Reggie’s Prostate Cancer Fight
by Rachel Miller
I’m a 20 year old sophomore in college who LOVES dogs. I decided a year ago that I wanted to rescue a dog of my own, so I began to save money and stock up on supplies.
When the time came to move into my own apartment, I rescued Reggie, a 6 year old, 50 pound, Husky/Retriever mix.
When I first got him he began having diarrhea. Then, he became constipated and would strain for a long time. Bad bowels was the first sign of trouble. After 2 weeks I took him to a local vet in my shitty college town. I couldn’t afford much, but they ran a couple of cheap tests, prescribed him an antibiotic, and recommend new food and pumpkin, claiming he was only backed up.
Two weeks later, I left him with my roommates for a night while I went to visit home. I got a call from my roommate early in the morning. She was frantic - Reggie had diarrhea, was vomiting, and hadn’t eaten. I rushed back to get him and brought him to a good veterinarian in Indianapolis where they ran X-rays that cost $500.
They found a mass in his prostate and referred us to an oncologist that saw us nearly immediately. The oncologist recommended a biopsy ($1500), but if I chose that test I would have no money for ANY medication and would have to put him down. I told the oncologist I could only afford a physical exam.
The oncologist diagnosed him 99% certainly (could not legally use 100%) with prostate cancer and 3-6 months of maximum life. I was beyond devastated.
Reggie was prescribed Tramadol for pain (twice a day), Stool Softener (5ML 3 times a day), and Deramaxx for anti-inflammatory (1/2 pill once a day), as well as an as-needed anti-nausea pill. In total I spent about $200/month on medicine.
Fast forward five months and Reggie is doing AMAZING. Two weeks ago we added Gabapentin for pain and nerve issues (3 per day) and Chinese Herbal Pills for anti-inflammatory (6 per day) into his medication. Gabapentin is $16 and the Chinese Herbs are $30. Total $246/month on medication. The medication only manages his pain, though. I have taken many more steps to ensure optimum quality of life for my fur baby.
Reggie’s pain is managed, so his bowel movements are the most important in keeping him healthy and happy! To help with this, I’ve implemented the following into our routine. I truly believe this is how he’s lived so long with such a great quality of life.
Exercise: THIS IS THE MOST IMPORTANT. Reggie CANNOT poop a healthy amount without good exercise. We generally go for 3 walks a day at minimum, including one extra long walk consisting of at least one mile that I refer to as his “poop walk”. This is the only walk they he poops on, and he goes enough to relieve his system for the entire day.
These walks get his bowels moving, keep him strong and healthy, and help relieve stress. We go to a lot of wooded parks so he can have fun off leash too! I find that the climbing up and down hills helps his bowels the most.
Food: I sauté vegetables in sauces (tomato, Alfredo, gravy, whatever) and pour them over decent quality dog food. The vegetables Reggie likes include: spaghetti squash, carrots, sweet and gold potato, and broccoli. I also feed him a lot of chicken. The vegetables get his bowels moving, which again was our biggest problem.
Medication: Always listen to your vet, but follow your gut too. I give Reggie his pain medication every 3-4 hours as that is how often I’ve noticed he needs it. You can detect pain by: increased need for attention, grunting while laying down or moving, sluggish, etc.
STOOL SOFTENER: In all caps because this was a learning experience for me and he wouldn’t be alive without it. He was prescribed 5ML three times a day, however, that does not work for him. Instead, I give Reggie 10ML once a day, 20-30 minutes before our long walk. I find that this delivers his healthiest and least painful bowel movements.
Love: I’ve basically devoted every moment that isn’t spent at school to Reggie. Together we enjoy a lot of exercise, car rides (his favorite activity), many trips to Pet Smart for 99cent bones (and to get free treats from his favorite workers), and cuddling. We adventure to parks all over our state, get ice cream, and (upon doctor's orders) feed him junk food and treats!
It sounds gross, but I’ve realized that Reggie’s poop is the key to his life. This is has just been my experience, and it’s been paradoxingly amazing! Reggie is my best friend and I have had the best time of my life spoiling and caring for him. We are glued together at the hip.
Good luck with your babies! Dogs don’t deserve this.
(Submitted January 18, 2018)
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