoms relating to this). She had also been a lot quieter in herself.
We took samples from the lymph nodes which were analysed by a pathologist which confirmed that she had lymphoma. This is a type of cancer of the immune system and can involve lymph nodes, spleen, bone marrow and so on. Summer’s eyes were inflammed inside either directly because of the lymphoma, or in a secondary way with antibodies causing inflammation therein. This is called uveitis.
Summer started on a course of chemotherapy over 26 weeks to treat the lymphoma which involves weekly and now fortnightly visits to see use for examination, blood tests and treatment. The treatment includes tablets and injections or longer infusions given intravenously. She also has medication to prevent the chemotherapy making her feel poorly. And initially she had steroid drops for her eyes.
During her initial treatment we did staging which included Xrays and Scans to see how involved the cancer was. We also took the opportunity to check her heart. She had a valve which had become mildly incompetent putting the heart under the stress and making it work harder to maintain a proper blood supply and, because the heart is essentially a muscle, it had become a little enlarged. So Summer also has medication to improve and maintain her heart function, especially as she was having chemotherapy which can damage the heart.
She has actually responded to all of her treatment phenonemenally well. Summer went into remission from her cancer very quickly and here we are, 6 months later, still doing really well. She has been getting up to her usual mischief with her partner in crime (Bonnie), walking and getting mucky in the lakes, and enjoying a one-off ice cream treat on the coast (be careful with ice cream – some dogs are allergic to milk proteins, some ice creams contain xylitol which is poisonous, and chocolate is poisonous to dogs).
So – there are many cases of cancer that we see. In fact 50% of dogs over the age of 10 years will develop cancer at some point. The good news is that there are many types of cancer that are curable or that we can treat and enable a normal life for a long time.
Fortunately Summer is insured. Her treatment comes at a cost which is being met by her Insurance company. Not everyone can afford the fees associated with long term treatments, or costly treatments for acute conditions, but many people can afford the monthly instaments of an insurance policy.
We really enjoy seeing patients like Summer. She is a proper “Star” patient and much loved by her lovely owners and our people. And, given her treatment success, we are sure we will be seeing ‘Summer’ for many seasons to come.