For the Love of Riley

Last week, was unremarkable.  Just a normal summer day.  Riley and Jack trotted around, playing in the yard, swimming in the pool and rolling in the grass.  Then, of course, the afternoon nap under the apple tree.... life was good.   We noticed that Riley, our 7 year old Puggle, seemed to have trouble tinkling..... it was dripping, instead of streaming. Hmmm... we thought, "Maybe he has a urinary track/bladder infection?"  So, off to the vet we went... 3 days later, after antibiotics, no sign of improvement.  Followup visit with our vet ended with the word every family dreads hearing, Cancer.  He needed to be seen by an oncologist as soon as possible. Riley wagged his tail, picking the green cookie, over the tan, from our vets gentle hands.  He has no idea how gravely sick he is.  Maybe this is for the best.

Unfortunately, Riley has not just any cancer, but one of the most aggressive forms in canines,  Prostate Cancer......  I couldn't fathom how this could be, as I watched Riley wag his tail and slurp a messy kiss on my cheek.  I can't wrap my head around our ability to save human men from prostate cancer, but not my beloved canine Riley.

We brought him to Tufts Veterinary Hospital for a 2nd opinion.... they are the best in the area.  He spent the night, and they too delivered crushing news, with a prognosis of 4-6 months, even with aggressive radiation and chemotheropy.

So, our quest began to give Riley the best chance of survival and the best quality of life we possibly can.  We found an newsarticle written about a veterinarian in Sacramento, CA at UC Davis, Dr. Wiliam Culp, who had been conducting a clinical trial treating dogs with prostate cancer by implanting seeds, much like is done with men suffering from prostate cancer.  It is called Embolization.

He is seeing some success, although only 18 dogs have undergone the procedure.  Unfortunately, the funding for the trial has run out, but Dr. Culp is still offering the procedure.  To the best of our knowledge, he is the only vet in the country treating prostate cancer in canines in this way.  We have to find a way to get Riley to him as soon as possible: before the cancer spreads.

Riley is relatively young, just celebrating his 8th birthday on July 10th.  The good news is that so far, his cancer has not metasisized and is local to his prostate.  The bad news is the cancer is compromising his ability to urinate, and he may need surgery to alleviate the pressure on his urethra before the seed implant surgery can be performed.  If we are able to take this first step, then Riley could go to Sacramento to have seeds implanted into the vein that delivers blood to the prostate, essentially starving the cancer.  The length and quality of his life could be prolonged greatly.  One of the dogs in this clinical trial has survived 19 months since embolization -- and in all dogs that have been treated, there has been a reduction in symptoms from the cancer.  

We are commited to Riley and to do all we can to help him.  This is a promise we made to him the day we brought him home, when he was just 12 weeks old.  He is our family.  So over the next few weeks, we face two challenges.  1)  Funding the surgeries; and 2) Funding Riley's trip to California.  The initial emergency treatment for Riley has cost $4000, and we anticipate the two surgeries he will need to be an additional $8,000.  We are thinking the costs associated with travel to California will be about $2,000.  

We feel that pushing the envelope and treating Riley will not only extend and improve his quality of life, but may add to the ongoing studies of the treatment of prostate cancer in canines.  I pray that someday, this diagnosis will not be a death sentence, and if caught early, will be one that every pet owner can afford to pursue.

Please open your heart and consider a donation to "For the Love of Riley".  No matter how large or small, every penny helps and would go towards his care and the cost of his travel to Sacramento.  Also, please share this with your friends, family, acquaintances, asking them to share it too.  As I type, Riley is back at Tufts, admitted due to his inability to urinate.  We will consult with their team of oncologists tomorrow.  Please pray.  God is not ready for Riley just yet.


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Laura Bardsley Flanagan 
Coventry, RI
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