Every Day is a Gift

August 2, 2011  

A pit bull’s battle with cancer reminds us to cherish every moment

By Darcy Moreno

This is Taijah, my love, my life, and my furry soul partner who is a little more than 13 years old.

In March of 2010, we went in for her routine checkup and to have blood work completed. She had no issues that I was concerned with and seemed perfectly happy and healthy. But a few days later we received the call that changed both of our lives.

The pathologists reviewed her blood work, forwarded it on for a second review and found out that my beloved Taijah had leukemia.

The news devastated me. After the initial shock wore off I could do nothing except cry.

Why her? I wondered. Maybe this is my fault.

My thoughts raced to: I can’t believe I’m going to lose my best friend. I’m not ready!

The Battle

We were referred to a veterinary specialty center to meet with an oncologist named Dr. Lucroy.

He reminded me that leukemia isn’t always a death sentence. He reminded me I couldn’t control it and that it wasn’t my fault.

Dr. Lucroy recommended a blood-drawn test in lieu of an invasive bone marrow test to verify her diagnosis. He sent it off to Ohio State University.

The test results came back a week later. It was conclusive. Taijah had Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia.

Dr. Lucroy recommended that we come back monthly to see if her lymphocytes would increase. If so, she’d need chemo.

I was hopeful that holistic medicines would work. I took her to NVet in Sheridan, Ind. There she received acupuncture, Chinese herb therapy and more. Taijah loved acupuncture and was so relaxed and happy for a few days after, but unfortunately that didn’t stop her cancer’s progression.

During the next few months, her lymphocytes rose, so she started chemotherapy in August as well as prednisone and Chlorambucil.

The first few days Taijah was lethargic with glazed eyes, and runny diarrhea. I gave her the pills in the evening and she was a sweetheart and didn’t fight it one bit even though I was wearing rubber gloves to dose her, which I’m sure didn’t taste very good. It was as if she understood this was going to help her.

Even though those first few days were rough on Taijah, she still tried to go fetch a toy and to greet the neighbors and dogs with the same enthusiasm as she always did. After she got used to the drugs she was back to her old self, but her lymph nodes increased.

During one of her follow up treatments, the vet told me not to be too concerned. He said we could keep an eye on it.

A few weeks later Taijah swelled around her neck, groin, armpits and hind legs. Although she was still happy, playful and eating well, I decided to take her to the vet again just to be on the safe side.

The vet took a biopsy of one of her lymph nodes. I feel like the staff knew ahead of time what the results were going to be, but they remained optimistic as they sent the biopsy in for lab work.

The results were a crushing blow for me. Taijah was diagnosed with lymphoma.

She stopped taking Chlorambucil and started the WI Madison Protocol, a series of weekly then bi-weekly chemo injections in cycles, in October.

The WI Madison Protocol was a series of four drugs administered at one-week doses. I would take her in and she would have blood work each time to see how the cancer was reacting to the chemo injection from the week prior before she would get another injection.

Then the treatment would start all over again at the end of the cycle.

She remained a happy dog except for one bout of doxorubicin. After the injection she became extremely ill and could not stop vomiting. I rushed her to the ER where she stayed for a day to get her fluids back to normal.

Every Day is a Gift

Now, people may think I was crazy to put her through all of this because of her age, but she’s an active and alert just like a younger dog, and I loved her so much that I wanted to do everything in my power to help her heal.

The vet’s office loved her and the team was happy because she was slowly improving. One vet even commented that Taijah was the quietest dog and that she must have been born with the sense that she didn’t need to bark and whine to get attention.

Taijah was such a trooper throughout this whole process. During her treatment she was well enough to attend the 2010 Bully March (which we never miss) wearing her “I’m Beating Cancer” T-shirt and her grass skirt.

Throughout this process she has opened so many eyes and hearts to bully breeds and cancer in dogs. She completed her chemo treatments in March 2011 and her one-month follow-up visit showed that she is currently in clinical remission.

