Six months of chemotherapy and three treatment regimens later, my greyhound is miraculously cancer free three years after a terminal diagnosis.

Meet Fifi

I adopted Fifi, a retired racing greyhound (her racing name is WW Fivestar), in June 2017 when she was about 2.5 years old, full of energy and super sassy. Unfortunately, doctors diagnosed her with gastrointestinal T-cell lymphoma in June 2018.

 The best anyone could offer was treatment to give us more time with her.

Doctors diagnosed Fifi with gastrointestinal T-cell lymphoma in June 2018. (Photos: Kirsten Bell)

I opted to investigate clinical trials at that point. I’ve spent my entire professional career actively engaged in oncology research, specifically focused on animal models of cancer. A colleague put me in touch with a veterinary oncologist who has extensive experience with canine lymphoma clinical trials.

Fifi always needs to know everything about everyone and anything going on around her; she’s a total busybody! But she’s also very sweet and loves to snuggle and cuddle. At her worst when she was going through chemotherapy, she still had to be close to me and literally fell asleep with her whole body on top of my chest.

Fifi loves to go out on our boat. My husband had a rule that no dogs were allowed on his boat. But we made Fifi a bucket list when she got sick, and going out on the boat was on it. She loves the water. If we take her out on the dock now, she immediately tries to climb into the boat!

Fifi loves to go out on our boat. (Photos: Kirsten Bell)

FBR Real Pet Stories™ Fun Facts About Fifi
  • Fifi LOVES to eat! She likes everything – oranges, carrots, green beans, chicken, hot dogs … you name it, she’ll gladly have it. One time I baked a lemon cheesecake (while she was on chemo!) and left it to cool on the stovetop. Fifi snuck into the kitchen and ate it, still warm, right out of the pan. She also stole and consumed an entire raw pork loin that had been left to defrost on the stovetop. Needless to say, we do not leave food out like that anymore.
  • She is ALWAYS happy! She gives hugs and kisses all the time, loves to play with everyone – including her greyhound brothers, and never fails to bring a smile to my face and my heart.

Handed a Death Sentence

During Fifi’s six months of chemotherapy at Tufts University’s Foster Hospital for Small Animals, she received three different regimens, the first two of which her tumor continued to grow through. By the time we got to the last option, her oncologist said she only had a 30% chance of responding.

With the third chemo regimen, Fifi’s tumors kept shrinking at every visit! However, I noticed some muscle atrophy in one of her hind legs in December 2018. An MRI showed what appeared to be tumor metastasis to the sciatic nerve branch in that leg. Thinking her lymphoma had spread, I stopped her treatments and took her home on palliative care so that she could enjoy the time she had left.

Fifi had emergency surgery to remove her primary tumor. (Photo: Kirsten Bell)

Fifi had emergency surgery to remove her primary tumor.

 

Unanticipated Turn of Events

Thankfully, her prognosis was wrong. We are now three years from Fifi’s diagnosis, and her oncologist declared her tumor-free at a recent check-in. The atrophy is still present in her leg but has not progressed, and her doctors no longer believe the condition is related to her lymphoma. There are no tumors or any signs of disease in her abdomen where her tumors had previously been seen. (ALSO READ: My Rescue Ponies Are Living Proof of Benefits of Modern Veterinary Medicine)

Fifi had a death sentence and managed to beat it somehow. Without biomedical research and all the time, effort and resources that countless scientists, veterinarians, laboratory animal technicians and physicians put into their work, we would not have access to the medicines and treatments that we do today. Biomedical research saved my girl!

Sponsored by:
Kirsten Bell is a senior regulatory manager in the animal sciences and technologies department at AstraZeneca. FBR thanks you for sharing your photos and story of Fifi!

Kirsten Bell is a senior regulatory manager in the animal sciences and technologies department at AstraZeneca. FBR thanks you for sharing your photos and story of Fifi!

 

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