Our patient of the month for September 2014 is Chisulo, a very sweet, neutered male, Rhodesian ridgeback who is just over 6 years old. Chisulo was first seen by VRCC Oncology in December 2012, with a biopsy confirmed undifferentiated round cell tumor that was removed from his sternum. Dr. Ringen recommended additional stains to be performed on the tumor to get a definitive diagnosis. While awaiting the additional stain results, surgery was performed to resect underlying tissue from the tumor site to obtain a wider surgical margin. Results came back consistent with a histiocytic sarcoma, and the recut showed adequate surgical margins for local control. Local and systemic control is recommended with these tumors, so adjuvant chemotherapy with a Vincristine/Lomustine protocol was initiated. Due to some liver toxicity, Chisulo’s protocol was altered and he finished his treatment regimen with Doxorubicin in April 2013. Follow up visits since then have confirmed him to remain in remission with no evidence of tumor regrowth or disease spread.
Chisulo’s mom shares her story: “I helped our good friends/breeders whelp Chisulo’s litter on June 20, 2008, and so was one of the very first people to ever hold him. I fell in love with him that very first night. We were fortunate to bring him home 2 months later. He is so friendly and calm and incredibly sweet. He loves to snuggle and never is too far from us-he loves to be near his people. In December 2012, my husband found a lump on Chisulo’s chest while he was petting him on the couch. After two visits to our regular vet, they still could not give us a firm diagnosis. We brought Chisulo to VRCC where at just 4 1/2 years old, he was diagnosed with histiocytic sarcoma. As we read through the medical literature, we were devastated to read that his prognosis was 4-6 months. I didn’t think I’d ever give a dog chemo, but because he was so young I decided to try with the reassurance from Dr. Elmslie that dogs usually tolerate chemo much better than people. He received a combination of IV and oral therapy. Chisulo was a litter nervous about coming to the clinic, but Drs. Elmslie and Ringen and the VRCC staff were always so kind and patient, that it made it easier for me to comfort him (he also got an ice cream cone or hamburger immediately after each visit). Chisulo was a little grumpy for a day or two after each cycle, but he only threw up once in 6 cycles of chemo. Because of elevated liver enzymes, we had to stop giving him the oral drug part of the way through therapy. Once he stopped the oral drug, his liver enzymes quickly returned to normal. We continued to go back for checkups every 6 months, and he was declared cancer free in May of this year! Such amazingly good news that I almost cried tears of joy in the office! Since he finished chemo, Chisulo earned a lure coursing ability title, a rally novice title and he has become a therapy dog for kids and their families at the Ronald McDonald House. He has also given us, and the two hound girls with whom he lives, lots of laughs, snuggles and kisses!
Words cannot express how much we appreciate that Drs. Elmslie and Ringen and the VRCC saved Chisulo’s life!”