(See what Nicholas’ Mom, is doing today, and how you can help.)

May 18, 2002: Four Years Later

Here are Bear and Nicholas. Nicholas is the one sitting.

Has your dog been diagnosed with Canine Lymphoma? I hope Nicholas’ story will help you. We are in day 374.
My prayer is to have as many days with Nicholas in great health, no pain or sickness, as we can have.

I have been treating this disease for my furry child, Nicholas, our 10 year old mutt-a-poo. He was diagnosed with Canine Lymphoma, on April 19, 1997, one of the hardest days of my life!

He had two little pea sized lumps on his neck, which I discovered late, the night before. Of course I rushed him to the vet the next morning.

Only three days before, our little pet rabbit, Truffles, had died suddenly, of pneumonia. There was no notice or warning, as this is called a silent killer in rabbits.

This was a house-bunny, and Nicholas was quite attached to him. In fact, it was Nicholas who raised him, and was very protective of him. Truffles was only 2 ½ years old. When Truffles died, I was hysterical. Nicholas was VERY upset, and also feeling my pain. I am convinced that it was this stress that brought out the cancer.

After the initial diagnosis in Tulsa, Oklahoma, I was in disbelief, when the vet told me Nick had only 4 months to live! Of course I rejected that and asked where the cancer hospital for dogs was, in the U.S. I was told the closest place, was Colorado State University.

The next day Nick and I were on the plane. He barely fit under the seat, but we made it.

The vet there didn’t give me much more hope than
the vet here in Tulsa. We began to call people and ask for prayer.

Once in a while a dog spirit comes that is VERY special. We have 5 dogs, and they are all wonderful, but Nicholas is different. He watches T.V. For hours. He will watch a movie and growl and bark at all of the exciting parts! I was not going to give up!

My husband and I decided to begin chemotherapy, but couldn’t find anyone who did it, back in Tulsa. If they did do it, they said it wasn’t very successful, anyway.

I called Oklahoma State University School of Veterinary Medicine, in Stillwater, Oklahoma. (1-405-744-6731)

I was connected to a young intern, Dr. Brooks Ahalt, the man who would become our hero! He told me to bring Nicki to OSU. They not only do the chemo there, but had two dogs, Dooley, and Montana, a boxer and a golden retriever mix, who had both been in remission for 5 years!!!
(I also learned, a few weeks into Nick’s treatment, that Dr. Ahalt had survived childhood leukemia, when his parents had been told that he wouldn’t. This was the kind of faith I needed.)

I rushed Nick to OSU, only 1 hour from me. What luck! Nicholas had his first chemo treatment at Colorado State of Doxorubicin ,(aka:”adriamyacin”, nasty stuff), and L-asparaginase (Elspar).

He did throw up but otherwise seemed ok. The people at CSU had “staged” Nick’s cancer at stage 3A. (The earliest they CAN stage an animal, because stage 1 and 2 have no symptoms, that we can see.) Nick had 3 Doxirubison treatments and promptly lost all of his hair! This is not a common occurrence, in dogs, but it can happen.

By now it is late August, and Dr. Ahalt is leaving to set up his practice on the east coast. (He is now in Waldorf, Md. 1-301-645-2550.)

We were sad to see Dr. Ahalt go, but knew it would be great for him, to finally be in a practice. It seemed that we were now being told, that we would be just a number and see whoever could see us from week to week at OSU.

WRONG!!! I threw a royal fit right in the lobby, of the OSU Vet School! I told them Nicholas would NOT fall through the cracks, and he WOULD be assigned a permanent doctor. One who would see him each time he came to OSU.

Well, it worked ,and we have gotten care, that I rate, as a 22 on a scale of 1 to 10! Dr. Paul Woods, a “major medicine” specialist, is Nick’s doctor. He sees Nick even when he is “not on clinics” which means he is teaching and not receiving clients.

Here’s what we did. First we used the Vincristine and Cyclophosphamide (AKA Cytoxan) treatment, alternating between the two. But the Vincristine was making Nick act uncomfortable. I found information on the Net, that one of the side-effects of Vincristine, is “neurological pain or discomfort”. (AKA Crawling Nerves) He would lay down, then get up, turn around and around, lay down, ect. We were losing sleep, and I didn’t like him being uncomfortable. They tried a Fioranol patch for pain. Guess what? Side-effect...Nerve crawling.THE SAME THING!!! AACK!

