Our Blog

September 2018
17: Monthly Focus: Cancer Awareness - Lonestar's Story
August 2018
30: Labour Day 2018
23: Bug bites and stings
July 2018
09: House-training your puppy
June 2018
21: Keeping Your Dog Safe This Summer
14: Happy 10th Anniversary, Westbridge Veterinary Hospital
April 2018
18: Congratulations friends of dogs and cats everywhere!
February 2018
28: Parasite Prevention
January 2018
11: Dental disease is a real and serious issue
November 2017
01: Thank you for your support in the 2017 October Farley Foundation Fundraiser!
October 2017
03: Prizes and pie for our annual Farley Foundation Fundraiser!
September 2017
13: Keetah's Story
11: September is Cancer Awareness Month
August 2017
10: What's that smell?!
July 2017
27: Clicker Training
24: Our Commitment to a Low Stress Environment
13: The threat of rabies in southwestern Ontario
07: Wildlife in the city
June 2017
21: Lyme Disease
March 2017
06: The Value Of Education
January 2017
17: 33 years of practice, the changes I have witnessed
November 2016
28: 2016's October Farley Foundation Fundraiser was a huge success!
September 2016
20: Cajun's story
01: September is Cancer Awareness Month
July 2016
21: Cat Carriers
June 2016
29: Dog Park Etiquette
May 2016
31: Heartworm Q & A
12: Tick Troubles
March 2016
10: Anticipated tick bloom
February 2016
22: Introduction to TCVM – Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine
January 2016
14: The difference dental care can make
December 2015
30: Raccoon Rabies reported in Hamilton, Ontario
08: Understanding Aging
November 2015
25: Our new, state of the art, Ultrasound machine
October 2015
09: Fun and Delicious Fundraising for the Farley Foundation
September 2015
23: Cancer Awareness Month: Texas' Story
14: September is Cancer Awareness Month
July 2015
28: Exciting news for our hospital!
June 2015
11: Mosquito Prevention
May 2015
08: Heartworm cases
April 2015
24: Changing your pet's food
March 2015
01: Veterinary Technician Specialties in Dentistry!
January 2015
13: January and February are Dental Education Months!
December 2014
18: The Internet at its Best
November 2014
28: Westbridge's Change of Hours
October 2014
07: October is Farley Month - Spa Day's, Paw Prints and Pies!
September 2014
22: Cancer Awareness Month - Ruby's Story
20: September is Cancer Awareness Month!
02: Ways to a Happy, Healthier Pet
July 2014
03: A New Way to Save Your Pet's Teeth!
June 2014
26: Veterinary Dentistry in San Diego!
March 2014
20: Happy Smiles
January 2014
22: The 15 Steps to Your Pet's Dental Cleaning!
15: January and February are Dental Months, and We Have a Contest to Celebrate!
09: Baby Teeth in Puppies and Kittens
06: An Update on Dr. Hylands
December 2013
27: Dentistry in New Orleans!
17: Wishing Dr. Hylands a Safe and Uneventful Recovery
13: The Holidays are Here!
04: A Potential Mandible Fracture - A Tale on Missing Teeth
October 2013
10: Fundraising for Farley
July 2013
11: Tried and True, For Humans Too!
June 2013
20: Therapeutic Laser's Beneficial Effects on Arthritis
12: Pet Education Day and Open House a Huge Success!
May 2013
25: 5th Annual Pet Education Day and Open House!
April 2013
29: We've Brought 'Light' into our Clinic!
March 2013
10: We're Constantly Learning!
February 2013
21: Small Dogs Require Big Dental Care!
08: Missing Teeth in Your Pets - Should You Be Worried?
January 2013
13: Periodontal (Dental) Disease in our Pets
December 2012
19: Senior Month - It's Not Just Old Age!
04: Senior Month - A Focus on Kidney Disease
November 2012
15: Farley Month a Huge Success!
October 2012
27: Possessive Aggression in our Dogs
22: Thinking of Breeding Your Dog? Here Are Some Things To Consider First
03: October is Farley Month!
September 2012
20: Litter Boxes - Everyone's Favourite Task!
August 2012
14: Exercising Your Pets in the Summer - Heat Stroke
June 2012
28: Non-Invasive Diagnostic Imaging - Ultrasound Case Study
21: A Heartfelt "Thank You" for Attending our Pet Education Carnival!
19: Non-Invasive Diagnostic Imaging - Ultrasonography
May 2012
23: A Logical Approach to Unwanted Barking
07: Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug Use in Companion Animals
April 2012
21: Wellness Examinations Help to Maintain Your Pets Health
10: OVC Pet Trust Animal Cancer Centre Needs Your Help!
01: Heartworm Disease in Ontario
March 2012
19: A Dedication to a Great Man and an Dedicated Veterinarian
February 2012
06: Why Anesthesia-Free Dental Care is Wrong, Cruel, and Medically Inappropriate
January 2012
16: The Why's and What's of Dental X-ray
09: Cats Are a Unique Species, with Unique Dental Disease
05: Six Easy Steps to Brushing your Pets Teeth!
02: Dental Awareness Months!
December 2011
21: Chocolate... Good for you?
November 2011
11: Farley Month was a Huge Success!

