On Chloe’s 10th birthday, September 18, 2010 we took Chloe and her two best dog friends Ashley and Dutch to McDonald’s for a special treat. Chloe got a McDouble, no cheese, no bun. She’s allergic to soy and wheat, plus 6 other things.
Chloe got a bright pink frisbee for her birthday. She loves a frisbee!
It was that afternoon, running around the fields, we noticed Chloe’s troubles. She was squatting to pee constantly. First thing Monday morning we called our vet and got her an appointment the same day. They asked us to bring a sample. Ut oh. Not much is coming out, just a few drips. Not even a half teaspoon full.
Our vet ran a bunch of tests, expressed Chloe’s bladder and started her on meds for a urinary tract infection. They took x-rays, ultrasounds, urine test, blood tests. Two days later we visited the vet and they expressed her bladder again. Ran a few more tests. The same thing again two days later, she added another medication. The new meds made Chloe leak urine while laying down and in the process of standing up. Turns out that was a very good thing, it saved Chloe’s life. If you don’t get rid of your urine, you can die.
We were sent to see specialists at a university veterinary hospital. They ran lots of tests on Chloe, blood tests, urine tests, MRI, scope through her urethra to her bladder and took biopsies. They inserted a catheter. The tests came back. Chloe was diagnosed with TCC cancer, transitional cell carcinoma. They’re recommendations were to first try NSAIDs, then chemo, then radiation, have a stent or a side body catheter installed. All with the same results. Chloe had 6 to 8 months to live. My husband took Chloe home Sunday night, with her catheter still in place, figuring our local vet could remove it the next day. Which is what the university was planning.
That weekend we did a lot of research on the internet. One of the university doctors mentioned some guy in NJ did laser surgery for this type of cancer. I searched Google for TCC Bladder Cancer Laser Surgery NJ. The first four links had some information. It lead me to a couple of blogs and even the Facebook page for the Ridgewood Veterinary Hospital in NJ, which had a link to their website: http://ridgewoodVet.com
We found Dr. Cerf, “the guy in NJ”. We read all about the surgery, we read the blogs, we watched the videos. We knew this is what Chloe needed. We contacted the vet over the weekend. His head technician, Kathy phoned us on Sunday. Kathy had advised us to leave the catheter in until Chloe saw Dr. Cerf. It really isn’t hard dealing with a catheter. The hardest part is waking up every 3 hours during the night to do so. On Monday, we had a phone consult with Dr. Cerf. We learned the good, the bad, the ugly. The median survival rate which was a lot longer than the university’s methods. They are very positive and
hopeful caring people. Dr. Cerf came in on Wednesday, his day off to perform Chloe’s TCC laser surgery.
We were told by the university, there wasn’t a tumor, maybe in the future the surgery would be a good idea. For now, they suggested NSAIDs & chemo. Or perhaps a stent. The stent would make Chloe incontinent, she would be a miserable dog.
Wednesday, we met with Dr. Cerf. We told him of all our concerns, including the university not being able to see anything with the scope. We left Chloe with Kathy and Dr. Cerf and hoped for the best. We sat in their parking lot, eating our lunch. Just minutes later, Michael received a call on our cell phone a message from Dr. Cerf “We have tumor to work with.” Chloe’s surgery lasted 2 1/2 hours.
Dr. Cerf had a special small laser for him to be able to perform this surgery. He goes in through the urethra, no need for incision on a female dog. Chloe’s tumor filled her entire urethra. Actually, it was protruding out both ends of her urethra. It was one among the worst cases he’s seen. Before the surgery, he tried to express her bladder and was unable to do so. Maybe it was the tumor, maybe it was swelling for having had a catheter in for a week.
Chloe’s surgery went well. She was given a new catheter. She stayed at the Ridgewood Veterinary Hospital from Wednesday through the following Monday. On Saturday, they removed the catheter. Chloe was unable to urinate all day. That evening, Dr. Cerf went back in with a scope and his laser to check on what was going on. Chloe’s urethra was developing a bit of scar tissue, which was lasered away along with tiny bits of tumor that were hidden the first time around.
Monday, we had a meeting with Dr. Cerf. He expressed his concerns for Chloe, the swelling, the scar tissue, the not wanting to remove the catheter for another few days. In the end, we took Chloe home with a catheter. A slightly different type, but still a catheter. We had Chloe at home for a whole week with her catheter in place which needed to be drained every 3 hours. By the following weekend, she was able to pee a little around her catheter, a good sign.
The next Monday, October 18, 2010, we brought Chloe back to Ridgewood Veterinary Hospital. They removed the catheter. We were able to bring Chloe outside ourselves to see if she would be able to pee. We carried a little metal tray, we needed to collect the urine for them to run tests and measure the amount of the sample. Chloe did not make it across the driveway to the potty area. She squatted. We collected her sample.
Chloe peed for the first time in an entire month, all on her own!
She still needed to stay overnight for observation. Sample collecting, measuring, etc. Chloe was given a diuretic, which made her have to go every 1/2 hour during the day. During the night Chloe convinced her caretaker Kathy to take her and all the other dogs for a walk at least every 2 hours.
The next night, Tuesday night we were able to take her home.
December Updates on Chloe
Chloe is very happy, very playful, very friendly.
I'm starting to think she believes we are boring. We try to work and she wants to run, to play, play with her frisbee, visit her two best friends (also german shepherds). Touch a set of keys and she knows it's time for her to go to work. Her job is to ride to the post office and the bank.
If she does get mopey all you gotta do is pick up her frisbee and if that doesn't work then a 10 minute visit to Dutch & Ashley is all it takes to lift her spirits.
December 7, 2010: We take Chloe to NJ for a check up. They scope her urethra and find a few bits of tumor and a little scar tissue to remove. She is expected to stay there two nights.
December 8, 2010: Chloe will begin her chemo treatments.
Chloe did extremely well after her chemo treatment. We drove 2 hours home. No bad side effects at all. She was her happy normal self.
December 27, 2010: Chloe passed away, after an accidental complication.