Corky’s Cancer Story

Corky’s Cancer Story

Corky’s Cancer Story So Far……

Hi!  My name is Tammi Burton, and I’m one of the Certified Technicians at Peoria Area Veterinary Group of Peoria.  I currently have a 7 year old Bloodhound mix that is battling cancer, and so far has beaten the odds.  In June of 2013, Corky started to have blood in his formed stools.  The stool sample that was collected was tested for roundworms, hookworms, giardia, and other common intestinal parasites.  The results were negative and at this time, Corky wasn’t showing any abnormal signs other than the blood in the stool.   I brought him in for an exam with Dr. Lissa Calhoun.  Upon a rectal exam, she found a mass in the lining of the rectum.  Dr. Lissa then took a small sample of the mass to send to the University of Illinois for a histopathology evaluation to determine a diagnosis. Unfortunately, the sample came back showing abnormal cells but they couldn’t tell what kind of mass it was.  We decided that we would need to sedate and resection as much of the mass as possible, and re-send the sample to the University of Illinois.  Corky, normally a dog who loves to scarf his food, started to become very picky with food a few days later. He stopped wanting to eat the food that he has been on for the past 2.5 years unless I added something to entice him to eat.  The day before his surgery was scheduled, Corky started to vomit everything that he ate or drank, and was having loose stools.  I brought him back to the clinic and Dr. Suzanne Gilles examined him and took a radiograph to see what was wrong.  It looked like there was something round and penny sized in his stomach.  Dr. John Calhoun performed an emergency Gastronomy to see what this foreign object was, and did the resection of the rectal mass at the same time.  The foreign object in Corky’s stomach ended up being a Pepto Bismol tablet that my husband forgot to tell us he given Corky (yes that shows up on radiographs).  Although it was nothing serious that led us to open the stomach, it was a very good decision because we found a second mass that needed to be removed as well.  After surgery, Corky did very well even when being strictly rested and kept on a bland diet for 2 weeks.  It was much more difficult for us waiting for the Histopathology report to come back without knowing what the masses could be.   Finally the reports came back, but sadly it was a cancer.   Adenocarcinoma is a cancer known to be aggressive and rapid growing, and it was found in both the stomach and rectum masses.  When I heard the news, I was devastated as this was my first dog since being married.  He has been a blessing to me and my husband.    I consulted with Dr. Suzanne Gilles and the U of I for our treatment options. The U of I told me that with this type of cancer, the best case scenario would be to take him to Champaign to do an extensive surgery ensuring the successful removal of both masses.  We would follow up with chemotherapy, but even then, I would be lucky to have 6 more months with him.   It would cost thousands of dollars, which I couldn’t afford.  Our other option was to try a Non-Steroidal Anti- Inflammatory Drug (NSAID), called Peroxicam, which in rare cases can slow down the progression or even in very rare cases, shrink the mass.  We chose to treat with the Piroxicam, and use a stomach protectant to help prevent stomach and GI ulcers, hoping to keep him comfortable. We have been rechecking Corky every 3 months since the surgery, and 6 months after the surgery, his mass in the rectum was no longer detectable by rectal palpation and hasn’t been felt since.  Still using Peroxicam and Famotidine (Pepcid) 1 year and 7 months later, he is doing really well.  My husband and I are so thankful to all of the Doctors that have and continue to help us.  We are just taking it one day at a time, and thank our lucky stars that we have had Corky this long and that he has responded so well, so far…

by Tammi Burton