I know that her remission is temporary and no one knows when the cancer will return, but I feel so blessed to have my best friend around another year and also feel so lucky to have learned so much from her.

I have always learned lessons on how to live life from my dog, but this last year has truly shown me how precious each life is – be it man or animal.

Taijah showed me how to face uncertainty with positive attitude and that being sick doesn’t mean you need to give up or give in to your illness. She taught me to enjoy life, laugh and act silly whenever I possibly can. She taught me that nothing lasts forever, so each day I’m with her I treat as a special gift. I also learned that when people stereotype her it just gives me an opportunity for us to educate them on the wonders of bully breeds.

We will continue to overcome this disease and stereotypes, and I know in my heart that we will have much more valued time together!

Any well wishes, prayers, words of wisdom are greatly appreciated.

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Comments

16 Responses to “Every Day is a Gift”
  1. [email protected] says:

    I really want to thank Dr Lucroy and staff at Veterinary Specialty Center, VCA Village Park, and NVet. They are amazing people and really cared and loved Taijah. We wouldn’t be where we are today without them.

    Darcy Moreno

  2. What a lovely story. Taijah has such a beautiful face — and look at that grin! Sending wishes her way for a continued speedy recovery.

  3. SharonKaufmanAthanasiou says:

    oh goodness .What a story…and what a wonderful pair you two make!! Please keep in mind that very healthy natural nutrition is so important for her at this time. I had an adopted poodle with cancer, she was a senior too. With all holistic care, (mostly Chinese herbs), he tumors literally drained and her cancer was no longer an issue. But HEALTHY foods (grain-free, no added hormones or antibiotics) are SOOO important. She ended up living with us for 3 years instead of the 6 months they originally gave her.

  4. SharonKaufmanAthanasiou says:

    oh goodness .What a story…and what a wonderful pair you two make!! Please keep in mind that very healthy natural nutrition is so important for her at this time. I had an adopted poodle with cancer, she was a senior too. With all holistic care, (mostly Chinese herbs), he tumors literally drained and her cancer was no longer an issue. But HEALTHY foods (grain-free, no added hormones or antibiotics) are SOOO important. She ended up living with us for 3 years instead of the 6 months they originally gave her.

  5. StubbyDog says:

    @annedreshfield Thanks Anne, she is a wonderful dog, we all wish the best for her.

  6. StubbyDog says:

    @SharonKaufmanAthanasiou Thanks Sharon, and how wonderful that you gave your poodle such a long, healthy, loving life.

  7. SharonKaufmanAthanasiou says:

    @StubbyDog Your girl is SUPER special and I know she realizes how much you do for her!! My husband and I run Pitbullshirt.com….we have actually raised money for StubbyDog!…and we ADORE pitbulls. But I especially am crazy about senior pitties and poodles! 🙂 Give her a HUGE smooch from me!

  8. Darcy says:

    @SharonKaufmanAthanasiou @StubbyDog

  9. Darcy says:

    @SharonKaufmanAthanasiou @StubbyDog
    I actually have bought a tshirt from you guys! I love it!!!

  10. brokenbarn says:

    Beautiful, dammit. You are making me remember my gone dogs. I’m so glad she’s beating it!

  11. StubbyDog says:

    @brokenbarn We are too!

  12. ensie1 says:

    Your story brought tears to my eyes. We lost our beloved Jeffrey four months ago to cancer. He was just 10 years old, and my forever dog. I miss him every moment of every day.

  13. StubbyDog says:

    @ensie1 We are so sorry for your loss, but you can take comfort in the great life you gave Jeffrey and the love you both shared.

  14. StubbyDog says:

    @ensie1 We are so sorry for your loss, but you can take comfort in the great life you gave Jeffrey and the love you both shared.

  15. theprettychic says:

    Ok, I need to get off this site because I have been crying since the first I read about Scarlett and her babies. This is an AWESOME story of the love and courage of Taijah and her forver mom! I pray you have many more positive years with your fury soul partner

  16. StubbyDog says:

    @theprettychic we hope for the same thing for Darcy and Taijah, a true love story. 🙂