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.