Lily was a small terrier mix that came to our family as a puppy. She was a delight from the beginning. Playful, mischievous, rambunctious, and loving as well as a constant companion to our older dog Missy. Lily would make sure to keep Missy occupied and moving even when she was getting older and didn’t want to be disturbed. They enjoyed chasing the ball around the yard as well as long leisurely walks around the neighborhood. At the end of the day, Lily would climb on top of Missy and sleep on her in what we called “the puppy pyramid”. Missy never seemed to mind and never shooed her away. When we lost Missy a few years ago, Lily became the shining light of our family. Always greeting us with a wag of her tail and lots of kisses.
In the spring of last year, I noticed Lily having trouble urinating. She would squat a lot more frequently than she normally had done in the past and seemed to be straining. Given that she was getting older, I thought she might just be experiencing a urinary infection. I took her to my local vet and was prescribed antibiotics. When these didn’t work, we tried anti-inflammatories. Still no improvement. I even went and bought cranberry supplement from the pet food store. She never seemed to get better or worse for the following few months.
At Lily’s routine check-up in the fall, the vet noticed her urethra felt enlarged and hardened. The only way to determine what was going on would be to insert a scope in her urethra. Since they are a small town vet and don’t possess such equipment, we were referred to the local animal hospital. The animal hospital’s exam discovered such extensive cancerous tumor growth from her urethra that a scope could not even be inserted. They were surprised she could even urinate. This led to the diagnosis of Transitional Cell Carcinoma (TCC). The oncologist stated that this is an incurable condition. Fortunately, he had information concerning a veterinarian who was able to treat TCC. He referred me to Dr. Dean Cerf of Ridgewood Veterinary Hospital. How fortunate that he was only a few miles from our home.
Dr. Cerf examined Lily and we determined a course of treatment for her that started with removing the tumor growth through a process known as UGELAB. Dr. Cerf would utilize a tiny laser to burn out the tumor growth from her urethra while guided by ultrasound. Several of these procedures had to be performed as the tumor growth was quite extensive. Each procedure required Lily to stay for a few days as we observed the healing process and insured that the urine flow would return to normal. Lily was a trooper through all the procedures. She stayed in the hospital nearly two months as the tumor growth gave way to scar tissue which also needed to be removed via laser. We would visit her nearly every day as she became a valiant member of the extensive Ridgewood Veterinary Hospital family. I felt as comfortable leaving her there as if she were with my own family members. Alas, there comes a point when you would like your pet to come home. The scar tissue kept reforming and blocking her urethra again and again. We opted to place a stent in her urethra to keep the scar tissue from closing her bladder off. The procedure was successful and we could finally bring her home.
We had many good months with Lily as we proceeded with chemotherapy to arrest any new tumor growth. She reacted well to the treatments and always came home spirited and with a good appetite. Unfortunately, after six months, Lily developed infection in her bladder which made her very ill. We would need to cease chemotherapy as we begun this new battle to eliminate the infection. All the while, Dr. Cerf always remained positive and upbeat about Lily's treatments. This gave us a huge amount of comfort. I felt Lily knew she was in expert hands as well.
After several months of antibiotic treatments, the infection did not alleviate. All the while, Lily kept up the fight right along with us. Happily getting in the car to go for her visits to RVH. Finally, there came the day when we knew the fight was coming to an end. Lily had lost her spunk. She stopped eating and had no energy to go out or even get up. She looked in my eyes and I could see that she was tired and didn't want to fight anymore.
On October 1, 2013, we lost Lily to TCC.
Lily was buried next to her big sister Missy. Together they could once again play ball and go for their leisurely walks. When she grows tired, she could once again sleep on the "puppy pyramid".
I can't say enough about Dr. Dean Cerf. Without him and his staff, we would never have had the time we did with our girl. His knowledge and compassion as well as his positive attitude gave me and my family the reassurance that Lily was in the best possible care. Everyone at RVH treated her like she was family. I would like to thank Dr. Dean Cerf, Dr. Travis Cerf, Dr. Tara Johnson and the entire staff of Ridgewood Veterinary Hospital for their devotion to helping Lily and our family up until the very end. I, for one, hold Ridgewood Veterinary Hospital in the highest regard.
Thank you for all you have done. Lily was much loved and will be greatly missed.