Monthly Focus: Cancer Awareness - Lonestar's Story

Posted: 2018-09-17

Each year in September the staff at Westbridge continue to raise attention to the importance of cancer research. Follow us on Facebook or our blog for personal stories from our staff:

Lonestar’s Story

It was a Friday in late September 2006 and I was in grade 12. I had already been working in a clinic for one year as an animal care attendant having started a co-op placement in grade 11. I already had acquired a 5 year old beagle that we rescued 4 years prior.

It was getting close to our closing time and we heard a “knock knock” on our back door of the clinic. Someone from another store in our plaza was throwing out garbage in the dumpsters and heard meowing. She then passed me this tiny little kitten smaller than my palm, she said that it was the only one she could find. We spent an hour rooting through the dumpster to confirm that he was the only one to be found. Someone must have thrown him in there or the Mom gave birth and left him behind. Either way he was a tough little kitten.

We determined that he was no more than 4 days old and was only 200 g! A little cold but at this point, seemed healthy. Needless to say after warming him up and giving him some milk replacement I called my mom. “Mom, someone found this kitten, but he is too young to go to a shelter, besides even if we could send him they are closed at this hour. Can we take him for the weekend?” Of course, as I expected the response was; “We already have a dog and you cannot have any more pets.” After explaining to her that he needed to be fed every 2 hours and there was nowhere for him to go I convinced her to let me “foster” him until he was old enough to go to a shelter or until we found him a home. By the end of the first 48 hours with my mom and I splitting up the, two hour bottle feeding schedule and stimulating him to do his business, it was my mother who had said “You know, you do work at a vet clinic and we can keep up with his care. Let’s keep him.” I didn’t have to think too hard about my answer; “OKAY!”

Fast forward to 2015. It has already been a very hard and busy year as I just bought and moved into a house with my boyfriend, and have had to help him after a work injury that left him unable to work. He is still recuperating. Over these last 8 months especially, the he and Lonestar had become the best of friends. February came and it was time for his regular COHAT (Comprehensive Oral Health Assessment and Treatment) as he had a history of bad dental health. Due to the fact that he had to undergo anaesthetic I did bloodwork to make sure his organs were healthy and that he was healthy for surgery. Everything was perfect and within normal limits. He had his cleaning, had one tooth extracted and everything was perfect. He seemed a healthy boy. Unfortunately by the end of April, early May I noticed that he was starting to lose his appetite. He would still finish all the food I would give him but in a longer time span. And I should clarify; he LOVED food. I had to train him to sit and wait for his meals after my boyfriend’s injury, as Lonestar would trip him while trying to get his food ready! We also had to use various puzzle feeders to slow down his eating since he would eat too fast and vomit it right back up. So this was NOT normal for him. Since his behaviour and energy level was normal, and he was still always excited for food, I decided to monitor his appetite. This stayed constant until about the end of May early June. Then in a time span of about 24-36 hours his appetite decreased to almost nothing; he started sleeping by himself instead of with us, and he was drinking quite a bit of water. I took him into work with me and he saw Dr. Morin. We did bloodwork and his kidney values were 3 times the normal limits! We did an ultrasound and saw something suspicious by his stomach but could not confirm what it was without biopsies, and saw that his kidneys were not looking normal either.

