A little bit ago we gave you all a brief update on Lulu's very successful cancer battle. As we said, she's doing quite well and continues to be her happy bouncy self. But before we're too far removed from the memory of her treatment, I wanted to provide a bit more information for anyone who might be going through something similar, either now, or in the future.

Our last in depth update on our Ori Pei's treatment to rid her adorable body of the latest mast cell tumor on her arm had taken us from surgery to the first several weeks of radiation at the veterinary oncologist.

Each morning for three weeks either Wendy or I would load lulu into the car and drive her to the vet for treatment. Rather than dropping her for the day, we'd typically wait in the lobby for the roughly hour and a half to two hours until her treatment was done, then take her home. It was a trying experience with tremendous uncertainty, but one that became an odd ritual within our daily routine.

The entire process was eased by the knowledge that the oncology staff at VCA SouthPaws Veterinary Specialists and Emergency Center as a whole seemed to love seeing Lulu. More specifically, Lulu's favorite tech, Rebecca, would come out to get her each morning and Lulu would meet her with a wagging tail and bouncy energy. You really can't beat that for a vet visit.

Though the treatment was going well, the thing hanging in the back of our minds was when her radiation burn might appear. We had been cautioned on the likelihood of the severity but knew the "when" was an unknown that varies by each dog. And though we kept expecting to wake to a giant gaping wound, we managed to make it through the entire three weeks of radiation without anything more than some mild redness.

Wouldn't you know it, just when we were starting to believe (though it was based on our own foolish exceeding and unrealistic optimism) we might somehow make it through the entire process without an actual burn, we awoke on the morning after her final radiation treatment to a tiny reddish pink spot of missing fur on Lulu's upper arm, just north of her treatment field.

Worried we had allowed her to chew her arm raw in the night, we snapped photos and emailed them to Rebecca for analysis. Rebecca made herself extremely available throughout the entire process, and this was no exception. Rebecca promptly responded with assurance that this spot was both normal, and likely the start of the burn.

Over the next several days the burn progressed from its tiny spot to a large and almost gaping mess of patchy fur and gross arm puss. It was not a pretty sight.

During this time we had two options for treatment. The first involved the long process of allowing the burn to heal naturally, simply keeping Lulu from licking it (cone of shame) while the burn slowly scabbed over and healed. The second involved continued trips to the vet for treatments in their hyperbaric oxygen chamber.

Yes, that's right, Hyperbaric Oxygen Treatment, or HBOT, involves placing our sweet little pup within a pressurized oxygen rich environment for about an hour per day to stimulate her body's own healing ability.

This same treatment has been used recently by professional athletes to promote more rapid healing for injuries, and has been used on animals and people for years for various treatments. One of the things that the HBOT tends to really help on are radiation burns.

The HBOT treatments seemed to speed the healing process right out of the gate. Rather than waiting for weeks for a fully scabbed and good looking scar, we ended up with a bright pink area of healthy skin in just a few days.

Lulu's HBOT treatment carried on for about three weeks. We did all five days the first week, then three days, then two days. The treatments themselves were about $90 each, but with our pet insurance we were only paying about $9 for each visit. As you can see, having Lulu continue on the HBOT path to heal herself was a no-brainer.

During this time we were diligent about keeping Lulu in her cone when we weren't around, and watching her like a hawk to keep her from licking when we were around. At times it was pathetic...

...and others comical, like when she begrudgingly agreed to allow us to apply a cold compress.

During this time she still slept in bed with us, but we kept two sheets for her to lay on so her arm goo wouldn't get on the bed. Lulu would sleep in her cone and would get pretty angry at it in the middle of the night. She'd often wake us up by standing over our faces and breathing in a very annoyed manner. From our vantage point laying down on the bed, she looked like an annoyed satellite dish. Wendy and I couldn't help but laugh.

After a few weeks Lulu's arm really healed up nicely. The redness continued to turn pink and the scabs continued to fall off.

