Onyx, just before he got sick.
Onyx is my rescue Kerry, formally Taz. Like all Kerrys he is a member of our family in every respect. I live in the country of Panama for 5 - 6 months of the year. Of course, Onyx comes with us, traveling on Continental Airlines PetSafe program, which has a direct NY to Panama flight.
Onyx came into our home in 2007. Onyx was no longer welcome in his home. And I had decided that I would get a rescue Kerry to replace my beloved, Bennie, who passed in 2006. Onyx was always a little thin, although very athletic. Last summer I noticed he had very small lumps on the lower side of his jaw. I thought nothing of it.
We came to Panama on Oct. 26th 2011. In early December the lumps started to get a little bigger and Onyx lost his fur on one spot on his side. I took him to our vet in Panama, she informed me that Onyx had ringworm. Which is not a worm at all but a fungus. I pointed out the swelling under his jaw, she recommended we do a biopsy. It came back positive for Lymphoma. Onyx had stage 3 lymphoma. By now Onyx lymph glands were very swollen, he was starting to choke occasionally. I spoke with the vet in Panama, she told me that it is rare for a dog to get cancer in Panama, so they do not have a lot of experience with cancers and lymphoma.
I and my family were devastated, I could not deal with burying my six year old dog. Especially since Onyx had a very difficult life before I rescued him. And I knew if Onyx could talk, he would tell me how much he loved us and would want to live a long life with us.
I called Dr. Wen, my vet that had helped Bennie live so long, and had cured Bennie of melanoma. He told me that Lymphoma was very serious, almost always fatal. He recommended a vet in Westbury, NY that specializes in animal cancer. I also did a lot of research on line.
Dr. Wen put Onyx on herbs he as designed for lymphoma, but told me he must do chemo as well. Onyx and I left Panama on Dec 26th, and he had his first cancer appt on Dec 27th. Two days latter Onyx started chemo. Dr. Gerald Post and his supporting Dr.'s are very knowledge about cancer. That is all they do. Dr. Linderman, Onyx's oncologist told me he was sure he could get Onyx's cancer into remission in 5- 6 weeks. Onyx's cancer was in remission in 4 weeks. But remission is not cured. Dogs with Lymphoma can stay in remission for 2 years tops. Dr. Wen told me that in conjunction with his herbs, his experience is that he sees a cure rate of about 30%. A cure is defined as cancer free for 2 years.
The chemo protocol Onyx is on involves small doses of chemo drugs over a long period of time, thus Onyx acts normal almost all the time. Although he tired easily at first. And he has had a difficult time with his ringworm. First because his white blood cells were not normal, they were cancerous. Then the chemo kills all the white blood cells so Onyx has no ability to fight infection. He currently is on a very strong drug to kill the ringworm and he as lost 50% of his facial fur due to the chemo.
This has been the most difficult life experience I have ever had. I had to leave my wife and daughter in Panama (she has school), so I am not with my family. But I fly to Panama every 2 weeks to see them.
I also would encourage all Kerry owners that are not very well off financially to buy pet insurance. Onyx's direct medical bills so far, are in excess of $9,000. You can buy it from the ASPCA and if you buy a deluxe plan cancer costs are covered. But many insurance companies do sell pet insurance. The cost can be $50 - $150/month. The younger the dog the less expensive it is.
Many people have told me Onyx is lucky to have an owner so devoted to him. But I am the one who is lucky, to see a abused Kerry respond to love and become a member of my family, the decision was easy for me, Onyx would get first class medical care regardless of the cost.
I also looked into stemcell treatments that a North Calorna University Hosiptal offers. But this is a very severe treatment, in every respect. I would not want this treatment done to me, so Onyx is not going to get it either.
So, I end my experience knowing everyday is very special for Onyx and I. And I hope for a miraculous outcome.