25th May 1993 to
September 30th 1999
The story of Bernese
Mountain Dog, Samson's brave fight
with T Cell 3 Canine
Samson was just eight weeks old when I got him
and the most adorable Bernese Mountain Dog puppy ever. So naughty,
but so much fun!
We lived in London
at that time. I had my beautiful 13 yr old Berner Tinka, and she and
Sam were just so beautiful together.
taken in Regent's park, when Sam was just 6 months old!
The move to the country.
In June 1994, we
moved to the countryside. To Longlease in Hereford, UK. Me, Sam,
Tinka and Pru were ready to move
Animal and Human Heaven!
Life was just so good, and we were all so happy here. In
December 1994 we added Sam's sister, Sunny, to the Gang and he
adored her, He was always so good with babies, Human or Animal, a
real gentle Giant!
The following years.
Over the following
five years we went through many changes. My beautiful Tinka died,
aged, fourteen. Pru Cat died aged twenty three, but Sam and Sunny
were healthy happy dogs and had lots of new friends. The ponies, the
sheep, the goats, three new cats. Life was exciting!
In April 1999 all
that was to change. We had been up in the woods for our usual
morning stroll and something was not right! Sam was worrying at his
rear end, thought at first he had caught himself a piece of bramble
or something but no! When we got home I called the vet and we took
him straight in there. She checked him over thoroughly, anal glands,
etc. and could only find a small patch of dermatitus under his tail.
Creams, antibiotics and for two days was fine. On the Sunday
evening, he just wanted to be outside, in the end I left the door
open and went to bed. On the Monday morning very early he finally
came in. Much later when I called him to go for a walk, he couldn't
stand. Took him straight to the vet, carried him and he was so
heavy! Left him there for x-rays and we were fearing hip problems.
When she phoned me, she was in tears and she feared it was so much
more. She had discovered that all his lymph nodes were totally
enlarged, she had done biopsy and feared it was Lymphosarcoma. This
was the beginning of a whole new chapter in our lives!
Sam's biopsy was on the Monday morning
From a seemingly healthy dog, he deteriorated so fast, by the
Wednesday he was struggling to breathe. My vet, Ros, pulled out all
the stops to get the results in fast and on the Thursday we started
him on chemo, the COP system.
Fight for Life
He was so proud of
his chemo bandage. Wouldn't let me take it off for at least two
days, even though it had slipped down! He was just so wonderful
during all this time, would jump up on the table as if he knew we
were trying to help and would just lie there until the bandage went
on and he knew it was all over, and then straight off the table and
"Take me home, I'm hungry!" Only one time he ever moved on
that table was when Ros needed a serious photo of "Dog
Undergoing Chemo" for a medical magazine. Serious photo, oh no!
Sam insisted on presenting his best side (without disturbing the
drip) and I cracked up!
During the second week of Sam's
treatment with chemo, we had big problems. He started vomiting and
refusing food and this a Bank Holiday weekend which is when all
these things seem to happen. Thankfully, my vet, Ros, was at home
and we rushed him over there for anti-nausea injection and came away
with pills. Over the next few days he stabilised and was keeping
food down but his appetite was so strange.He wouldn't eat his normal
food at all, sometimes would eat heartily from a plate outside,
sometimes would only take food if I hand fed him! But he was eating
again and it was staying down.
In the meantime had been doing
research on the Web! Found the AltVet Site, Marian Zacharias's Site,
the Essiac Tea Site & just as important, if not more so, the
Bernese Mountain Dog List and the Endless Love Site. Suddenly, I had
support with all this and the prescriptions arriving! Sam almost
naturally put himself on the cancer diet, high protein/high fat/low
carbohydrate, downed the supplements and sat by my feet each night
as I logged on!
We finished the first two months of
chemo and he was in great shape! Lymph nodes down! We were
rejoicing! We were having such fun with this boy who we had never
thought to still be with us! He looked wonderful, was eating me out
of house and home, his appetite was terrific! Sam was going for his
usual long walks in the woods, all seemed well.
A few weeks later, he was back for
more chemo, panting a lot and the tonsils were enlarged again! Two
more months of chemo and again everything was looking good until
those final weeks when it seemed we had the cancer barely on hold.
(In the meantime he was still bouncing around and you wouldn't have
known anything was wrong!) Took a desperate decision to remove his
tonsils which were so enlarged it was difficult to get the pills
down his throat! Here he is two hours after his tonsils op!
Ups and downs.
