Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Piper, Cancer and Essential Oils

Yesterday I was cleaning up some things on the homepage of this blog of mine and ran across this post about Reaghan being sweet towards Piper after our pup had surgery to remove a mass on her gums. In the post I mentioned that the mass was being sent off for a biopsy to see if it was cancerous or not and I realized I never updated you on her results.

Unfortunately they were not good.

The vet called us with the news that she had an aggressive form of cancer called gingival squamous cell carcinoma and invited us to come in to the vet office for a chat. You know what made that phone call 100x harder? The same time that Mark answered the call, our realtor had just pulled up in the driveway. She was coming to meet with us to sign the papers for putting our house up for sale. I watched her walk up our driveway as I listened to Mark ask questions on the phone. I could tell by his words and tone that the news was not what we had hoped for. I don't know how I made it through the next hour meeting with our realtor without breaking down, but the second she walked out of the door I threw myself onto our recliner in the living room and started to sob.

You guys. I'm an animal lover through and through - especially when it comes to my own pets. The year before I got married I cried on and off for days after losing our family dog of 16 years. I mean, at that point the dog had been part of my family longer than 2 of my siblings! Point being, I get extremely attached to pets and Piper?! She is my baby!!!

So back to my sobbing... In between my tears you could hear me sniffle "But we got her as our special gift to each other our first married Christmas together!" "She's supposed to grow up with Reaghan and our other kids and be their best friend!" "She has the perfect dog name!" "How can I focus on moving if my dog is dying?!" "We can't move right now. I can't handle it." I'm not even going to pretend that I was trying to be the least bit strong at this point. Because I definitely wasn't.

We did go in and meet with vet. We decided before we went in that we just weren't able to pursue any extensive treatment for her. Thank goodness for Mark's ability to calmly talk me through things. As much as it broke my heart, we knew it wouldn't be wise to spend thousands of dollars for an animal's health. No matter how much we loved her. We had just spent $1,000 on the surgery to remove the original tumor! The vet actually told us that the cancer she had did not respond well to chemo anyways and really the only treatment option was to have the surgery performed in Richmond, 2 hours away, where they would remove half of her jaw to make sure they got all of the cancer. In a way, it made our previously made decision even easier to stick too. We didn't want Piper's quality of life to be impaired by living with half a jaw and having eating difficulties. We asked the vet how long she had and he said he wouldn't know until we saw how long it took for the tumor he removed to grow back and then measure that growth over a few weeks - he said it could be only a couple of months. He told us the tumor would totally take over her mouth before the cancer reached the rest of her body and we would have the make the decision before she was acting sick... we would know by the difficulty she would have with eating/drinking etc. You can imagine the tears that brought forth as I imagined having to take my playful, energetic lab in to say goodbye! Oy. Anyways... We left the vets feeling very sad and wondering how long we had.
My dramatic picture announcing to family/friends/facebook that Piper had cancer after taking her for a run.
I prayed and prayed that she would just live long enough for us to be moved in to a new place and be able to spread her ashes in our new yard. Seriously, we were under the impression that she had only months to live. I vowed to make this summer the best of her life and take her on all the walks and runs her little heart desired, let her visit the beach, play in the pool and give her all sorts of treats.

To make matters worse, it was as if that exact week Reaghan attached herself even more to Piper and began asking for her in the mornings and when we were away from the house. Talk about heart breaking thinking about explaining to an 18th month old where her puppy had gone if that one way trip to the vet was coming sooner rather than later.

I kept a close eye on her mouth and only 2 weeks after her surgery I saw that the mass was back. I was way more in control of my emotions regarding her situation after that initial weekend but seeing the tumor back already was upsetting. I decided to start researching natural cancer fighting supplements for her kind of cancer and there were two common things I found. Frankincense oil or the root it comes from which is Boswellia root and Curcumin (a form of turmeric) which has anti-inflammatory agents. I knew it was a long shot and Mark, though supportive, did laugh a little at my desperate attempts to cure her cancer. In reality, I wasn't necessarily trying to cure it, just doing what I could to prolong her life.

I found some Frankincense Young Living Essential Oil** from a friend and ordered some Boswellia root pills off Amazon. I rubbed the oil on the tumor in Piper's mouth and the roof of her mouth every morning and gave her one of those pills. She hated the taste of the oil, but always let me do it. I also started melting coconut oil and pouring it over her food in the morning but coconut oil has lots of healing properties and anti-inflammatory benefits. I know, I know, I sound crazy. My coworkers laughed at me and so did Mark's family. They're very skeptical of natural remedy type things that aren't backed by scientific research. ; ) My homeschooling mama was fully supportive though! haha

I myself know that natural remedies can only help us so much sometimes and fighting cancer with oils does sound crazy! But what did I have to lose?! And you know what? I a month went by and her tumor didn't grow a bit. It actually started to turn blackish like it was dying. I was encouraged and a few weeks more of my routine and her tumor was completely gone!!! I'm 100% serious. Do you want to know what's even crazier?? The whole 2 months I was puking because of morning sickness I didn't continue with my routine and her tumor still hasn't come back!!! $1,000 surgery and her tumor comes back in 2 weeks - $30 in oil and supplements and its still not back after 5ish months?! I'll take it. So will Piper!

She is still acting as playful and energetic as ever and shows no signs of being sick. We do think that she still has cancer. The type she has is one that spreads with tentacle type growth through her jaw and eventually throughout her body (as explained by the vet), and we know she may eventually become sick from that, but we are grateful to say that we think she has a couple more years in her at least. I not so secretly hope she lives 10 more years, but I am thankful that her immediate outlook is much better than we originally believed. (I actually did see a small lump on the inside of her cheek the other day and restarted my oil/pill routine with her - sans the coconut oil lol - so we'll monitor how that goes.)

Anyways - this is our sweet Piper pup now - having way too much fun in the mud in the early morning hours! Glad it was on a Saturday and Mark was home to help with bath time!

When I set out to write this post I seriously wasn't going to go into all that detail!! I was just going to tell you that she does have cancer but so far is doing well, but I'm super long winded and detailed in my writing sometimes. I apologize for those reading, but also - sorry not sorry because when I reread these posts I appreciate the details that help me remember. :) Thanks for hanging in there if you made it this far down the post! 

** I have no affiliation with Young Living essential oil and I'm not trying to promote any kind of oil. I'm just sharing my story and experience. I actually find myself skeptical and rolling my eyes at some of the things they claim their oils can do. However, I totally believe that there is a place for natural remedies and grateful for the natural things God has given us on earth to treat sicknesses. I'm also super thankful for modern medicine and the ways researchers have worked tirelessly to bring us life saving medicines and procedures!**

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