It was then, that Dr. Woods, consulted with an oncologist from Wisconsin State and was told that if dogs can’t handle Vincristine, they might be able to handle Vinblastine, a similar drug. Bingo!! No visible side-effects. Organs all looked great! Blood work looked great! But most importantly, we are now at 9 months in remission!

Dr. Woods told me that the Wisconsin protocol had found that you could go to every 3 weeks instead of every 2 weeks, with no recurrence of the cancer. The first time we did this, it had been 3 weeks since the vinblastine, and 2 weeks since the Cyclophosphamide.(aka: CYTOXAN)

Then something very weird happened. Nick’s rectum would come “out” after a bowel movement. There was a small white “black-eyed pea” shaped thing on his rectum.

Of course we rushed him to OSU, where Dr. Mark Rochet, a skilled surgeon, did a biopsy. Unfortunately, it showed the cancer was back. Now remember, Nick is acting FINE! Good appetite! Good playing with his adopted brother Bear (a five year old Cockapoo, who looks enough like Nick to be his twin). So we had to make a decision. Use the remaining Doxorubicin AKA:adriamycin, (each animal or person is allowed only so much of this drug during their lifetime, because it destroys the heart. Lovely stuff), or try a shot of the L-asparaginase, the Vinblastine, and the old standby Prednisone.

It worked! Within 24 hours the “mass” on Nick’s rectum was gone. So we began a regiment of Vinblastine one week and after a white cell check, Cyclophosphamide. For four months all was well.

Then I had to go out of town, on a family emergency, to visit my Mother-in-law in Oregon, who was in stage 4, of ovarian cancer, and was dying. I arranged for Nicholas’s nanny to stay with the babies at home.

For the first three days that I was gone, Nick wouldn’t eat his food. Nick eats Neuro brand low protein food. (He is ten, and we want to keep an extra strain from his kidneys.) After 6 days away, and 4 phone calls daily, on the night of our return, after a trip “outside”, his rectum was back “out”.

My heart sank. We figured out a pattern. His was due while I was gone, but rather than stress him with making the trip with someone other than his Mom, we thought it would be all right to wait 5 days, till I got back for his chemo.

I’m convinced the combination of the stress of us being gone, and the moving of his chemo day, brought back the cancer.

Back in January, we had just changed the schedule to every three weeks instead of every two. Both times we changed his schedule, the cancer came back. This meant that the cancer was very aggressive and just on the cusp of always coming back.

Dr. Woods did not know if he could get Nick into a remission again, as this would be the third time.
Again, we turned to prayer.

By the next morning, just 12 hours later, upon arriving at OSU, we discovered his lymph nodes were really big. This had NEVER happened before! They were the size of walnuts! I was terrified. Nick still felt great. He would chase the ball, “kill” his stuffed toy ,(this happened 10 times a day, poor toy.) and seemed to never know, that he was ill. Again Dr. Woods wondered about using the Doxorubiscin, but I opted for the L-asparaginase again, since it had worked so well back on January 19, 1998.

It was one of those times that I just had a strong feeling about this. I take a very active role in Nick’s treatment, and Dr. Wood’s respects my “feelings.”

Bingo! It worked again, and within 24 hours all lymph nodes were normal.

The reason the rectum was coming out after bowel movements this time, was that a lymph node in the abdomen was swollen and pushing on the rectum. Dr. Woods said the bad news was that the cancer was back, the good news was that Nick didn’t know this. He felt fine. We gave him L-asparaginase, the Vinblastine, and the Prednisone again and we are going on 12 days with no problems.

I finally got up the courage, to ask Dr.Woods if we had 6 months. He said no. Maybe 2 months.

It is hard to prepare for this because our baby is appearing so healthy! We pray for him daily. I won’t allow him to be in pain. If the cancer goes to an organ and he is sick or in pain, we will both be with him, and let him go on to Heaven. We will explain to him what is happening, and why, and for him to go to the light, and to Jesus.. and that we will be there someday for him.

As you probably have guessed by now, I don’t have any “real”, children. These animals are my children. I am 41 and my wonderful husband is 53. I am so very fortunate that he does so well in his engineering business, that I don’t have to work outside the home, and am able to take Nicholas back and forth to OSU.

The total cost has been around $3400.00, including $1000.00 spent at CSU for diagnostics and chemo.
Nick has a very full body of blonde fur, and weighs 29.6 pounds. He’s kind of short, and isn’t fat, but definitely is fluffy! (Ain’t we ALL?)