Two weeks later,
putting pills down his throat, I could see that the cancer in his
throat was still growing! He still seemed so fit and healthy and his
normal self, it was only when I gave him his pills I knew just how
close to the edge we were! Made the decision that we would try him
on a different chemo, doxorubicin. To do this we had to take him
four hours drive away to a specialist clinic as he had to be
monitored on ECG as the drug carried a risk of heart problems.
Here's Sam the day before at the end of a long ramble through
the woods, waiting patiently by
the greenhouse for me to catch up!
At this point Sam had had seven
months of real quality time, way beyond all expectation, his initial
prognosis was just a few short weeks even with chemo.
The final day.
Post to the Lists
very late 30th Sept. '99....I dont't know how to tell you this! My
beautiful Boy had a massive heart attack just before we were due to
bring him home, they tried to save him, but he died in my arms. We
have just brought him home, friends and neighbours are here and have
prepared a grave. We are burying him tonight by torch, candle and
Love, Jean, Sunny, the Gang and my
new Angel Boy Sam
My post to the Lists the day after Sam died ....."I was
just sitting down to write this and Sunny started barking. The
Interflora van was at the gate. For us all a beautiful vase full of
yellow roses. It's here by me as I start to write. And who is it who
has the knack of such wonderful Transatlantic timing? My wonderful
Karen and her Angels. You may remember her bouquet of flowers that
arrived just as Sam came out of his tonsils op OK. They are still
looking beautiful too and they are on his grave. As you know, Sam
had two really glorious weeks after the tonsils came out and then,
sadly, the tumour in his throat started to grow again very rapidly.
We saw our vet on Tuesday and we knew that within a few days we were
going to lose him. She pulled out big stops for us and arranged for
him to have one last big guns treatment at the Cancer Specialist
Clinic yesterday, it had to be done there as it was Doxorubicin
which has to be monitored on an ECG machine as it can damage the
heart. This clinic is way over the other side of England from here
on the coast. We set off at 3.30 am, my neighbour, Chris was driving
us down and his wife, Jo was keeping an ear open for Sunny. We made
wonderful time and Sam thoroughly enjoyed his first really long
drive since I moved here. Nose pressed to the back window, he was
watching all the way. Knew when we passed Hungerford where he was
born and London where he lived for his first year and then faced
front as we were going somewhere new to the seaside. Arrived just
before eight with half an hour to spare before the appointment and
he had his first walk along a beach and wonderful new seaside
sniffs. At the vets he headed straight for Mr Baker as if he had
known him for years, (this was their first actual meeting, although
he had advised on Sam's treatment all along) They were instantly the
best of friends! And this my Sam who was normally highly suspicious
of vets. They went off together quite happily for Sam's treatment.
Chris and I went off to find breakfast and then spend the waiting
time on the beach. I read a book and Chris slept. Late lunch and
then back to the vets to collect Sam at 3 o'clock. He'd come through
just fine and they let him into the garden for a pee before we took
him home. Huge long pee against a tree and then very excited
sniffing around. Suddenly, massive great heart attack! They tried to
keep him going but it was no good! I went over just as he was
starting to lose consciousness and cradled his head. Whispered in
his ear "Promised you you would see the seaside, Sam! Wasn't
that a wonderful walk?" His eyes turned to look at me,
twinkling as they always did when he was happy. He gave one huge,
huge sigh of contentment and died! We brought him home and he was
buried under the apple tree alongside his pals, Tinka & Pru,
late last night. (Torches, candles and moonlight for my Sam) All our
friends and neighbours were here and he had the send off he
deserved. When we phoned Jo, Chris's wife, to tell her, she already
knew, Sunny from being quiet all day had suddenly started to howl!
She was with us in spirit too. Karen's roses are wet with tears.
Thank you all, with all our hearts for being there with us in spirit
too! Such beautiful tributes I have received to my gentle giant
Samson. My heart is so full of his presence, only the empty space to
my right says he is gone, Sunny is curled up so close. "
With all Love, Jean, Sunny and the
Gang and my ever constant Sam
I found much
support and friendship here on these sites during my fight for
Samson against canine lymphosarcoma.
Group for owners of pets with cancer
Click to join
the Bernese Mountain Dog Mailing List
Click to join Berner-l
more of the Endlesslove Group Angels
Story *My Gang
*In Loving Memory*
Roll Call *Berner Veterans
*Berner Fun Stuff
*Berner Articles & Info*
Bernese Mountain Dogs Home Page*
good sites with information about cancer in animals:
with canine lymphoma - Clondike's Story
brave fight against canine lymphoma
Shirley's Wellness Cafe
Alpha Omega Labs
Loss Grief Support Web Site