Manda - Part 3

You’ll recall, in part 2 we discovered that Manda had cancer and we flew her from France to the Vet hospital at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, Colorado—which also happens to be our “permanent” home.

There is an Animal Tumor Center at Colorado State University (CSU). Here are a few paragraphs from their own literature that describes their function:

“Colorado State University’s Oncology Program, located in the Veterinary Teaching Hospital, is partially funded by the National Cancer Institute and private donations. The program represents by far the largest and most comprehensive one of its kind in the United States and has been honored as a Program of Research and Scholarly Excellence at Colorado State. The Comparative Oncology Unit is a research group funded by agencies that award grants to support studies of new treatment methods that have potential for greater tumor control in humans. Many current treatments for humans with cancer were at least partially developed at Colorado State in collaboration with our physician counterparts.”

“Functioning as a part of the Comparative Oncology Unit, the objective of the Animal Tumor Center is to improve cancer therapy for humans and animals. Many naturally occurring cancers in pet animals closely resemble human cancer and provide meaningful models for cancer research beneficial to both man and animals.”

“The Veterinary Teaching Hospital, a regional referral center, is the central clinical base of operations for the College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences. The oncology research and clinical group is composed of cancer specialists from several departments. A Clinical Oncology Service is available for the admission, evaluation, and treatment of more than 1,000 animal tumor patients per year.”

“Started by a few interested individuals in the 1970s, the Oncology Program at Colorado State has rapidly grown to a group of more than 40 professionals including doctors, nurses, residents, and research specialists. During this time, dozens of residents and graduate students who are involved in cancer treatment and research in private veterinary practice, industry, and universities across the United States have graduated from the Program.”

“The Animal Tumor Center has more board-certified cancer specialists than any other veterinary institution worldwide. In the last 10 years, more than 1,000 scientific articles and several books have been published. The group has delivered thousands of hours of lectures on cancer in animals and man. Our goal is dissemination of knowledge and improvement in the length and quality of life of cancer patients.”

“The staff at the Center is proud of their accomplishments and dedicated to the goal of eradicating cancer as a health concern in animals and man.”

“Studies of new treatment methods that show promise for controlling cancer are constantly in progress. These currently include optimizing radiation dose delivery and the use of heat in combination with radiation and chemotherapy. New methods to preserve leg function in dogs with bone tumors have been developed and are now being used in humans. The influence of nutrition on cancer patients and of drugs that enhance the body’s immune system are also being evaluated. Conventional surgery, cryosurgery, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy are also utilized in treatment when appropriate.”

The after arriving, we took Manda to CSU for an initial examination. The previous day a French vet student at CSU had called and talked to our vets in France, so they had the entire history. After examining all our options, we chose surgery. And, once surgery started, depending upon what the doctors found, we had more options. All these were explained to us in detail so we would be prepared. We were introduced to some wonderful people in the hospital’s support and counseling department who would be with us during the entire surgery.

We schedule the surgery for the next Monday. That gave us the weekend together with Manda. We took her on her favorite walks. And, we took her up to our property in the mountains where she had chased squirrels for so many years.

On Monday, Manda entered surgery first thing in the morning. After about an hour the doctor came out to see us and explain our options. The cancer was closer to the colon than they had hoped. By removing it, Manda would likely loose all bowel control. Did we want to go on? Or, sew her up and let her die a natural death, probably within the next few weeks? If we went on, they would reach a point-of-no-return.

The grief counselors, especially Laurel Lagoni, were wonderful. There was a permanent member of the staff and also a vet student. Apparently, spending a semester as a counselor is required by the school. It helps the students see the human and emotional side of their future career and probably results in vets with a better “bed side manner.” All our options and consequences were explained. We chose to go on.

After another hour, the doctor once again appeared with an update. The tumor was removed, but Manda would be incontinent. Further, they had discovered that the cancer had spread into the lymph nodes and lung cavity. We chose to not bring her out from under the anesthetic.

We were allowed to go into the surgery room and hold her as she was put to sleep. We had lost our puppy daughter at 8-1/2 years of age. The doctor and counselors cried with us. We cut some hair from her and made an imprint of her paw in some kind of material used for casts.

The next day we purchased some several books recommended by the grief counselors:

  1. Pet Loss: A Thoughtful Guide for Adults and Children, H.A. Neiberg & A. Fisher
  2. Coping with Sorrow on the Loss of Your Pet, M. Anderson
  3. Joy in a Woolly Coat: Living with, Loving, & Letting Go of Treasured Animal Friends, J.A. Church
  4. Coping with the Loss of a Pet, C. Lemieux

Manda was cremated and we still plan to bury her ashes under her favorite squirrel tree in the mountains. Our lives were now void of the companionship of our cat, Patches, and our dog, Manda. We felt bad from our loss, but good that, just perhaps, what the doctors learned from her would benefit other animals or even people in the future.

But the void didn’t last long as we soon had two new berner puppies and kitten in the house. That story next time.


Posted by Rick on 07/28/2004 at 06:32 PM

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