Her 3.5 year battle with cancer comes to an end
It has been well over a year since Gabi’s last update at her three-year, post-radiation anniversary. Unfortunately, I had to let her go last May 12th after her 3 ½ year battle with cancer. After almost 11 months it hurts tremendously every day not having her around but happy for the extra time I got to spend with her.
After the last update I did everything seemed to be going well. On March 19th of 2009 I was at the Stony Creek Vet’s getting a shot of one of her supplements when I noticed a small lump near the front of her muzzle. The tech looked and felt it and said that we should go to MedVets in Columbus, OH to check it out.
The next day Dr. Prescott (Gabi’s oncologist) and Dr. Schertel (her surgeon) examined her and decided to biopsy the mass the next day. That day we went in early and got her into surgery to get a sample of the tumor. After the surgery Dr. Schertel stated that he did get a sample but was worried about the tissue around this mass due to it acting abnormally compared to normal tissue. Definition = not a very good prognosis.
A couple of days later it was confirmed as a high-grade, aggressive fibrosarcoma, exactly what she was diagnosed with at the start of this journey. Needless to say, I fell apart and tried to find something to help her through this battle like she has done before. Dr. Prescott and Dr. Alex (Gabi’s holistic doctor in NY) did not have many answers at this point. We did start her on some new aggressive supplements and waited to see how this tumor would grow and how fast. Looking back, there was really no hope to help her manage this latest tumor re-growth.
A few days later I received an e-mail from someone who knew Gabi’s tumor had come back. She noticed an online article on a new, promising cancer drug that was being tested on a few dogs and had actually cured a couple of dogs completely from their cancer. I tracked down the doctor who invented the compound and e-mailed him to see if I could get Gabi enrolled in the study. Within hours he returned my e-mail with an application to sign Gabi up to the study.
While on the way top Columbus on April 1st to get a c-scan for the study, I received a call saying the clinic was halting the study due to legal reasons. The inventor had recently left the Cleveland Clinic where he worked on this study and other cancer fighting agents. The clinic was the one who had the rights to do the study and produce the drug.
Myself, and a few other people who were working on getting our dogs on this study, then went to the clinic to see if we could get our pups on the study. The clinic was so overwhelmed that they stopped the study and production of the drug to study the legality of the study and using animals for it. With Gabi suffering everyday and her tumor growing I went into a panic and tried numerous ways to get the Cleveland Clinic to restart the study and production immediately.
We went to the clinic’s PR department and told them how we would generate a tremendous amount of negative publicity. After almost two weeks of harassing the clinic they decided to open it up for a limited number of dogs. Gabi was one of those chosen to receive the drug. I was ecstatic about this and thought she might have a chance to beat this latest round or growth.
On April 17th she finally received the drug, and we started giving her shots twice a day with the drug. After a couple of days I thought I saw some difference, but it was more growth not shrinkage. I still was holding out hope that it would work.
After another week or so we went back over to Columbus for a check up with the docs. We discussed surgical options for her. Could we take out a large chunk of the tumor and surrounding tissue to help the drug work? Was there anything her could do for her? After begging him that something be done, he stated the only humane option he could see was a muzllectomy, basically cutting off ½ of her muzzle.
After hearing that was the only option I punched the counter and broke my hand….freaking Gabi out. I think this was when I realized she did not have a chance to win this round.
We then went home, continuing her trial drug and supplements, hoping that something might help. Nothing did anything for her.
She did ok for the next week or two and then started having trouble breathing, especially at night while she tried to sleep. The pressure from the tumor was not letting her breathe properly. After spending two almost sleepless nights by me hearing her struggle to catch her breath, I decided I could not let her suffocate herself in the middle of the night. She deserved so much more than to go like that.
On the morning of May 12th I called Dr. Prescott and talked over Gabi and what I was planning on doing that day. She stated she had come to that conclusion weeks ago, and she was about ready to have the talk with me. We cried together for awhile and then I called Dr. Kunkler to see if she could come to our home to let Gabi go. She was over within an hour or so.
This was the hardest thing I have ever had to do, but this had to be done for her not to suffer any longer. At her first diagnosis she was given less than 6 months to live but managed to kick cancer’s ass for 3.5 years. She was not only the reason DogDayz was built but was my best friend. Over 11 months I cannot think of a day I have not broken down thinking about her and how much she meant to me. I can only imagine how I would feel now if I had not tried all the things we did to keep her alive over that time. I would double down right now on all the money that was spent treating her if I could have another week with her.
Many thanks to all who kept Gabi in their thoughts over that time period. I do know that her fight and story convinced many others to seek treatment for cancer and be successful in their fight. Without the help from MedVets in Columbus and Dr. Alex at the Earth Angels Vet in New York, she never would have gotten past that six-month mark.
Not only was she my girl but a fighter who showed others that cancer is not the killer it once was. There are options out there. Gabi proves this to be true.
RIP Gabi, thank you for what you have done for me.