Saturday, May 4, 2013

Kobi's story

As promised, I’d like to share with you the story of Kobi, a tri-colored Collie that participated in one of our clinical trials in 2009. There have been many more stories just like his since then. My decision to share Kobi instead of a more recent patient was not without thought. Several months after Kobi’s passing, the Masilamani family was asked to share their story for the ACI (Animal Clinical Investigations) website as a success story. They were generous with their time, honesty and emotions by writing this wonderful story that walks you through from the time of Kobi’s diagnosis all the way until the end. While it would be wonderful if the last paragraph of Kobi’s story read, “He was cured and will be with us for another 5 years!”. Unfortunately, we know that is not how most of these stories end. The GREAT NEWS is that, as you read this, you will see that Kobi’s story doesn’t actually end in sadness. In fact, Kobi’s story hasn’t ended! The clinical trial that he participated in will likely result in approval of a new cancer drug for use in dogs! His story is still up on the website for all to read and now you are getting to meet Kobi! The more you share his story or repost, the more his story gets to continue… In my next blog, you will meet Frida, an amazing dog with unbelievable owners that flew her from their home in Cancun, Mexico all the way to us in Connecticut to participate in a clinical trial. Frida’s story has unlikely (happy) ending to her clinical trial journey and the start of a new chapter in her life and you won’t want to miss it!

This is the Story of Kobi (as told by the Masilamani Family)

Kobi was a 3-year old, tri-colored collie I got from a rescue. He was our first family dog, and a wonderful addition to our family. He stayed true to the collie temperament and we had the most memorable 7 years with Kobi. A few days before Thanksgiving 2009, I had noticed a swelling on his mouth, and had taken him to get it checked out. After a week of antibiotics the swelling had not gone down, so the veterinarian ran a test. He soon informed me it was cancer. Kobi was diagnosed with a mast cell tumor, and was given 3 months to live. I did not have many options; it was either treatment in NY, which would cost thousands of dollars, or enjoy him for the next few months and provide him with a life of love and comfort. Although it was a hard decision, I chose not to seek medical treatment, knowing that any treatment would only prolong the inevitable. That Thanksgiving was a very difficult time, knowing he wouldn’t be with us the next year. That said, we were grateful for the time.

A week later I received a call from my vet, telling me about a clinical trial that was testing a new treatment for cancer for dogs. They were curious as to whether I would be willing to talk to the folks at the oncology and hematology center (The VCC) in Norwalk, to see if I would want to participate. As soon as I was off the phone with my vet, I called the office in Norwalk and set up an appointment to meet with their team of vets and staff. While I know that no cure for cancer has been found, I wanted to know if this trial would help to understand and treat this illness, and maybe someday help to eradicate cancer from the world.

After meeting with the folks at The VCC, I was happy to enroll Kobi into this trial. As much as Kobi was doing his part in the treatment, our family was also involved in documenting his progress through the series of treatments for the next 4 months. These four months were difficult for all of us, including some of Kobi’s reactions to the medication, but through the care provided by The VCC and love from everyone involved we kept on, knowing our experience would someday help toward the cure for cancer for dogs.

After the 4-month trial, Kobi’s cancer “burden” was greatly reduced, and I knew that this trial had extended Kobi’s life. For the next 18 months, Kobi lived a full and fun life; we cherished every moment we had with him. Sadly one weekend, it came to a sudden end. Just a day before, he was out in the backyard running around with me and my kids, and the next morning, he was all worn-out. He wouldn’t eat and just laid down breathing heavily. The next day I took him to the vet’s office and they did an x-ray on his stomach, which showed a large gray mass. Knowing his previous condition, the veterinarian was sure it was cancer. He gave me some medication to ease the pain that Kobi could be experiencing, and told me it was a matter of time before the end. That night, as Kobi lay on his favorite bed, each of us prayed with him and said our goodbyes. I pulled a sleeping bag next to him, and prepared to spend the night with him. I knew he was not going to make it through the night – his breathing got shallower as the night progressed, and around 2am I could not hear his breathing anymore. I reached over to him, resting my ear to his chest, and I knew he had passed on.

We had Kobi cremated, and a print of his paw taken in clay. My family and I are ever so grateful for the opportunity we were given through this clinical trial, and for giving us 18 more precious months with Kobi. Kobi is not with us any longer, but we know that through his life not only did he give us love, but a chance that someday other dogs may not have to go through what he did.

- The Masilamani family

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