Piper is a 7 year old German Shorthaired Pointer – turning 8 in January. Piper’s favourite things include snuggling up to anybody she can, chattering her teeth in excitement when people come and visit and of course, food. Not anything in particular, just anything she can get her cheeky little snout into! Piper loves going for walks, tolerates the ocean and pretends to play with her best friend Banjo the Golden Retriever down the road, when really, she knows that that household is filled with treats.
In July of 2023 whilst getting copious amounts of pats, we discovered two large lumps on Piper’s neck. We immediately took Piper to her regular vet where she was given the provisional diagnosis of lymphoma, and was given anywhere between 3 and 12 weeks left to live. A shocking diagnosis for a healthy, happy and still relatively young dog! Not only were her lymph nodes up on her neck, but we could now feel them along her hind legs and across her chest. Our vet immediately had the team at SASH Adelaide on board, and no less than a week later we were meeting with the Internal Medicine team there. Piper was immediately taken to have bone marrow aspirations, blood tests and lymph node aspirations completed by her two incredible vets Dr Sarah Nicholls and Dr David Davies. It was confirmed that Piper has stage 5a lymphoma with infiltration into the bone marrow. From here we had many phone conversations with Piper’s vets, and discussions about what steps were to follow. Piper was terrified of vets – even somewhere like PetStock or other pet stores, she would refuse to set foot in. That was until she made friends with the internal medicine team at SASH Adelaide, who worked alongside us to help Piper overcome her fears. Piper now will walk into SASH alone and looks for her favourite nurses – sometimes refusing to leave unless one of them walks her out to the car!
It was a very long and anxious six months of Piper receiving treatments fortnightly, and blood tests weekly – soon the 2 hour round trip to take Piper to SASH Adelaide became part of our routine, the Internal Medicine team became Piper’s and our second family. All of this also became part of Piper’s routine, she quickly decided that Nurse Kelli was her favourite, and would follow her around – they would spend time together having cuddles and laying in the sun in the outdoors area, of course many treats were had, chicken, peanut butter and liver treats were free for all! Piper adapted very well due to the warm and wonderful environment at SASH Adelaide, she would immediately go to her special spot and await her blood tests and chemotherapy infusions, all with the nurses by her side – giving her snuggles and treats. Throughout her treatments, we were sent photos of Piper to keep us updated which made our day, and filled our hearts with joy. After 6 months of treatments, Piper finished her chemotherapy course, with not a single bad side effect – no nausea, no fatigue, nothing at all. In saying that the only side effect of the chemotherapy that we noted was her increase in energy, running around like a puppy again and bouncing from toy to toy.
Piper has gained back a great quality of life, making all of the trips more than worth it, knowing that if we had to go through it again for her, we would. The wonderful staff at SASH Adelaide then threw Piper a last day of chemotherapy party, where she was adorned in streamers and a party hat, we imagine she likely ate her own body weight in treats that afternoon! Upon finishing up, Piper was brought out to us with balloons attached, her party hat still going strong and a wonderful bag of goodies, including a bravery certificate and toys.
We could not imagine what our lives would be like without Piper being around, and the prospect that we could have lost her prior to this Christmas still breaks our hearts to think about. Piper having the best possible treatment over the last six months allowed her to tear into everyone else’s Christmas gifts and play all day with her toys. Piper also now runs around with her best friend Banjo – Banjo constantly searches for Piper when we visit, and we cannot imagine what it would have been like had she no longer been around.
For now, Piper gets monthly blood tests at SASH Adelaide, which gives her an excuse to get more treats and cuddles, and gives us an opportunity to see the wonderful Internal Medicine team at SASH. Piper is currently in remission, with hopes for a long and healthy remission, with plenty more adventures to be had! Piper now gets weekly checks at home from us to make sure her lymph nodes are not flaring up – we know that when that should happen, the wonderful team at SASH Adelaide will be there to guide us along the journey.