While we were out of town he lost 3 pounds! I was almost ready to come back early, from my trip, when his nanny got him to finally eat boiled chicken.

I promised him, I would never leave him overnight again, and also, we would never change the chemo schedule again. One week Vinblastine intravenously, one week cyclophosphamide orally.

That’s my story. I hope it will give some hope to other “Mom’s”. My name is Robin Pressnall.

Please feel free to contact me any time. (Pup3@aol.com) I have since changed vets in Tulsa. They do Nick’s blood counts for me and Dr. Woods always faxes all paperwork to them so they may know what’s going on.

Dr.Woods just told me that Nick has made quite an impact on the graduating class of ‘98. They haven’t gotten to see many dogs respond so well to chemo, and seeing Nicki, they will go into their practices, and for the next 20 years will remember Nicholas, and the extra time we got with him. They will recommend chemo for their clients. It will give more time, to both animals and their owners, to prepare.

It has been a wonderful year with him. We have done lot’s of special things! We go once in a while to Webber’s Root Beer and have burgers in the car. Also after every visit to the OSU Vet School, we go thru the McDonald’s drive thru window, and get a cheeseburger. He loves this!! This and X-Files!!! Thanks for listening. Good Luck!! My prayers are with you and your dog. Sincerely, Robin Pressnall

(A sad postscript to our story. Nicholas went into kidney and liver failure on the 19th of May, 1998. With his Mom and Dad, and Brother Bear at his side, we had him put to sleep. He did very well up until that time. We got to have thirteen months to the day, after diagnosis, with our precious Nicki. I hope his story helps some of you. This is the letter I sent to our friends and family. I wrote it as soon as we came home from our last trip to the vet, with Nicholas. I was too sad to call anyone, so I just wrote out my feelings. I am sharing them now, with you.)

May 19,1998
Dearest Friends,
As you know, Dale and I have been fighting lymphoma with our precious little mutt-a-poo, Nicholas, for the past year. He was diagnosed on April 19, 1997. We flew him to Colorado State University and were told we could have seven to nine months of good quality life with him, with chemotherapy. We were told that the chemo wouldn’t make him sick, and he would still be himself. We chose Oklahoma State University School of Veterinary Medicine, and a wonderful cancer doctor, Dr. Paul Woods to treat our little one that we love so much. So, once every two weeks, then later, once a week, Nick and I would drive to Stillwater, for the treatments. He never acted any other way than the Nicki we knew. After each doctor visit, Nicholas and I would go through the drive- up window at McDonald’s for his cheeseburger. He always LOVED that!! We made a promise to him, that we would not let him be sick, or in pain. Today, we kept that promise to him. With his Mom and his Dad holding him in our arms, and his brother Bear by his side, Nicholas crossed The Rainbow Bridge to wait for us. I softly sang to him as he left us. He was sick only today. Last night he ate and even chased the ball. This morning he was especially cuddly to his Dad and Me. But I knew something was wrong, because he wouldn’t eat, (and Nicholas LOVED to eat!!) so we took him up to McKinney Animal Hospital to have a blood test done. It showed that his kidneys and liver were shutting down. There was nothing more we could do for our baby,Nicki. He did not feel well, and we knew..... it was time. It is sort of ironic, but it was six years ago, today, that we had our beloved eighteen year old poodles, Fred and Munchie, put to sleep. I told Nicholas, that Uncle Fred would be waiting for him. I’m sure he was.
I would like to thank each of you for your prayers, and concern, but most of all for your friendship, and understanding. I’m sorry I have seemed to withdraw from society, but I felt it was very important to be home and spend every minute that I could with Nicholas. I don’t regret this decision at all.
I also would like to thank the staff at McKinney Animal Hospital, in Prattville, for all of their help. Debbie and Cindy, who always took my phone calls, and got the doctors right away for me, and Amy, Nick and Bear’s groomer, and Angie and Toby, and Adele, for always treating Nick with such respect (Angie and Adele were there with us at the end, and their tears were so appreciated.)
Dr. Phil Mckinney and Dr. Jennifer Williams were wonderful, always communicating with Dr. Woods at O. S. U.
Dr. Williams is the one who helped us keep our promise to Nicholas, today. She was so very compassionate, and her tears were appreciated as well.
I also want to thank Dr. Rex Johnson, who has since moved to Texas, to manage his own practice. He was wonderful to us. Dr. Brooks Ahalt, who has since moved to Maryland, is the one who convinced us to come to O.S.U. for the treatment. Nick really loved these guys!! And, Nancy Simpson, who was the person behind the desk at O.S.U., actually sketched Nick’s portrait in pencil, and brought it all the way to Tulsa, to our home, as a last gift to us. God bless Nancy Simpson! (The portrait is framed, and in our master bath. Please ask to see it, when you come to visit!)
We have a tremendous amount of gratitude for Dr. Paul Woods, at O.S.U. If I were to ever get cancer, I would want Dr. Woods to take care of me!! He always treated Nicholas like the angel that he was, carrying him back and forth from I.C.U., where he would get the medicine,... that gave us more time. Dr. Woods was a Godsend to us, and I always said, that, we wouldn’t put Nick to sleep, until HE, said it was time. Today, he said it was time. Thank you so very much, Dr. Woods.
Most of all, I want to thank my dear husband, for providing for us, so that I didn’t have to work, and could stay home and take care of Nicholas, and drive him back and forth to O.S.U., and for paying for all of Nicholas’ medical bills, without batting an eye. Nicholas couldn’t have had a better Daddy! He loved his Dad so much! Thank you all for loving us. We love you. .