Today, Lulu's arm has healed completely. She still has a large pink patch where her skin's pigmentation is gone and will likely never return, but we simply look at it as giving her street cred. Fur has started to grow back around the scar in a gray/white tone and may or may not cover her scar as time goes on. Truth is, we don't really care if her fur grows back, she's wonderful either way, as long as we have her.

We went back for our final checkup at the oncologist last week and were given the great news that Lulu looked to be healed from this bout of her mast cell tumors. We have a 50/50 chance they will return, and we'll just continue to monitor. But we we cross our fingers and toes, maybe, just maybe, this can be the last time we have to deal with these bastards.

Thank you to all of our friends, family, and people we've never even met in person for your ongoing support and kind words during this ordeal. It's been all consuming at times, and very trying at others, but we're so happy to be on the other end and looking back on it now. Lulu is fortunate to have such wonderful medical staff to support her through this, and we're quite fortunate to have her.

Comments 17


Laura C
4/4/2014 at 1:17 PM

So happy she's OK! She is a cutie-pie.

4/4/2014 at 1:21 PM

So glad to hear all is well with Lulu! HBOT is awesome (have edited a few articles about its use in people). Our beagle, Willow, developed a fibroma right between the eyes last summer. It was growing, so we had it removed in December. She has a narrow furless scar in the Harry Potter zone ... like you said, street cred Alt wink

4/4/2014 at 1:56 PM

So glad she pulled through! What a trooper.

4/4/2014 at 2:47 PM

Lulu is such a good doggie and just precious.

The loo on your cat's face in that photo just cracks me up. We have 2 cats of our own.

Fingers crossed that the nasty C doesn't come back.

Kate 'Katya' Viar
4/4/2014 at 3:39 PM
So happy to hear Lulu is doing better! What great parents you are!
Zewdi Yemane
4/4/2014 at 3:45 PM
Thank you God!
4/4/2014 at 7:37 PM

My Lulu, aka Kahlua, sends get-well-soon wishes to your Lulu.

4/4/2014 at 7:42 PM

It is really wonderful that that treatment was available to Lulu ( I love her name! ), and I am so glad that she is doing so well. You, two, are really amazing pet parents.

As a new pet parent, I wonder if you would mind telling what kind of pet insurance you have, since it seems that it came in extremely handy.

Kelly Wagner Amen
4/4/2014 at 9:54 PM
Great news! How amazing that they offer the hyperbaric treatment for dogs. I had several oxygen treatments as part of my own alternative cancer treatment protocol, so I'm confident that by pursuing it for Lulu, you greatly reduced the chances of recurrence. You go, warrior girl! And if course the vet staff loves her; who doesn't???
Anna Fitzgerald
4/5/2014 at 12:15 AM
I am so happy Lulu is doing better. We just cherish her so much. Brings a smile to my face every time.
4/5/2014 at 5:53 AM

I'm so glad to hear she is doing better. This is one way dogs are better than cats, my kitties would never, ever, wag or be bouncy at the sight of any tech at the vet, even in the best of circumstances. I can barely get them in for a check up. Paws crossed for you!

Bonnie Bingham Michaels
4/5/2014 at 7:09 AM
This is so awesome...so glad Lulu is healthy again!
Jane Pearson
4/5/2014 at 10:34 AM
Oh Hooray!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Karin K
4/5/2014 at 4:10 PM

Sweet Lulu! I am so glad she's on the mend.

4/5/2014 at 9:12 PM

This is wonderful news - I am so happy for all 4 of you! And I appreciated seeing the photos of the treatment. Never worked at a location that had the HBOT - always was curiousAlt smile

threadbndr (Karla)
4/7/2014 at 12:21 PM

YEAH for getting though the treatment plan successfully! Interesting about the O2 chamber. She looks like she's OK with being in the little 'deep sea' place. Molly and I send our love!

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