Radiation is over!

Jake’s three intense days of radiation are over.  The biggest negative so far has been Jake’s smokers cough from have a breathing tube three days in a row.  The coughing was pretty hard to watch and hear but he’s much better today.  One more day or two and it should be all gone.

Jake is doing great so far.  I did have to switch him from his raw diet to a cooked bland diet during radiation.  I could tell he was nauseous and the liquid burps picked up. Jake is super dramatic with his liquid burps. The burp occurs and then he gargles and thrust his head backwards and arches his back and then he chomps on said liquid burp so he can really own how disgusting he is. I had consulted with a Vet Nutritionist prior to radiation so I was ready to go when the burping first signs of upset started. Jake will stay on the bland cooked diet until our two week oncology check-up, then he will likely move on to a cooked balanced diet.

I am pro whatever diet works best.  If someone comes at me anti-raw, I just agree to disagree. I am also not going to push you into raw. I take care of my dogs, you take care of yours, it’s all good. The point of seeking out a nutritionist (who happens to be ok with raw diets) was to figure out what is best for Jake now that he has cancer and will be going through radiation side effects.  So now, I cook for him.  And to be honest, I love it.  It fills up my need to nurture him in every way possible.  At first it seemed like a lot of work with the cooking and measuring and weighing. But Sunday I made his meals for this week and it felt really great to have it done and to have prepared it just for him.

I can’t cure him, but there are so many other ways I can heal him.

We go back to the oncologist in two weeks. With Jake’s radiation, the digestive side effects can show up right away but the other side effects usually take about 2-3 weeks to show up. Those can include internal and external burning.  I almost passed out when they said ‘internal burning’.  Not that external burning sounds like a party bus but I pretty much assumed external issues.  The oncologist thought Jake’s external side effects should be minimal due to his thick muscle mass and due to the radiation targeting deeper, past the skin.  He may lose some hair and we will watch for burns on his skin but for the most part, most of his burning will probably be on the inside. It’s just as it sounds, he will feel a burning sensation in the area above his left hip. And that should last a week or two and can be managed with an increase in pain meds.

Jake won’t have any more scans. Radiation buys us time. We are on a course of joy. When the balance of joy to struggle begins to shift in the wrong direction, I will know.  Jake’s cancer can be painful.  He already carries spinal cancer, a bum eye, hind leg weakness and a MRSP infection. Decisions from here on out will be made the same way they have been in the past. With love.

For now, he is fine. He loves his new food regime, radiation seems to have given him super-hero-energy because he has been very playful and spunky the past few days.  He’s in great hands with our regular vet, our oncologist, his holistic vet and his nutritionist.

It just occurred to me, Jake is a Kardashian.

Here is Spunky Brewster getting his laser done yesterday.  Usually he’s calm and relaxed but Radiation Jake was squirming all around and rolling back and forth, almost giggling like a little girl!

IMG_7916

Super Jake.

Jake started radiation.  As quickly as he starts it, it will be over.  He only has to do three days.  To be honest, I’m much more concerned (at this point) about him being under anesthesia three days in a row.  I can worry about the side effects of radiation after that. The Oncology Service knows what they are doing. I dropped him off and his dedicated tech came out to get him.  When I picked him up, he was carried out to the car with his belongings.  It’s an awesome practice and I have complete faith in them. Since Jake has MRSP, he’s in a more secluded area which all know works out just fine.  No wonky lunging at other cancer patients!

IMG_7856

Jake is having a relatively new form of radiation available to pets called, Stereotactic radiation (SRT).  This radiation benefits Jake (personally) in two ways.  1. The protocoled radiation treatment for Jake’s cancer is 20 days of consecutive radiation (and anesthesia). That much anesthesia felt worrisome to me (and his medical team) since he is smooshy faced and has breathing issues. He is getting almost the same amount of radiation benefit in just 3 days.  2. Fewer side effects (hopefully).  If you are at all interested, here is a blurb about it (copy credit to The Veterinary Cancer Center). If you are not interested (we forgive you!) you can skip down.

Stereotactic radiation (SRT) and Intensity Modulated Radiation Therapy (IMRT) are becoming more readily available for animals. In the past, traditional radiation therapy to treat cancer in pets would usually result in significant side effects and many owners would decide not to pursue treatment because of this. IMRT and SRT are changing the way that we are able to treat cancer in pets, and they have great potential to improve both your pet’s quality and quantity of life.

What is Stereotactic Radiation or Stereotactic Radiosurgery? 
Stereotactic radiation, also known as stereotactic radiosurgery, involves delivering a small number of large radiation doses to the tumor, in the hope of causing maximal tumor damage while limiting the dose to the normal tissues. Usually this is done in 1 to 3 treatments over a short period of time. With stereotactic radiation, a large number of beams are directed at your pet from all different angles and the shape of the radiation beam is changed, during treatment, to deliver radiation where it is needed most.
What tumors can be treated with SRT? 
SRT can be used to treat a variety of tumors, including brain tumors, pituitary tumors, nasal tumors and other tumors involving the head and neck. It also can be used to treat tumors of the spine and some parts of the abdomen or chest. It can be used for pets when daily visits and anesthesia may be too dangerous.
Prior to radiation, I had our consult with the nutritionist (who I LOVE).  The plan is that I will keep Jake on his raw diet as long as he does not exhibit any digestive issues.  If he has a hard time during radiation, I will give him a bland diet (cooked lean turkey or beef and white potatoes), then go back to raw.  If he develops any ongoing digestive upset, we will change his diet to a cooked/balanced diet that the nutritionist will outline for us. You know I love a good plan!
For now, Jake is doing great. One day down, day two in progress!
Here is Super Jake after day one, keeping watch over his kingdom.
IMG_7859