Robin Pressnall

This is the wonderful drawing, that Nancy Simpson, the receptionist at O.S.U., did of our baby. Isn’t it GREAT?!!

This is Dr. Paul Woods, Nick’s wonderful doctor at Oklahoma State University! He carried him like this alot!!

This is Nicholas watching the movie, “Babe”!

Nicki watching a slide of himself, as a four month old puppy!!

Nicholas’ first meeting of Adele,a Norwiegian Dwarf Bunny! He raised her, and was always very protective of her. She is almost ten years old, and doing well!
Adele the Bunny, and Sam Walton
(Update: Adele passed away, in her sleep, at the age of 11, and I know, that now, she and Nicholas, are together.)

We never understood why Nicholas would watch “writing”, as if he were reading!! He did this alot!!

Happy Birthday to Meeeeee!!!

Here are the bookends, Nick and Bear!!

Nicholas (on the left ) and Bear at the butterfly garden, two weeks before we lost him.

Nicholas taught himself this trick! He would do it whenever he wanted to make ladies say,”Oh , look how cute!!” Sometimes he would just do it for me!!

This was last Christmas, our last Christmas, with our precious Nicholas....It was the BEST Christmas!

If you are grieving the loss of your furbaby, please know, that you are not alone .I send this letter out to people who E-Mail me, to tell me they have lost their baby.

I’m so very sorry ,for the loss you are experiencing. I understand and know your pain because we lost our precious little muttapoo, Nicholas, on May 19, 1998. He was diagnosed with Canine Lymphoma, in April of 1997. We fought hard, but it finally won. He was never really sick, until the day we put him to sleep. I don’t have any human children, and I feel as if I have lost the love of my life. But I want to tell you... it DOES get easier.There may be some days when you don’t even want to get out of bed... but there WILL come a time, when you think of your baby, that you smile, instead of cry...I promise......I’m going to tell you a story... It is a true story. It is a story I hope you will pass on to others when you hear of a need. This is what happened....Two years ago, a friend of ours, Lou, was diagnosed with breast cancer. It was to late to do much to help her. Another friend of our’s, Jan, was Lou’s best friend, and also a nurse. On many occasions, Jan and I would have “discussions” about whether or not animals went to heaven. I always contended that they did, because the Bible says that there are white horses at the right hand of God... so it always seemed to me, that there would be other animals in heaven. She always said, that animals did not have souls, therefore they could not go to heaven.(Her strict Baptist upbringing was coming through!) As Lou became sicker and sicker, Jan stayed with her day and night. Lou finally sank into a coma, and stayed there for three weeks. When she died, Jan was there. She called me the next morning to tell me that Lou had died. But she didn’t tell me the rest of the story for several weeks. It seems that on the night Lou died, she awoke suddenly from the coma! Her eyes sprang open, and she exclaimed,”SPARKY!!”. And then just as suddenly... she died. None of her family knew who “Sparky” was. Not her husband of 45 years, not her grown children..no one. One day, a couple of weeks later, Jan got a call from Lou’s family, asking her to come over. It seemed they had something important to show her. It was an old black and white picture.... of a little girl, and a German Shepherd. On the back it was hand written in faded ink...Lou...age 10...and Sparky........ I believe you’ll see your baby again! And know this!! Your fur baby is having the time of their life!!! And they knew how deeply you loved, and that you always will....I think they would want us to be happy for the time we shared together .. . Huggs and prayers to you. I want you to know, you are not alone in loving a dog so much! Robin Pressnall


There is a bridge connecting heaven and earth. It is called the rainbow bridge, because of its many colors. Just this side of the rainbow bridge, there is a land of meadows, hills, and valleys with lush green grass.

