Veterinary Medicine

Dagmar

Pictured above is Dagmar. She’s a 13+ year old Cardigan Welsh Corgi.

Dagmar has lymphoma, a type of cancer.

What makes Dagmar remarkable is that as I write this she’s been in remission for well over a year and a half. Later this year we’ll celebrate two years since diagnosis. That’s well above average, and definitely puts her at the far end of the bell curve of cancer survival.

We returned today from a routine checkup. There’s so much to be grateful for here it’s hard to know where to start.

I’m grateful that my wife got suspicious about a lump she felt nearly two years ago. Doing so allowed for early detection and treatment, one of the biggest reasons Dagmar’s still with us.

I’m grateful for the serendipity that allowed our regular vet, when presented with the lump, to call in a veterinary oncologist on the spot. Unbeknownst to us, they’d been sharing office space for some time, and she was literally just down the hall.

I’m grateful that this random connection turned out to be perhaps the best person we could have been referred to. She quickly diagnosed the cancer, and laid out a plan that we began following immediately.

I’m also grateful that she’s very active in pursuit of the advancement of her field. One of the “trials” we signed up for was a so called “vaccine” for this type of cancer. The thinking is that this vaccine is in part responsible for the length of her remission. (Bonus points to the oncologist for noting she was waiting for our visit to share Dagmar’s progress on a “listserv” – a mailing list of individuals working and researching the issues around cancer. Being email driven myself and understanding the incredible value in that method of information sharing it just stuck a chord.)

And, of course, I’m grateful we can afford it.

This is our third go-round with canine cancer. Our first Corgi, Vera, had what we assume is essentially this same form, lasting 11 months after diagnosis. Jerome, our fourth, passed away much too quickly from a much more aggressive variant. That Dagmar is not just lasting this long, but is enjoying an exceptionally high quality of life (you would never know there was anything amiss), some 20 months post-diagnosis is amazing.

We know the end will come. It’s one of the choices we make whenever we decide to spend our life and share our hearts with creatures who, by their very nature, are destined to pre-decease us. But I’m grateful for the time we’ve been given, I’m grateful for the small amount our experience can contribute to research and experience, and I’m grateful that Dagmar’s life will, in the end, whenever that may happen now, have been a long and happy one.

Comments

  1. Are Welsh Corgi’s a long life breed? I have aways considered, from experience with two much missed pets, that twelve years is the average life span for dogs. That makes Dagmar a real survivor and good for many more years hopefully. The second thought is whether there is any genetic connection to previous pets that suffered, or is it that Corgi’s are a susceptible species for this disease?
    Good luck to Dagmar!

    • 12-13 is about the peak of the life span bell curve for Pembroke Welsh Corgis, and 13-14 for Cardigan Welsh Corgis (Dagmar’s a Cardi). No genetic relationship that we’re aware of. We’re constantly monitoring environmental possibilities, of course. Mostly it’s luck of the draw. Thanks!

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