After putting him on IV fluids to re-hydrate him and flush out the kidneys, he stayed in hospital overnight. Now Saturday’s we are only open for a half- day and closed on Sunday’s. Luckily we have great staff with large dogs who lent me their dog crate so I could take Lonestar and continue his care at home with me. By the 2nd day of fluids he perked right back up and was acting and eating normally. Monday came and I brought him back into work so Dr. Hylands (being the ultrasound guru that he is) could take a peek at my kitty’s abdomen. It did not take him long to catch the suspicious mass and also noticed his kidneys were larger than they should be. We took samples of both the mass on his stomach and of his kidneys and did a cytology (staining the sample, and visualizing the cells). We confirmed that there were reactive and abnormal lymphocytes (type of white blood cell) which told us he had gastric (stomach) and renal (kidney) lymphoma.

After discussing the options and risks with Dr. Morin we decided to proceed with chemotherapy. Being the type of cancer that it is, his odds were about 50/50. Some cats have gone through chemo and have even been in remission for years like Andi’s lucky Cajun, but others will get through chemo and the cancer comes back in weeks to months. Sometimes they don’t even get through the chemo at all. Well, Lonestar was only 9 years young and he was going to get a fighting chance. We proceeded with chemotherapy. After Dr. Morin’s extensive research she came up with a protocol. The best way was for IV chemotherapy of alternating 3 different types of chemo drugs for a total of 19 weeks. 6 weeks of weekly injections then the remaining done every 10 days, along with oral steroids being given at home.

After the first chemo treatment he did fine for a day or two then started losing his appetite and drinking excessively again, I brought him back in. His kidney values were still quite elevated, and aside from the cancer he was still stable. We placed him back on IV fluids and he had another ‘sleep-over’ at the hospital. We had to postpone his 2nd chemo treatment until he was more stabilized. He recovered again quickly and we were back on track. By the time his final treatment of his ‘induction period’ was upon us his mass had shrunk from 8cm to ~2.5cm! His kidney values were returning to normal, the doctors could no longer feel the mass in abdomen and he was becoming his normal talkative, playful, HUNGRY self. I thought this is great! We are going to beat this!

But then 8 weeks after his cancer diagnosis he did it again. In a 24 hour period he lost his appetite, and even seemed reluctant to drink and his belly seemed bloated and tender. One thing that can happen with this type of cancer is that while the mass is shrinking and breaking down with the chemotherapy, there is a risk of his stomach wall being compromised. This could mean stomach contents going into his abdominal cavity. Being an RVT I thought I was being paranoid and over-thinking things, so I decided to just monitor his breathing, heart rate, and temperature. Everything was stable over the next 5 hours but my gut was telling me otherwise.

After rushing to the hospital, we confirmed there was free fluid within his abdomen, the mass had returned, which was just a large as previously and was is more places along his stomach. His bloodwork showed his kidney values were elevated again and he was acidotic (blood pH is too acidic). Considering that he was still in the middle of his chemotherapy protocol it meant that it wasn’t working. I made the ultimate decision to euthanize. End his pain, and suffering and not make him endure more pokes and prods and medications. He did great in those first 6 weeks which made me completely forget that things could go bad, and they did, quickly. I am really grateful that he was still happy throughout the treatment that he endured and even loved his medications in treats so we did not have to struggle medicating.

I am even more grateful to Dr. Morin, Dr. Buller, and Dr. Hylands for their expertise and all the staff at Westbridge who helped look after my Lonestar, as well as all my family and friends. I don’t know what I would have done without every one of them. He was given an extra 2 months and I will always cherish those extra moments. I miss you like a turtle misses his shell.

– Rachael



This blog entry was written by Westbridge Veterinary Hospital, an animal clinic (vet hospital) in Mississauga dedicated to providing high quality, modern veterinary care to our beloved pets and their families.

Bookmark and Share