Whenever a beloved pet dies, that pet goes to the Rainbow Bridge. There is always food and water and warm spring weather so all our special friends can run and play together. All the animals who had become ill and old are restored to health and vigor; those who are hurt or maimed are made whole and strong again, just as we remember them in our dreams of days and times gone by.

There is only one thing missing. They are not with their special person who loved them on earth and who had to be left behind.

They all run and play together, but the day comes when one suddenly stops playing and looks up. The nose twitches, the ears come up, the bright eyes are intent, the body quivers. Then this one suddenly runs from the group, flying over the green grass, his legs carrying him faster and faster.

YOU have been spotted, and when you and your special friend finally meet, you cling together in joyous reunion, never to be parted again. The happy kisses rain upon your face; your hands caress the beloved head, and you look once more into the trusting eyes of your pet, so long gone from your life but never absent from your heart.

Then you cross the RAINBOW BRIDGE together......never again to be separated.

Author unknown.

I am Still Here

I stood by your bed last night, I came to have a peep.

I could see that you were crying, You found it hard to sleep.

I whined to you softly as you brushed away a tear,

”It’s me, I haven’t left you, I’m well, I’m fine, I’m here.”

I was close to you at breakfast, I watched you pour the tea,

You were thinking of the many times, your hands reached down to me.

I was with you at the shops today, Your arms were getting sore.

I longed to take your parcels, I wish I could do more.

I was with you at my grave today, You tend it with such care.

I want to reassure you, that I’m not lying there.

I walked with you towards the house, as you fumbled for your key.

I gently put my paw on you, I smiled and said “it’s me.”

You looked so very tired, and sank into a chair.

I tried so hard to let you know, that I was standing there.

It’s possible for me, to be so near you everyday.

To say to you with certainty, “I never went away.”

You sat there very quietly, then smiled, I think you knew ... in the

stillness of that evening, I was very close to you.

The day is over... I smile and watch you yawning

and say “goodnight, God bless, I’ll see you in the morning.”

And when the time is right for you to cross the brief divide,

I’ll rush across to greet you and we’ll stand, side by side.

I have so many things to show you, there is so much for you to see.

Be patient, live your journey out ... then come home to be with me.

Author unknown

After we lost our Nikki, we were all pretty lost. Poor Bear wouldn’t eat...for several days. Our wonderful vet, Jennifer Williams, told me that Bear probably was a “competition eater”. He would eat, only if he had someone around, who would eat his food...if he didn’t. So the search began for a puppy...and we were blessed...again. Please visit “Chipper”, our new Bichon Frise baby!

Chipper’s Home Page!

Contact Robin

Click on the award banner to read about it.

Please, see also, The Haven Animal Shelter - Friends for Life

Please see also, Pet Tribute Forum’s Story about Nicholas

Please see also, Pet Tribute Forum’s Story:Add Yours. This is an EXCELLENT site. It offers information on Pet Loss Support, Animal Hospice, Pet Care and Resources, Pet Rescue & Shelters, Pet Loss Sites on the Internet, and various other pet sites!

I have an exciting new site, about canine cancer.It has links to treatments, along with personal stories of triumph, over this dreaded disease.To see it, click here. Robin’s Canine Cancer Files

And Thanks to...I would like to thank Leilah’s Mom, from , Dog House Bulletin Board @ Acme Pet She has spent MANY hours, and sent MANY e-mails, helping me to publish this web page.

Also ,Thanks to Teresa, owner of, The Beauty’s Award Site , for choosing me for this honor. I cried when I learned that I had recieved it for Nicholas’ Story. Thank You, Teresa.

And last but not least, I thank John, of for the award for Nicholas’ Story! Pet Loss Memorials and Tributes..Add Yours. for the award for Nicholas’ Story!

If Nicholas’s Story has touched your heart, please visit Nicholas’ Mom’s new rescue site. It is an uplifting site!

Text and Photos Copyright© 1998 Robin Pressnall.