One Cancer Patients' Story...
Washington State University Veterinary Teaching Hospital (VTH),
located in Pullman Washington, is a full service/ state of the art
hospital dedicated to teaching, research, and providing high quality medical
care for animals.
Barney was brought to the Neurology
Service at WSU because he had been anxious and disoriented for several
weeks. An inoperable brain tumor was diagnosed and his owners were very sad.
They were advised that radiation therapy may help and they returned to meet
with the Oncology Service. They were first greeted by a student and then met
the clinician who gave them advice on how to proceed. Lucky for Barney
radiation was likely to be helpful and his family could have some hope
again. The student assigned to Barney would be with him all the way through
his treatments of three and a half weeks. Barney and his family also met the
technicians who would help care for him. After everyone talked, and it was
decided to start therapy, Barney checked into the Veterinary Teaching
Hospital (VTH) – or as he prefers to think of it-"Camp Cougar. A customized
positioning device was made just for Barney, a treatment plan was calculated
by the doctors, and Barney started treatment shortly after he checked in.
Barney’s Mom and Dad lived about 4 hours from Pullman and it
really seemed better for Barney to stay at Camp Cougar during the week for
his daily radiation therapy treatments. In the beginning, he was very sick
because of his brain tumor so he stayed in the intensive care unit to be
closely monitored. There were some really sick animals there and Barney was
glad he just had a brain tumor! After a few days of therapy Barney was
already starting to improve and he got to move to the normal "rooms. He had
big place with his own pillow and bed and his student coming to check on him
and take him for walks many times a day. He got to have his own food that
his Mom had packed for him but he liked the cookies from the camp kitchen a
lot too. He still had to take all the medications he was taking when he came
in but he got an examination everyday and sometimes his medication got
reduced because he was doing so well. Every morning Barney went to therapy.
He didn’t remember it because they always gave him some gas that made him
fall asleep and a short time later he was awake and going back to his room
to eat breakfast.
Barney’s family got updates everyday from the student who cared
for him- so he knew he had to behave. The technicians took his picture from
time to time to send to Mom and Dad so they knew he was OK. During the week
sometimes someone from Barney’s family would visit and most weekends he went
home with them. He was always happy to see his family and they were always
happy to see him improving, but Barney was also happy every time he came
back to Pullman. He loved Camp Cougar too! One weekend Barney had to stay at
Camp but that was OK too. His student came twice a day to take care of him
and other students cared for him during the day. Barney was not alone; his
fellow campers included dogs and cats, big and little, with a variety of
cancers. Some of Barney’s fellow campers went home every night, they lived
close by or their owners stayed in hotels, but others stayed like Barney.
Some lived even farther away than Barney and some even came on an airplane!
In 3.5 weeks, Barney was finished and he was a normal dog again.
No more nervousness or pacing, and he knew his Mom and Dad and all their
friends. He was happy the doctor said that he probably would have no other
side effects because the tumor was treated deep in his head. He overheard
the doctor and students talking about the side effects animals can have when
their skin is irradiated and some of his fellow campers did have areas with
the hair coming out and the skin getting red. The skin problems didn’t seem
to bother his friends much and he heard the doctor discussing things the
owners could do to help their pets get through it. It sounded pretty
simple-"keep it clean, watch for infection, and it will be better in a week
or two. Of course the doctor also said not to scratch it and Barney thought
that would be the hardest part if it were him. Barney went home to stay and
will only return to Camp Cougar for periodic check-ups, or if he has
problem. After he got home Barney missed his student, and the technicians
and Camp Cougar. Three and a half weeks went by so fast!
If your veterinarian has recommended your pet go to Camp Cougar
for therapy please call and make an appointment. Your first appointment may
take time but we try to answer all your questions and find out as much as
possible about your pets needs from the beginning so we can make their stay
with us as pleasant as possible.