“Georgia is fine,” they said. “She’s up and alert, but we have some bad news.” I froze. I was too scared to even hear what “they” had to say, but the words came anyhow: “It’s a tumor and it has invaded her brain. We will get the biopsy results by Friday.”
Shock set in and I went to pick up my baby at the hospital — and no, I didn’t talk to the Oncologist or Radiologist because, honestly, I wouldn’t have heard anything they said. Georgia Grace, my sheltie/cattle mix had been diagnosed with a nasal carcinoma. For three days, I couldn’t process what had just happened. I cried, I couldn’t sleep, I couldn’t eat. I hugged my girl and cried some more. And for each day, that tumor just grew. I wrote a letter to God telling him how scared and angry I was, and in the middle of the night, my girl let me know she wanted to fight and that miracles do happen. So fight we shall do.
It’s not the first time we’ve had to fight. I must say that I’m a fighter and my girl Georgia Grace is a fighter, too. I was very sick seven years ago and the doctors couldn’t figure out what was wrong with me.
“They” told me I would need a kidney transplant and that I would have to go on dialysis. Seven years later, no transplant, no dialysis and I’m doing great. I did not let fear rule me then; I will not let it rule me now. As for Georgia Grace, she fought megaesophagus, which is an enlarged esophagus that makes swallowing near impossible and almost always leads to pneumonia, and had been incident free for two years.
Both times, for me and for Georgia, the doctors gave us the worse case scenario. So what made the difference for me and what could make the difference for my girl? Faith, yes. Faith is probably the most important, but we are also given tools to help us. Diet helped me battle my sickness seven years ago and if diet helped me then, diet can help my Georgia now.
I made an appointment to see a local vet that does both Eastern and Western medicine, Dr. Kim Peterson of Critter Care in Plano, Illinois. Dr. Peterson put Georgia on supplements and Chinese herbs and I decided that I had to give my “G” the best that I could possibly give her. Off to Whole Foods to buy some meat and veggies: kale, spinach, bok choy, mustard greens and carrots, and bison, turkey and whitefish, all cooler meats according to Eastern philosophy.
Cancer cells thrive on grains and sugars, so I also cut out anything that had any kind of sugar or grain. Grains include, but are not limited to, wheat, corn, oats, barley and rice. Sugar is in sweet potatoes, potatoes, honey, syrup and many things that end in a “-tose” (fructose, sucrose, etc.).
Cancer cells also like an “acidic” environment and most dogs are naturally on the acidic side because they are meat eaters. I had to get “G” to eat more veggies. And no dairy, which is the hardest part because Georgia Grace LOVES her dairy.
The task at hand seemed overwhelming. I had to now put all these veggies through a food processor and freeze them in individual servings. This is where my awesome friends come in — they helped. Thank God for friends! My friend Jill and her daughters processed the veggies and put them in baggies, so they were all ready for my girl. My other friend, Dee, gave me a book on cancer fighting foods: The Cancer-Fighting Kitchen by Rebecca Katz.
After I got Georgia’s diet in place, the next step was radiation to shrink the tumor. I don’t know why, but last summer, I got pet insurance for all of my dogs. Most of the insurance companies would not insure Georgia because of her history of megaesophagus, but Trupanion did. I strongly suggest that everyone get pet insurance for their pets, not only for cancer, but for accidents as well. Trupanion was so helpful and you could tell that they love their pets. Five days of radiation was over $6000.00.
I did not know if they would cover her now or, even, how much they would cover, but I called to schedule radiation anyway. I had to get this tumor to shrink so I can give my Georgia a fighting chance. I could see this “thing” grow daily and for five days, Georgia Grace and I (and friends, each day someone would come with us) went for radiation.
Each of those five days, Georgia Grace wore her sassy pants. She just sashayed right into the hospital for her daily dose of radiation. It took its toll, though, and by day five, she was dragging and very tired. But she puts those sassy pants right back on when she sees a squirrel or I take her for walks!
Georgia is still tired and it’s been almost a month since her radiation treatments. We stick to our diet religiously and we get as much exercise as we can. Cancer cells don’t like oxygen, so exercise is great for my Georgia. Her meals contain half meat to half veggies. I check her pH and give her purified water with a pH of 10 to help her system become more alkaline. She’s also on turmeric to help shrink the tumor as well as Chinese herbs, DHA and a cancer med.
I don’t know how much time we have, but I cherish each and every moment I have with my girl. She wags her tail, her appetite is great, the swelling has gone down and she still loves to chase squirrels. I will continue on this path with her diet, her supplements and her exercise. Our faith will help us get through this. I ask for guidance daily. My friends have been wonderful and supportive — only pet people can understand how difficult it is.
Georgia Grace passed on May 14th, 2013, at 9 AM. She took her final walk that morning and even chased some ducks. The evening before, she had ice cream, her favorite treat. The tumor grew the last week and my Georgia Grace, as stoic as she was, was in pain. She couldn’t yawn and eating was painful.
Nasal carcinomas only affect one percent of dogs — my beautiful sweet G was one of the one percent. This type of tumor is also one of the fastest growing. The radiation and dietary changes gave us, maybe, another month, but Georgia Grace and I spent that last month taking walks in the woods every day and hugs every night while we slept. I would not have done anything differently. I miss you G….
In honor of my beautiful Georgia Grace, who left his earth at seven years old, and my handsome Stanley, who left at nine because of lymphoma, I have established Cancer Bites Canine Cancer FUNd to raise money to help local dogs seek medical treatment to fight this horrible disease. You can find information on Cancer Bites on Facebook or visit Go Dog Go at www.go-dog-store.com.